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Cruises to Cozumel

Cozumel (Photo:CAN BALCIOGLU/Shutterstock)
Cozumel (Photo:CAN BALCIOGLU/Shutterstock)

About Cozumel

Although Cozumel is Mexico's largest Caribbean island (and its most populated), it wasn't until the 1960's that this once-sleepy fishing village became a tourist attraction in its own right, following a documentary in which Jacques Cousteau declared it one of the most beautiful areas in the world for scuba diving. These days, Cozumel is a major cruise port that welcomes more than 4 million cruise passengers each year and as many as eight ships per day. But even with all this progress, Cozumel has held onto its non-touristy side; only one-third of the island has been developed, leaving large stretches of pristine jungle and sandy beaches basically untouched.

Yes, it's true: There's much more to Cozumel than duty-free shopping. (That being said, Cozumel offers darn good deals on jewelry, Mexican handicrafts, T-shirts and other souvenirs, mostly in the main town of San Miguel.) This small island, measuring just 28 miles long and 10 miles wide, lies off the coast of the country's Yucatan peninsula and offers incredibly diverse options for water sports-lovers, partly because of its proximity to spectacular coral reefs. Along with snorkeling, beach bumming and boating, scuba diving is one of the biggest draws to this sunny destination.

Cozumel owns a rich history. In fact, the island derives its name from the Mayan civilization that settled there approximately 2,000 years ago. According to Mayan legend, Cozumel was the home of Ixchel, the goddess of love and fertility. It's said that when religious temples were dedicated to her, she sent her favorite bird -- the swallow -- as a sign of her gratitude. For this reason, the people called the island "Cuzamil" -- Mayan for "Land of the Swallows." Several important Mayan sites, such as San Gervasio and El Cedral, populate the island. Even better preserved ones are on the accessible mainland; Chichen Itza and Tulum are hot spots for daytrips and shore excursions.

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DAY 1: Tampa

7 Night
Cruise to Cozumel

Leaving:
Tampa
Visiting:
Cozumel, Roatan ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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7 Night
Cruise to Cozumel

Leaving:
New Orleans
Visiting:
Costa Maya, Harvest Caye ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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7 Night
Cruise to Cozumel

Leaving:
Port Canaveral
Visiting:
Cozumel, Grand Cayman ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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5 Night
Cruise to Cozumel

Leaving:
Port Canaveral
Visiting:
Costa Maya, Cozumel ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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13 Night
Cruise to Cozumel

Leaving:
New York
Visiting:
Puerto Plata, Bonaire ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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14 Night
Cruise to Cozumel

Leaving:
New York
Visiting:
Puerto Plata, Curacao ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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7 Night
Cruise to Cozumel

Leaving:
Galveston
Visiting:
Cozumel, Grand Cayman ...
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Cruise Line:
Royal Caribbean International
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7 Night
Cruise to Cozumel

Leaving:
Miami
Visiting:
Roatan, Harvest Caye ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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Cruise Critic Favorite

7 Night
Cruise to Cozumel

Leaving:
Port Canaveral
Visiting:
Perfect Day at CocoCay, Cozumel ...
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Cruise Line:
Royal Caribbean International
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5 Night
Cruise to Cozumel

Leaving:
Galveston
Visiting:
Costa Maya, Cozumel ...
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Cruise Line:
Royal Caribbean International
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5 Night
Cruise to Cozumel

Leaving:
Galveston
Visiting:
Progreso, Cozumel ...
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Cruise Line:
Carnival Cruise Line
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7 Night
Cruise to Cozumel

Leaving:
Galveston
Visiting:
Montego Bay, Grand Cayman ...
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Cruise Line:
Carnival Cruise Line
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6 Night
Cruise to Cozumel

Leaving:
Miami
Visiting:
Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman ...
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Cruise Line:
Carnival Cruise Line
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7 Night
Cruise to Cozumel

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
Visiting:
Key West, Belize City ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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7 Night
Cruise to Cozumel

Leaving:
Galveston
Visiting:
Roatan, Costa Maya ...
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Cruise Line:
Royal Caribbean International
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18 Night
Cruise to Cozumel

Leaving:
Miami
Visiting:
Key West, Cozumel ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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7 Night
Cruise to Cozumel

Leaving:
Miami
Visiting:
Roatan, Harvest Caye ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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7 Night
Cruise to Cozumel

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
Visiting:
Labadee, Falmouth ...
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Cruise Line:
Royal Caribbean International
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7 Night
Cruise to Cozumel

Leaving:
New Orleans
Visiting:
Montego Bay, Grand Cayman ...
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Cruise Line:
Carnival Cruise Line
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4 Night
Cruise to Cozumel

Leaving:
Galveston
Visiting:
Cozumel ...
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Cruise Line:
Royal Caribbean International
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5 Night
Cruise to Cozumel

Leaving:
Tampa
Visiting:
Key West, Cozumel ...
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Cruise Line:
Royal Caribbean International
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7 Night
Cruise to Cozumel

Leaving:
Tampa
Visiting:
Grand Cayman, Roatan ...
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Cruise Line:
Carnival Cruise Line
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5 Night
Cruise to Cozumel

Leaving:
Tampa
Visiting:
Grand Cayman, Cozumel ...
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Cruise Line:
Royal Caribbean International
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11 Night
Cruise to Cozumel

Leaving:
Tampa
Visiting:
Cozumel, Puerto Limon ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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5 Night
Cruise to Cozumel

Leaving:
New Orleans
Visiting:
Cozumel, Progreso ...
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Cruise Line:
Carnival Cruise Line
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Why go to Cozumel?

Pros:

Hidden local gems abound for foodies, history buffs and beachgoers

Cons:

To find authenticity, cruisers have to pass through a building of duty-free wares

Bottom Line:

Cozumel seems like a tourist trap, but it offers lots for cruisers with varied interests

Cozumel Cruise Port Facilities?

Cozumel has three piers, all of which are found on the built-up western side of the island. Punta Langosta is ideally situated in downtown San Miguel. The International Pier, the oldest cruise ship pier on the island, is located about 3 miles from San Miguel (a long but scenic and safe walk). Carnival Corp.'s Puerta Maya, located about 5 miles from San Miguel, acts as a standalone destination, with restaurants, jewelry stores, local craft carts and a beach.

The growing Royal Village Shopping Center sits right across the street from the International Pier. The complex features a cozy Wi-Fi cafe, Cafe Punta del Cielo, which sells coffees, sodas and delicious pastries. The mall is also home to about a dozen popular stores like Harley-Davidson and Swarovski, as well as a Hard Rock Cafe. An especially fun store to browse for Mexican handicrafts is Viva Mexico at the intersection of Avenida Melgar and Adolfo Rosado. A shopping village with some two-dozen souvenir shops, as well as another Cafe Punta del Cielo can also be found at the Costa Maya terminal.

Good to Know?

Be aware of mopeds, motorcycles and bicycles. They're prevalent, and drivers won't always yield to pedestrians. As you should when visiting any city, leave unnecessary valuables in your cabin safe. Finally, be sure to negotiate and settle on a fare before getting into any taxi.

Getting Around?

On Foot: Depending on your pace, downtown San Miguel is at least a 45-minute walk from the International Pier, and even farther for passengers arriving in Puerta Maya. It can get very hot, so most passengers opt to take a taxi into town. Once there, downtown San Miguel is very walkable, with most shops, bars and restaurants clustered around the waterfront.

By Taxi: Taxis line up at the entrances to the piers and cost about $5 to $10 per ride to San Miguel, depending on which pier you dock at. Rates to the beaches can cost $10 to $15; to avoid being ripped off, be sure to ask to see the rate card and settle on a fare before departing.

Word to the wise: Some drivers aim to overcharge for longer trips, so bargain carefully. Also, if you give the walk a try and decide midway that you've made a mistake, it is easy to grab a cab. Just wave when the driver toots his horn. Settle on a fare before he takes his foot off the brake.

Renting a Car: Some passengers who don't take one of the shore excursions and want to travel on their own might want to rent a Jeep or four-wheel-drive vehicle. Beware of additional charges for insurance and gas. You'll find an Alamao stand inside the International Pier and at the Costa Maya terminal.

By Moped: This is a popular and inexpensive way for one or two people to get around Cozumel, although many cruise ships warn against doing so because of the dangers of an accident while navigating among reckless drivers. Hidden stop signs and stretches of severely potholed roads also present hazards.

By Fun Car or Scoot Car: These automatic-transmission buggies, resembling souped-up golf carts, are another possible option. They're able to reach speeds of 45 mph, and you can find the rental booth on the ground floor of the Punta Langosta shopping arcade.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

Local currency is the peso. However, most stores prefer U.S. dollars, so it's not necessary to change money. ATMs are located in several areas throughout the main plaza in Cozumel, near the cruise docks.

Language?

Spanish is the official language, but nearly all shops and eateries have English-speaking personnel.


Awards and Recognition

Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice Destination

  • 2018 Top-Rated Western Caribbean & Riviera Maya Destinations
  • 2017 Top-Rated Western Caribbean & Riviera Maya Destinations
  • 2016 Top-Rated Western Caribbean & Riviera Maya Destinations
  • 2015 Top-Rated Western Caribbean & Riviera Maya Destinations

Cozumel Cruise Reviews

Empress of the Seas
CapnBob
Sail Date: Mar 2020
Cozumel is Cozumel. Nothing great, nothing horrible. Once you've shopped the main avenue a few times, you can enjoy a great Starbucks and some good food and beverages. I've never taken an excursion. However if... Read More
Norwegian Epic
glolily
Sail Date: Nov 2018
We decided to go on our own in cozumel. We walked around and bought some souvenirs near the ferry. We took a taxi and went to a beach and hung out there and had lunch. The food and drinks were great.... Read More
MSC Meraviglia
KittyCruz
Sail Date: Feb 2020
To date we have never had a successful excursion in Cozumel, so this time we booked the Tequilla and Chocolate tour- only to have this cancelled due to the Coronavirus scare, but we decided to venture out in Cozumel... Read More
Rhapsody of the Seas
steverk
Sail Date: Jan 2020
Cozumel is Cozumel. Been there. Done that. Walked around the pier shopping for a few minutes and went back to the ship.... Read More
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