First-Hand Account from Costa Maya/Majahual

August 22, 2007

Update: Hurricane Dean Impact on Jamaica, Caribbean

Hurricane Dean Pounds Caribbean

Hurricane Dean Heads South; May Bypass Cozumel

Hurricane Dean Itinerary Roundup

Hurricane Dean Spares Caymans; Heads Toward Yucatan

Costa Maya Recovery to Take 6 to 8 Months

More from the Hurricane Zone

Information continues to trickle in about damage to Costa Maya from Hurricane Dean, which collided with the Mexican coast early Tuesday morning as a Category Five storm.

What we do know is this: The latest from Costa Maya is that more than 50 percent of the pier has been destroyed by Dean. Rebuilding will required a multi-million dollar investment, and it will be a minimum of six months before cruise ships will return to the port. We'll know more about the fate of the area as residents, business owners and government crews return today to assess the damage.

And now, courtesy of Julie Minter, we have more details -- this time on the nearby fishing village of Majahual. Just a five minutes cab ride from the pier at Costa Maya, the little town has become a popular destination for lunching, beach bumming and souvenir shopping. In her first-hand account of Hurricane Dean's impact on the areas outside of the actual Costa Maya resort, Minter tells Cruise Critic that the overall scene is quite grim.

"From the new light house all down the town of Mahahual, it is no longer Mahahual, everything is gone!" Many of the local businesses, she tells us, including restaurants, souvenir shops and dive shops are gone, with only a few buildings spared. Minter notes that "busted glass, water and wind damage is seen all over ... houses are left in pretty bad shape. It is a shame that not everyone knew or got to visit this beautiful well kept secret that we knew as 'our private paradise,' our little island."

Cruise lines have not yet released information on itinerary changes, but it’s clear that Costa Maya will have to be replaced for the near future.

In the meantime, Minter’s Blue Ocean Safari Dive Center plans to issue refunds to folks who pre-booked shore outings. “Blue Ocean Safari will be closed until further notice – but we will issue refunds once we know that the damage is.”

On Cruise Critic's Costa Maya forum, some members are trying to contribute to relief efforts; some have even suggested that one way to show support would be to not apply for refunds from cancelled excursions. (Please note Cruise Critic's rules regarding donations: According to community manager Laura Sterling, "Only links to legitmate relief efforts are allowed.") Visit the Costa Maya board for more information.

--by Dan Askin, Assistant Editor