Overview Cozumel Cruise Ship Port | IQ Cruising

Cozumel Cruise Port

Panoramic Photo of Cozumel

Overview

Introduction to Cozumel
Docking, Piers, Must Know, To Do and See, Shopping and Flavors.

By: Editor-in-Chief | Date: September 15, 2017

Cozumel - Port of Call

Around 11 miles off the coast of the Yucatan peninsula and right across Playa del Carmen, Cozumel is the largest island in Mexico and the most popular cruise ship port in the Caribbean. In fact, with over 3 million cruise ship passengers docking in Cozumel every year, it is one of the most visited port in the World. On the height of the season (November to April) as many as 8 cruise ships dock every day in 3 very well developed and equipped terminals.

Photo of NAME in Cozumel

NAME - Cozumel

Photo © IQCruising.com

Most travelers cruising to Cozumel for the first time do not realize immediately that the ship is docked at one of many piers. By contrast, frequent cruisers that have repeatedly docked in Cozumel tend to think that the terminals (and even the piers) are unquestionably designated for specific cruise lines - but, in reality, this is not an immutable fact. For instance, many a frequent cruiser will swear that Carnival ships dock exclusively at the International Terminal. However, Carnival Cruise ships also dock at Puerta Maya as it can be seen in the photo above.

Although it is not always possible to determine ahead of time what will be the pier (and Terminal) where cruise ships will dock, there are a few guidelines that may help the cruise traveler to plan what to do and see in Cozumel.

Taxis by the Punta Lagosta Pier in Cozumel, Mexico.
Photo of Main Street in Cozumel

Main Street - Cozumel

Photo © IQCruising.com

As you can see on the map above, there are 3 Cruise Terminals in Cozumel. Puerta Maya with two piers is the largest. The International Terminal has one pier for cruise ships and a smaller one for ship anchoring (and tendering). Punta Langosta only has one pier. The Puerta Maya Terminal and the International Terminal are very close to each other as the respective entrances are no more than 1,500 feet (500 meters) apart; both are around 3 miles south of San Miguel, the main city of Cozumel. Punta Langosta is right by San Miguel's southern end. Do not be confused by the Pier between the International Terminal and Punta Langosta, nor by the Pier at the heart of San Miguel. Both these last piers are used exclusively by Ferries to Playa del Carmen but only the one in San Miguel takes passengers.

As a rule of thumb, Carnival Corporation ships (Carnival, Princess, P&O, Costa and so on) as well as Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cruise ships will dock either at the Puerta Maya or at the International Cruise Terminal. All other cruise lines will dock at Punta Langosta. When cruising on ships of cruise lines such as NCL, Disney, Oceania, Silversea, Regent or Crystal it is almost guaranteed that your ship will dock at Punta Langosta. Otherwise, your cruise ship will either dock at Puerta Maya or at the International Cruise Pier.

Regardless of the Terminal where your cruise ship will dock, the cruise traveler should know that all of them have excellent amenities, offer all services you may need (from Car Rental and Taxis to ATM's and Information Desks) including endless duty-free shopping and well-known bars-grill-restaurants such as Señor Frogs, Starbucks or Pancho's Backyard.


To See and Do

There are good reasons why Cozumel is such a popular cruise port. To start with, the tropical weather is just fabulous and very reliable with 80°F (27° C) average annual temperature. But its main attraction is the unmatched clarity of the ocean waters that surround the island.

Photo of Diving Site in Cozumel

Diving Site - Cozumel

Photo © IQCruising.com

Since Jean-Jacques Cousteau 'discovered' Cozumel's spectacular scuba sites, when he first landed here in 1961, all sorts of watersports and scuba, in particular, are offered by a plethora of local small business. For those that are not attracted by the wonders of ocean depths, snorkeling, fishing or just sea splashing in stunning beaches are minutes away from the cruise port. Naturally, most of these beaches have bars, restaurants, and activities that range from the most simple paddle boards to parasailing or jet skiing.

Photo of Tulum Mayan Site close by Cozumel

Tulum Mayan Site - Cozumel

Photo Photo: Sverzel CC-BY-SA

Tulum, a major Mayan historical site, is inland but close enough to explore when cruising (1.5-hour on a ship excursion or 2 hours on your own) and a must see for those interested in archeology. Tulum is around 30-minute drive from Playa del Carmen and you will need to get on a ferry to this beautiful town inland (another 45 minutes) - count with at least 6 hours if you wish to do it on your own. In the island itself, a half-hour from the pier, San Gervasio is a much smaller Mayan ruin site where Ix Chel, the goddess of the moon, childbirth, and fertility was worshiped in pre-Columbian times.

Photo of San Gervasio Mayan Ruins in Cozumel

San Gervasio Mayan Ruins - Cozumel

Photo Puchku cc-by-sa

Very few cruise lines offer tours to Chichén Itzá - one of the most spectacular Mayan archeological sites - for the simple reason that a tour from Cozumel and back will take at least 10 hours. If Chichén Itzá is on your bucket list, make sure you look for a cruise line that offers this tour.


Activities - Tours

Besides the archeological tours, all cruise lines (and private operators) offer excursions and many other activities, which can also be enjoyed on your own. However, be aware that some activities like the Dolphin Discovery do not allow walk-in cruise travelers and if you try to book online the website will redirect to your cruise line. But many other activities can easily be enjoyed on your own.

Photo of Atlantis Submarine in Cozumel

Atlantis Submarine, Cozumel

Photo © IQCruising.com

The Atlantis Submarine is a great experience for those that are not scuba divers and do not enjoy or can snorkel but want to discover the wonderful underwater world of Cozumel with its rich marine life. It also offers a combo with a drive around the island on a Buggy, Buffet Lunch and Drinks.
Good to know: Book in Advance | Tour Time - 2 hours | Prices: $105 (adult) | $65 (Child). Getting There - North of Puerta Maya Pier and TMM (walking distance; 5 miles south of Punta Langosta. Check the Atlantis Website.

Photo of Shops in Cozumel

San Miguel Shopping - Cozumel

Photo © IQCruising.com

Beaches:
There are a number of day-passes to beaches and resorts offering all inclusive packages but also different combos such as day-pass + buffet + transfers + open bar. Prices vary between $30 and $70 per person. Playa Mia ($30), Mr. Sanchos ($55), Iberostar Cozumel ($67), El Cid La Ceiba Beach ($65.00) El Cozumeleno ($69.00), Melia Vacation Club Cozumel ($70.00), Occidental Grand Resort Cozumel ($70.00) and Grand Park Royal ($40) are some of the most popular.

Obviously, there are also many more beaches that are free such as Playa Azul Beach Club, San Francisco Beach Club, Paradise Beach Club, Palancar Beach, San Martin, Playa Corona, Chankanaab, Carlos 'n Charlies Beach Club, Alberto's Beach. For day passes click here.

Renting a scooter, an ATV or a Jeep is easy, a great way to travel around and discover the island on your own, in particular, if the cruise travel wishes to combine sites that are not offered by tour operators or the cruise ship shorex. Just be aware that roads on the east side of the island may be a bit rough and riding a scooter requires extra attention.

Photo of Shops in Cozumel

San Miguel Shopping - Cozumel

Photo © IQCruising.com

All cruise lines offer scuba diving as part of their shore excursions. But a dive can be also organized with many of the small PADI certified diving clubs close to any of the cruise piers. It is advisable to book online in advance.


Exploring San Miguel

Photo of Shops in Cozumel

San Miguel Main Square - Cozumel

Photo © IQCruising.com

If your cruise ship docks in Punta Langosta, the town of San Miguel is right across the street from the pier. When docking at the International Pier aka TMM or Puerta Maya, the cruise traveler will have to get a taxi to San Miguel ($8 per person each way up to 4 passengers). In town, there are a few interesting landmarks. The main promenade along the ocean is known as Av. Rafael E. Melgar and is lined with shops all the way to the Forum shopping mall (over 1 mile from Punta Langosta).

Half away along this promenade, the Benito Juarez Park is a large square with a few nice restaurants, a mall with souvenirs and crafts (Plaza del Sol), the Synagogue and close by the small church of San Miguel. The Cozumel Island Museum ($4 per person and children under 8 enter free) is just a couple of blocks north of the square. Besides the exhibits, the museum's restaurant is nice and has a great view. Visit the Museum Website

Photo of Shops in Cozumel

San Miguel Shopping - Cozumel

Photo © IQCruising.com

Shopping:
As Cozumel became a popular cruise destination, many other attractions (besides its natural beauty) have developed. The number and quality of shops expanded like in many other islands in the Caribbean and San Miguel is now a shopping paradise. Every single duty-free shop you will find in the Caribbean has at least one store in San Miguel (Diamonds International, Del Sol, Cariloha and so on) but the cruise traveler will also find many others like Pana or Cinco Soles that only exist in Cozumel. If you are a cigar aficionado, Cozumel has some of the best and most affordable cigars in the Caribbean.

Photo of Restaurant in Cozumel

San Miguel Al Fresco Restaurant - Cozumel

Photo © IQCruising.com

Flavors:
Whatever your plans for a day in Cozumel, do not miss the opportunity to taste real Mexican cuisine or even from other culinary traditions. A good number of restaurants offer different international cuisines for all types of budgets, including Italian and even kosher. Guacamole, tacos, fajitas can be found pretty much all over town and some of the settings are just as delicious as the food.

Photo of Restaurant La Mission in Cozumel

San Miguel Shopping - Cozumel

Photo © IQCruising.com

La Mission is one the Editor's favorites when in the mood for a Mexican treat with a popular flair. The rooms are vast, the service is slow, the music can be a bit too loud but the cuisine is genuine and the ambiance unbeatable.

Photo of	Restaurant Panchos Backyard in San Miguel Cozumel.

Photo © IQCruising.com

Panchos Backyard is a more upscale type of restaurant - it also has another venue at Puerta Maya's Pier/Terminal. The cuisine is fabulous and the service tends to be good if the restaurant is not to full. More expensive than many other restaurants in Cozumel, it is worth every cent.Panchos Backyard Website


Playa del Carmen on Your Own

For the savvy cruiser that has visited Cozumel before and explored the main attractions, Playa del Carmen is a great alternative and easy to get to on a ferry (departures every hour, costing around US $10 each way). The ferry terminal is at walking distance from the Punta Langosta Terminal and a short taxi ride from the other 2 terminals (around $8 each way). Ferris run every hour and the crossing takes around 45 minutes. The Ferry Terminal is right by the Main Square in San Miguel. Check here for Ferry Schedules.


Cozumel Basics and Essential Info

Language Spanish is the official language. However, as in any major tourist cruise port, English is widely spoken.
  Entry Requirements: Although a valid passport is preferred, cruise lines will handle all the procedures before docking and you will not need to take any sort of ID with you besides your ship card.
Currency: The Mexican Peso is the official currency. But in most places the US$ is widely accepted. Like in the US, the peso uses the $ sign and it can be sometimes confusing when seeing prices in Mexican pesos. When in doubt, makes sure you look for MX, Mex$ or MXN. To make it, even more, confusing, many businesses display prices in US dollars. The Peso is divided into 100 centavos (cents). There are 5 different coins: 50 centavos, $1, $2, $5 and $10 pesos; and 6 larger bills: $20, $50, $100, $200, $500 and $1000 pesos.
ATM's: There are ATM machines pretty much everywhere. Some ATM's offer the option of cashing pesos or US$. Although the cruise ship passenger doesn't really need to use Mexican Pesos. If you prefer to use ATM's in Banks, you will find branches of major banks such HSBC, Citibank andSantander in or close to Plaza del Sol.
Phones: Country Code: 52 (Mexico). Cozumel area code: 897. To call US or Canada just need to dial 001 prior to the number. To call other coutries dial 00 + country code + area code + local number  
Post: The post office in Cozumel is located very close to the Punta Langosta terminal, right at the main street and Calle 7 South.
Electricity: Standard American 120 V current. Most places have a 3 prong outlet but in older venues you may find 2 pin ones.
Driving: Driving is on the right, easy and safe. There is only one road that goes all the way to the south end and back north on the east coast. At the end, this road crosses the island back to San Miguel. As much as renting a scooter is appealing and cheap (and the editor as done it many times), be aware of the dangers and many accidents with tourists. If you choose to rent a scooter make sure that you wear a helmet and your body is fully covered - asphalt and skin are a very bad mix.
Major Rental Car: Near Punta Langosta: Avis and Alamo | Near International Pier: Avis, Alamo, Dollar and Thrifty| Near Puerta Maya: Avis, Alamo, Dollar and Thrifty
  Phone Emergencies: General - 911 | Medical Emergencies: 911
Emergencies: US Consular Agency: 872-4574 (Cozumel) - Embassy in Mexico City
Health Issues: There a few hospitals and clinics in Cozumel with English-speaking doctors. The cruise ship passenger will be surprised with the number of Pharmacies (farmacias) selling prescription medications (over the counter) that usually you will not be able to buy in the US or Canada such as Viagra and Cialis.

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Essential Info - Facts

Cozumel
(Mexico)

Image of Map of Cozumel
Image of Map of Cozumel

Current Local Time

Time Zone

Cozumel has changed time zone to EST (Eastern Standard Time), the same time zone in the East Coast of North America, 5 hours behind UTC (Coordinated Universal Time). Since the change to EST, Cozumel is not scheduled to participate in daylight saving time.

Weather

Find more about Weather in Cozumel, MX

Money Matters

Currency: The Mexican Peso (MXN) is the legal tender.
US dollars are widely accepted - be aware that you may get back change in pesos.

Tipping:
When at a restaurant a tip is appropriate as in the US (15-20%). You can tip Taxi drivers but it is not expected.

Haggling:
On any shop, haggling is normal and expected, in particular, on duty-free shops.


Facts

Image of Mexico Flag

Mexico Flag

Cozumel Population: 100,000 (2011)

Mexico Population: 123,166,749 (July 2016 est.)

Cozumel Ethnic Groups:Predominantly Mayan descent.

Mexico Ethnic Groups:
Mestizo (Amerindian-Spanish) 62%, predominantly Amerindian 21%, Amerindian 7%, other 10% (mostly European) | Note: Mexico does not collect census data on ethnicity (2012 est.)

Religion:
Roman Catholic 82.7%, Pentecostal 1.6%, Jehovah's Witness 1.4%, other Evangelical Churches 5%, other 1.9%, none 4.7%, unspecified 2.7% (2010 est.)

Public Holidays

January 1 - New Year's Day
February (1st Monday) - Constitution Day
March (3rd Monday) - Benito Juárez's birthday
March/April (movable) - Holy Thursday
March/April (movable) - Good Friday
May 1 - Labour Day
May 5 - Anniversary of the Battle of Puebla
Sept 1 - President's Report Day
Sept 16 - Independence Day
November 2 - Day of the Dead
November (3rd Monday) - Anniversary of the Mexican Revolution (1910)
December 12 - Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe
December 25 - Christmas

Useful Links

Puerta Maya Cruise Port

Official Website:
www.puertamaya.com

Mexico Tourist Board

Official Website:
www.visitmexico.com

Municipal Information

Official Website:
www.islacozumel.gob.mx

Sightseeing

Playa del Carmen Ferries:
Official Website

Local Tour Operators

Cozumel Cruise Excursions:
Official Website

Tours - Excursions

Viator:
Official Website


Tours By Locals:
Official Website


Shore Trips:
Official Website


Shore Excursions:
Official Website


Shore Excursioneer:
Official Website

US Consulate Agency
Playa del Carmen / Merida

Official Website:
mx.usembassy.gov

Sources

Wikipedia, CIA World Factbook, Cozumel Parks, World Bank

FAQ

Can I take a tour to Chichén Itzá
NO. A tour from Cozumel and back will take at least 10 hours and most cruise lines do not offer excursions to this famous Mayan archeological site.

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Last Update: September 15, 2017

The information on this page was accurate when last updated and published but changes may have occurred without notice.
It is advisable to confirm details with local tourist information before planning your cruise, tour or excursions of Cozumel.
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