A Guide to the Cozumel Cruise Port
If your Western Caribbean cruise includes a stop in Mexico, chances are you’ll visit the Cozumel cruise port, which is one of the major cruise ports in the country. This is a very popular destination that offers a wide range of activities and tourist attractions for families. Whether you choose to explore the port area, book an official cruise line excursion, or venture out on your own, there’s something for everyone.
Cozumel is a captivating island located right off the Yucatan Peninsula in the Quintana Roo state of Mexico. While it’s technically an island, you’ll need to take a ferry boat to reach the Mexican mainland. However, there are numerous excursions, stunning beaches, duty-free shops, and beach clubs right on the island, so you don’t necessarily have to leave. Cozumel is situated across from Playa Del Carmen and Akumal, nestled in the Caribbean Sea.
We’ve had the pleasure of visiting the Cozumel Mexico cruise port twice – once aboard the Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Fantasy, and another time on Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas. As an island, Cozumel offers a more tranquil atmosphere compared to the bustling areas of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, such as Cancun. Nevertheless, it is undeniably beautiful, with an abundance of things to do and see, making it an ideal destination during your cruise.
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A Guide to the Cozumel Cruise Port
About the Cozumel Port Area
Cozumel boasts numerous cruise ship docks and ports, providing ample accommodation for a considerable number of ships. When taking a taxi, it is advisable to take note of the specific port you are at to ensure a smooth return. However, most taxi drivers are well-informed about which ship is stationed at each port for the day.
Each port offers varying amenities, although all provide the essentials. Taxis are readily available at any of the ports. Typically, you will not be informed in advance which cruise terminal you will be docking at, only that you will be visiting Cozumel.
Occasionally, you may need to take a tender boat to reach the port, although this is uncommon. The majority of ships visiting Cozumel will dock at one of the three ports.
While the official currency in Cozumel is the Mexican Peso, US dollars are widely accepted, making it unlikely that you will need to exchange money. It is recommended to carry cash for tips and taxi fares.
The Puerta Maya pier mainly welcomes Carnival ships and offers a range of amenities, including bars, restaurants, and shops such as Del Sol and Diamonds International. The Puerta Maya cruise port has a website with valuable information and a schedule of the cruise ships docking there.
The International Cruise Terminal accommodates 40% of the cruise ships docking in Cozumel. Cruise lines such as Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, MSC, and Celebrity utilize this pier. It features duty-free shopping and restaurants in the Royal Village Shopping Center, including popular cruise ship dining options like Senor Frogs, the Hard Rock Cafe, and Margaritaville.
The third cruise terminal is Punta Langosta, located closest to the main city of San Miguel de Cozumel, which is also the largest city on the island. It offers a shopping area and is utilized by cruise lines such as Norwegian, MSC, and Holland America.
During our visits to Cozumel, we have docked at the International Terminal on both occasions. The port area offers enough activities to keep you entertained, allowing you to fully enjoy your time there. If you plan to take a taxi, be sure to follow the signs carefully to locate the exit and the taxi stand, as it can be a bit challenging to find – they prefer visitors to stay within the port for shopping purposes.
Punta Langosta Port
Punta Langosta serves as Cozumel’s local pier, accommodating ships, ferries, and smaller cruise lines. It is the ideal port for those seeking an authentic Cozumel experience, as it is conveniently located in the heart of San Miguel town. Notable cruise lines such as Norwegian, MSC, and Disney choose to dock at this port.
Upon disembarking from the ship, take a leisurely stroll down the pier and through the overpass, which leads to the entrance of Punta Langosta Mall. At the far end of the pier, you will encounter a mandatory security checkup area that ensures compliance with island regulations, including the prohibition of certain items, such as food.
Punta Langosta Mall
Right after going through the security check, you’ll find yourself in Punta Langosta Mall, a two-story shopping haven. This mall is home to renowned brands like Diamond International, Del Sol, Cariloha, and more. But if you’re looking for a more authentic experience, don’t miss out on the local shops. They offer unique treasures such as beads, woven items, sculptures, and ornamental pieces. You can find exquisite jewelry, captivating paintings, comfy hammocks, and vibrant t-shirts and cover-ups in these charming local stores.
What Currency is used?
Most shops in the mall accept US dollars or Mexican pesos. While a few may accept credit cards, it’s advisable to carry cash in smaller denominations of $1, $5, and $10. Prepare for bargaining and be aware that some sellers may employ cunning tricks to entice you into visiting their shops. If you’re not interested, a polite “no thank you” will suffice. The market also features retail stores and pharmacies.
San Miguel Town
Punta Langosta offers a plethora of activities, making it an intriguing port to explore due to its close proximity to the town of San Miguel. Immerse yourself in the Cozumelian culture as you stroll through the charming streets of San Miguel, where the locals are known for their warmth and hospitality. The town provides a variety of experiences, including shopping, sightseeing, and indulging in a culinary tour.
Your exploration of the town will likely commence at the picturesque waterfront Malecon, which was designed with tourists in mind. This beautiful area is surrounded by shops and dining establishments, although it can get crowded when multiple cruise ships are docked on the island.
However, you can find solace from the crowds by taking a leisurely stroll along the oceanfront boardwalk, where you can enjoy breathtaking views of the ocean and a refreshing breeze. The waterfront shops and restaurants offer further opportunities for discovery.
A short 5-minute walk from the mall will lead you to the downtown square, also known as El Zocalo or the town plaza. Here, you’ll find an elevated area with a charming gazebo, surrounded by a stunning flower garden. Take a moment to ascend the gazebo, capture some photos, and relish in the serene atmosphere.
If you happen to be in Cozumel on a Sunday, a visit to the town square is a must. This lively day is filled with various activities, from beauty pageants to captivating musical and dance performances.
For a glimpse into the daily life of a Cozumelian, venture off the beaten path to explore the side streets and immerse yourself in an authentic Cozumel experience. Don’t forget to browse the stores in this part of town, as they offer unique and affordable finds.
If you find yourself thirsty, head over to Avenida 25, where you’ll come across el Mercado, the largest fruit and grocery market in the port. Treat yourself to some freshly squeezed orange juice or other fruit juices.
Another noteworthy place to visit is El Museo, located a few blocks away from Punta Langosta pier on the oceanfront boardwalk. This museum showcases the history of Cozumel’s first inhabitants, the Mayans, and displays significant artifacts discovered at archaeological sites, as well as notable paintings by local artists, both modern and historical.
The museum also houses a restaurant, so if hunger strikes, you can enjoy a quick lunch at the cafeteria before continuing your exploration. The entrance fee for the museum is approximately $8, and you have the option to take a guided tour or explore independently.
The Cozumel government has simplified transportation for tourists by establishing standard taxi rates from the ports to popular destinations on the island. To find these rates, head a few meters away from the dock to the taxi area where you’ll find a board displaying the fixed prices based on the number of passengers. However, if you want to avoid waiting in queues, you can take a short walk in the southern direction from the port and flag down a taxi returning from other ports and destinations. This method may also save you some money, but it’s important to confirm the fare with the driver before getting in.
Pro tip: Always ask the taxi driver to present the taxi card, which legally outlines the rates. They are obligated to provide this information.
Other things to do at Punta Langosta
After securing a taxi, you have the freedom to explore the island and visit your desired destinations, including the renowned beaches and beach clubs. In addition to the sandy shores, a short and affordable 10-minute taxi ride will take you to Chankanaab Park, a stunning location that is sure to captivate everyone in your group.
International TMM Pier
This the oldest pier in Cozumel, located 3 miles south of San Miguel town. If you’re cruising with Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, or Norwegian Cruise Line, this is the port where you’ll dock. It’s exclusively a cruise port, ensuring a hassle-free day of enjoyment.
You can reach this port from Punta Langosta port by walking, using a scooter, or any other available means of transportation. For a pleasant experience, it’s recommended to walk from Punta Langosta or the ferry pier in the early morning when the weather is cool.
There is a wide oceanfront sidewalk that leads to the International Pier. If you miss the opportunity to visit in the morning or prefer not to walk, taking a taxi is a convenient option. The journey takes only 10 minutes and costs around $8 to $10 for a group of four.
The walk to the port is not solitary; there are numerous bars and waterfront restaurants along the way. Take a moment to catch your breath and enjoy a refreshing drink before continuing your journey to the pier.
If you arrive by ship, after docking you’ll encounter a long paved pier leading to the port area. As you walk towards the pier, you’ll be greeted by stunning displays of architectural beauty in vibrant shades of pink, yellow, and off-white. This area is known for its shopping experience, with a wide array of shops, boutiques and restaurants, including globally recognized brands. One must-visit shop at this pier is Los Cincos Soles, offering authentic Mexican wares sourced from all over the country. The shop is air-conditioned, providing a delightful escape from the heat in Cozumel. While prices may be slightly higher than in San Miguel, the authenticity of the Mayan crafts makes it worthwhile.
The port area also boasts a variety of restaurants that buzz with activity as cruise ship passengers come and go. You can enjoy a meal at one of these establishments or take a cab to San Miguel town for a taste of local cuisine.
For a delightful lunch experience, consider visiting the upstairs area of the museum. With beautiful views of the ocean and surrounding areas, it offers a pleasant atmosphere to savor your meal.
Apart from shopping and dining, one of the highlights of this pier is the opportunity to visit nearby beaches and beach clubs such as Mr. Sanchos, Paradise Beach, or Nachi Cocom, which offer a range of water activities.
Taxis are readily available at the port for a $10 fare each way to San Miguel. Consider sharing the ride with three other people to split the cost.
Puerta Maya, located on the southwestern side of Cozumel, is the farthest port from San Miguel town, approximately 5 miles away. This port is exclusively reserved for Carnival cruise guests and other cruise lines affiliated with Carnival Corp.
The port’s design is truly impressive, featuring a multitude of shops. Puerta Maya boasts over 50 shopping outlets and an additional 15 stands offering authentic Mayan souvenirs. The shopping experience here surpasses that of the international port. You’ll find familiar names among the shops, such as Del Sol, Diamond International, Dufry, Milano, and Piranha Joes.
As you disembark, keep an eye out for the promotional offers available on the gangway. Don’t miss the chance to browse through Diamonds International for beautiful diamond jewelry or grab an airtightly sealed rum cake that can last up to 5 months. The port also offers a retail store, convenience store, and pharmacy for your convenience.
The dining options at Puerta Maya are not to be missed. With new additions to the restaurant scene, there’s an oceanfront eatery serving authentic Mexican and popular Caribbean dishes. You can also visit the popular Three Amigos bar, where friends can gather and relax on their port day. And if you’re looking for more, there are places like the renowned Fat Tuesdays and the newly added Pancho’s Backyard, offering breathtaking ocean views.
Make sure to take advantage of the numerous photo opportunities at the port. Capture Instagram-worthy shots while sitting on the high chair at the Three Amigos bar, trying on the giant shoes, or posing with a real-life statue. Nature enthusiasts will find joy in the lush garden at the port, adorned with vibrant flowers and plants.
Immerse yourself in the beauty that surrounds you throughout the day. And if you haven’t visited a Mayan ruin yet, don’t worry. The pyramid fountain at the center of the port is meticulously crafted to resemble the majestic Chichen Itza ruins. Carnival has even added an additional pier, separate from the ship pier, where boat excursions and other water transport activities start.
Undoubtedly, Puerta Maya is the most stunning port in Cozumel. If you prefer to stay close, you can fully enjoy yourself at this port without venturing too far.
Things To Do in Cozumel
Looking to explore beyond the cruise port in Cozumel? You have plenty of options to choose from. You can either book an official shore excursion or venture out on your own.
Official shore excursions are offered by the cruise line are usually available for advance booking and tend to sell out quickly. Opting for these can provide peace of mind, as the tour operator ensures you’re back on the ship in time for departure. If you prefer more flexibility, going on your own is an option, but do remember to be responsible for returning to the ship on time.
Shore excursions are offered by all cruise lines, although the available options may vary depending on the ship. Some popular choices include ATV rides, visits to Mayan ruins and archaeological sites like San Gervasio and El Cedral, dolphin encounters, snorkeling, and tours of the Mayan Cacao Company. Note that availability for kids may vary based on age.
Unfortunately, the Discover Mexico Cultural Park, which was once a popular attraction for families during Disney Cruise Line sailings, has permanently closed. It’s indeed a significant loss.
Another highly recommended tourist destination is Chankanaab, an adventure park that offers a beach, animal shows, snuba diving, swimming with dolphins, a spa, and more. It’s truly one of the best places to visit in Cozumel.
Beach Clubs In Cozumel
When I go on a Caribbean cruise, my top priority is visiting the beautiful beaches that the region has to offer. The Caribbean sea is renowned for its stunning beaches, and there are numerous options that never fail to impress. Typically, beach breaks are included in the official excursions, which conveniently provide transportation and lunch.
During our recent trip to Cozumel, however, we opted for a different approach and decided to book a full day pass at a beach club on our own. After conducting thorough research, two options consistently stood out: Mr. Sancho and Nachi Cocom. Both beach clubs require direct booking, and local taxis are necessary for transportation to and from the club, which is located approximately 15-20 minutes away from the cruise ports.
Mr. Sanchos, in particular, is a private beach club that offers an all-inclusive experience. Reservations are highly recommended due to its immense popularity. With the all-inclusive pass, guests can indulge in the buffet, enjoy unlimited drinks, relax on beach loungers and under umbrellas, and access lockers and restrooms. Additional experiences, such as massages, entrance to the aquatic park, and even horseback riding, are available for an extra cost.
It’s worth noting that guests visiting Mr. Sanchos should bring their own pool towels from the cruise ship. Alternatively, towels can be rented for an additional fee.
Given its popularity, Mr. Sanchos can become quite busy when multiple ships are in port for the day. Therefore, it is highly recommended to make advance reservations to secure your spot and avoid any disappointment.
During our winter Royal Caribbean cruise, we made the decision to spend a day at the Nachi Cocom-Beach Club and Water Sports Center. We absolutely adored this experience and without a doubt, I would choose to visit Nachi Cocom again on our next cruise stop in Cozumel.
Nachi Cocom has a daily limit of only 130 guests, which ensures that it never feels overcrowded. However, it is advisable to make your reservation as early as possible since there are often many cruise ship passengers in port and availability fills up rapidly. Upon making your reservation, a deposit is required and the remaining balance can be settled upon arrival, with the option to use credit cards for payment.
Once our ship docked, we leisurely disembarked and headed towards the taxi line outside the port. After a pleasant 15-minute taxi ride, we arrived at Nachi Cocom. Similar to Mr. Sanchos, it is recommended to bring towels from your cruise ship.
Upon settling the remaining balance for our day pass, we were escorted to a set of chairs and an umbrella, conveniently located on the beachfront with easy access to the water, restrooms, and a bar. Our drink order was promptly taken, allowing us to settle in and fully enjoy the beauty of the beach.
For an additional fee, there are water sports activities available such as banana boat rides and glass-bottom boat tours, as well as the option to indulge in massages. The all-inclusive fee covers drinks, beach access, free WiFi, access to a pool and hot tub, restrooms, outdoor showers, and more.
Around lunchtime, we were provided with menus offering a variety of meal options. We were able to select four courses from the menu, which featured Mexican and American specialties. While I opted for delectable seafood dishes such as ceviche and grilled fish, my children were delighted to have more familiar American choices.
Our day at Nachi Cocom was truly delightful. The beach itself was absolutely stunning, and the limited capacity created a serene and peaceful atmosphere. The quality of service and the drinks served were outstanding. In addition to enjoying the beautiful beach, we also appreciated spending some time at the tranquil pool.
The water sports staff were available to present various options, allowing guests to book any desired activities at that time.
Once we were ready to depart, our server kindly arranged a cab for us, which arrived promptly, ensuring that we had ample time to return to the ship. I would recommend allowing extra time for this process, just to ensure a stress-free experience.
By the time we were ready to leave, our swimsuits had dried. However, if you prefer to change out of your bathing suits, it is advisable to bring a change of clothes in your beach bag. Additionally, it is recommended to have cash on hand to pay for the cab fare (both ways) and to offer gratuities to the staff at Nachi Cocom. We used US dollars for both purposes.
Upon your return, the cab will drop you off at the same area where you initially picked it up. If you have sufficient time, you can explore some of the shops at the port or head straight back to the ship.
Cozumel is a vibrant and captivating port of call, offering an array of exciting activities. If we happened to miss your favorite, please leave us a message and we will be sure to include it!