If your Western Caribbean cruise visits Mexico, chances are, you’ll have a stop at the Cozumel cruise port – one of the major cruise ports in Mexico. This popular cruise ship port offers lots of activities and tourist attractions for families, whether you choose to stay in the port area, book an official cruise line excursion, or adventure off on your own unofficial excursion.
Cozumel is an island located off the Yucatan Peninsula in the Quintana Roo state of Mexico. It is officially an island, so you’ll have to take a ferry boat to get to the Mexican mainland. However, there are many excursions, beautiful beaches, duty-free shops, and beach clubs right there, so you really don’t have to leave the island. Cozumel is located across from Playa Del Carmen and Akumal and is in the Caribbean sea.
We’ve had the opportunity to visit the Cozumel Mexico cruise port twice – one on the Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Fantasy, and once on Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas. As an island, it’s quieter than some of the more popular areas in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, like Cancun. It is beautiful though, with plenty of things to do and see, so it’s a great place to visit on your cruise.
A Guide to the Cozumel Cruise Port
About the Cozumel Port Area
There are several cruise ship docks and ports in Cozumel – therefore, it can accommodate quite a few ships. If you are taking a taxi ride, be sure to make note of the port you are at so you can get back. However, many of the taxi drivers will know which ship is at which port for the day.
The amenities at each port will vary, but they all have the basics. You’ll be able to get a taxi at any of them. Unless you do some research in advance, you generally won’t be told which of the cruise terminals you are docking at – just that you are visiting Cozumel.
In some cases, you may need to take a tender boat to the port, but that is uncommon. Most ships visiting Cozumel will dock at one of the three ports.
The Mexican Peso is the currency in Cozumel. However, US dollars are accepted, so you probably won’t need to change money. We recommend bringing cash for tips and cabs.
The Puerta Maya pier generally hosts Carnival ships. It has restaurants, bars, and shops, including the usual cruise port staples like Del Sol and Diamonds International. The Puerta Maya cruise port does have a website with lots of helpful information, as well as a schedule of which cruise ships dock there.
The International Cruise Terminal hosts 40% of the cruise ships that dock in Cozumel. Cruise lines that utilize the International Pier include Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, MSC, and Celebrity. It also has duty-free shopping and restaurants in the Royal Village Shopping Center and is where you’ll find the more popular cruise ship restaurant staples, like Senor Frogs, the Hard Rock Cafe, and Margaritaville.
The third cruise terminal is the Punta Langosta, which is closest to the main city of San Miguel de Cozumel (also the largest city). It also offers a shopping area. Cruise lines that utilize the Punta Langosta pier include the Norwegian, MSC, and Holland America.
On the two times that we’ve been to Cozumel, we’ve docked at the International Terminal. There’s enough to do at the port that you could definitely just stay in that area. If you are planning to take a cab, you’ll want to carefully follow the signs for the cabs. We found that it was a little tricky to locate the exit and the taxi stand – they really like you to stay in the port to shop!
Things To Do in Cozumel
Want to do something within Cozumel but beyond the cruise port? There are lots of options. You can choose to book an official shore excursion or do something on your own.
The official shore excursions offered by the cruise line are generally available to book in advance and do sell out. These can be the best for your peace of mind because the tour operator will make sure you are back on the ship in time for departure. If you are on your own, you’ll have more flexibility, but have to be responsible for getting back to the ship in time.
All the cruise lines offer shore excursions, but the options will vary by ship, but some options include ATV rides, the Mayan ruins and archaeological sites, (San Gervasio and El Cedral), dolphin encounters, snorkeling, and a tour of the Mayan Cacao Company. Availability for kids may vary by age.
The Discover Mexico Cultural Park, which we visited during our Disney Cruise Line sailing, has unfortunately permanently closed. It was one of the main attractions for families, so it’s a big loss.
Another of the more popular tourist destinations is Chankanaab, an adventure park. It offers a beach, animal shows, snuba, swimming with dolphins, a spa, and more. It’s one of the best places to visit in Cozumel.
Beach Clubs In Cozumel
When I visit the Caribbean on a cruise, I usually want to visit a beach. The beaches in the Caribbean are my favorites, and there are some fantastic options. You’ll usually see beach breaks included in the official excursions. They often include transportation and lunch.
For our most recent trip to Cozumel, we decided to book a day pass at a beach club on our own. There were two options that consistently came up in our searches, Mr. Sancho and Nachi Cocom. Both of these require you to book directly with them, and you’ll need to take local taxis on both ends of your trip. They are about 15-20 minutes from the cruise ports.
Mr. Sanchos is a private beach club offering an all-inclusive experience. Reservations are accepted in advance and are highly recommended. With the all-inclusive pass, you are able to eat from the buffet, receive unlimited drinks, get the use of beach loungers and umbrellas, and can use lockers and restrooms. Other experiences are available for an additional cost, including massages, entrance to the aquatic park, horseback riding, and more.
Guests visiting Mr. Sanchos should bring pool towels from their ship. Otherwise, they are available for an additional rental fee.
Mr. Sanchos is very popular and can get busy when there are many ships in port for the day. It’s definitely recommended that you book in advance.
During our Royal Caribbean cruise this winter, we decided to book a day at Nachi Cocom Beach Club and Water Sports Center. I loved this experience and would definitely visit Nachi Cocom on our next cruise stop in Cozumel.
Nachi Cocom only accepts 130 guests daily. Because of that, it never feels crowded. However, you will want to reserve as early as possible. There are often many cruise ship passengers in port, so things book up quickly. You’ll leave a deposit with your reservation and pay the balance once you arrive (credit cards are accepted).
We exited our ship at our leisure once we docked, and found our way to the cab line outside the port. After a 15 minute taxi ride, we arrived at Nachi Cocom. Like at Mr. Sanchos, you’ll want to bring towels off your cruise ship.
After paying the balance of our day pass, we were guided to a set of chairs and an umbrella. It was beachfront, with easy access to the water, the restrooms, and a bar. Right away, our drink order was taken, and we settled in to enjoy the beach.
Water sports, including banana boat rides and glass-bottom boats, as well as massages, are offered for an additional fee. The all-inclusive fee includes drinks, beach access, free WiFi, a pool, a hot tub, restrooms, outdoor showers, and more.
Around lunchtime, we received menus listing all of the meal options. We were able to choose four courses from the menu, which offers Mexican and American specialties. While I opted for seafood, including ceviche and grilled fish, my kids were happy to have more familiar American options.
We really enjoyed our day at Nachi Cocom. It’s an absolutely beautiful beach, and the capacity restrictions made it peaceful and quiet. The drinks and service were also fantastic. While the beach is gorgeous, we also enjoyed spending some time at the pool, which was very quiet that day.
The water sports staff do come by to show you options. If you want to book something, you can do it at that time.
When we were ready to leave, our server ordered us a cab. It arrived after a short time, with plenty of time for us to get back to the ship. I’d recommend planning this process a little early, just to make sure you make it.
Our swimsuits were dry once we were ready to leave. But if you’d prefer to change out of your bathing suits, you should bring along a change of clothes in your beach bag. You’ll also want to bring cash to pay for the cab (both ways) and to tip the staff at Nachi Cocom. We used US dollars for both.
You’ll be dropped off in the same area where you picked up your cab. If you leave enough time, you can do some shopping in the port, or can go right back to the ship.
Cozumel is a beautiful, bustling port of call, with plenty of activity options. Did we miss your favorite? Leave us a message and we’ll include it!