Situated just off Mexico’s Caribbean coast in the heart of the Riviera Maya and less than an hour south of Cancun, Cozumel Island has welcomed more cruise passenger arrivals than any destination in the Caribbean so far in 2014.
“Cozumel received 1.786 million cruise passenger arrivals in the first half of 2014, according to new data from the Caribbean Tourism Organization,” writes the Caribbean Journal. “That represented a 19.4 percent increase over the first six months of 2013.”
The numbers also represent the biggest increase for any destination in the Caribbean so far this year. The Carnival Puerta Maya cruise port, located on the island’s southwestern end, is one of three main terminals, including the nearby International SSA dock and the Punta Langosta pier, which is located downtown. The Puerta Maya terminal is currently undergoing extensive renovations, including the construction of a new 485-foot pier. This $20 million dollar project involves adding a new arm to the existing pier, which will allow three ships to be moored at the same time.
“We are excited to embark on the expansion of Puerta Maya that allows not only our brands to add deployment to Cozumel, but also enables the destination to grow,” shared David Candib,
vice president for global destinations and port development at Carnival.
Construction is scheduled for completion by next summer and will be in full operation by the 2015/2016 winter cruise season. The extra capacity provided by the pier will allow more ships to call in Cozumel and is expected to provide a big boost for the local economy, which is already strong.
In fact, the San Francisco Gate recently named Cozumel one of the Caribbean’s best cruise ports, citing the island’s fabulous diving, gorgeous beaches and welcoming attitude. In 2013 Cozumel received 2.7 million visitors ,many of whom stayed overnight in the main town of San Miguel. Situated not far from the docks, the town boasts a variety of great restaurants and gives visitors a glimpse of life in authentic Mexican neighborhoods.
There are plenty of small dive operators just waiting for the chance to take serious divers out to explore the nearby coral reef, which is the second largest in the world, but the larger all-inclusives also offer plenty of different activity packages to suit any skill level.
“Sand fans will find the island’s south coast lined with beach clubs,” writes the SF Gate. “The long, undeveloped east coast offers places to escape the crowd. At Playa San Martin, there’s a lifeguard and palapas offering shade with restaurants nearby.”
While visiting Cozumel, keep in mind that Playa del Carmen is just a 45-minute ferry ride away. Here, cruise passengers thrill to the sights and sounds of Playa’s Avenida 5, or Fifth Avenue, which is brimming with shops, restaurants and more. Ferries depart from Cozumel to Playa hourly, with the last trip back to the island at 10 p.m.
Have you been to Cozumel, or Mexico’s famed Riviera Maya? If so, we invite you to share your favorite experience with other readers in the comments section below!