What to Do in Cozumel From the Cruise Ship Port
Cruising to Cozumel Mexico is one of the Caribbean's hottest destinations - how to make the best of a port stop in Cozumel Mexico from the Crown Princess.
I was invited to tour the Crown Princess on a five day cruise through the Caribbean - where ports are open and ready for tourists!
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The Caribbean is Open and Ports are Accepting Tourists
Princess, and their parent company, the Carnival Corporation, are proud to spotlight Caribbean ports post-hurricane season, and are committed to restoring tourism to Caribbean towns - which makes this the perfect time to plan your own Caribbean cruise!
Cozumel From the Crown Princess
Cozumel is a hugely popular port for a reason - there is so much to do, see, and try around the island, it offers something for everyone!
As Cozumel is an island (just off the Yucatan, opposite Tulum), it does take some advance planning to appreciate everything Cozumel has to offer.
While Cozumel is easy for visitors to navigate, it is also an easy place to have expectations fall short - so I'm outlining some of my best tips for tackling this busy cruise port (hint: Cozumel is one of the #1 ports I recommend taking advantage of a shore excursion for numerous reasons - read on to see exactly why!)
What to Do in Port in Cozumel (With No Excursion)
While Cozumel is a small island that is easy to navigate, it is a very busy port city that can hold over 10 cruise ships at the same time.
While the island never feels too crowded (thanks to the popularity of taking the ferry to the mainland, where Playa del Carmen and Tulum are a short ride away), as well as small concentrated port hubs that connect a couple of ships together in a bustling mini-city of its own; Cozumel can feel crowded when going off on your own to explore without a shore excursion.
Plan transportation very carefully if not booking through the ship - we found independent taxis and rental companies charged way over what the ship offered for shore excursions - most of which also include fun attractions
-Rent a Jeep
-Stroll down the Malecon
-Head to the Markets Downtown
What to Buy in Cozumel
-Silver and Gold Jewelry
-Embroidered linens, dresses, and decorations.
What Excursions to Check Out in Cozumel
While my friend and I decided to shop and eat in port and around Cozumel, we did check out some of our friends adventures that seemed amazing - and next time a couple of these are on my MUST list!
-Tulum Ruins and Beach Break
-Tequila Factory and Tasting
-Jeep tour and snorkeling around the island (read my friend Mary's account for her tour here!)
What to NOT do in Cozumel
-Expect Inexpensive Goods, Food, or Transportation Anywhere Near the Port - UNLESS on a Shore Excursion form your ship!
If you're sticking close to the ship, be prepared to pay a premium for independent taxis and jeep rentals.
My friend and I actually took a taxi around Cozumel instead of renting a jeep to save a little money - and ended up spending way more on the cabs.
Book through shore excursions (especially the shore excursion jeep trip) to save money, avoid traffic hassles, and have to worry about getting the best deal!
Booking a shore excursion alleviates a lot of the pressure since your transportation is pre-arranged (at a better price) and often involves food or some fun add-on you won't get just by exploring like we did.
-Don't Forget cash.
In some parts of Mexico, cash is still king!
Don't let that phase you too much though - pretty much everyone will take US Dollars - but will NOT take a credit card.
Plan accordingly, especially if you're looking to head to one of the private beach clubs or restaurants along the shore on the south side of the island.
-Don't Get Frustrated by Enthusiastic Vendors.
Just say "No, Gracias." firmly, and move on.
Remember these are people trying to make money for their families and go about your business. If your ship is starting your journey in Mexico in Cozumel, I'd suggest getting a couple hundred (US dollars equivalent) worth of pesos from the ATM on your ship or in port - but if Cozumel is your final destination and you don't want to hassle with changing currency, you'll be fine with US Dollars (we even had a cabbie who said he'd take some of my pounds or euros that were leftover in my wallet).
Just be sure to know the currency calculations to be sure you're paying properly - I love the XE Currency app.
-Don't Forget to haggle!
Minus in port (there are larger brand stores in port, who are solely non-haggle), market vendors in Cozumel expect a little back and forth to get to a price you're both comfortable with.
Don't be rude about this practice (remember, again, you're dealing with shop workers and sometimes artisans and makers - while everyone has a price and it can take some playful back-and-forth to get to it, don't treat people with disrespect.)
-Don't Forget to taste everything - but ask for bottled water!
If you stick to port, you are probably just fine drinking water (and you'll be brought bottled water without question) as they are newer builds and meant to hold thousands of cruise ship tourists a day. Outside of the cruise port, however, ask for bottled water (and be sure to open the bottle yourself) as a general rule of thumb when drinking water in Mexico if you're not used to it. You'll also want to watch any ice you drink as it is likely not from bottled water!
(Full disclosure, I have a terrible immune system and still play pretty fast and loose with ice in drinks and I've always been fine, but it's safest to be totally sure and ask for bottled water!)
While in Mexico, don't stick to the same old same old (though you definitely need to try the salsa and guacamole) - try some of the lesser known treats from Panaderias and Fruiterias... you'll be so grateful you tried all Mexico has to offer - from gorgeous fresh fruits and veggies to amazing tacos and meats, to out of this world seafood!
If you're considering a cruise to Cozumel, NOW is the time! Click below to see some of the BEST rates you'll find on a Princess Cruise - I absolutely love cruising with Princess - for their delicious food, friendly staff, laid back (but not too crazy) atmosphere, and the best itineraries and shore exclusives!