Summary: Cozumel, Mexico, is an island in the Caribbean Sea in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. This popular cruise stop for Western Caribbean routes, begins in a tourist port with shops full of tchotchkes. It was a bit too touristy for our taste. However, this port was also the starting point for an all-day catamaran trip which whisked us away from the throngs of tourists to the open gorgeous waters of the Caribbean. Here, we enjoyed a day of snorkeling, great food, drinks, and even time on a quiet private beach. This post is part of a 4-part series featuring our Western Caribbean cruise experience with Princess Cruises.
What to Bring. Bathing suit, hat for the sun, sun block, towels, change of dry clothes, flip flops, rash guard if you're sun sensitive, and sunglasses. A book to read on the beach is not a half-bad idea either.
Cozumel Port. Arriving at the Cozumel Port is actually kind of interesting. The process by which these gigantic ships essentially parallel park is quite something and as an added bonus, you get close enough to look at the other ships to see what fun stuff they offer. After disembarking, cruise ship passengers are immediately met with shops filled with tchotchkes. Every possible thing you could imagine is available and labeled with "Cozumel." Mixed within the tacky stuff though, are some cute and colorful keepsakes to take home. If your family doesn't want to wait while you shop, there's also a long line of comfy chairs in the shade where you can watch the ships come in.
Catamaran arrives. After shopping, our Catamaran arrived for our day trip. This was part of a package purchased through Princess Cruises, though we saw many independent operators out on the water too. Once on the boat, we were served drinks while we headed out to sea. Our first stop was to go snorkeling right off the boat. We do wish we brought a water proof camera. Shoot! Just know that the island of Cozumel is most known for being surrounded by a coral reef that is rich with sea life.
Beach Landing. Next we arrived at a private beach set up for this and other Catamaran companies. The beach offered complimentary paddle boards and kayaks, as well as a water playground for the kids. Afterwards, we headed back on our Catamaran, only this time the crew dialed up the party atmosphere. The music was jamming, drinks were poured, and both crew and guests participated in dancing on the decks of the boat. As the group was a mix of families, it was never too much in terms of partying and in fact, it made for a lively, entertaining, trip back.
Recommended. Of all of our shore excursions, this was our favorite. The crew was super accommodating, polite, and good natured, all of which really added to this fun-filled day. Even if you are not in Cozumel as part of a cruise, we recommend researching to see if this daytrip is available.
A note about Princess Cruises and the Cruising experience. We are a "one and done" family when it comes to cruises but we agree that it's something that everyone should try once. It's just one way to travel and we can see the appeal for many people. The Princess Cruise line was quite nice and we had no complaints about the ship. Staff, food, and services were all great. Cruising in general though, involves too much downtime for this active family. Also, we like to immerse ourselves in local culture by staying in AirBnB's, grocery shopping in local markets, and generally attempting to enjoy much of the local life as possible. Cruises do not offer that opportunity, hence, our reluctance to do another one.
Update: Currently, the specific route we took is not being offered by Princess but it's nearly the same. The only difference is that instead of Portsmouth, Jamaica, they now stop in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.