Cozumel

Video: Best things to do in Cozumel

In:
Category: 
01Aug2019

Do you have a Royal Caribbean cruise to Cozumel booked and trying to figure out what to do on the island? We have a brand new video detailing the important info about what Cozumel offers!

Cozumel is a popular Western Caribbean port known for its beautiful waters, exquisite beaches, culture and cuisine.  There is lots to consider, and we break down the basics when it comes to Cozumel in this new video.

And if you love this video, we have lots of other great cruise videos to watch on our Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel!

By the way, have you subscribed yet? Be sure to subscribe to our channel and never miss a single video!

So check out the video and then let us know: What is your favorite thing to do in Cozumel?

Fun things to do on a cruise to Mexico

In:
27Jun2019

Royal Caribbean can take you on a cruise to various ports in Mexico to swim, scuba, eat, drink and climb your way around the country’s storied ancient pyramids and cenotes.

We get a lot of requests for recommendations of what to do in various ports of call, so today we are focusing on the cruise ports in Mexico that Royal Caribbean serves, and hand-picked excursions offered by both the cruise line and on your own.

Royal Caribbean offers Western Caribbean cruises from four to seven nights that depart ports in Florida and Texas. If you are interested in some fun activities offered in each Mexican port Royal Caribbean visits, here are some great suggestions.

Cozumel

Fun in the ocean is at the heart of Cozumel, as it is known for its exotic and exquisite diving.  In fact, oceanographer Jacques Cousteau once said Cozumel had the best in the world for scuba diving.  Royal Caribbean offers shore excursions to snorkel in the Palancar Reef, where you can swim among starfish in a natural sanctuary.  Or give back a little and save sea turtle hatchlings.

You can combine the sea and land with a day by the beach. Cozumel has a number of great beach resorts you can spend the day at with a day pass.

If you want a little culture, try the Mexico in a Nutshell tour for a sampling of Mayan traditions, illustrated through aerial acrobatics and Mexican architecture. There are also tequila samplings and chocolate tastings to consider.

Costa Maya

 

Costa Maya has a great deal of intriguing options to consider to fill your day. Some of the best Mayan ruins are found around Costa Maya, including the premier preserved site at Chichen Itza. Royal Caribbean offers a multi-day tour that will take you to Chacchoben, Tulum and Chichen Itza, on an overnight adventure.

If aquatic adventure is what you want, the Meso-American Barrier Reef offers kayaking or scuba diving. This area is an important marine region spanning nearly 700 miles. You can always head to the beach and enjoy a relaxing day at Maya Chan Beach.

If you want to try to reel in your fun (see what we did there?), then grab a lure and head out for some deep sea fishing.

Progreso

A newer cruise port for Royal Caribbean, Progresso (also known as Yucatan), is home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Chichen Itza.

You can take a glimpse into Mexico's past with a visit to Merida, the capital of the Yucatan state. There you will find colonial-era estates known as Mexican haciendas.

Speaking of the past, you can explore Mayan culture at the Uxmal ruins, one of the civilization’s political hubs. You can explore the classic Mesoamerican ball courts, where ancient games were played, and the stone decorations of the aptly named House of the Turtles. The Dzibilchaltun ruins, an ancient trading center, and Temple of the Seven Dolls are worth a visit too, as they reveal the Mayans’ long-held understanding of the solar system.

Your thoughts

What is your favorite thing to do in Mexico on a cruise? Are you considering another tour? Share your experiences and questions in the comments below!

Paradise Beach Cozumel 2019 shore excursion review

In:
Category: 
18Feb2019

If your cruise ship is visiting Cozumel, Mexico, then you will very likely be in the market for somewhere to cool off and enjoy the beautiful waters that Cozumel is famous for. Picking the right beach for your family is more a decision of what you want to do, rather than a scientific examination of which beach is superior.

For many years, Paradise Beach has been a popular choice for cruise ship visitors who want an inexpensive, yet uncompromising beach day in Cozumel.  We decided to head back to Paradise Beach for that exact reason and see if the value proposition remains a compelling choice.

Description

Paradise Beach offers a simple approach, where each guest pays $3 admission and then everything else available is priced a la carte. Unlike many of the other popular beaches in Cozumel, Paradise Beach relies on offering a low-cost of entry to entice guests in.

The drive to Paradise Beach is fairly quick, about 10 minutes from where Royal Caribbean docks in Cozumel via taxi. The cost of our taxi ride was $30 for the six of us.

Upon entry, you have the choice to sit near the pool or beach.  You can move freely between the two areas, but it is up to you where you want your family's "home base" to be located.

A vast majority of the seating is located near the beach, as most guests seem to gravitate towards a beach day.  There is seating with or without shade, and the staff is quite accommodating as to where exactly you would like to sit.

The beach is quite nice and clean, although the left side of the beach has far more rocks than the right side.  If you are interested in snorkeling, the left side is your choice.

Paradise Beach also offers an aqua park add-on option. Like many other beaches, you can buy full day access to the aqua park and enjoy the various inflatables.  Unlike neighboring Mr. Sanchos, I did like that the inflatables seemed to be significantly closer to shore.

If the pool is more your fancy, Paradise Beach offers a rather enormous pool to enjoy.  They advertise it as the largest heated pool in Cozumel.  

Unlike the beach, there is not nearly as much seating with shade by the pool.  If you are okay with a bit of sun, there are some seats underneath trees that should provide partial protection.

The pool is not very deep, and there are shallower areas that were probably designed for lounging, but younger kids will find it a good spot for them.

Spending the day at Paradise Beach, you are likely to want to enjoy some food and drink while visiting.  As mentioned earlier, the food and drink is priced a la carte.  There is a new all-inclusive option available, but compared to other all-inclusive options in Cozumel, I did not think it was a terrific value.

Chips & Guacamole, along with Bloody Mary

Chips and Salsa

Mexican Breakfast

Veggie and fish tacos

Chicken and beef tacos

You will be assigned a waiter for your stay at Paradise Beach, and your waiter can bring you any food or drink you need.  Placing the order is done via the waiter's tablet device and then a few minutes later another waiter will bring your order. 

There is a good mix of Mexican food, along with American favorites. Picky eaters should find plenty to enjoy, while there are still some good Mexican choices available too.  

Comments

Paradise Beach remains a great beach option for those that fall into one of two categories: you only want to spend part of the day at the beach/pool and/or you are not interested in an all-inclusive experience.

The beach is well-maintained, offers ample seating with plenty of shade (or no shade) and the aqua park option should keep most families busy with things to do. 

Their pool is massive and quite lovely.  The fact it is heated stands out as a very nice option, as some of the pools we have been to around Cozumel are downright frigid.  

We found the food to be pretty good, and on par for what you can find at most beach resorts on the island. The taco truck stand and mojito cart are particularly good choices if you want something a little better.

The biggest issue with Paradise Beach is if you happen to be there on a day when there are a lot of ships in port.  Paradise Beach is one of the best-known spots in Cozumel, so it is no secret of what it offers. As a result, it has the potential to get crowded.  On the day we visited, there were only three ships in port and Paradise Beach was doing pretty well with folks enjoying the experience.

If you want a beach/pool day and you are looking to really indulge with food or drink, you would be better off at El Cozumeleno or Nachi Cocom.  But if drinking your weight in tequila, or eating a ton is not in the plans, than Paradise Beach is a very compelling choice.  It is the perfect add-on if you perhaps want to go downtown first to shop and then cool off with some beach time.

How to book: No reservations required or available. Just show up. Website

Best Cozumel beach resorts

In:
Category: 
20Dec2018

For cruisers with a port stop in Cozumel, Mexico, a very common question posed is which is the best beach resort in Cozumel.

Over the course of the last 12 months or so, I had the opportunity to visit and review a number of beach resorts in Cozumel that offer a pass for cruise ship guests to enjoy the facilities available. With an eye towards value, offerings and service, we present our list of our favorite beach resorts in Cozumel.

El Cozumeleno

Best Overall

Between the beach, pool, food and service, El Cozumeleno is "the total package". It offers enough for families to enjoy, while still retaining a sense of relaxation if you want to find a quiet corner of the resort.

Paradise Beach

Best Value

Paradise Beach impressed us with its combination of large beach and pool area, along with very good service. Unless you are planning on doing some serious drinking and/or eating, the value proposition of Paradise Beach is quite high.

Nachi Cocom

Best service

The level of service and terrific atmosphere at Nachi make it clear why so many people have been a fan of Nachi Cocom for so long.

Mr Sanchos Beach Club all-inclusive day pass review in Cozumel, Mexico

In:
Category: 
11Dec2018

Odds are if you are reading this review of Mr. Sanchos, then you probably heard about it from a friend, colleague or some online who recommended as a good choice.  Mr. Sanchos is among one of the more well-known all-inclusive beach spots in Cozumel and it is why we decided to try it out after hearing so much how others enjoyed it.

Description

The staff at Mr. Sanchos recommends making a reservation in advance to ensure a spot for you and your family.  It is not uncommon for Mr. Sanchos to sell out, and reservations can be made via the Mr. Sanchos web site. Reservations require a small deposit at the time of booking.

Mr. Sanchos is located south of where the cruise ships dock, and is roughly a 15 minute cab ride away.

Mr. Sanchos offers two admission options: A la Carte section (Pay as you Go) or the All Inclusive Day Pass. The resort claims there are two separate areas, and they do not mix All Inclusive Guests with Pay-As-You-Go customers.  For the purposes of this review, we opted for the all inclusive day pass option.

Upon arrival, you check-in and pay the remainder of the cost owed for the day.  Your admission gets you unlimited access to the beach, pool, food and drink for $55.. There is optional aquatic park add-on that costs $12 extra per person.

After checking in, you are escorted to the spot of your choice along the beach. Your admission gets you beach chairs, a table and umbrella. 

Mr. Sanchos has a rather large footprint, with at least three large pool areas, a couple of buffet restaurants, multi-story spa, shopping plaza, and more.  Something I have never seen at an all-inclusive beach resort is a small shopping district at the front of the resort where you can buy a lot of the typical Cozumel souvenirs found downtown.

After picking your chairs for the day, the wait staff will introduce themselves to you and they are your go-to point for any beverage or food order you want. On our visit, we were introduced to two waiters, with at least one of them usually around to take any order.  Mr. Sanchos offers unlimited food and drink, so there is no limit to how much you can order or how often.

The beach area is where most guests will spend their time, with lots of space to lay out and enjoy the water.  Entering the water, there is a good mix of sand and rocky areas and lots of fish swimming about.  

Speaking of the ocean, the aquatic park is a popular option with families.  The $12 aquatic park entrance gets you all-day access to the inflatables located just off shore.  Swim vests area available upon request.

The aquatic park includes:

  • Large climbing Iceberg
  • Climbing rock
  • Two large trampolines
  • Two medium trampolines
  • Pyramid slider
  • Two water totters
  • Moonwalk with two bouncers
  • Rock slider
  • Stadium ball

There are three pools, two of which feature a swim-up bar, in-pool seating and even swings around the bar to enjoy as you sip a drink.

The menu at Mr. Sanchos offers quite a variety of food, with a mix of Mexican favorites (tacos, ceviche, fajitas, guacamole, etc) and American fare (hot dogs, hamburgers, etc).

Comments

Mr. Sanchos has earned a reputation over the years for being a premier all-inclusive choice in Cozumel and after spending a day here, I can see why that is the case.  

The sheer amount of offerings included (and not included) in your admission stood out to me instantly from arriving at Mr. Sanchos.  They have a very large beach area, multiple pools, aqua park, water sports, bars and more to choose between.  Where other all-inclusives in Cozumel may offer a pool or a beach bar, Mr. Sanchos has multiples of each, which means you never have to stray far to run into something to do.

The service at Mr. Sanchos is impeccable, with the waiters almost hounding you if you need anything else.  While in the pool, the pool bartender got to know my name and had beers ready for me the instant my current beer dropped below half.  He wrote my name on it and whistled to inform me it was ready when I was.  That is some serious attention to customers.

Perhaps the greatest asset Mr. Sanchos offers is possibly its largest detractor, in that its sheer property size and capacity had me questioning what it would be like in Mr. Sanchos if they ever came close to selling the place out.  To be perfectly honest, we had no crowding issue on our visit.  But I could not help but notice the amount of seating offered at Mr. Sanchos and contemplated what the experience would be like on a day where they surpassed 75% capacity.

A big draw for a lot of families is the aqua park, which features a number of inflatable objects a short swim from shore on the left side of the beach.  If someone in your family is interested in climbing up inflatable pyramids or platforms and jumping back into the ocean a lot, then this is a great add-on to consider.  I bought passes for me and my 7 year old daughter, but I quickly realized she was a bit too young to enjoy the activity.

Overall, Mr. Sanchos offers a compelling all-inclusive spot to enjoy a day in Cozumel.  Mr. Sanchos is a great choice for larger groups, especially if some or all are interested in more than simply lounging by the ocean or pool.  The activities and aqua park seem to resonate with a lot of our readers who travel with kids or young adults. The all-inclusive option allows for a lot of indulgence while visiting the beach club, so it behooves you to sample as much as you can.

How to book: Reservations can be made online via the Mr. Sanchos website or third-party reseller.

El Cozumeleno Beach Resort Day Pass All Inclusive review in Cozumel, Mexico

In:
29Nov2018

One of the most popular ways to spend time in Cozumel is by going to an all-inclusive beach, and there is no shortage of choices.  So when I ran across the El Cozumeleno resort offering day passes, I had to check it out for myself.

Photo by Cruise Life Rick

El Cozumeleno is an all-inclusive resort that offers day passes for purchase, which grant access to the hotel grounds.  This includes the beach, pool, dining facilities, snorkeling, mini-golf and more.  It looks like the total package, but how would it stack up to the many other all-inclusives in Cozumel?

Description

Located on the north end of Cozumel, El Cozumeleno is not in the usual area where you find the most popular all-inclusives.  El Cozumeleno is one of many hotel resorts on the north side that cater primarily to guests who are staying in Cozumel multiple nights.

 

The resort advertises itself as offering a lot for your time and money. There is a huge selection of activities, options and ways to spend your day while on a cruise in Cozumel. Note that this is not a Royal Caribbean excursion, and can be booked via one of many third-party websites that sell day passes.

Checking in at the front desk, you are greeted with a welcome drink and explanation of what's included with your stay.  Essentially, you have access to anything a hotel guest would have, minus pool towels.

Here is exactly what is included with your day pass:

  • All food and open bar
  • Snorkel gear
  • 5 swimming pools, Jacuzzis and wading pools
  • Restaurant a la carte and buffet style right on the beach
  • Restaurant a la carte (air conditioned)
  • 5 Bars
  • Diving class in the pool
  • Mini golf & tennis court
  • Game room - pool table, table games, table tennis, table soccer
  • Fitness Center
  • Beach chairs
  • Swimming pool lounges
  • Sandy beach and great snorkel area
  • Kids club activities program in a special designed kids club
  • Wi-Fi in lobby area

As is the case with many all-inclusive resorts, you head outside and pick a few chairs to be "your spot" for the day.  There is ample seating along the beach, or in one of the pool areas. 

There are two main beach areas at El Cozumeleno, with one being primarily for enjoying the sun and surf, and the other beach used more for snorkeling (although there is plenty of seating there as well).

In addition, El Cozumeleno has a sprawling pool complex, which is also split up into two areas. The main pool is massive, with various depths and even part of the pool completely under a shaded area for those that want refuge from the sun.

There is a swim-up bar, as well as roaming waiter service.  The wait staff will consistently stop by to bring you any food or drink you would want.

If you prefer, there is a buffet restaurant between the two pools that is convenient to the beach or the pools.  

Speaking of food, there is a lot of it with a good mix of Mexican favorites and more familiar American fare.

El Cozumeleno offers programming and services beyond the usual beach and pool activities.  There is a child care facility adjacent to the pool, such as programming for all guests (Spanish language lessons, water aerobics, etc).

There is also a mini-golf course and playground near the pools.  The pools, beach and facilities mentioned are all relatively close to each other, which keeps things manageable in terms of not venturing off too far from anyone.

Comments

In my opinion, there are four components that make a great all-inclusive beach experience:

  1. Well-kept and appealing aquatic facilities
  2. Excellent waiter service
  3. Freshly made and tasty food
  4. Fair price

Having visited a number of all-inclusive resorts in Cozumel, often there is one or two of those components that a resort struggles with and it ends up dampening the experience.  I was pleasantly surprised to find El Cozumeleno bucked that trend and hit all four targets.

First and foremost, the resort is quite lovely.  It is large without feeling overwhelming, and offers plenty of space on the beach and by the pool.  Their pool facility is particularly impressive, with a large amount of space and nicely set up.  We found ample seating, both in the shade or in the sun. 

The beach offers palapas, hammocks, beach chairs and like the pool, there is lots of seating.  Between the two beaches, you should find a spot to enjoy the day.

Equally impressive was the food and service at El Cozumeleno.  We had a team of two waiters who were essentially "assigned" to our group and would regularly come around to see if we needed anything.  In my opinion, you want waiter service that is borderline annoying just so that you are not the one hunting them down to make a request. The waiter team was quite attentive and always had a smile when taking a new drink order, or bringing us our fifth order of chips and salsa.

Speaking of chips and salsa, the food came out fresh and tasted great.  Being in Mexico, I expect a certain level of authentic fare that should exceed the kind of Mexican food we can get in the United States. Their ceviche and fish tacos were excellent, along with fresh salsa.  They offer food like pizza or burgers, which were nothing special but certainly not inedible either.

After spending a day at El Cozumeleno, I believe I have found the new gold standard of all-inclusive beach days in Cozumel.  Their facility was superior to Nachi Cocum, and their service definitely equaled it.  The food offered rivaled any other all-inclusive beach in Cozumel, and I was all too willing to order multiple dishes while there.

At the time of our visit, the price was $54.99 per adult and $25.99 for children aged 3-11 years old (2 and under are free). The price mirrors most other all-inclusive beaches in Cozumel, and is an excellent value.

In short, El Cozumeleno is the best overall all-inclusive resort we have visited in Cozumel to date. Between the beach, pool, food and service, it is "the total package" and I instantly wanted to go back on a future visit to Cozumel. It offers enough for families to enjoy, while still retaining a sense of relaxation if you want to find a quiet corner of the resort.

Excursion Focus: Paradise Beach Cozumel

In:
25Jul2018

Spending the day in Cozumel, Mexico means time playing and relaxing by the ocean, and one of the most popular spots for cruise ship guests for many years has been Paradise Beach.

Unlike some other beaches in Cozumel, Paradise Beach offers an a la carte experience, where you only pay for the activities you want to enjoy.  This means a lower admission cost than some other popular beach options.

It had been eight years since our last visit, so on a recent Royal Caribbean cruise to Cozumel, we decided to see how Paradise Beach stacks up to the competition.

Description

Paradise Beach is about a 15 minute taxi ride ($15 one way) away from where Royal Caribbean docks their cruise ships in Cozumel, and easily accessible by taxi. It is located on the western side of Cozumel, one of many beaches that are popular with tourists.

Paradise Beach offers beach access, a large swimming pool, dining and drink service, and water toys in the ocean.  What makes Paradise Beach stand apart is that is not all-inclusive, which means you are charged for what you want to enjoy.

Admission to Paradise Beach is just $3 per person.  For that price, you can sit on the beach or go to the pool and enjoy the entire day.  Granted, that does not include anything other than facility access, but for some people that is all they really want. It is worth noting that a $10 minimum food order is kindly requested for pool access.

More realistically, you have the option of purchasing food, drink or activity access.  Paradise Beach prides itself on offering a low cost of entry and reasonable prices for the things to do there.  

Speaking of prices, Paradise Beach offers a Fun Pass that costs $18 and you can use the kayaks, snorkel gear, stand up paddle boards and access to the inflatable water toys, which include:

  • water trampolines
  • 14 ft. climbing iceberg
  • water slides
  • a floating multitier Jungle Joe climbing structure
  • Jungle Joe 2
  • Wibit Flipper
  • Aqua Glide blast bag
  • the Rock-it circular water rocker
  • Jungle Joe x1 aqua glide revolution
  • water mats
  • coconut tree climb
  • bungee-trampoline

As you arrive, the staff at Paradise Beach will escort you to any available chairs you prefer, either on the beach or near the pool. The staff roam the grounds of Paradise Beach regularly to take food or drink orders, and deliver it right to you.

Speaking of the pool, Paradise Beach has a massive pool area that offers shallow and deep(er) areas.  You can find chairs out in the sun, under a tree or somewhere inbetween.  

As its name implies, there is also a lovely beach that you can have access to while at Paradise Beach. It is indeed a large sandy beach and can accommodate quite a number of guests.

Food and drinks are available by ordering from the wait staff (copy of the menu.  There is certainly a large variety of alcoholic beverages you can enjoy, which is expected at any tourist beach spot in Cozumel.  In addition, the food is a mix of traditional Mexican fare and some American dishes

Comments

The appeal of Paradise Beach is quite simple, have a fun day by the beach or pool (or both) and pay just for what you want.  Unlike some other all-inclusive options, Paradise Beach does not include everything because they do not believe you need to have everything included.

Without a doubt, if you are looking to only spend part of your day at the beach or pool, Paradise Beach is the go to spot.  The opportunity to drop in and spend just a few dollars on admission is quite appealing.  Moreover, their prices for beer or cocktails are reasonable (definitely cheaper than the cruise ship prices).  Even if you drink quite a bit, you may still find yourself spending less overall than at an all-inclusive.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of our visit to Paradise Beach was the service.  I was curious how attentive the wait staff would be, especially since our cruise ship had a late arrival (noon) and we did not arrive to Paradise Beach until well into the afternoon.  Despite the late arrival time, we never waited more than a few minutes to get an order in.  Some of the waiters had handheld tablets that they could put orders immediately into the system, and then be delivered later on by other waiters.  

Coming back to Paradise Beach after so many years, it definitely holds up as a premier spot for any cruise ship guest to enjoy.  Paradise Beach has been synonymous with recommendations for a good beach day in Cozumel for quite a long time.  If you happen to search the internet for recommendations, inevitably Paradise Beach will always be among the suggestions.  

Overall, Paradise Beach impressed us with its combination of large beach and pool area, along with very good service.  When you combine the low cost of admission, Paradise Beach is a great spot to enjoy being outdoors.  Unless you are planning on doing some serious drinking and/or eating, the value proposition of Paradise Beach is quite high.  Families especially are sure to find the low cost for kids (we were never charged for our two daughters on our visit) a welcome change.

How to book: No reservations required or available. Just show up. Website

Excursion Focus: Fury Catamaran in Cozumel, Mexico

In:
17Apr2018

Over the years I’ve visited Cozumel at least a dozen times and always find myself doing the same thing. On my most recent cruise to Cozumel, Mexico I decided to step outside of my comfort zone and try something new. So off to the cruise planner I went and I came across an excursion called, Fury Catamaran snorkel and beach break.

The price in the Royal Caribbean cruise planner is listed at $78 for adults and $59 for children. I happen to book during a weekend cruise planner sale and it was listed as 25% off.


 

I should mention you can book directly through their website and it’s the exactly the same excursion. In fact, I think half my boat booked through Royal and others through Fury directly. So I would check both options and see what’s the better price.

The meeting time for our excursion was 8:30AM, so we were up early to meet on the dock. In Cozumel, you have that pier you walk down to enter the shopping area, our catamaran was docked right before that. I would say no more than 100 yards from walking off the ship, so that was really convenient.

We didn’t end up leaving until 9:15AM because we were still waiting on some guest. They do handout soft drinks and water while you are waiting.

Our day was split into three different activities, which I really enjoyed. The first part was snorkeling for an hour, a beach break for an hour and a half, and ending with an hour ride back to the ship.

Stop one was snorkeling; we were only 5 minutes from the pier so it was a quick ride over. During the short ride they explain our day, what to expect, and all the safety tips. They provide you with snorkeling equipment when you board. We were here for an hour and it was actually a perfect amount of time. Beautiful coral and fish all over, I really enjoyed this snorkeling.




 

Our second stop was the beach break; they have a private beach, which is about 20 minutes away. During our cruise over they started serving rum punch, beers, or soft drinks, which are all included.

The beach was nice and everything on the beach was also included. They had beach chairs, aqua park, kayak’s, paddle boards, beach beds, and of course an open bar.



 

The bar served the same thing as the catamaran so rum punch or beer. If you are hungry they also serve hamburgers for $10 and that was the only upcharge option for the day.

The final part to our excursion was the one-hour ride back. During the ride back they keep bringing you drinks and asking if you need anything. I laughed that they don’t let you go 5 minutes without checking in on you, really outstanding service the whole day.


 

They also have some fun line-dancing going on during the ride back, but you can also just sit and enjoy the views.

The excursion lasted 4 hours and I found that to be a perfect amount of time. And since we started early in the morning we had the whole afternoon open in Cozumel. This excursion would be perfect for someone who doesn’t like to sit and do the same thing all day or just looking for something totally different.


 

I was so happy I tried the Fury Catamaran and I plan to return again soon! Feel free to leave any questions below or if you have tried Fury and what you thought.

Excursion Focus: Iberostar Cozumel all-inclusive day pass at Cozumel, Mexico

In:
04Apr2018

If you are looking for a relaxing day in Cozumel, Mexico that offers fun in the water and much (if not all) included in your price, there are plenty of resorts to consider.

If you were to ask me, the gold standard for all-inclusive day pass spots in Cozumel has been Nachi Cocom, but on a recent Royal Caribbean cruise stop in Cozumel, our family tried to make a last-minute reservation and Nachi was sold out.  After spending some time researching our options, we decided to give Iberostar Cozumel a try.

Description

Iberostar Cozumel is a five star family friendly all-inclusive resort, located on the western side of Cozumel in the same area many resorts (like Nachi) are found. A taxi ride will take about 10-15 minutes to reach Iberostar Cozumel.

Iberostar is a family of all-inclusive resorts that you can find around the world.  In fact, most of the guests you are likely to encounter at Iberostar Cozumel are resort guests, rather than cruise ship guests. 

The resort itself is a large, sprawling retreat.  The lobby area is located in an enormous open air atrium, where you receive wristbands to identify yourself to staff around the resort.  Despite the fact you are a day guest at a hotel resort, admission to Iberostar Cozumel gets you access to essentially everything and anything a resort guest would get, minus a hotel room.

The grounds at Iberostar are immaculate and sprawling.  Not only is there a beautiful collection of flora to see anywhere you walk, you will also find flamingos, peacocks, and other beautiful animals along the way.

Your day pass includes:

  • Access to Iberostar from 8am to 6pm.
  • Unlimited meals & snacks at your choice of open establishments. This includes breakfast and lunch.
  • Unlimited drinks (alcohol & non alcohol)
  • Full access to beach
  • "Lake style" pool and separate kiddies pool
  • Lounge chairs and towels
  • Kids Club with supervised activities for ages 4-12
  • 3 Lit Tennis Courts plus 1 multi-purpose court for basketball or volleyball
  • Activities program by the pool and beach.
  • Use of snorkeling equipment ($2 USD fee for Marine Park not included)
  • Kayaking and catamarans
  • Fitness Center
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

If that sounds like a lot, that is a lot to be included with a day pass. While I think most cruise passengers are primarily interested in beach or pool time, coupled with drinks and meals, there are lots of activities you can take advantage of as well. 

Iberostar describes its pool as "lake style" and it is indeed massive.  It is essentially three main pools, along with a rather large kiddie (shallow) pool that all intertwine.  The result is one of the loveliest resort pools I may have ever been to at any resort in the Caribbean.  

There is a swim-up bar in the middle, lounge chairs in the shallow end of the pool, basketball hoops, and plenty of room to relax. In short, it is an impressive pool.

Naturally, Iberostar offers a large white sand beach area.  The pool is close enough to the beach that you can fairly easily walk between the two areas.

Admission to Iberostar Cozumel gets you unlimited food and drink during your stay.  There are a few restaurants around the resort that you may visit and enjoy.  Something that distinguishes Iberostar is the fact breakfast is served along with lunch later in the day. The food is served at any of the buffet-style restaurants, with one large restaurant and a grill located within steps of the pool and beach.

Much of the food offered is American fare, with a few Mexican dishes thrown in.  The menu at Iberostar rotates on a daily basis, with the idea that resort guests will be there for a week or so, and thus, get different choices each day to mix things up. As a result, the exact menu you get may differ depending on the day.

Unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are available as part of admission.  There are roaming waiters around the pool and beach area, along with the aforementioned swim-up bar, and some bars around the resort you can visit.

Comments

For a family looking to enjoy a relaxing day at a beautiful resort, Iberostar Cozumel fits the bill nearly perfectly.  It is an impressive resort that rivals many all inclusive experiences we have had in the region.

In general, we enjoyed our time at Iberostar and had a fun day splashing, eating, and drinking. I was truly impressed by the resort grounds and what they offered.  In fact, I found the assortment of activities very impressive.  Yoga, aquatic aerobics, archery, tennis, skeet shooting, snorkeling, etc.  Where most day pass resorts are limited to a beach, pool and snorkeling equipment, Iberostar shines with its rich array of things to do.

I had two gripes about my visit to Iberostar that prevent it from being my top choice for a day pass option in Cozumel. 

We arrived right around 9am or so, and already 65-75% of the pool chairs had been reserved.  There were not people actually there, but the "chair hog" situation was worse than anything I have seen on a Royal Caribbean ship.

Second, the lunch offered was fine, but lacked Mexican cuisine that I think many (including myself) look to enjoy while in Cozumel.  The lunch offered consisted mostly of American food, with a taco making station that was sufficient.  There were no quesadillas, guacamole, chips, or salsa to enjoy during our visit.  The flip side to this issue is my children had no problem chomping down on burgers and hot dogs all day long.

The level of service in terms of getting drinks while lounging was more than acceptable.  Roaming waiters took drink orders and once the initial surge of drink orders subsided, it was quite easy to get refills.  Of course, the assortment of bars around the resort means getting one on your own is easy enough.

Inevitably, I have to compare Iberostar Cozumel to Nachi Cocom resort, because Nachi has been my go-to recommendation for a while.  Iberostar's grounds and range of activities exceed what Nachi offers.  The quality and variety of food is better at Nachi, and Nachi's personalized waiter approach is still a preferred method in my opinion.

In terms of cost, Iberostar Cozumel cost us just about the same as most other all-inclusive day pass resorts in Cozumel. We paid $72 per adult and $36 for kids 3-12.

Overall, Iberostar Cozumel is a beautiful resort that is a good choice for groups that are looking for a phenomenal pool day, and/or lots to do around the resort, in addition to all the food and drink they care to enjoy. The reserving of chairs and food selection may or may not be an issue during your visit.  Our family certainly had a fun day at Iberostar and would love to return again just for that pool.

Things to do in Cozumel on your Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
Category: 
18Jan2018

If your Royal Caribbean cruise has a scheduled stop in Cozumel, Mexico, you might be wondering what there is to see and do in this popular Caribbean cruise port. 

Cozumel is the fourth busiest cruise port in the world (by passengers), with many cruise lines offering stops in this eastern Mexico destination.

Many Royal Caribbean ships call on Cozumel as part of their Western Caribbean itineraries. Most Royal Caribbean stops at Cozumel are for part of the day, and if you are trying to decide what to do in Cozumel, here is your guide.

Cozumel Overview & Strategy

Cozumel is an island off the eastern main land of Mexico.  It's a large island with a main city of San Miguel. Cozumel is well known for its beaches, scuba diving and shopping.

Cozumel is located in the tropics and has an average high of 85°F (29°C). Spanish is the official language, although you will find anyone working in the tourist areas to speak enough English to make communicating simple enough. Taxi drivers can sometimes struggle with English, but they know enough keywords to understand where you want to go.

If you are new to Cozumel, you will find no shortage of things to do in Cozumel.  Since Cozumel is an established and old cruise port, the variety of choices over the years have swelled to offer cruise guests a lot to consider.

When trying to figure out what to do, here are a few things to think about.

Weather

Depending on the time of year, the temperature and humidity may play a major factor into what you choose to do.  Temperatures remain constant throughout the year.  Daytime highs are in the 80s in every season and nighttime lows will range from the high 60s to mid-70s. With the exception of a few cold fronts in December and January, plan on a warm day in Cozumel.

The months of November through March will see the most temperate and comfortable temperatures, which means ideal conditions for doing lots of walking, touring and generally being outdoors.  These are the best months for seeing Mayan ruins and walking around downtown.

The rest of the year will see higher temperatures and humidity levels, which makes them an ideal time for swimming and diving.  You can still work in the ruins and other cultural experiences, but a swim break in the afternoon makes a lot of sense. April and May are warmer months, but still part of the dry season.  June through October constitute hurricane season in the Caribbean, which means the wet season arrives in Cozumel.  Expect sunny starts to the day, with increasing heat and humidity into the afternoon.  Pop up showers and/or thunderstorms will appear and disappear quickly.  Rain is short lived in the wet season in Cozumel, but can be heavy at times.

Trying a couple of things

Since there are so many things to do in Cozumel and the island is so small, consider multiple activities during your day in Cozumel.

Most Royal Caribbean stops in Cozumel are generally 8-12 hours in duration.  This leaves plenty of time to do a few activities while in port.  

In the warmer months of the year, you might try doing some sort of activity in the morning hours, and then head to a beach for lunch and swimming.  Taxi service in Cozumel is so plentiful, that getting around is not only simple, it is also economical.

If you choose to go to the mainland, there are beaches and shopping in Playa del Carmen in close proximity to the ferry.

Where you dock

Photo by DunkelBierJay

There are two main docks in Cozumel, and Royal Caribbean ships will dock at the International Pier, which is located south of San Miguel and is about a 5 minute taxi ride away.

As you disembark your ship, you will walk through a shopping plaza that offers a variety of shops, bars and restaurants.  This is an enclosed area that was created exclusively for cruise ship guests.  The shops, restaurants and bars in the port area are open when ships are present in port and offer many souvenirs that can be found around the island. Your best bet is to save this area for when you return, as much of the shopping is similar to what you may find elsewhere in Cozumel, and prices tend to be higher than in San Miguel.

If you booked an excursion with Royal Caribbean, you will see a meeting area set up for tours past the dock, but before the shopping plaza. You will be escorted from this area to your shore excursions.

You can tour the port area as you see fit, or walk through it to get to the exit and gain access to other things to do in Cozumel.

Getting around Cozumel

As you exit the port area, you have a variety of options to consider for the day. A taxi stand is located at the exit of the port area, where you can take a taxi to anywhere in Cozumel.

Rates for the taxis are posted on a sign, with most rates being flat fees that depend on the destination.  Taxis are plentiful and relatively inexpensive in Cozumel.  Even at the most remote areas of Cozumel, vendors are happy to summon a taxi for tourists when needed.  Most often, you can simply walk to the street and find a taxi passing by eventually.

A taxi ride to downtown San Miguel will cost about $8.  Once in San Miguel, it is an easy city to walk around without need of public transportation.

Popular things to do in Cozumel

Beaches

Perhaps no activity is more popular in Cozumel than going to the beach.  Activities such as swimming, snorkeling and especially scuba diving are very popular choices for activities in Cozumel.

There are many beaches in Cozumel to consider, with Royal Caribbean offering shore excursions to some and many more available to try on your own. If you want to swim, you want to stick to the west side of Cozumel. The eastern side of Cozumel is far too rough for swimming (and in general is quite rural and undeveloped).

A taxi can take you to any beaches on the island.  Here are a few of the more popular beach choices

Cozumel became a tourist destination in the 1960s when Jacques Cousteau highlighted the area as a great spot for scuba diving.  Ever since then, Cozumel has been a highlight for anyone looking to dive. If you are looking for scuba diving or snorkeling, try the Cozumel Reefs National Marine Park.

Culture

Cozumel is rich in history and Mayan culture.  The island was once a central part of the Mayan Empire.

Mayan ruins dot the island and the mainland.  Visiting these Mayan ruins is a premier shore excursion for those looking to see the history of this island.  

You can visit any of the Mayan ruins by booking through Royal Caribbean or on your own via a third party. If you are looking to visit the Mayan ruins on the Mexican mainland, such as Chichtzen Itza or Tulum, we recommend to book the tour with Royal Caribbean directly because of the long commute times to these sites.

Speaking of shore excursions to the mainland, a high-speed ferry transports guests from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen and it has a reputation of inducing sea sickness.  Be sure to take motion sickness medicine as a precaution. We recommend Bonine as a great once-a-day choice for preventing and/or treating sea sickness.

Our recommendations for Mayan ruins include:

Cozumel also features a number of resorts that combine Mexican culture and heritage with recreation.  These eco-parks are just as much about Mexico's vibrant fauna and flora as it is about enjoying some time in the ocean.  

In fact, many of these shore excursions allow guests

There are lots of other things to see and do in Cozumel that can give you a glimpse beyond tiki bars and margaritas, for a look at the real Cozumel. 

Shopping

A simple and robust choice is to go to downtown San Miguel to peruse the many shops in town.  Shopping in downtown Cozumel offers plenty of touristy gifts, along with some authentic Mexican goods.

For about $8 per taxi, you can reach downtown San Miguel in perhaps five minutes.  Once you arrive in San Miguel, there are a number of streets that intersect in a pseudo-grid layout. The main thoroughfare, Av. General Rafael E Melgar, runs along the ocean and is where a bulk of the shopping takes place.

There are many shops up and down each street, and you should explore the side streets extending away from the ocean.  In general, the touristy shops tend to be closer to the ocean.  As you walk into the city and away from the ocean, the shopping opportunities become more authentic and expand in variety considerably. Going three to four blocks away from the ocean is a great strategy for finding some lesser-frequented shopping choices.

Cozumel is known for jewelry, Mexican artisanal handicrafts, leather goods, and plenty of tourist souvenirs (T-shirts, towels, bags, etc). You can also find Mexican vanilla and tequila around the island. Royal Caribbean will confiscate any liquor you purchase in Cozumel, but return it to you on the last evening of the cruise.

While the Mexican Peso is the official currency of Mexico, all shop owners happily accept the U.S. Dollar.

Food and dining

There are lots of great dining choices all over Cozumel.  You will find familiar restaurant chains, alongside local restaurants that serve up more authentic Mexican cuisine.  

As you might imagine, Cozumel restaurants offer mostly Mexican cuisine although there is a heavy amount of Tex-Mex food that caters to the American visitor.

If you are looking for local cuisine, try some of these restaurants:

Bars and all-inclusive resorts

If you want to enjoy a few cocktails or cervezas, you will find no shortage of them in Cozumel.  In fact, as soon as you leave your ship you will run into many bars.

Many of the touristy bars in Cozumel have a party atmosphere and you may hear lots of stories about some of them.  Most of the bars located in close proximity to the ships cater exclusively to tourists who often are looking to consume a lot drinks.

Popular spots to get your drink on are

You will also find a variety of bars and restaurants in San Miguel.  In short, you will never have to go very far to get a margarita, beer or other frozen concoction while in Cozumel.  Moreover, the price of these drinks should be significantly cheaper than Royal Caribbean's onboard prices.

If you would prefer to lock in your drinking cost, there are a few all-inclusive resorts.

These resorts offer day passes, where guests can purchase passes and have access to everything the resort offers, including drinks, food and entertainment.

Swimming with Dolphins

Another very popular activity on Cozumel is swimming with Dolphins.  Excursions involving dolphins is a very popular Caribbean excursion, and Cozumel offers a few different choices.

A number of businesses offer the chance to swim with dolphins in an event many consider to be a once-in-a-lifetime.

If you have been to Cozumel, share with us in the comments what you enjoyed doing there!

Pages