Visit our travel agent friends at MEI Travel

Mexico adds new tourist tax to Cozumel

28 Dec 2020

One state in Mexico has announced it will increase its tourist tax, which may have an impact on cruise ship guests.

The Mexican state of Quintana Roo, which is where the popular ports of Couzmel and Costa Maya are located, announced new $10 tourist tax on foreigners. This news was first reported by the Riviera Maya Times and does not mention cruise ships in the article.

There are no details yet on how the tax will be collected, nor if it applies to cruise ship visitors or not. Typically, cruise lines pay the port a per-passenger tax already when ships visit a port.

The new tourist tax would go into effect beginning April 1, 2021, and is intended to help make up the deficit the area has seen as a result of fewer tourists visiting in 2020 due to the global health crisis.

The tourism industry in Quintana Roo have said they are against this new tax, because they fear it will lead to less tourists willing to visit and opting to go elsewhere.

A letter signed by the country manager of IATA Mexico, and Luis Noriega Benet, president of Canaero,

In a document signed by Cuitláhuac Gutiérrez Martínez, country manager of IATA Mexico, and Luis Noriega Benet, president of National Air Transport Chamber (Canaero), asked to reconsider this proposal contemplated in the 2021 tax package.

Quintana Roo is located on the eastern portion of the Yucatan peninsula, and two popular cruise ports are within the state.  The other port in Mexico that Royal Caribbean cruise ships visit, Progreso, is in the state of Yucatan.

The number of cruise passengers that visited Cozumel has steadily grown over the last few years, and saw 4.57 million passengers in 2019. 

The island is the third-busiest cruise ship port in the world, and is visited by about 1,250 cruise ships each year.

Read moreThings to do in Cozumel on your Royal Caribbean cruise

In November 2019, Cozumel announced its first tax on cruise ship passengers with a 65 cent per passenger tax to pay for security, environmental and civil defense projects.

Fun things to do on a cruise to Mexico

27 Jun 2019

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.


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.


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!

Royal Caribbean cancels shore excursions requiring ferries in Mexico

02 Mar 2018

Royal Caribbean has cancelled all shore excursions requiring a ferry ride in Mexico today, following a safety warning issued by the U.S. State Department.

Guests aboard Liberty of the Seas and Allure of the Seas recieved notices that their shore excursions scheduled to take place on Friday, March 2 in Cozumel were cancelled. 

Royal Caribbean informed guests of the new State Department warning, which discouraged travel on tourist ferries in Cozumel.

The letter adds, "The U.S. State Department remains confident of the Mexican government's efforts to ensure the safety of all tourists in the country.  However, in an abundance of caution we are cancelling sponsored shore excursions that involve tourist ferries.  We also discourage guests from taking part in independent excursions that involve ferry travel."

Letter to guests on Allure of the Seas. Photo by Gears

Letter to guests on Liberty of the Seas. Photo by Twangster

We reached out to Royal Caribbean to get a sense if this cancellation of shore excursions involving tourist ferries will extend to other scheduled stops in Cozumel, but have not received a response.

Royal Caribbean guests involved in bus crash in Mexico

19 Dec 2017

At least 12 tourists have died in a bus crash in eastern Mexico today, when the bus carying them flipped over on a highway early on Tuesday.

Royal Caribbean has confirmed 27 cruise ship passengers were on the bus that suffered the accident, which were sailing on Serenade of the Seas and Celebrity Equinox.

Seven Americans and two citizens of Sweden are among the injured, according to Quintana Roo state Civil Defense spokesman Vicente Martin. 

Martin said the crash occurred as the bus was on its way to the ruins at Chacchoben, about 110 miles (175 kilometers) south of Tulum.

Royal Caribbean cancels Jewel of the Seas stop in Mexico due to violence

12 May 2015

Royal Caribbean announced it will skip a scheduled stop in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico today for Jewel of the Seas due to violence in the area.

Royal Caribbean director of global corporate communications commented on the change, "The call to Puerto Vallarta was canceled due to the recently experienced episodes of violent civil unrest, stemming from criminal gangs that have engaged in armed conflict with local authorities.  We also canceled Celebrity Infinity's call on Sunday. We will continue to monitor the situation in Puerto Vallarta."

Criminal violence in Mexico has been a primary reason why Royal Caribbean and other cruise lines have avoided offering more cruises on the west coast of the United States.

Royal Caribbean selects new sales director for Mexico

28 May 2014

Royal Caribbean named André Pousada, the former Brazil Sales Director, will become the sales director for Royal Caribbean in Mexico starting in July.

Mexico is considered a strategic market for Royal Caribbean because of the value and potential of the cruise market, so having the right plan in place there is critical.

Pousada has a career of over 22 years in the tourism industry, including experience in agencies, tour operators, airlines, hotels and cruise ships. At the same time, he developed his career in Academic SENAC, one of the leading Universities of Tourism and Hotel in Brazil.

Pousada commented on his hiring, "I am very pleased to have the opportunity to get in front of Royal office in Mexico.  It's a challenge for me to lead this project, Mexico is a country of great opportunities is a key element for the cruising, so we want to develop a series of actions and strategies that benefit the Mexican cruise and in turn, our sales reflect within Mexican territory. "

Planning a Royal Caribbean cruise: Cozumel

13 Jan 2014

We're wrapping up our trip planning process for our upcoming Navigator of the Seas 7-night western Caribbean cruise on February 9, 2014 by taking you along for the planning process.  Today, we're looking at our last port visit in Cozumel, Mexico.

You can read all about the plans we made for our other port stops of Roatan and Belize City too.

Photo by abiodork


Cozumel is a port I've been to many times, perhaps as many times as four or five, and yet I really like it.  I know some people don't care for it that much but I have enjoyed my time there.  

What I like about Cozumel is the value of my money as an American, the food (I love me some Mexican food) and the exploring the city.  In the grand scheme of Caribbean beaches, Cozumel's beaches are middle of the road because they aren't the best or the worst.  So I tend to gravitate towards spending time in the city.

We've done a lot in Cozumel over the years and I'd like to try to hit some favorites while trying something new.  One nice thing about Cozumel is it's a very easy place to explore.  In a perfect world I would rent a car for the day, but Mexico's laws about car rentals and liability scare me too much to be able to enjoy it.

Interestingly, I haven't done the two biggest things Cozumel is well known for: snorkeling or Mayan ruins.  I don't love snorkeling (well, I like snorkeling but I do not like fish) and I've been saving the ruins for something to do someday with my dad (who is not on this cruise).  

The Options

Isla de Pasion

I wanted to see what's new to try in Cozumel and ran across Isla de Pasion after seeing favorable reviews on TripAdvisor.  Basically it's a beautiful private island with unlimited adult beverages and buffet lunch included.

Photo by bayouscrubs

I've done many all-inclusive excursions and generally liked them, although they can be pricey.  A little research found the cost is about $70 per person and more research found that the reviews of food wasn't great.  And since my daughter will be with me, it's not like I can really drink $70 worth of alcohol to get my moneys worth.

The beach definitely looks great and it would be something nice to do perhaps with a group of people.  

Pros: Beautiful beach; Lots of drinks
Cons: Expensive; Will take up most of the day; Reviews of food not great

Chocolateria Isla Bella

If I can, I like to do things in port I know my wife will enjoy and I think a stop at this chocolate shop might be just that.  It's ranked as the number one restaurant on TripAdvisor for Cozumel and that really stood out to me.

Photo by eg2002

From the looks, a stop here could be quick and something to try for not a lot of money.  Because I enjoy exploring Cozumel on foot, it's always nice to have a few things to do to fill up the day and who doesn't enjoy a chocolate break?

Of course, the only way I can really see going here is if I do a city tour and if we opt to do a full day excursion elsewhere, then we won't have time to stop by.  

Pros: Inexpensive; quick stop;  happy wife
Cons: Not the most exciting thing to do; Not going means unhappy wife


If I go with the explore the city choice for Cozumel, where we eat for lunch will be a highlight for me.  Every trip to Cozumel I've tried a new restaurant in an effort to find the most authentic local food.  I love Mexican food but I really love authentic Mexican food.  Diego's is listed as #3 on TripAdvisor and the photos and reviews point to this as being an authentic experience.

Photo by Brucrew

It will be hard to top my current favorite Cozumel restaurant for authentic food, Comidas Caseras Tonita, but Diego's looks promising.  Chips, salsa, guacamole and fajitas seem to be big here and I love to try a little of everything.

There are two downsides I can see by trying Diego's. First, on a map it's quite a way from the cruise ship and the main hub of downtown Cozumel.  I don't mind walking but it will be a hike.  Second, there is always the chance the food will not live up to my expectations.  I enjoyed Comidas Caseras Tonita so much last time that other places will have a lot to live up to. 

Pros: Authentic food; inexpensive; good reviews
Cons: Far away from city center; How good the food is remains to be determined.

Mezcalitos Restaurant & Beach Bar

Inevitably, a beach break in Cozumel is a must and we've tried a number of beaches in the past in Cozumel, including Paradise Beach and Playa Palancar.  Mezcalitos is a beach bar on the east side of the island that sounds like the perfect combination of relaxation, uncrowded and a little bit authentic.

Photo by Hawkfish

What appeals to me about Mezcalitos is it's off the beat path.  In fact, this bar has no electricity but is pretty to look at and may be a good place to get a little bit of a beach break plus some food and drink.  When we were in Bikini Beach in St. Maarten, I liked having a restaurant, bar and beach tightly integrated and this sounds like more of the same.

The downside to Mezcalitos is the surf appears to be much stronger, which may be an issue since I have a 3 year old.  Granted, she has fun playing in the sand where the waves come in so it's not th end of the world.  Also, it's a bit of a drive to the east coast and once again will require a taxi fare.

Pros: Great scenery; Good food; Relaxing atmosphere; Good reviews
Cons: Relatively far away from cruise ship; Surf is strong(er)

The Decision

After considering our options, we ended up choosing.... Chocolateria Isla Bella + Diego's + Mezcalitos.

The great and bad thing about Cozumel is there are so many choices of what to do, more so than any other island we are visiting on this cruise.  With so many good choices, it's hard to just pick one or two.

What I love about Cozumel is how easy it is to explore the city and the island.  I think our basic plan will be to explore San Miguel and try the chocolateria, shop and have lunch at Diego's before taking a cab to Mezcalitos for the afternoon.

I think what we have here is a good, open ended day with opportunities to try something different if it comes up.  While Isla de Pasion looks great, in Cozumel I know how much there is to choose so I'd prefer to sample as much as I can rather than spend my day in just one place.

Restaurant Review: Comidas Caseras Tonita

21 Sep 2011

We love to explore the ports that Royal Caribbean stops at and find real, authentic experiences while in town.  While in Cozumel, Mexico, we set out to find the best authentic Mexican food we could find on the island and I think Comidas Caseras Tonita is exactly that.


Comidas Caseras Tonita is a family run restaurant off the beaten path in Cozumel, Mexico offering home made Mexican dishes.  While we were there, two women ran the kitchen and took our orders.  They really didn't speak much English, but we were able to communicate what we wanted to them.  The menus at the restaurant are in Spanish and English, so you can know what you're ordering without being fluent in Spanish.

The room you dine in is an open air room, that reminds me of a living room in some ones house in Mexico.  There are book shelves along the wall as well as music playing for your entertainment.

The restaurant is rustic enough to feel "real" but not concerning enough to scare away American tourists, like ourselves.  While we enjoy eating authentic food, we don't want to feel like we've gone "too far" into the local element and feel unsafe.  The restaurant was inviting and warm and felt like we were eating at a friends house rather than a restaurant.


The menu consists of Mexican dishes that include chicken, fish and steak.  There's also a wide breakfast selection that you can order at anytime during your stay.  Before arriving at Comidas Caseras Tonita, we had heard they had the best guacamole on the island and it was something we ordered as well.

Given the reputation we had heard about, we ordered guacamole, salsa, chips and something called "Mexican style chicken".  We didn't want to gorge ourselves, but we wanted to get a good taste of what this restaurant has to offer.

After placing our order, we immediately knew this place was looking good when we could see in the kitchen the women preparing everything from scratch.  The chips were fried on the spot, the guacamole was made from fresh avocado and the salsa was cut up from fresh vegetables.  Very soon the aroma in the air was filled with our food.

First up were the chips, salsa and guacamole and I can safely say that the lofty expectations I had in my mind were quickly met and surpassed.

It's hard to communicate in blog form just how good the food was.  You could really tell from eating the food how fresh everything was.  There wasn't anything that tasted like it had been frozen previously.  Back in the USA, my family are quite the connoisseurs of Mexican food but these appetizers at Comidas Caseras Tonita were so much better than anything we had gotten at home.

We had gone through half of the food and two orders of chips and then our Mexican style chicken was brought over.  Immediately I wished I had skipped breakfast on the ship so I could feel hungrier.

On the outside, the chicken didn't really look all that different from chicken dishes I had ordered back home.  Granted, it wasn't swimming in melted cheese as is often the case with Mexican dishes in the USA, but once I took a bite, I could taste the difference right away.  The chicken was moist, tasty and even had a sense of feeling "light".  I'm not sure if it was the euphoria my taste buds were in from the salsa and guacamole earlier, but this tasted like one of the best chicken dishes I had ever had in my life.  A definite top 10 dish.


If you're looking for authentic Mexican food, Comidas Caseras Tonita is by far a great choice while in Cozumel.  On previous cruises to Cozumel we had tried other restaurants in an effort to get an authentic meal (Pancho's Backyard, Casa Denis) and while Casa Denis was our previous front runner, I think Comidas Caseras Tonita is our new favorite local restaurant on Cozumel.

To me, part of going on cruises is the adventure of getting out there and trying something new.  While Royal Caribbean thinks that can mean climbing the rock wall on the ship or zip lining in Labadee, I love to explore the ports on my own and if you have any desire to try to explore Cozumel on your own, then I really believe that Comidas Caseras Tonita is a great spot to have lunch at.  

The cost of the food was less than $20 (we also ordered two rounds of Cokes) and the service was impeccable.  Eating at Comidas Caseras Tonita made me feel like I was on an episode of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations television show.  

Location: Calle Rosado Salas 265 Cozumel, Q. Roo 77600

Walking directions: Walk south from the plaza on avenida 5 Sur for 1 block, then turn left on calle Salas and walk east 1 1/2 block and the restaurant will be on your left.

Royal Caribbean Mexico launches new promotional program

16 Aug 2011

Royal Caribbean has announced its promotion in Mexico through his Facebook page (Royal Caribbean Mexico) and supported by their Twitter account @royalmx.  Called "Remarks on board", fans can earn points in a Facebook game.  The game will last for 1 month, the idea is to click 'Like' on Royal Caribbean Mexico's Facebook page and once they do they display the instructions and game mechanics. The users or players must form words with letters that get 9 to score points. If the user wants a new set of 9 letters need to invite three friends to click on 'I like' so you can play again. This can be done three times a day. 

Thus, the person who generates the most points during the promotion will win a trip for 2 people in the Caribbean on board one of the ships of the shipping company. To participate in this contest, only have to make a fan of Royal Caribbean Mexico in Facebook, the player who accumulates the most points will win the perfect vacation in the Caribbean, and souvenirs. 

Twitter followers also have the chance to be winners of a trip to the Caribbean twice: @royalmx during the promotion will launch a series of questions over the trademark to correctly answer as many questions in the shortest time. 

Port Focus: Cozumel

05 Jul 2011

A popular Western Caribbean port of call for Royal Caribbean, Cozumel is an island located on the eastern shore of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.  The island offers plenty of beach and sun fun along with some cultural heritage.

Cozumel Benefits

  • Beaches: Cozumel has some great beaches to choose from in and around the city of San Miguel de Cozumel.  While not the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean, they are plentiful and make great options for beach days.  Most of the well-known beaches are within 10-15 minutes of where Royal Caribbean docks via taxi.
    • Best private beach: Paradise Beach (beach is free but activities and water toys cost extra)
  • Shopping: There's a lot of shopping options to be found in Cozumel's city of San Miguel de Cozumel.  Most of the shops along the main road (Rafael E. Melgar) are riddled with tourist trap stores but stores found further into the city (within 3-4 blocks) offer more original options and better deals.  Cozumel boasts silver jewelry from other parts of Mexico as well as a wide selection of crafts.  Furthermore, being that this is Mexico, prices for goods tend to be cheaper here than in the United States.
  • Excursions close to the ship:  There's a lot to do in Cozumel if you're looking for an excursion and most are within an hour of where Royal Caribbean docks.  Most excursions, both from Royal Caribbean or via third party, are within a 15 minute taxi ride of the dock, with a few excursions across the Yucatan Channel in nearby Playa del Carmen.
    • Favorite excursion: Tulum Mayan Ruins Excursion
  • Diving: Cozumel is well known around the world for its scuba diving and snorkeling.  The nearby Palancar Reef was well documented by Jacques Cousteau in the 1960s and since has been publicized as one of the best places to go scuba diving in the world.
    • Best scuba locations: Reefs at Palancar, Tormentos, San Francisco, Santa Rosa & Paraiso North.

Cozumel Detractions

  • Safety:  Mexico isn't known for being the safest country in the world.  While most of the violence is in north west Mexico, there are still elements of crime to be concerned with while in Cozumel.  Like many ports of call, it's important to be aware of your surroundings.  We've also heard plenty of stories from tourists who rented a car, got into a minor accident and had to deal with settling the matter on the spot.

What to do in Cozumel

There's a lot to see and do in Cozumel but some of our favorite activities include

  • Visiting the Tulum Mayan Ruins
  • Eating authentic Mexican food
  • Paradise Beach
  • Exploring the east coast of the island via taxi or rental car
  • Scuba diving

Royal Caribbean ships stopping in Cozumel: Liberty of the Seas, Jewel of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas

Subscribe to Mexico