Cozumel’s popularity spiked this year, with more than two million cruise passengers visiting the port in the first nine months and another million expected for the last quarter. The numbers increased significantly over 2021 when cruise ships started sailing again after the global pause in operations.
The growth comes as Cozumel’s popularity as a cruise destination remains high, and cruise ships visit the Mexican port with more guests onboard.
Two Million Cruise Ship Visitors in Nine Months
Cozumel is more popular than ever. With its crystal clear water and opportunities for diving excursions, eating & drinking, and shopping, it’s no surprise that cruise passengers increasingly choose a cruise to the Western Caribbean.
The popular Mexican cruise destination has already welcomed close to two million cruise ship tourists in the first nine months of the year, and the projections of federal authorities say that the popular cruise port could close the year with a figure of over 3 million travelers.
Cozumel welcomed 766 cruise ships from January through September, and the port expects to close the year with some 968 cruise ship calls over the entire of 2022 as the busiest time of the year is approaching. This is much more than the restart year of 2021 and just slightly less than the 1004 cruise ship calls in 2019.
Companies such as Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Royal Caribbean International have taken advantage of the early opening of Cozumel after the global pause in operations and continue to visit the port with some of the biggest ships in the world. That showed in the first three months of this year when Cozumel welcomed 600,000 cruise visitors.
The considerable growth in passenger numbers, more than 800% over 2021, is partly explained by the bigger ships. However, the fact that the CDC let go of its voluntary cruise program boosted arrival numbers significantly.
Three Million Visitors by the End of the Year
In January, the average passenger number onboard ships calling on Cozumel was around 1700. By July of this year, just after the CDC’s decision, that number went to over 3,000 per ship on average. In November, arrival numbers reached 260 thousand international cruise passengers, the highest number seen in the second half of 2022.
Through December, those numbers will go up even more as the berths on the island are booked at nearly 100% capacity. This means that up to eight cruise ships will be in town daily. Altogether, local authorities believe that more than 3 million cruise passengers will have visited the island by the end of the year.
Those numbers bring Cozumel back to the historical records set in 2019 when some 3.8 million visitors arrived in Cozumel by cruise ships.
Most Visited Cruise Destination in the World
Outside of the three major cruise ports in the United States, Port Miami, Port Everglades, and Port Canaveral, Cozumel is the most popular cruise destination in the world. It is even surpassing cruise home ports such as Barcelona, Southampton, and Civitavecchia.
In the Caribbean, the port that comes closest to Cozumel is Nassau, while ports in places such as Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Puerto Rico, and Costa Maya lag far behind.
In 2020 and 2021, the future looked bleak for Cozumel. A fourth cruise dock was put on hold due to environmental concerns, and the global pause in operations meant that the local economy suffered greatly as a huge percentage of income dropped off. However, with 140 cruise ships visiting in December 2023 alone and three million visitors over the entire year, Cozumel has well and truly left the pandemic behind.