A cruise dock that has been under discussion for many months has been approved by the Mexican Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat). Cozumel will have its fourth cruise dock and two-level terminal building built, functioning as a cruise embarkation point.
Concerns over the effect of cruise ships on the fragile reef systems in the area seem to have been overcome. The area will be under a strict environmental management plan during the build and beyond.
Construction Of 4th Cruise Ship Dock in Cozumel Approved
A fourth cruise ship dock and terminal building that will cost nearly $25 million in investment is approved in Cozumel, Mexico, one of the most popular cruise destinations in the Western Caribbean. The new dock will enable Cozumel to receive even more cruise ships every day, one of the most important sources of income for locals.
Cruise ships can already dock at three different ports in the city, there is the Punta Langosta cruise pier located downtown at San Miguel; the Puerto Maya cruise facility, which caters for Carnival Corp ships further south of downtown; and the International Pier, used primarily for Royal Caribbean vessels.
The new pier will be located on the island’s northwest coast along Rafael E. Melgar Avenue and in the marine area of the Federal Maritime Terrestrial Zone (Zofemat). The pier will be an L-shaped pier and be capable of receiving ships up to 362 meters in length, the exact length of the largest cruise ship in the world, Wonder of the Seas from Royal Caribbean International.
Ashore there will be a two-level cruise terminal with a total land area of 1.1 hectare (118,400 square feet), which will be used for boarding and disembarking of passengers. It will also offer bathrooms, parking, offices, and luggage storage.
In the run-up to the approval of the fourth cruise dock, there was significant push-back from environmental groups and residents alike as to how the new terminal would affect the nearby fragile coral reefs.
According to Semarnat, the approval of the new dock and terminal hinges on compliance to an environmental management plan and prevention, mitigation, and environmental compensation. Whether this will satisfy environmental groups remains to be seen.
For years, volunteer divers have transplanted small chunks of living coral anchored to seabed structures to create new reefs. The coral transplantation program has so far repaired the damage caused by human activity and hurricanes with thousands of corals.
Due to the increased traffic and disturbance in the water, the new pier could destroy this even more, while marine reserves and dive sites are only hundreds of feet away.
As is the case with many other cruise ports these weeks, Cozumel is seeing one of the busiest weeks of the year. The port expects to see no less than 29 vessels visiting the island this week. With that number of ships, it comes as no surprise the fourth dock is considered a necessity.
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Winter is typically considered high season for Caribbean and Mexico cruising, running between November and April. This is when most cruise lines base their vessels in the Caribbean area.
Puerta Maya pier will host ten ships this week; ten ships will also be docking at the SSA International pier. At the same time, Punta Langosta pier will see nine cruise ships dock.
Which cruise lines would be using Cozumel’s fourth pier in the future remains to be seen. In the past, there has been talk that both MSC Cruises and Royal Caribbean would be interested in using Cozumel as a homeport. However, this was during the height of the pause in operations. Whether this is still the case remains to be seen.