Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Cruise passengers in Cozumel up almost 74% in first half of year

Nearly 5 million cruise ship passengers arrived in Mexican ports in the first six months of 2023, with Cozumel, Quintana Roo, continuing to lead the way in the industry’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Navy’s General Directorate of Ports, 2,184,784 cruise ship passengers visited the Caribbean island in the first half of this year, a 73.8% increase from the same period of 2022.

Puerto Maya, Cozumel
Puerto Maya, owned and operated by Carnival Cruises, is one of three cruise liner terminals on the island. (Elizabeth Ruiz/Cuartoscuro)

Cruise visitors to Puerto Progreso, Yucatán, also leapt by 51.4%, to reach 95,827 arrivals, while visitors to Majahual, Quintana Roo, increased by 49.7%, to 896,336. Overall, cruise visitors to Mexico’s Caribbean ports were up 65.3% year-on-year, according to the Navy’s figures, while arrivals in Mexico’s Pacific ports leapt even further, by 89.4%.

A total of 4,968,610 cruise ship passengers arrived in Mexican ports between January and June, an average of more than 27,600 per day.

Vagner Elbiorn Vega, general director of the Integral Port Administration of Quintana Roo (Apiqroo), said that the figures show Mexico’s cruise sector is continuing to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, which paralyzed the industry.

Cozumel received 2.9 million cruise passengers in 2022, representing around 64% of its record-breaking 2019 numbers. Mahahual received 1.2 million, a recovery of about 75%. Between them, these two Quintana Roo ports accounted for around 62% of Mexico’s total cruise ship visitors.

Cruise tourists, Cozumel
Cruise passenger numbers in the wider Caribbean gulf, such as here in Progreso, Yucatán, were up 65.3% on 2022. (Martín Zetina/Cuartoscuro)

Regarding the 2023 figures, Elbiorn Vega told La Jornada Maya newspaper that Apiqroo expects to end the year with 32.4% more passengers than in 2022 – although he clarified that Apiqroo only manages two of Cozumel’s three cruise ship terminals, as Puerto Maya is run directly by Carnival cruises.

A fourth terminal was proposed for Cozumel in October 2020, to be built on the island of Las Golondrinas. However, it has faced strong opposition from local environmental activists. A federal judge granted a temporary injunction against the project in February 2022, which was later struck down.

In May, the Cozumel Island Citizen Collective asked Quintana Roo Governor Mara Lezama to mediate with the federal government to permanently revoke authorization for the terminal, which they claim was awarded irregularly. They also asked Lezama to hold a popular consultation to establish whether the fourth terminal is supported by Cozumel residents.

With reports from La Jornada Maya and El Economista

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