Cozumel Cruise

The “island of the swallows”
Dense forests and windswept beaches
Xcaret: a Yucatán theme park

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Cozumel

The land of the swallows

A forty-kilometre-long island directly off the coast from Playa del Carmen, Isla Cozumel is a renowned cruise-ship call: nearly every day, up to ten cruise ships dock at one of the island’s three dedicated piers, all just south of the only town, San Miguel.

A holiday to Mexico with MSC Cruises will present you with restaurants, souvenir shops and jewellery stores, all along the malecón (Av Rafael Melgar) in downtown San Miguel


If you fancy a museum, the attractive Museo de la Isla de Cozumel has small displays of the flora, fauna and marine life of the island, as well as a good collection of Maya artefacts and old photos.


If you’re not a diver, there’s a certain appeal in wandering the relaxed inland blocks of San Miguel, away from the piers, spotting Maya ruins and birds (the Maya called the island cuzamil – “land of the swallows”) in the dense forests and being the only person on the windswept eastern beaches. 


Midway across the island, San Gervasio is the only excavated Maya site on Cozumel. With several small temples connected by sacbeob, or long white roads, it was one of the many independent city-states that survived the fall of Chichén Itzá, flourishing between 1200 AD and 1650 AD. As part of a larger nature reserve the site is worth a visit for the numerous birds and butterflies you can spot early in the morning or late in the day. 


Another place to visit is Xcaret, a surprisingly pleasant theme park: it offers all the Yucatán’s attractions in one handy place, with a museum, a tropical aquarium, a “Maya village”, a beach, some small authentic ruins, pools and more than a kilometre of subterranean rivers down which you can swim, snorkel or float. On the other hand, neighbouring Xplor is dedicated to ziplines and other outdoor adventure.

Must see places in Cozumel

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    Mexico

    Under the shade of a sombrero
    Under the shade of a sombrero

    One of the world’s great civilizations, Mexico is a great cruise destination with its melange of Mesoamerican cultures, modern indigenous tribes and Spanish traditions; it’s a vibrant modern economy too, the biggest in Latin America after Brazil.

    Mexico’s landscapes are just as diverse, from the shimmering blue coastline of Baja California and the iconic cactus-strewn deserts of the north, to the Mayan villages and gorgeous palm-smothered beaches of the Caribbean Sea. You can climb volcanoes, watch whales, swim underground and tour tequila farms during your holiday to Mexico.

    And sprinkled throughout you’ll find richly adorned colonial churches, giant ancient pyramids and a sophisticated cuisine that has little in common with the world of nachos and burritos. Despite the inevitable influence of the US and close links with the rest of the Spanish-speaking world, the country remains resolutely individual. The music that fills the plazas in the evenings, the buildings that circle around them, even the smells emanating from a row of taco carts: they all leave you without any doubt about where you are.

     Many first-time visitors are surprised to find that Mexico is far from being a “developing” nation: the country has a robust economy, the world’s fourteenth largest, a remarkably thorough and efficient internal transport system and a vibrant contemporary arts and music scene.