Tips for RC cruise to Costa Maya and Cozumel?

On September 9, I’m going on a 5-night Royal Caribbean cruise, stopping in Costa Maya and Cozumel. Not my first cruise, but my first time on RC and in the Gulf of Mexico.

What are your recommendations for excursions in Costa Maya and Cozumel? Should I book with RC or independently?

A little more background: My friends are going to hang out at a beach club in both ports. But I’ve never seen a cenote, or swam with a dolphin. I see also an excursion to “save a sea turtle,” which matches my love language of “acts of service,” lol. I’ve snorkeled only once, and I’ve never scuba dived. I don’t speak Spanish. No habla espanol.

I looked briefly on TripAdvisor, but I was a bit overwhelmed with choices.

Any tips/recs appreciated!


I have traveled in that area, and I do speak Spanish, so perhaps my tips will not be that helpful to you. Much of what you do will depend on where your ship is docking. I never book with the cruise line; I like to do everything independently. The time we docked in Cozumel, I just lead my family through the dock area, to the street where there were waiting taxis and had the driver take us to a beautiful beach area that was the same as an excursion with the cruise, but for a family of 5, we paid one small taxi fee compared to 5 excursion fees. If you’re docking on the mainland (Playa del Carmen or some other town), I would highly recommend a cenote. They are really fabulous. Again, I would grab a taxi and go to one on my own; it’s very easily done, but you have to be comfortable with it. I, personally, would never swim with a dolphin because I feel it’s cruel and inhumane the way they are captured and confined in pens. Here’s a link to the Humane Society of the United States stance on swimming with dolphins: Swim-with-the-dolphins attractions | The Humane Society of the United States.
Que tenga una buena vacacion!

1 Like

I have no advice @geoff.hom but wanted to wish you a terrific time. It’s been 20 years since I’ve gone on a cruise and sounds so much fun


Hi @geoff.hom perhaps @Joanne can give you some tips as they successfully combine cruising with their pet and house sitting travels.


Chankanaab National Park is a great place to hang out under a palapa. Last time I was there, there was wait service for food and drinks. This is also perfect for an intro to scuba dive. You’ll find dive huts there, look for one that says PADI. They’ll do a great job, and you may even find it life-changing (it was for me). You actually have a kind of provisional week-long certification after that and can go again.
Grab a taxi and head to one of the beach bars outside of town. I loved Coconuts but there are several. It’s easy to take the ferry to Playa del Carman from there. The beach is now jam-packed, but it’s a fun town.
The ruins of Tulum are small but their location makes them pretty damn stunning. That might be easier on an excursion since they’re a bit further out, but I’ve done it with a taxi and by bus.
You can get by without Spanish, but it’s always a good idea to learn a few words (hello, please, thank you) for politeness.
Have a great time! The water’s incredible!


We typically do a lot of research before heading out on our own in a new port. The resource I use is

Enjoy your cruise @geoff.hom


@sledgejoyce: Thank you for the detailed advice. Going to a cenote alone never occurred to me. For some reason, I imagined them as private or restricted. I definitely will try to visit one!

As for dolphins, I hadn’t thought that deeply about it. I just recall a woman say how she once swam with dolphins and she dreamed about it for days. So, thanks for the link. I agree that it’s not worth the cost to the dolphins. Like animal poaching.

@Edith: Thank you for the detailed recs. Scuba diving at Chankanaab National Park, hmm. I hadn’t considered scuba diving, as I felt it’d be better to get used to it here in the U.S. first. But maybe that’s a backward way of thinking. I’ll see what I can find online about PADI at that park.

And the ruins of Tulum. I’ll look into that, too. Thank you!

@Joanne: Thank you for that link. I hadn’t heard of it before. I’m looking at the site now and it’s been very helpful.

I feel a lot more prepared now! Thanks, everyone!

1 Like

More than welcome @geoff.hom. We used it extensively when we were overseas last summer. Cruising is something we are very fond of, and think it’s a great way to vacation, and at times, get from one country to another. We utilized two transatlantic cruises last year to travel overseas in April and return back in September. :ship: