Should I Take the Ferry?
An excellent day trip is hopping the ferry in downtown Playa del Carmen and enjoying the beautiful 12 mile voyage over the turquoise water to the island of Cozumel. Home to some of the best scuba diving in the world, Cozumel has stunning reef walls that rise some 80 feet or more, vibrant with marine life.
Playa del Carmen and Cozumel are both huge tourist destinations. In peak season, up to 20,000 cruise ship passengers visit the island per day, or roughly 3.6 million annually. Many of these guests will board a ferry and venture over to the mainland for excursions to eco-parks, Mayan ruins, beaches, etc.
Then there are those of us that fly into the Cancun International Airport, which sees 16 million tourists coming and going annually! If you’re like my family, we love coming for a Mayan Riviera vacation and want to take advantage of a great day trip over to Cozumel.
Recently there has been some bad publicity due to an accident on one of the Barcos Caribe line ferries. After passengers had all disembarked at the Playa del Carmen dock, an explosion occurred, injuring some passengers and crew who were standing on the dock next to the boat.
This company is a new player in the ferry system and one of the owners has an unsavory reputation and is in legal trouble unrelated to this incident. Speculations abound on whether the explosion was an act of terrorism or perhaps an inside job.
Unfortunately though, this unsettling event has damaged the reputation of the other ferry companies as well. Travel advisories have been posted warning tourists of using the ferry and cruise ship lines have canceled excursions that depend on the ferry.
With all that being said, many of us are aware that news reports about Mexico tend to be sensationalized. It takes a while for the “dust to settle” and for the true facts to come to light.
So what should you believe? What decisions should you make on your vacation? No one can tell you, but perhaps some first-hand information of our experience can help clarify the issue.
My family and I took the trip to Cozumel on Wednesday March 7th, right in the midst of the travel advisories and negative announcements. We had a beautiful day. The boats were full and everything operated smoothly and safely, both coming and going.
Reputable companies like UltraMar and Mexico WaterJets continue to function with no signs of slowing down.
The federal police have stationed additional personnel, including officers accompanied by canines trained in detecting firearms, explosives and drugs. We noticed this during our day trip. As well, a sizable amount of funds from the government has been allocated towards beefing up security at both the Cozumel and Playa terminals, with improvements being implemented over the next two weeks.
This is not to say that no accidents will ever happen with the ferry boats, as obviously nothing is 100% certain in life. However, to put it in perspective, many of us travel the highway without thinking twice, but there is a larger chance of an accident happening there than on a ferry!
It is definitely wise to exercise caution no matter where you are, but especially when visiting a foreign country where the language, customs and regulations may be different from where you live.
When you’re on vacation, it’s still important to use common sense and be careful. So please do so during your visit to this beautiful area, but don’t deprive yourself of the fun your family can enjoy on Cozumel just because of bad press and speculation.
By Brad & Kelly Storhaug