Cruises To Mexico: Complete Guide to Plan Your Cruise Vacation

Mexico might be on planet Earth, but it exists in another world entirely! The home of tacos, tequila, mariachi bands, and Mayan temples, Mexico provides a variety of adventures that you can’t find anywhere else in the world. With a cruise to Mexico you get to experience everything this place has to offer.

Mexico is a kaleidoscope of unique experiences – glorious beaches offering the bliss of the Caribbean, colorful villages brimming with life, delicious cuisine, fabulous shopping, and a sprinkling of Latin fiestas. With the sun beaming down throughout the year, there is never a bad time to visit.

Table of Contents

Overview: Mexico at a Glance

Cancun, mexico

Stretching from the United States in the north to Guatemala and Brazil in the south, Mexico connects the North and South American continents. The country’s eastern edge slinks up to the Caribbean Sea while on the Pacific side, the gorgeous mainland coastline of Mexico is called upon by luxury ships cruising to and from around the world.

The country’s two million square kilometers feature everything from breathtaking beaches and cactus-strewn deserts, to megacities and tiny pueblo towns, to tropical jungles and mythical Mayan sites.

Quick Facts
Climate

Tropical with dry season and rain. Humidity around 70% Average temperature ranges between 50°F and 90°F

Timezone

There are three generilized time zones in Mexico:
PT Pacific Time UTC -8:00 / -7:00
MT Mountain Time UTC -7:00 / -6:00
CT Central Time UTC -6:00 / -5:00

Language

While Spanish is the country's de facto national language, other regional languages spoken in Mexico include Nahuatl, Yucatec Maya, and Mixtec

Currency

The official currency of Mexico is the Mexican Peso, which is symbolized by MX$. US$1 equals MX$22.38

Getting Around

By Bus: If you are on a budget, buses are the most affordable option for traveling around Mexico
By Boat: Ferries and boats offer convenient transportation all along Mexico's coastline

Fun Fact

One of the new Seven Wanders of the World is The Chechen Itza Pyramid in Mexico

Mexican Cruise Ports

Cruising in Mexico is a truly magical experience enriched with fiery sunsets, golden beaches, balmy weather, and year-round festivities.

Cabo San Lucas

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Cabo San Lucas has the ideal mix of pleasant weather, exotic scenery, and exciting nightlife at the tip of Mexico’s 1,000 mile-long Baja California Peninsula. With its sprawling marina and beautiful bay, Cabo San Lucas is a holiday destination in Mexico famous for its big-game fishing, great diving spots and whale watching.

Cruise ships bound for this sunny resort town will typically drop their anchors in the Cabo San Lucas Bay, from where you can reach the shore with their lifeboats. Conversely, you can also engage a water taxi to the arches, take a short trip to Medano Beach or Lovers Beach, or simply hire a tour bus to one of the dozens of snorkeling beaches in the vicinity.

Cabo San Lucas has become a major vacation destination best known for its diverse wildlife, scuba diving locations, spa, and balnearios as well as a range of marina activities. Numerous timeshares and resorts dot the coast between Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo.

Costa Maya

Costa Maya, Mexico

The small town of Costa Maya is celebrated for the largest Mayan ruins in the world. Located in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula south of Playa del Carmen, Costa Maya has transformed from a sleepy pier village to a major cruise ship destination showcasing modern conveniences, fine dining, bars and restaurants, saltwater pools, local artisan market and a private beach club. For those who enjoy a relaxing day basking in the sun, there are untouched beaches by the ethereal Caribbean and opportunities for catamaran sailing, jet skiing, scuba diving, and fishing.

As the first Western Caribbean port designed exclusively for cruise ships and cruise guests, Costa Maya is strategically located just a few hours from Cancun and offers a great variety of holiday experiences. From iconic Mayan archaeological sites to Laguna Bacalar (Lake of Seven Colors) to the Great Mesoamerican Reef, there plenty of activities to do in this port that you might easily get confused as to where to start. However, whatever you decide to do, all cruise travelers must pass by the terminal building to access the various attractions. If you haven’t booked an excursion already, the terminal houses and the tour kiosks can help you do so. The earlier you schedule your excursion, the better.

Cozumel

Port in Puerta Maya - Cozumel, Mexico
Port in Puerta Maya - Cozumel, Mexico

If you have decided to board a Caribbean cruise, there is a very good chance that one of your stops will be Cozumel – the most-visited mainstream cruise destinations in Mexico located on the eastern flank of the Yucatán Peninsula. The Cozumel cruise port attracts tourists from all over the world by offering some of the world’s best underwater tour activities, offshore coral reef expeditions, a bustling waterfront, and sun-soaked beaches.

There are three main ports of call in Cozumel are:

  • Punta Langosta in San Miguel is a large public port featuring a variety of sightseeing and shopping opportunities;
  • The International Pier of Cozumel which closely follows only 3 miles south of the town
  • The Puerto Maya Pier which lies furthest from the town at its southwestern edges.

Ensenada

Ensenada, Mexico

The coastal gem of Baja, Ensenada, is better known amongst the locals as La Cenicienta del Pacífico – literally meaning ‘the Cinderella of the Pacific’. As one of the foremost settlements founded in the California region, Ensenada has emerged as a major cruise ship destination with multiple cruise liners sailing from all over the world. If you are a wine lover, mouthwatering food, outdoor adventures, and open-air theatres, then a cruise to Ensenada is undoubtedly a thrill way to explore it!

When you arrive at Ensenada cruise port, your cruise will dock at the Industrial Harbor marked by a towering Mexican flag pole. Shared by commercial and cargo fleets alike, the dock is home to boats, including shipping containers, tankers, sport fishing boats, and luxury cruise liners. A walk along the pier will open up the scenic views of the Bay of Saints and Avenida Lopez Mateos – the central tourist district for dining and shopping.

Yucatan (Progreso)

Chichén-Itzá, Yucatan, Mexico
Chichén-Itzá, Yucatan, Mexico

The Yucatan Peninsula, home to the famous Chichen Itza Mayan Pyramid, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, also has secret swimming holes and ancient cities among its many treasures. You can take full advantage of the underground river caverns formed during the dinosaur period when the devastating asteroid hit Earth.

Progreso is the gateway to adventure on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, with its laid-back beach-town feel and one of the world’s longest piers. For sun-seekers looking to relax on long stretches of sand, Malecon Beach is a must.

These cruise lines call at Calica on the Yucatan Coast and Cozumel in addition to the two days at sea to enjoy the ship’s many amenities.

  • Carnival
  • Holland America
  • Norwegian
  • Royal Caribbean

The port of Yucatan features plenty of seaside restaurants, pubs, and water equipment rental shops. It’s also enjoyable to take a day off at this port if you don’t feel like venturing into the island. You can go to the beach and grab some of the several available beach chairs and chill all day long under the sun. But if you don’t want a day at the beach, then a visit to the nearby town will make up for more than your missed beach day. The city of Merida is situated 30 minutes away from Progreso.

Progreso is a port that provides an authentic feel of a Mexican port. Historical and archeological elegance, combined with amazing people and culture, can all be found here.

What can you do during your day in Progreso?
To visit the lovely Paseo de Montejo Avenue, wander further downtown. The beautiful boulevard is lined with trees and features gorgeous French colonial mansions. A sight to behold is the architectural elegance exuded by the wood carved doors, fine sculptured roof edges, and balconies. In the Mexican light, the colors of the building simply sparkle. Another sightseeing must is the Chichen Itza ruin, the largest, most impressive, and significant Mayan ruin on the Yucatan peninsula.
In the heart of the Mayan Jungle, the ruins are situated two hours away from Progreso. These ruins include the Kukulcan pyramid, which rises 100 feet above the ground, reflecting the Mayan Calendar, with 365 steep steps to the top.

Eastern Mexico Cruises

Mexico’s east coast needs no introduction. Its crown jewel Cancun has drawn vacationers to its turquoise waters and bustling streets, with Cozumel and the heavenly towns of the Riviera Maya stealing tons of limelight in recent years. The warm climate and convenient location have cruisers sun-worshipping Mexico all-year-round. Cruises going to Eastern Mexico are considered part of cruises in the Western Caribbean, including the port stops of Cozumel and Costa Maya.


The famous Mayan ruins are only accessible from Mexico’s eastern ports, including Chichen Itza, Tulum, Chacchoben, and Kohunlich. Therefore, tourists who want to explore the ancient past of Mexico should choose a Western Caribbean cruise. Most cruises to Baja Mexico and the Mayan Riviera depart from Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco ports in California.

California to Mexico Cruises

Some of the trendiest cruises are the ones from California to Mexico. Because of their convenient proximity, all major cruise lines offer departures all year long, from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego. Almost all of them visit the spectacular ports of call in Mexico; Cabo San Lucas, Ensenada, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan.

  • Princess Cruises

For Princess Cruises, Mexico is where it all started with their first cruise vacation. Today you can choose from the wide range of sailings to the famous ports of call as you visit the Mexican Riviera.

  • Norwegian Cruise

You will never be far from a lovely beach or good fun when taking a Norwegian cruise to Mexico. Every port is full of fun, adventure, and the discoveries of the ancient and beautiful cities.

  • Carnival

With Carnival, you can choose your Mexican style cruise, whether it is the Riviera coast with its Pacific elegance, or maybe Baja with its sublime coastal landscape. Any choice you make will bring you the real Mexican cruise experience.

Cruises To Mexico: Best Cruise Lines

Cruises are here to take you on an unforgettable voyage to Mexico in sophisticated comfort, offering some of the most outstanding experiences and fun activities in ports of call all over the country. Every trip on your Mexican Cruise holiday is guaranteed to be filled with lots of excitement and adventure. Many cruise lines visit Mexico each year and have different ports of call. Here are some of the top cruise lines in Mexico:

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line
Oasis of the Seas in Ft. Lauderdale - Photo by Royal Caribbean Cruise Line

Royal Caribbean Departure Ports to Mexico:

  • Miami, FL
  • Ft. Lauderdale, FL
  • Port Canaveral, FL
  • Tampa, FL
  • New Orleans, LA
  • Galveston, TX

Mexican Cruise Ports 

  • Cozumel
  • Costa Maya

Recommended Sailings

  • 7 Night Western Caribbean Holiday
  • 11 Night Western Caribbean
Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival Horizon at Sea - Photo by Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Departure ports to Mexico:

  • LA/Long Beach, CA
  • San Diego, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Mobile, Alabama
  • Miami, FL
  • Port Canaveral, FL
  • Tampa, FL
  • New Orleans, LA
  • Galveston, TX

Mexican Cruise Ports

  • Cozumel
  • Ensenada
  • Cabo San Lucas
  • Costa Maya
  • Yucatan (Progreso)
  • Puerto Vallarta
  • Mazaltan

Recommended Sailings

  • 7 Night Western Caribbean
  • 7 Night Mexican Riviera
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Getaway, Miami - Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Departure Ports to Mexico:

  • Miami, Florida
  • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Port Canaveral, Florida
  • Tampa, Florida
  • Los Angeles, California
  • San Diego, California

Mexican Cruise Ports

  • Costa Maya
  • Cozumel
  • Progreso
  • Cabo San Lucas
  • Ensenada
  • Puerto Vallarta
  • Mazaltan
  • Manzanillo

Recommended Sailings

  • 7 Night Mexican Riviera Cruise
  • 7 Night Western Caribbean Cruise
Holland America Cruise Line
Rotterdam Cruise Ship - Photo by Holland America Cruise Line

Holland America Departure ports to Mexico

  • Fr. Lauderdale, Florida
  • San Diego, California
  • Vancouver, B.C., Canada

Mexican Cruise Ports

  • Cabo San Lucas
  • Puerto Vallarta
  • Mazatlan
  • Cozumel

Recommended Sailings

  • 7 Night Western Caribbean Holiday
  • 7 Night Mexican Riviera
Disney Cruise Line
Disney Cruises

Disney Departure Ports to Mexico

  • San Diego, California
  • Miami, Florida
  • Port Canaveral, Florida
  • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Galveston, Texas

Mexican Cruise Ports

  • Cozumel
  • Ensenada
  • Cabo San Lucas
  • Progreso (Merida)
  • Puerto Vallarta
  • Mazatlan

Recommended Sailings

  • 7 Night Mexican Riviera
  • 7 Night Very Merrytime Western Caribbean
Regent Cruises
EXP at Sea - Photo by Regent Cruises

Regent Departure Ports to Mexico

  • Los Angeles, California

Mexican Cruise Ports

  • Ensenada
  • Cabo San Lucas
  • Mazatlan
  • Puerto Vallarta
  • La Paz
  • Manzanillo

Recommended Sailings

  • 7 Night Escape to the Riviera
  • 10 Night Mexican Mystique

Things to Do: Sights and Attractions

Best Beaches in Mexico

Cancun Beach, Mexico
Cancun Beach, Mexico

While most people would visit Mexico for its spectacular resorts and popular tourist destinations, travelers often ignore the rest of the region. Mexico is an incredibly diverse country, and the list of top places to explore here can be almost endless. From Tulum’s paradise charm to idyllic shorelines of Cancun, there are so many amazing beaches to visit and explore.

Tulum: The Tulum beaches are a perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of overcrowded tourist destinations. Dubbed as Instagram’s favorite boho-chic-lux Mexican beach, Tulum has emerged as a playground for backpackers, scenesters, and lovers of moonlight raves. 

Cancun: Lined with 5-star luxury resorts and high-end hotels on the majestic shorefront, Cancun is hailed as one of Mexico’s most popular tourist beaches. Extending 93 miles along the Caribbean Sea, Cancun offers numerous kayaking, fishing, snorkeling, and paddleboarding options. 

Isla Holbox: Located just 3 miles from Cancun, the tiny island of Isla Holbox is perhaps the best-kept secret of Mexico owing to its deserted beaches, calm waters and a laid-back atmosphere.

Food & Drinks

Eating Tacos

Mexican food is renowned the world over, and not just in Mexico. To get a real taste of what the Mexican cuisine offers, go for the traditional dishes when you are in the country. Food in Mexico is a gloriously rich combination of bold flavors with Spanish, American, Mayan, and Aztec influences all playing their part. 

Whether it is a basket of crispy tortillas or divine tacos folded with delicious filling, a cruise to Mexico wouldn’t be complete without sampling the country’s best flavors. You will find street stalls dishing out everything: mollete, pambazos, grilled wahoos, ceviche, burritos, and exotic fruits. The large variety of drinks available, including tequila shots, margaritas, paloma, horchata, and michelada will keep you dancing and singing all day.

Shopping

Souvenir Shopping, Isla Mujeres , Mexico
Souvenir Shopping, Isla Mujeres , Mexico

Mexico is bursting with places to shop from department stores to up-market malls to local bazaars. Every neighborhood that you will come across will have its own market center selling a variety of handmade souvenirs, traditional beaded jewelry, unique homewares, and imported goods.

Shore Excursions

Diving in Cozumel, Mexico - Photo by Royal Caribbean Cruise Line
Diving in Cozumel, Mexico | Photo credit: Royal Caribbean Cruise Line

Catamaran sailing and snorkeling in tropical waters, touring the subterranean grottoes, and strolling along the beach promenades are just a few samples of what cruises to Mexico has to offer in terms of shore excursions.

You can start your journey with Cancun, where tourists can enjoy a ride on a yellow submarine or a glass-bottom boat to catch a glimpse of the majestic dolphins.

A trip to Playa Del Carmen will bring you to some of the best beaches in Mexico for sunbathing, kite-surfing, or playing a round of golf at the emerald green fairways. 

If you happen to be a history buff, then Tulum’s beautiful coastal town has everything you can ever ask for crystalline waters and limestone beaches along with timeless Mayan temples and the splendid cavernous cenotes

For wildlife enthusiasts, Puerto Vallarta is the perfect place for exciting safaris, eco-tours, and whale watching. 

Need To Know

Post COVID-19 Travel Guidelines

Mexico has reopened its gates and is welcoming tourists, holidaymakers, backpackers from the United States, and other parts of the world, but with added precautions and SOPs. Airlines have started to offer more flights from the U.S. to Mexico since the beginning of June. Delta Airlines plans to resume the popular route from Atlanta to Mexico City and Cancun, while hotels in the capital city are also accepting reservations from international tourists.

  • Travelers may be subject to health screens while entering Mexico. There are temperature monitoring stations at border check posts between the U.S. and Mexico, and travelers should know that a high temperature will automatically bar entry.
  • Tourist spots in Mexico will be reopened on a regional basis, and Caribbean destinations are likely to open at a different pace than most interior destinations.
  • Foreigners entering Mexico by land from the U.S. are liable to carry evidence of their visit’s purpose.
  • Cruises to Mexico are postponed until September 30th, 2020.

Best Time To Cruise To Mexico

While several cruise lines offer sailings every month, the best time to go on a cruise to Mexico is between December and April, during the dry season when there is seldom rain. This is the high season and has the most comfortable weather by far. The wet season commences in May and typically lasts until October.
The coast of Mexico comes under the hurricane season’s influence, which occurs from June till November. Hence, the best months to visit Mexico are January, February, and March, when not just tourists but a variety of whales and other marine species make their way to Mexico for lots of blissful sunshine.
Another thing to bear in mind is that the better the weather, the more crowded it will be. Mexico is a hugely popular destination, particularly during major holidays, including Christmas, New Year’s, and Easter. If you are in need of a quiet holiday, consider hitting the low season.

Safety

The U.S. Department of State assigns Mexico a score of Level 2 on its travel advisory scale. Therefore, travelers are advised to exercise caution when visiting the country. It is a good idea to take some safety measures to minimize the possibility of encountering any problems. Make sure to check the U.S. Department of State for the latest travel advisories.

Plan Your Trip: Some regions in Mexico are riskier than others, including Guadalajara, Quintana Roo, and some areas in Mexico City, so choose your destination and plan your trip carefully. 

Make Copies of Travel Documents: Having copies of relevant travel documents and identification papers is a good idea if the originals get misplaced or stolen, especially in tourist areas that attract pickpockets. 

Monitor Your Food Intake: Be wary of what you eat or drink while traveling around Mexico. Food safety is a genuine concern in the country, so always consume filtered water and check food for possible contamination. 

What To Pack

Making a list of which items to take with you on your vacation will help you greatly. Carrying a travel-sized backpack is much easier than dragging a suitcase behind you all around Mexico. Resist the temptation to pack non-essential items and travel lightly. Some of the articles that you should pack in your luggage include:

  1. Bathing suit;
  2. Sandals or sneakers;
  3. Medications and daypack;
  4. Bug spray and sunscreen lotion;
  5. An affordable underwater camera; 
  6. Shorts, skirts, tank tops, and t-shirts;
  7. Neck wallet, waterproof phone case, and windproof travel umbrella.
Conclusion

Without having to worry about anything, going on a cruise to Mexico will let you have the time of your live.  Get off your comfort zone and immerse yourself in all the adventures that Mexico cruise destinations have to offer.  So stop dreaming about it and start planning today, because Mexico awaits you any time of the year.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Related Articles
Cocomango Travel Insider
delivered once a week.
Subscribe Today and Receive:
Vacations Made Your Way!