Carnival Corporation & plc, the world's largest travel and leisure company, today officially opened an all-new, highly anticipated expansion of its operations in Cozumel, Mexico, adding a third berth to the company’s pier at Puerta Maya, the most popular cruise destination in the Caribbean.
With an investment of more than $20 million, the all-new “arm” was added to the company’s existing pier to allow three ships to be moored at the terminal at the same time. To mark the occasion, three of the company’s ships – Carnival Breeze, Carnival Freedom and Carnival Triumph – arrived today and became the first trio of ships to use the new three-berth pier. The pier will accommodate any ship across Carnival Corporation’s 10 brands, including its next-generation ships.
With 3.3 million cruise guests annually, Cozumel is the busiest cruise destination in the Caribbean, the world’s largest global cruise market. Carnival Corporation’s extra capacity with the expanded pier will allow more ships to call on Cozumel, increasing the number of guests who can visit the destination while also providing a significant economic boost to the local economy. In 2014, about 1.5 million Carnival Corporation guests visited Puerta Maya on 25 different ships originating from eight homeports and two countries across six of the company’s brands, and the company expects this to grow over the years with the added capacity at the port.
“Cozumel is the Caribbean’s most visited cruise ship destination and consistently receives high ratings from our guests,” said Giora Israel, senior vice president of global port and destination development for Carnival Corporation. “So the destination is in demand by our guests, and we are excited about officially opening the third berth to our pier, since it gives our brands greater flexibility for visiting Cozumel and more of our guests the opportunity to enjoy the island.”
While the new berth has been in the planning stages since 2005, work started on the new pier in May 2014. The existing two-berth pier was re-opened in October 2008, following an extensive $50 million reconstruction to repair the damage caused by Hurricane Wilma in 2005 which included destruction of the original pier. The rebuilt two-berth pier and the all-new arm providing a third berth at the pier have been constructed to withstand a threshold category 5 hurricane, in addition to being able to accommodate any ship in Carnival Corporation’s fleet.
“While this is a major milestone for our company, it is also a memorable day for our business partners in Mexico,” said Israel. “Without their collaboration, this project would not have been possible, and we extend our appreciation for their openness and cooperation. We are looking forward to how the expansion of our pier will have an important economic impact on jobs and opportunity for locals. Cozumel, one of the jewels of the Caribbean, has come a long way since it was devastated in 2005 by Hurricane Wilma. It is rewarding to see the island flourishing. And now, with today’s opening of our third berth, even more of our guests will be able to make Cozumel part of their vacation experience.”
The Puerta Maya pier and welcome cruise center is located on the southwestern part of Cozumel, approximately five miles south of San Miguel, the island's largest city. The cruise center houses over 50 different outlets offering apparel, fine jewelry, artwork and other merchandise from recognizable retailers such as Milano Jewelers, Del Sol, Piranha Joe's, Dufry and Diamonds International. The facility also features 15 stand-alone carts where local merchants market colorful handmade crafts, costume jewelry and souvenirs.
In April 2015, the expansive cruise center opened the world’s first underwater oxygen bar. Called Clear Lounge, the 13,000-gallon freestanding aquarium provides guests with a unique 20-minute experience underwater. Guests enter the bar wearing a high-tech Sea Trek helmet, a specially designed clear diving helmet, which provides a mixture of oxygen and aromatherapy. Bartenders serve up oxygen-enriched smoothies. The lounge also features the world’s first underwater photo booth, complete with a variety of props, from sunglasses to martini glasses. Guests can play games such as Jenga, write on message boards and target practice with high-powered bubble guns.
On-site dining options within the Puerta Maya complex include the Tres Amigos Bar, a theme restaurant inspired by the 1986 hit movie “Three Amigos” starring Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short. The waterfront eatery -- the first of its kind in the Caribbean -- offers traditional Mexican fare, along with an extensive beverage menu.
Also featured is Pancho's Backyard, an outpost of the popular downtown Cozumel eatery featuring magnificent ocean views, as well as Fat Tuesday, a waterfront bar offering frozen drinks and light snacks, along with a DJ and dance floor.
The shore excursion pier, separate from the main pier, allows for quick and convenient access to water-bound excursions serving both the mainland of the state of Quintana Roo and island of Cozumel.
Puerta Maya, one of three cruise terminals in Cozumel, is owned by Carnival Corporation. Carnival Corporation operates five additional global ports, including the newly opened Amber Cove in Dominican Republic; Palacruceros in Barcelona, Spain; Grand Turk Cruise Center in Turks and Caicos Islands; Mahogany Bay in Roatan, Honduras; and Long Beach in California. The company also operates two private island destinations in the Caribbean, Princess Cays and Half Moon Cay. In total, Carnival Corporation cruise ships visit over 725 ports of call around the world.