Cruises: Two die on-shore in Cozumel, Mexico

Courtesy Jemingway/Flickr
A storm approaches a ship in Cozumel

Cozumel, the gorgeous Mexican cruise port, has never been more popular, attracting more than 2 million visitors last year—a record. But in recent weeks, one crew member who debarked Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas appears to have been killed on-shore by someone she knew.

A passenger on the trip died after she ingested a safety pin. These events have put this Western Caribbean beach resort destination back in the headlines.

Cruise lines, including Disney, have recently pulled out of a different cruise port—Mazatlan—due to concerns about violent crime there.

Yet Cozumel remains safe overall, as far as major cities go, according to this TripAdvisor safety report.

In many parts of Mexico, standards of security, safety, and supervision may be lower than is customary in the United States. Citizens traveling internationally should consider registering in advance with the U.S. State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. In event of an emergency, your whereabouts would be easier for officials in consular agencies to determine.

That said, it's important to keep safety issues in context. Crime can happen anywhere. In Mexico, the number one cause of death for Americans has been automobile accidents, followed by falls from balconies, or into unmarked ditches, by drowning.

The U.S. government has not updated its travel warning—less severe than travel alert—for Mexico since September. The warning still says that resort areas, such as Cozumel, are relatively safe—but American visitors should always exercise caution while on shore anywhere in the country, and particular in northern areas affected by drug violence.

As a side note: Spring breakers, in particular, should know that Mexican law can impose tough penalties for excessive drinking, drug abuse, or drug purchasing, that might be considered relatively minor in the U.S., and U.S. citizenship doesn't get you off the hook from full prosecution under Mexican law.

UPDATE: I regret that my original headline sounded sensationalistic to some readers. It was:

"Safety questions for cruise passengers in Cozumel, Mexico"

I have changed it to the new headline above.

Do you think the hype about Mexico's safety for cruise passengers is overblown?


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