The Ferry from Playa to Cozumel: A Look at Security Since the Explosion

Marines posted outside the entrance to the ferry port in Cozumel (Source: Q-Roo Paul)

Bad things can happen anywhere and at anytime. Even if there has never been a similar incident before in that particular area, it doesn’t mean there can’t be a first time.

This definitely describes the explosion on board a ferry docked in Playa del Carmen on February 21st of this year. Nothing like that had ever happened before (or since) in the history of the area.

Since the explosion involved a passenger ferry in one of the most popular tourist destinations in Mexico, the incident immediately made international news. People started to question the safety of the ferries and tourism in the area felt the negative impact almost immediately.

Speaking from experience, when it comes to safety, it’s unwise to make a rash judgement based on an isolated incident. As I said in the first line of this post, bad things can happen anywhere at anytime.

Following a major incident like this one, I am most interested in the response of the authorities. What have they done to resolve the situation and what steps have they taken to ensure it won’t happen again? That is a more accurate way to assess whether or not you’ll be safe in that location in the future.

From the very beginning, I have been extremely impressed by Mexico’s response to the ferry explosion. They were quick to form a multi-agency task force to investigate the incident, which included participation from the FBI, and to enhance security at all of the ferry ports.

A Firsthand Look

Linda and I have taken the ferry from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel and back again many times but this was our first time back since the explosion.

We weren’t nervous because I was fairly confident that the port would be one of the safest places in the entire state to visit — and I was right.

When we arrived at the port in Playa del Carmen, we saw a substantial security force made up of local, state and federal uniformed police officers (some with handheld metal detectors), as well as military personnel with bomb sniffing dogs.

A casual onlooker unfamiliar with the area might think that the president of Mexico was about to arrive at any moment.

When we arrived on the Cozumel side, we found a similar scene to the one before except this time passengers arriving to take the ferry to Playa del Carmen were going through a metal detector. According to a report from the newspaper 24 horas, additional metal detectors will soon be installed at both ports.

There was no doubt about it, we definitely felt safe.

Let’s Wrap This Up

If you’ve been worried to take the ferries since the incident, don’t be. Security is high and thousands of passengers continue to take the ferries everyday without any problem. Even the U.S. Department of State cancelled it’s travel advisory last week.

In case you’re wondering about the ferries running between Cancun and Isla Mujeres, according to a report by El Universal, security has been increased there as well.

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About the Author

Q-Roo Paul
Paul Kurtzweil (Q-Roo Paul) was a deputy sheriff in Florida for 25 years before retiring at the rank of lieutenant in 2015. He and his wife moved to Mexico looking to maximize their retirement income. In 2016, they started a blog called Two Expats Mexico ( sharing their experiences, as well as information about the logistical and legal aspects of retiring south of the border. The blog has been viewed over two million times and the articles have been republished in numerous periodicals across Mexico.

17 Comments on "The Ferry from Playa to Cozumel: A Look at Security Since the Explosion"

  1. Maria Keich | March 19, 2018 at 12:05 pm |

    Took the ferry from Cancun to Isla Mujeres last week. No fear, plenty of security and no problems.

  2. Thank you Paul for providing a look at behind the scenes from the actual site of the event. I’m already feeling more comfortable about my upcoming vacation. One of our places to visit on our list is Cozumel, so obviously our attention was drawn to the news of the explosion and what was being done about security.

  3. Kathy Horton | March 19, 2018 at 12:25 pm |

    I saw an article here in Puerto Vallarta that stated there is a video of the owner of the company that runs the ferry getting off the boat just prior to the explosion and authorities are looking into insurance fraud.. I don’t know if you had heard this as well.

    • Q-Roo Paul | March 19, 2018 at 5:01 pm |

      There is a report from a reputable reporter that the authorities have the video but that hasn’t been publicly confirmed by the investigators…yet. 🙂

  4. We’ve had 4 bombings in the last 3 weeks in Austin, Texas. So, it can happen anywhere.

  5. Glory Jordan | March 19, 2018 at 12:37 pm |

    Thank you ..always good to hear what I already believed.

  6. Hello Paul,
    Quick question, are there any RV sites in and around the area? Is is even advisable to venture there with an RV?

  7. Hola
    We value travel advisories, however, the US gov”t tends to look at other countries..especially Mexico before looking at American areas of crime and maybe time to issue travel advisories to Chicago, New York, Miami and LA

  8. Kris Peterson | March 19, 2018 at 4:39 pm |

    Thanks for another great report. I am not personally worried about the bombs, or violence. My concern is with the police on Isla Mujeres harassing tourists.

  9. Thanks again, Paul, for giving us your insights beyond the headlines.
    To Ronald’s list above we may have to add visits to US schools (in the not too distant future) as places being unsafe to visit. I wish I were kidding.

  10. Last year we had a sniper on our neighbors roof, in our alley we had the police ERT, police dogs. Across the alley were 6 gang members living in a house. It can happen anywhere like you said.

  11. Thanks Paul for all your information. I have taken the ferry many times without incident. We will be there for our bi annual visit the first of May and feel confident knowing they are making changes for everyone’s safety.

  12. I lived in Austin,Texas for awhile……….( look at what’s happening there now)….
    Glad I am in Playa!

Comments are closed.