Our Experience Taking a Car Ferry to Cozumel

Linda and I just returned from a relaxing week in Cozumel. This is the second time that we’ve been to the island in as many months and that fact has not escaped some of our more dedicated followers. It has even prompted several of them to ask if we’re thinking about making a permanent move there.

If you’ve been wondering the same thing, here’s your answer: Although we love Cozumel, our condo on the mainland is the perfect home base for us to travel around the peninsula. At a moment’s notice, we can jump in the car and drive to places like Valladolid, Mahahual and Merida.

If we were on the island, which does not have a bridge or a tunnel, spontaneous trips like that would require more planning, time and money.

When we visit Cozumel nowadays, we still have to work transportation expenses into our budget. Since we typically only go for a night or two, we have found that the least expensive option has been to leave our car at overnight parking in Playa del Carmen and take the passenger ferry (with the locals discount) over to the island. Once there, we rely on taxis to get around.

This month we had some RCI points that were about to expire, so we booked a week at the Coral Princess in Cozumel. Since we were staying seven days this time, we decided it was worth the time and expense to bring our car along with us.

When we told our friends we were taking our car with us, they had a lot of questions about the costs and procedure. I told them I would do a post about it when we returned — and well, here we are.

The Logistics of Taking the Car Ferry

There are two companies that operate ferries to transport cargo and vehicles to Cozumel: Ultramar and Transcaribe.

They both leave out of the Port of Calica, which is located on the south side of Playa del Carmen off of 307. The ferry trip takes about an hour.

Price

Ultramar: $400 pesos (approx $20 USD) per passenger vehicle each way

Transcaribe: $500 pesos (approx $25 USD) per passenger vehicle each way

Although Ultramar’s fares are lower, we used Transcaribe because their schedule worked better for us.

Schedules and Reservations

We were told by a Transcaribe employee that we needed to arrive at the port one hour ahead of the scheduled departure time; however, the official website for Transcaribe says that vehicles need to arrive at least 90 minutes early.

You can find scheduled departure times and make reservations* directly via each company’s website:

Ultramar Carga Website

Transcaribe Conecta Website

* It’s not necessary to make a reservation.

Our Experience

The ferry that we took over to Cozumel was much nicer than the one we took back the following Saturday. It had a comfortable seating area that was air conditioned. There was even an area with bunk beds just in case you feel like taking a little siesta.

Here are a few pics:

Upper deck of the first Transcaribe ship

Driving down the ramp to the lower deck

The tight quarters made getting in and out of the car a real challenge

Super comfortable seating area

The return ferry was older and much smaller. We were required to drive up a narrow ramp that led to the top deck.

We watched one car try to go up the ramp three times unsuccessfully. Each time, the tires would lose traction and the car would slide back down. They finally let him park on the lower deck with the trucks.

I later discovered that going down the ramp was worse than going up because of visibility issues at the point that you first start down the ramp. It was like being at the top of the roller coaster unable to see the track below.

The ramp to the upper deck on the second Transcaribe ship

The ramp down from the top deck of the second Transcaribe ship

Main seating area on the second Transcaribe ship

Let’s Wrap This Up

We really enjoyed having our vehicle on the island this time, but we both agree that it wouldn’t be worth the time and expense to bring it over for shorter stays.

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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 for to maximize their retirement income. In 2016, they started a blog called Two Expats Mexico (qroo.us) 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.

32 Comments on "Our Experience Taking a Car Ferry to Cozumel"

  1. Of the 16 years we’ve been coming to Riviera Maya, we’ve never gone to Cozumel. It always crosses my mind as something to do, but as a non-scuba diver and infrequent snorkeler, I always come to the decision that it’s just a lot of extra travel, expense and hassle just to see the same thing on the mainland but with less options. Maybe I’m wrong. What am I missing by not visiting Cozumel?

    • Well, there are some great restaurants you’re missing out on — but that may not be enough motivation to go. Even if you want to dive someday, you can just as easily take the boat from the mainland.

  2. Great information as always.

  3. How long is the Ferry Ride?

  4. We have both stayed in Cozumel and taken day trips there. When people have asked us about it, we describe it as the beach in a Corona commercial. The water is very calm on the west side of the island and sometimes has almost no waves. at other times when we have been there the waves are very small. The beaches are beautiful and the town is very nice. It’s also very safe.

  5. I’d love a review of the Coral Princess. We have some Worldmark points about to expire and we can use them for RCI. I love Cozumel, so that might be the way to use the points. Thanks for all your great information.

    • The Coral Princess is a great place to use your points. We’ve been there twice and enjoyed it both times. It is located on the water and the snorkeling is great right in front of the hotel. The restaurant and bar there are good — not great — but good enough if you don’t feel like going out to eat. The staff is absolutely fantastic and super helpful.

    • What are RCI points? I gather they are something like frequent flyer miles? How do you get them?

      • Ah, they are timeshare points from a timeshare we have owned for about 15+ years. You can use them at certain hotels and resorts.

  6. So 800 to 1000 pesos Round trip. Does that include passengers?

    What’s the price for 4 adults RT with local discount?

    How much more does it cost to take the car ferry?

    I would think it would be more economical than renting a car there for a day so you can drive around the Island. What do you think?

    • Yes, that includes all the passengers of the car too. With a locals discount, the passenger ferry is $140 pesos round trip per person

      You can rent a car very cheaply, especially if you don’t op for all of the extra insurance.

      We decided to bring the car because then we could load it up with all our junk as if it were a giant suitcase…lol.

  7. Mark Lindsey | June 30, 2018 at 9:07 pm | Reply

    Trans Caribe with their plan local card is also 400 pesos. I have used both. For what amounts to a little over an hour ride, I always go by schedule and not the carrier.

  8. ROBERT DELEON | June 30, 2018 at 9:11 pm | Reply

    Took my rental to Cozumel last year. Got a parking ticket and they removed my rear license plate. It was easy to retrieve because i am bilingual. You should post a picture of the building where have to go pay for tickets.

    • I’ve never received a parking ticket in Cozumel, so I have no idea where that building is…lol.

  9. Thank you for each post. You may have been here but hope you add Baja California South to your travels some day.

    • We do plan to travel more — of course, we plan to do a lot of things but the time just slips away from us — and Baja is on the list 🙂

  10. Thank you for doing this blog and all these great reviews. It will likely be years before I’m able to move there but you’ve given me so much to think about!

  11. shannon collier | July 1, 2018 at 7:46 am | Reply

    I’m hoping to rent this winter if you don’t mind where do you live. I only ask because based on your experiences it seems like it would be a wise choice. Assuming I can find a reasonable rent.
    Many Thanks
    shannon

    • We don’t like to put the information on the public blog but we can share it with you if you send us a request via the contact form.

  12. Hannah Neufeld | July 1, 2018 at 10:37 am | Reply

    Thanks Paul…. I have gone to the Coral Princess as a local resident and also find it very nice, food good, great staff, the infinity pool is great and love the swim up bar. One of the best things is that is has not been too crowded and is therefore pretty quiet. In reference to the person who posting about getting a ticket …I have heard from various sources that the rental company has to agree to let you bring your rental car to Cozumel…. it is not like crossing state (USA) boundaries. Again, this is just what I have heard and when I have guests that say they are renting a car on the mainland and bringing it, I suggest that they check with their rental company first. All the best to you and Linda!

  13. Great to see another post! Did you guys go to that awesome restaurant you blogged about? Kristen and I loved it when we were there.

    • This is the first time that we have been to Cozumel and didn’t visit it. We decided to try several new places looking for another “gem” and we found it: La Cocay.

  14. Jacquelyn Bryant | July 1, 2018 at 4:37 pm | Reply

    Hubby and I met y’all at Coral P this past week. I thought I recognized you! Let us know the next time you’re coming to Cozumel. We would love to hang out.
    Jacque & Curtis

    • It was nice meeting you guys! We’ll definitely be back on the island before the end of the year but we don’t have any set dates yet.

  15. Nicole Lieberman | July 2, 2018 at 8:36 am | Reply

    Hi Paul: We live in Mahahual and just came back from a week long trip to Cozumel. We took the Ultramar ferry with our truck. It was great. Wide lanes, no upper or lower section and a nice air-conditioned lounge. We highly recommend it. Of course they don’t have as many scheduled trips so that can be a bit of pain. Anyway, thanks for all the info over the years. There is a group of us down here in Mahahual that subscribe to your blog.

    • Thanks for sharing that, Nicole. I think we’ll try the Ultramar ferry the next time we go to Cozumel.

      We occasionally visit Mahahual, maybe we’ll run into you there someday. 🙂

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