Carnival Corporation & plc’s (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE: CUK) pier at Puerta Maya in Cozumel, Mexico – closed since being damaged by Hurricane Wilma in 2005 – will officially re-open when the 2,052-passenger Carnival Ecstasy and 2,056-passenger Carnival Fantasy visit the facility on Thursday, Oct. 16.
Representing an investment of more than $50 million, the new two-berth pier has been specifically constructed to withstand a threshold category 5 hurricane and can accommodate any ship among Carnival Corporation & plc’s various cruise brands.
In addition to the newly rebuilt pier, Puerta Maya’s nine-acre cruise center, which features a wide variety of shops and restaurants, will also re-open, along with a four-acre transportation hub capable of accommodating dozens of taxis and tour buses. Four rental car facilities will be available, as well.
The Oct. 16 calls by the Carnival Fantasy and Carnival Ecstasy will be the first of 550 cruise-ship visits at Puerta Maya over the next year. In addition to calling at Puerta Maya, vessels from Carnival Corporation & plc brands will continue to utilize the other two piers in Cozumel.
Collectively, these ships will bring an estimated 1.5 million visitors annually to Cozumel, who are expected to spend $126 million on the island each year.
“Epitomizing the ‘fun in the sun’ landside experience that is so closely associated with Caribbean cruising, Cozumel is the region’s most visited cruise ship destination by far. Its gorgeous beaches, a variety of retail outlets and restaurants, and excellent watersports opportunities are enhanced only by the gracious hospitality of its residents,” said Giora Israel, Carnival’s vice president of strategic planning and port development. “The re-opening of Carnival’s pier at Puerta Maya will provide cruise ship guests with easy and convenient access to all the wonders of this fascinating destination, along with unique on-site shopping and dining experiences,” he added.
Puerta Maya’s expansive cruise center houses 42 different outlets offering apparel, fine jewelry, artwork and other merchandise from such recognizable retailers as Goodmark 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.
On-site dining options within the Puerta Maya complex include the Tres Amigos Bar, a new theme restaurant inspired by the 1986 hit movie 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, a new franchise from 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.
Other retail outlets at Puerta Maya include a pharmacy, convenience store, and international pay phones. There is also a newly constructed shore excursion pier, separate from the main pier, which allows for quick and convenient access to all water-bound excursions, as well as water-based transportation to and from the facility.
The Puerta Maya pier and cruise center is located on the southwestern part of Cozumel, approximately five miles south of San Miguel, the island’s largest city.
Carnival Corporation & plc is the largest cruise vacation group in the world, with a portfolio of cruise brands in North America, Europe and Australia, comprised of Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, The Yachts of Seabourn, AIDA Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cunard Line, Ibero Cruises, Ocean Village, P&O Cruises and P&O Cruises Australia.
Together, these brands operate 88 ships totaling more than 167,000 lower berths with 18 new ships scheduled to be delivered between October 2008 and June 2012. Carnival Corporation & plc also operates Holland America Tours and Princess Tours, the leading tour companies in Alaska and the Canadian Yukon. Traded on both the New York and London Stock Exchanges, Carnival Corporation & plc is the only group in the world to be included in both the S&P 500 and the FTSE 100 indices.