It’s been years since we were at these ports. And we were in for quite a surprise. They’ve changed.
Which goes to show that you can keep coming back to the same ports again and again, and get a new experience.
Roatan began as a mystery. We knew who’d done it—the MSC Armonia whacked the Coxen Hole dock just weeks before. But we weren’t sure our Allure of the Sea’s maiden voyage to the port was going to happen.
After all, we had nothing to go on. Royal Caribbean stayed silent. No emails came, no press release issued. Only rumors that the port stop was canceled “for the season.”
Once on board, though, the crew confirmed we’d stop there. And stop there we did.
A big chunk of the pier lay eerily submerged, but there was enough still standing for the Allure to shimmy up and tie down.
A pier built up. It’s attractive, with native dancers to greet you, a cigar roller to show you how it’s done, local coffee and chocolate vendors to show off their wares and water so spectacularly clear that you’re tempted to bend down and pet the pretty striped fish.
There’s also the usual Diamonds International, some boutiques---and even zip-lining.
All in all, it’s good for an hour or so.
The town of Coxen Hole is a short walk, but a few things you should know, should you decide to venture out:The sidewalks are amazingly narrow—they barely fit two trim people walking side by side.
The island may not be affluent, but its people are among the most friendly we’ve seen on a Caribbean isle. We were met with smiles and hellos everywhere.
There’s a supermarket in town that’s air-conditioned, with a good supply of first aid and health products, and they take U.S. dollars.
Note: Coxen Hole is one of two cruise ports in Roatan. The other is Mahogany Bay, a private beach resort developed by Carnival—and a lovely one at that. To get there, you’ll need to take a Carnival or Princess ship.
Costa Maya, the biggest improvement. This port was only recently expanded and we hardly recognized the place. You can swim the dolphins, swim with fellow cruisers or swim with the boozers (there’s a swim-up bar).
You can get a massage by the sea. Buy a trinket for $1 or spend hundreds on silver.
And while perhaps not quite an authentic Mexican experience, with some cerveza and tequilla, fajitas and tacos, and swimming and shopping, you could happily spend hours here and still want to come back. - Musing About Cruising