Things worked out quite well in the end. The wind and adverse current pushed us behind schedule during the night but in the morning the current turned around and started to flow with us. By the time we passed the South point of Cozumel Island we were flying with nearly five knots of current with us. The only explanation I have for such a strong current is that the NW wind must have increased the down current on the East side of the island and that flow must have curved right back into Cozumel channel. Cozumel channel is the body of water between the island and the Mexican Mainland.
Docking in Cozumel is always an interesting affair. The piers are located quite close to the shallows and are at the same time at the edge of the Northerly current. Currently there are two piers operational. The Lagosta pier in down town and the International pier a few miles to the south. The Maya pier, that is the most southerly one, is still under repair and the completion date is set for sometime next year summer. After that the authorities are planning to build two more piers, for a total of 5 extra docking spaces. They have already extended the International pier to accommodate the Freedom class ships of RCI. We docked today inside the International pier with the Mariner of the Seas already docked on the outside.
With 15 to 20 knots of wind from the North West and more than four miles of current coming from the south, the trick is to find the balance between the two and then slowly inch the ship backwards into the basin of the dock. Backing up, or going astern, in nautical terms is here the best option as at all times you keep the nose in the wind. At the same time the Mariner of the Seas was acting as a wind catcher, so I could get the aft ship with our big funnel out of the wind very quickly. Sometimes it is handy to be a “small” ship, our bridge does not reach any higher than deck 9 of the Mariner. The sun shone all day, so also the sun worshippers had a good day, while those who do not like the heat could still be happy as the NW breeze kept things relatively cool.
Today was a late evening stay with the departure time set for 2100 hrs. This would give everybody the chance to sample some of the Cozumel night life. I did not get any reports but with the mega liners departing at 6 pm., things can not have been that rowdy in the town. Most of our guests are not known for dancing in the streets or on the table, although exceptions have occured and I have them seen coming back in a wheelbarrowâ€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦. One of the reasons that we stay past 6 pm. is the return of the tours from the May ruins on the Mainland near Tulum. Our guests return by ferry boat across Cozumel channel and are normally back on board around 9 pm. In the past we used to stop first at Playa del Carmen with the ship to disembark the tour and then proceed to Cozumel but we found out that that sometimes we could get the tour off, but it was too rough for the ferry to come back. So you might as well go directly to Cozumel and use the ferry twice. It either can go, or it canâ€™t.
I do like departures after dark, somehow with the shore side all lit up, is looks more festive or cruise like. Although Cozumel departure is not much of a happening, it is mainly: let go lines and full ahead. The Pilot goes off as soon as the ship is past the pier and then it is warp speed to Tampa for an early arrival. Especially later in the season when the foggy season starts, it is important to be as early as possible. Rule of thumb has it, that if you manage to get under the sunshine skyway bridge by 02.30 in the morning then you make it to the dock before the fog comes down. We will know by the end of the season if it worked for this season.