Roatán Ports Turning Away Cruise Ships?

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a body of water with buildings and trees
Coxen Hole Port Construction on Roatan Photographed in 2019

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Is Roatán, an island off the coast of Honduras, turning away cruise ships?  The answer seems to be yes for some ships.  This is a shame, as we have found that Roatán provides a taste of the “old” Caribbean before ports were overtaken by international chains.

Roatán is an island off the coast of Honduras with a population of just 110,000 people.  This island has long been a hot spot for divers and those looking for a laid-back beach vacation.  Well the secret is out!  More and more cruise ships have been adding stops in either Mahogany Bay or Coxen Hole in Roatán to their Western Caribbean itineraries over the past few years.

We first visited Roatán in 2019 and found the island charmingly under-developed compared to the mega-ports in Riviera Maya in Mexico also included on many Western Caribbean itineraries.  Well, we visited again last year (2023) and found that the port was being expanded and attracting more and bigger ships.

a body of water with buildings and trees
Coxen Hole Port Construction on Roatan Photographed in 2019

Our first visit to Roatán was especially memorable as we were in port on Oceania Riviera and at anchor beside her sister ship Oceania Marina.  As Marina sailed out ahead of our departure the captains blew their horns to say goodbye.

a cruise ship in the water
Sister Ship Oceania Marina Photographed From Oceania Riviera in the Port of Coxen Hole in Roatan Honduras in 2019

According to the  Roatán Tourism Bureau the “Port of Roatán can accommodate three cruise ships at any given time, one alongside and two in anchorage. An estimated 580 thousand passengers visit Roatan via Port of Roatan each year. These passengers arrive on an estimated 170 cruise ships who use Roatan as a port of call.”

It seems like during this year’s Caribbean cruise season the island is reaching a breaking point.  Regal Princess let their passengers know just three weeks ahead of their January 21st sailing from Galveston that their scheduled stop in Mahogany Bay was being replaced with a stop in Belize instead.  This wasn’t an isolated incident as several Princess itineraries have either had to cancel or re-schedule their stops in Roatán.

There is buzz on a number of cruise forums that Princess seems to be the one frequently holding the short stick when it comes to getting a berth in Roatán.  However, that’s not always the case as Sky Princess was docked in Mahogany Bay as recently as January 23, 2024.

Looking at Roatán port schedules, it appears that Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival have all been frequent visitors with some of their newer and larger ships making frequent stops.  Additionally smaller ships from Viking and Oceania Cruises have also ported.

Please be aware of this issue and either book excursions directly with your cruise line for Roatán or make sure to book 100% refundable excursions if booking on your own.  Or, if you’re feeling a bit adventurous, take a taxi from the port to West Bay Beach to avoid the crowds and enjoy a more laid-back experience.

a beach with trees and water
Stunning West Bay Beach on Roatan Provides Off the Beach Snorkeling and Kayaking Opportunities in the Crystal Clear Water

We had a great day on Roatán in 2022 doing-it-ourselves at West Bay Beach enjoying a kayak and snorkel.

a person in a boat with a life jacket on
Kayaking Around Rock Formations Off West Bay Beach in Roatan in 2022

And of course enjoyed a few cold beverages in the shade at a great beach bar.

a group of people sitting at tables under a tree
Authentic Caribbean Beach Bars Like This One in West Bay Beach Are Becoming Harder to Find

Have an upcoming Caribbean cruise, take a look to see Which Caribbean Ports are Safe? Are There Ports You Should Stay Onboard?

Roatán Ports Turning Away Cruise Ships, has your cruise itinerary been impacted? Please let us know! – Michael

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8 COMMENTS

  1. Sorry, I could not agree less. We were literally off the ship in Roatan for only five minutes. Absolutely swarmed. One guy grabbed my arm and said follow me. I’ll be your protection through all this crowd. No thanks turned around went right back on the ship, I wouldn’t go to Roatan if you paid me.

    • @Dublin – Sorry to hear about your experience. We did NOT enjoy the port area either with a lot of pushy sales people and all of the obligatory port stores which is why we were open to hopping in a taxi just outside the official port and hightailing out of there to a low-key beach.

  2. Roatan has Arch’s Iguana & Marine Park, a sanctuary for iguanas. A refreshing sight from over here in Florida where folks are running around with traps, pellet guns and machetes trying to kill them.

    • @AlohaDaveKennedy – We visited the Iguana sanctuary as part of an island tour booked through Oceania on our first visit to Roatan. It was definitely an experience being greeted by hundreds of Iguanas from the moment we passed through the gate!!!

  3. Thanks guys. I should be more open to it because obviously once you’re out of the port area you both had a great experience. Thanks for the response.

  4. The area around the dock/port/berth/pier (of almost any of these ports of call) is often such a crowded melee. Thousands of people (passengers, staff and predators) mixing together in a tight space, with everyone on a rigid schedule set by the ship. I suspect the next “premium level” – in the vein of The Haven on NCL and The Yacht Club on MSC – will be for megaships to offer special tender service (disembarking from the side of the ship not on the pier side), going out away from the port to a remote docking station on the coastline, for an extra fee, of course, and only after the requisite fees have been paid to the main port. Wouldn’t that be an incredible way to escape the port crush! It reminds me of salmon swimming upstream to spawn – packed so tightly together in the small confines of the river.

    Or maybe exclusive helicopter service from the ship’s helipad directly to the first flat spot on the tour to meet your shore excursion bus!

  5. Will not go back ashore in this port. I travel as a solo woman. I have been around the globe and very few places trigger my spidey sense. This port did within half a block of leaving the secure port area. I u-turned and went back on board.

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