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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.
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.
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.
We had a great day on Roatán in 2022 doing-it-ourselves at West Bay Beach enjoying a kayak and snorkel.
And of course enjoyed a few cold beverages in the shade at a great beach bar.
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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