Narco-Terrorism and Bombs on Ferries - Cruise Lines Warn About Excursions Between Cozumel and Playa del Carmen, Mexico

An explosion aboard a Mexican ferry in Playa del Carmen ten days ago, followed by at least one explosive device planted on the hull of another ferry which was discovered yesterday, triggered a United States embassy's alert last night, prohibiting embassy employees from using ferries operating between Cozumel and Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo.

On February 21, 2018, we reported on a violent explosition on a ferry in Playa del Carmen which seriously injured around 25 passengers, includuing 7 U.S. citizens. The explosion on the Barcos Caribe, which has been operating a Playa del Carmen-Cozumel route, injured passengers as they were disembarking from the ferry to the dock. Mexican authorities initially said that the explosion was the result of a Carmen del Playa - Cozumel Warning Explosive Devices mechanical malfunction; however, news sources are now reporting that the explosion was the result of an explosive device.     

This news comes after a second device was located on another ferry in Cozumel also owned by the Barcos Caribe company, which provides regular service to toruists between Cozumel and Playa del Carmen. A Mexican newspaper article contains a photograph of one of the explosive devices attached to the hull of a ferry. According to news accounts, Barcos Caribe is associated with former Quintana Roo Governor Roberto Borge Angulo who acquired the ferry line while he was still in office. After leaving office, Borge became a fugitive and was later captured in Panama. 

Roberto Borge Martín was apparently on board the first ferry at the time of the February 21 explosion, although the was reportedly uninjured. 

A Mexican drug cartel recently claimed responsibility for the explosion. According to a news source, the Cártel de “El Pumba” y “Tata,” associated with the Los Zetas drug cartel, threatened blow up the home of the current mayor of Carmen del Playa.

At least one cruise line, Princess Cruises, has cancelled excursions which use ferries between Playa del Carmen and Cancun. A copy of a letter dated today from Princess to cruise passengers on the Royal Princess sailing to Mexico arriving to Cozumel is above to the right.  The Princess letter to its guests on the Royal Princess states that "we strongly advise that ferries to the mainland be avoided." 

The violent ferry explosition injurying U.S. tourists is an ominous reminder of the often violent and dangerous state of the Mexican tourism industry. 

Meanwhile the Ministry of Tourism for State of Quintana Roo in Mexico is issuing press releases where it claims that there is "no risk" to tourists when visiting Cozumel. 

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Video credit: El Pais YouTube  

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Comments (5) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Robby - March 2, 2018 3:27 PM

I was just there last week (Feb 23’rd) on Navigator of the Seas… There was no evidence of anything off that we noticed. After watching the video of the bomb, i’m surprised they were able to clean up the remnants of the explosion this quickly. This is going to devastate the economy of Playa Del Carman and Tulum. I hope they can get this under control

Don Sayman - March 3, 2018 5:45 PM

hi,, is there any way to find out if the Disney cruise line has stopped using the ferry boats from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen??? i doubt it but would like to know for sure....thanks again... Don

Reuben Schwartz - March 5, 2018 11:47 AM

I was there on the beach just north of the explosion and watched it happen, So sad but amazingly no one killed. They did a good job of keeping boats running back and forth utilizing an older dock just north of the incident. The damaged boat was there the entire time I was there docked and they just worked around it. Use your own judgement if traveling this area.

Jan Tamanini - March 5, 2018 3:49 PM

Minor point: the name of the town is Playa del Carmen, not Carmen del Playa. ;)

Letty - March 8, 2018 8:01 PM

My husband and I took a cruise on Royal Caribbean Harmony of the seas February 17-24. We took a ferry February 22 to Playa del Carmen in Cozumel to visit the Mayan Ruins. We later found out from our tour guide that they found explosives on the same ferry the day before. I am shocked that Royal Caribbean new of the bombing on February 21 and they never inform their passengers. We would have never taken that tour to the Mayan Ruins.
The last few days it’s been all over the news that there was an explosion on the same ferry line February 21.

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