The U.S. State Department and U.S. Embassy in Mexico City are both advising U.S. travelers to avoid using ferry services between Playa del Carmen and Cozumel, Mexico, as the investigation into a February 21 explosion onboard a Barcos Caribe ferry continues.
In a new update to its Mexico travel advisory, the State Department writes that U.S. government personnel are still prohibited from using the ferries, and that U.S. citizens should not use ferry services operating between the two destinations. The State Department is also prohibiting travel by U.S. government personnel to, and advising U.S. citizens to avoid, the Centro, Calica, Gonzalo Guerrero, Quintas del Carmen and Villas del Carmen neighborhoods in Playa del Carmen. There are no other restrictions on travel to other parts of the state of Quintana Roo, including the tourist areas of Cancun, Cozumel, Tulum and the Riviera Maya, and the overall travel advisory level remains at Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution, out of a possible four, due to crime.
The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City has also issued an updated security message following the previous security message issued March 7. The Embassy also reports that U.S. government personnel are prohibited from traveling to the neighborhoods listed above, and for U.S. citizens to avoid them. The Embassy also mirrored the State Department’s restriction and caution on the ferries.
Notably, in its latest message the Embassy now writes that the “circumstances surrounding the security threat affecting the above neighborhoods is separate from the threat against ferries operating between Playa del Carmen and Cozumel.”
The Embassy also reports that the U.S. Consular Agency in Playa del Carmen reopened for operations March 12, after it had closed following the previous security notice.
Since the February 21 explosion and the subsequent discovery of suspicious devices onboard another Barcos Caribe ferry, cruise lines have cancelled excursions that make use of the Cozumel – Playa del Carmen ferries.
Carnival Cruise Line reports that all such ship-sponsored tours have been cancelled until further notice, and the cruise line has strongly advised its guests to avoid using the ferries.
Authorities in Quintana Roo, meanwhile, have ruled out terrorism and organized crime as potential causes of the February 21 explosion, according to the Riviera Maya News. When asked about the possibility that the explosion was self-inflicted, as some local media had speculated after reports surfaced that security footage showed the owners of Barcos Caribe and an unidentified person with a backpack boarding the ferry before the explosion, officials would only say that all lines of investigation remain open.
Meanwhile, authorities in Quintana Roo are working to beef up security. According to a separate Riviera Maya News report, state officials say that within six months, all ports in the state will have more stringent International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS) protocols in place. Currently, ISPS only covers international routes.