Depending on your cruise travel plans and where you live, you will likely embark on your journey from one of these three popular ports.
Related: 19 Tips for Embarkation Day
One of my favorite cruise embarkation points is the Port of Miami. All major cruise lines come and go from here, and the terminals are easy to get to. Most passengers fly into Miami International Airport (MIA) or Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International (FLL). MIA is a mere 8 miles from port, and FLL is only 24 miles away. The most economical trip from MIA to PortMiami is the Metrorail Orange Line combined with the free Miami Trolley’s Coral Way. At FLL you can ride the cruise shuttle, hire a taxi, or rent a car.
See the best hotels for cruising our of PortMiami.
If you drive your own vehicle, drop off other passengers and everyone’s luggage at your terminal; park ($20/day); and ride the free shuttle back to port. Arrive two hours prior to embarkation time. PortMiami has ample seating, restrooms, eateries, and Wi-Fi if you have to wait prior to boarding. View Cruise Deals from PortMiami
Port of Galveston
My least favorite cruise embarkation port (at this time) is the Port of Galveston. This opinion is based solely on the amount of time it takes to reach the port after arriving at the airport(s). Cruisers have two commercial options for flying into the Galveston area – George Bush Intercontinental (IAH) and Houston Hobby (HOU). IAH is located 70 very long miles from port on the opposite side of Houston.
The byword is traffic, and the requirement is patience. It can take hours to reach port. HOU is closer, but still requires an hour or more of travel. If you own your own plane, you can land in Galveston at Scholes International Airport (KGLS) – a noncommercial facility. All cruise lines run shuttles to and from IAH and HOU. Be prepared to wait a while due to the commute times.
RELATED: See our tips on Port of Galveston Parking
Port of New Orleans
One of the easiest embarkation ports to access if you are driving is the Port of New Orleans (Port NOLA). It is literally minutes from Interstate 10, the main highway along the Gulf of Mexico. There are dedicated parking lots for cruise ship passengers; overflow areas; and complimentary shuttles. The airport, Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) is approximately 20 miles and 45 minutes away. Port NOLA is within easy walking distance of all the famous sites of the city – which means the French Quarter and beignets for me! The latter makes this embarkation point my favorite for extended vacations after returning to port.
For each of these ports, you can drive (or be dropped off) very close to the place where you board the ship. You may also utilize the services of cruise ship luggage porters at that time. Each cruise line has a procedure for security screening and checking in. It will expedite the embarkation process and decrease your wait-time to have your tickets and IDs in-hand. Also, your luggage and carry-ons will be inspected. For helpful embarkation tips at these busy ports, check out our article HERE.
Angela is a professional freelance travel writer and published indie author – AngelaMinor.com