PortsUS PortsCruise Ports in Florida: Everything You Need to Know (7 Ports)

Cruise Ports in Florida: Everything You Need to Know (7 Ports)

Florida is undoubtedly one of the top cruise destinations in the world. The Sunshine State has a lot to offer, from its stunning beaches and warm climate to its diverse culture and cuisine.

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Virgin Voyages Valiant Lady cruise ship in Port Miami
Virgin Voyages Valiant Lady docked in Port Miami. (Photo Credit: Cruise Port © Francisco Blanco | Dreamstime.com)

Ultimately, what makes Florida stand out as a cruise destination is its abundance of cruise ports. With several well-equipped ports situated throughout the state, travelers can easily set sail for their dream vacation from Florida’s shores.

In this article we will look at 6 cruise ports of embarkation and a one port of call in Florida, including:

  • PortMiami
  • Port Canaveral
  • Port Everglades
  • Port Tampa Bay
  • Port of Jacksonville
  • Port of Palm Beach
  • Key West

Florida is the leading cruise destination in the world because of its climate, location, and ports. It boasts a warm and sunny climate, which makes it an ideal place for travelers looking to escape cold winter months or enjoy a summer vacation.

Florida is a peninsula, meaning it is surrounded by water on three sides: the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the Gulf of Mexico to the west, and the Florida Straits to the south (which separate the United States from Cuba).

This location allows it to be a convenient homeport for many cruise lines operating in the Caribbean, Bahamas, and Mexico. Accordingly, Florida has numerous cruise ports that offer a wide range of amenities and attractions for travelers, making it a versatile option for cruise vacations.

Another reason Florida is such a good state to cruise from is its well-developed infrastructure. The state has a well-connected network of highways, airports, and public transportation, making it easy to reach many of its cruise ports. This means that travelers can easily access their ship and embark on their vacation without worrying too much about transportation logistics.

On top of all of this, Florida has a rich history and culture, which means there is always something new and exciting to see and do for travelers. From the sunny beaches of Miami to the theme parks of Orlando and the historic sites of St. Augustine, Florida offers something for everyone.

In this article, we will explore the different cruise ports in Florida, highlighting their unique features, amenities, and popular cruise lines.

 

PortMiami

cruise ships in portmiami, miami with virgin and royal caribbean

PortMiami is a top-rated port in Florida and one of the busiest in the world, which is why it is known as “The Cruise Capital of the World.” Located in Biscayne Bay, just east of downtown Miami, it is a gateway to some of the most popular cruising destinations.

The port is known for its state-of-the-art facilities, excellent customer service, and convenient location. It is also currently home to the world’s largest cruise ships, including Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas and Carnival’s Excel class ship Carnival Celebration.

PortMiami offers plenty of dining options, shops, and nearby entertainment venues for cruisers to enjoy.

Related: Parking at PortMiami: Best Parking Guide

Downtown Miami is just over the bridge that connects to the port; there, cruisers can find more restaurants and shops. Bayside Marketplace is a four-minute drive from PortMiami and offers a variety of chain restaurants and stores as well as exciting activities, including the SkyViews ferris wheel and Thriller Speedboat Adventures.

Airport service

One of the main attractions of PortMiami is its proximity to Miami International Airport (MIA), which is just a 30-minute drive away. Cruisers can also fly into Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL), which is about an hour-long drive away from PortMiami.

Related: How to get from Miami’s airport to the cruise port

The port is also conveniently located near several top-rated hotels, making it easy for cruisers to find accommodation before or after their trip. Shuttles from the airport or from nearby accommodation can be booked in advance with many cruise lines or might be provided through your hotel. If you choose to ride privately, taxis and rideshare services are also readily available.

Some of the popular cruise lines that operate out of PortMiami include Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, Carnival Cruise Line, Virgin Voyages, Disney Cruise Line, and MSC Cruises. With so many options, travelers can easily find a cruise that suits their budget and preferences.

21 hotels near PortMiami that are perfect for a pre-cruise stay

 

Port Canaveral

hotels near port canaveral

Port Canaveral is a very popular cruise port in Florida, located on the east coast of the state.

This popularity has earned Port Canaveral the title of “busiest cruise port in the world”.

It is a convenient departure point for those who want to explore the Bahamas or the Caribbean. The port is also home to several popular attractions, including the Kennedy Space Center, which is just a short drive away.

Related: Port Canaveral parking guide and tips

Port Canaveral is conveniently located near Orlando International Airport (MCO), which is just a one-hour drive away. This makes it an excellent choice for those who want to combine a cruise vacation with a trip to some of Florida’s top-rated theme parks like Disney World and Universal Studios.

Port Canaveral itself offers excellent facilities and amenities for cruisers, including a range of dining options, shopping, and entertainment venues all along the “Space Coast.” It is also only a 15-minute drive from Cocoa Beach, for cruisers who want to soak up the sun before they set sail.

Airport service

Port Canaveral is conveniently located near Orlando International Airport (MCO), which is just a one-hour drive away. Affordable airport to port shuttles are available (from prices as low as $7 per person) and, if you choose to stay the night, many nearby hotels offer complimentary transportation services to the port.

Related: Shuttle services from MCO airport to Port Canaveral cruise port

Some of the popular cruise lines that operate out of Port Canaveral include Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, MSC Cruises, and Norwegian Cruise Line. Each cruise line offers unique itineraries and onboard experiences, giving travelers plenty of options to choose from.

Read: Hotels near Port Canaveral that offer parking, shuttles, and other perks

 

Port Everglades

port everglades parking guide

Port Everglades is located in Fort Lauderdale and is the third busiest cruise port in the world, hosting three million cruise passengers per year in its 11-terminal port. It is home to several popular cruise lines and offers easy access to some of the most stunning destinations in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America; in fact, Port Everglades is so close to the Bahamas that it offers a ferry service there.

The port is also conveniently located near Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, which is just a five-minute drive away.

Related: Port Everglades cruise parking guide

Port Everglades offers a range of facilities and amenities for cruisers, including a variety of dining options, stores, and entertainment venues nearby. One of South Florida’s most popular dining and shopping destinations, the waterfront Las Olas Boulevard, is only 15 minutes away.

If you fancy a more old-school shopping experience, Downtown Hollywood offers boutiques and novelty shops just south of Port Everglades. The port is also home to several hotels, making it easy for travelers to find accommodation before or after their trip.

Airport service

Port Everglades is the only port in the country located directly next to an airport, making it as easy as possible to fly and cruise on the same day. The port authority recommends that you allow at least 45 minutes between your flight arrival time and your cruise check-in time to claim your luggage.

If you choose to spend extra time in Fort Lauderdale before your cruise, many local hotels offer transportation to the port.

Related: Hotels near Port Everglades perfect for a pre-cruise stay

Some of the popular cruise lines that operate out of Port Everglades include Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Celebrity Cruises, Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, and Royal Caribbean. At Port Everglades, travelers have a multitude of options to choose from.

 

Port Tampa Bay

port tampa bay with ships in port

Port Tampa Bay, located in Tampa, Florida, is a popular departure point for cruises to the Caribbean and Mexico. The port is situated on Tampa Bay, which is the largest open-water estuary in Florida. This location provides easy access to the Gulf of Mexico and beyond, making it an ideal location for cruise ships.

Related:  Ultimate guide for cruising out of Tampa Bay

One of the main attractions of Port Tampa Bay is its proximity to many popular tourist destinations in the region. Visitors can explore the nearby city o, which is home to a vibrant downtown area, numerous museums, and world-class attractions like Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and the Florida Aquarium.

The port is also within driving distance of other popular vacation destinations like Orlando and Clearwater Beach.

In terms of amenities for cruisers, Port Tampa Bay offers a variety of services to make the boarding and disembarking process as smooth as possible.

Airport service

Situated only 20 minutes from Tampa International Airport (TPA), cruisers can take shuttles, public transport, or rideshare services to the terminal.

If you choose to drive, the port features multiple parking garages with shuttle services to the cruise terminals. There are also several hotels near the port that offer park-and-cruise packages for guests.

Port Tampa Bay is home to several popular cruise lines, including Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, and Norwegian Cruise Line. These cruise lines offer a variety of itineraries ranging from short 4-night trips to the Caribbean to longer 14-night voyages to the Panama Canal.

 

Port of Jacksonville

Located on the northern tip of Florida’s east coast in Jacksonville, Florida, the Port of Jacksonville (JaxPort) is a highly frequented starting point for voyages to the Caribbean and the Bahamas.

As both a commercial and passenger port, it handles a substantial amount of cargo and cruise ship traffic, rendering it one of the most bustling ports in Florida. The port is situated on the St. Johns River, which provides easy access to the Atlantic Ocean and beyond.

One of the main attractions of the Port of Jacksonville is its proximity to popular tourist destinations in the Jacksonville area. Visitors can explore the nearby beaches of Amelia Island and Jacksonville Beach or enjoy world-class golf courses like TPC Sawgrass, home of The Players Championship.

There are 20 miles of beach surrounding Jacksonville, and visitors can take the Beaches Trolley for only $1.50 per person to explore them all.

Airport service

The Port of Jacksonville is conveniently located near several major airports, including Jacksonville International Airport (JAX), making it readily accessible to travelers from all over the country. JaxPort provides its own franchised taxi service that conducts taxi and shuttle service between the cruise terminal and Jacksonville International Airport. These rides will take about 15 minutes and cost anywhere from $30-40.

For a long time, JaxPort was known mainly as the home of Carnival’s Fascination. However, it is now home to both Carnival Cruise Lines and American Cruise Lines. These companies offer a variety of itineraries ranging from short 3-night trips to the Bahamas to longer 14-night voyages to the Caribbean.

 

Port of Palm Beach

Margaritaville at Sea ship in port in West Palm Beach Florida
Photo courtesy of Port of Palm Beach

The Port of Palm Beach is a cruise port located in Riviera Beach, Florida. It is situated on the east coast of Florida, just north of Palm Beach, and offers a convenient location for those seeking a quick getaway to the Caribbean.

The Port of Palm Beach is a small but well-equipped port that can accommodate cruise ships up to 750 feet in length. It features a modern cruise terminal that offers a variety of services and amenities for cruisers.

The Port of Palm Beach offers a variety of amenities for cruisers to enjoy. The port features ample parking for those who choose to drive, as well as easy access to public transportation for those who prefer to take a taxi, rideshare, or shuttle.

Upon arrival at the port, passengers are greeted by a friendly staff who will assist them with their luggage and guide them through the embarkation process. The terminal features a seating area, a snack bar, and restrooms for passengers’ comfort and convenience.

Airport service

For those who arrive early or have a layover before their cruise, the Port of Palm Beach is conveniently located near several airports. Palm Beach International Airport (PBI) is just a 20-minute drive away, and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) is within an hour’s drive. Both airports offer a range of flights to destinations throughout the United States and beyond, making it easy for travelers to reach the port from virtually anywhere in the world.

One of the main attractions for cruisers departing from the Port of Palm Beach is the proximity to some of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean. The port is just a short distance from the Bahamas, making it an ideal starting point for a Bahamas cruise. The port also offers a range of itineraries to other popular Caribbean destinations, such as Jamaica, Haiti, and Puerto Rico.

The Port of Palm Beach is also home to a unique cruise line, Margaritaville at Sea. This cruise line offers offers 4 and 6 night getaways that combine a two-night cruise with a stay in a resort on Grand Bahama Island.

The ship features a variety of amenities, including multiple restaurants and bars, a casino, a spa, and a water park. It also offers a range of activities for passengers of all ages, from live music and comedy shows to watersports and outdoor games.

 

Key West

Key West is a popular port of call for cruises departing from Florida. This charming island city, located at the southernmost point of the United States, offers visitors a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty.

The island is home to several stunning beaches, each with its own distinct character. Some of the most popular beaches in Key West include Smathers Beach, Higgs Beach, and Fort Zachary Taylor Beach. Visitors can spend their day soaking up the sun, swimming in the crystal-clear waters, or participating in a range of water sports, such as snorkeling, parasailing, or jet skiing.

In addition to its beautiful beaches, Key West is also famous for its rich history and vibrant culture. The island has a long and storied past, with influences from Native Americans, Spanish explorers, pirates, and Cuban immigrants. Visitors can explore this history by visiting landmarks such as the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, the Key West Lighthouse and Keeper’s Quarters Museum, and the Harry S. Truman Little White House.

Key West is also known for its lively arts and entertainment scene. The island is home to many talented musicians, writers, artists, and performers, who showcase their skills in a variety of venues throughout the city. Cruise passengers can enjoy live music, theater, and comedy shows, or browse the many art galleries and studios that line the streets.

Foodies will also love Key West, which is home to a wide variety of restaurants and cafes serving up delicious cuisine from around the world. Whether you’re in the mood for fresh seafood, authentic Cuban fare, or a gourmet burger, you’ll find plenty of options to suit your taste buds.

Another advantage of Key West as a port of call is its proximity to other popular destinations in the Caribbean. Many cruises departing from Florida include Key West as part of a larger itinerary that also includes stops in other exotic locations such as Cozumel, Jamaica, or the Bahamas. This makes it easy for travelers to see multiple destinations in a single trip, while still enjoying the unique charms of Key West.

One thing that sets Key West apart from other ports of call is its laid-back, welcoming vibe. Visitors to the island often describe it as a place where time seems to slow down, and the stresses of everyday life simply melt away. The people of Key West are known for their friendly and hospitable nature, making visitors feel right at home from the moment they step off the ship.

 

How to Choose the Right Florida Port for Your Vacation

When planning your next cruise vacation, it’s important to consider which Florida cruise port is the right choice for you. You should consider the location, cruise lines and itineraries, and the amenities available to determine if your

Before you plan your trip, you should consider which cruise lines and itineraries are available from each port. Some ports may offer a wider variety of cruise lines and itineraries than others. For example, the Port of Miami is one of the largest ports in the world and offers cruises from several different lines, whereas the Port of Palm Beach exclusively offers cruises from Margaritaville at Sea.

Not only will the cruise lines differ, some ports may specialize in certain types of cruises, such as shorter Caribbean itineraries or longer voyages to South America.

Another factor to consider when choosing a Florida cruise port is location. Which port is most convenient for you to get to? If you’re flying into Florida, you may want to choose a port that’s close to the airport. If you’re driving to Florida, you may want to choose a port that’s closer to your starting point. It’s important to factor in transportation costs and travel time when considering the best location to set sail.

Additionally, different ports offer different amenities and attractions for cruisers. For example, the Port of Miami is located in the heart of downtown Miami, with easy access to shopping, dining, and cultural attractions. The Port of Tampa is located close to Busch Gardens theme park, making it a great choice for families with kids.

Port Canaveral is located near Orlando, home to popular theme parks such as Disney World and Universal Studios. Consider what types of activities and attractions you’d like to experience before and after your cruise and choose a port that’s well-suited to your interests.

Related:  Cheapest times of year to book a cruise

 

The Best Time to Book a Florida Cruise

The best time to book a Florida cruise depends on several factors, including your budget, preferred itinerary, and travel dates. However, there are a few general guidelines that can help you make the most of your booking.

  1. Book Early for the Best Deals: In general, it’s a good idea to book your Florida cruise as early as possible in order to secure the best deals and availability. Most cruise lines offer early booking discounts and promotions, which can save you hundreds of dollars on your trip. Additionally, by booking early, you’ll have a better chance of securing the cabin type and itinerary that you prefer, especially if you’re traveling during peak season or on a popular cruise line.
  2. Consider Shoulder Season for Lower Prices: If you’re looking to save money on your Florida cruise, consider booking during the shoulder season, which is the period of time just before or after the peak travel season; for Florida-based cruises, shoulder season is from May to November. During the shoulder season, cruise prices are typically lower, and you may be able to snag a great deal on a popular itinerary or cruise line.
  3. Look for Last-Minute Deals: If you’re flexible with your travel dates and cabin type, you may be able to score a great deal on a last-minute Florida cruise. Many cruise lines offer last-minute discounts in order to fill up unsold cabins and sailings. However, keep in mind that last-minute deals can be hit or miss, and you may not have as much choice when it comes to cabin type or itinerary.
  4. Be Mindful of Peak Travel Times: If you’re planning to travel during a peak travel time, such as the holidays or school vacation weeks, it’s important to book your Florida cruise as early as possible in order to secure your preferred itinerary and cabin type. Additionally, prices during peak travel times are typically higher, so it’s a good idea to budget accordingly and look for ways to save, such as booking through a travel agent or taking advantage of special promotions.

 

Final Thoughts

Florida is a hub for cruise vacations, offering a variety of ports for travelers to choose from. Whether you are looking for a bustling city experience or a laid-back island vibe, there is a Florida cruise port that caters to your preferences. When selecting a Florida cruise port and deciding when to sail, consider your travel style, interests, and budget to find the perfect match. Regardless of which port you choose, a cruise vacation leaving from one of Florida’s ports is sure to be a memorable and enjoyable experience.

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J. Souza
J. Souza
Jon is the co-founder of Cruise Fever and has been on 50+ cruises since his first in 2009. As an editor, 15-year writer on the cruise industry, and avid cruise enthusiast he has sailed with at least 10 cruise lines and is always looking for a great cruise deal. Jon lives in North Carolina and can be reached at [email protected].
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