I just got back from a cruise out of Miami’s cruise port. After choosing to park my car on-site at PortMiami for the duration of the cruise, I thought an article like this would be helpful to future cruisers sailing out of this bustling port.
When you live hundreds of miles from the cruise port you have some decisions to make prior to your departure. The decision to drive or fly is the first one you have to settle, and this can be both a financial choice and one of convenience.
If you’re lucky enough to have some friends who live near the cruise port and they don’t mind you keeping your car in their driveaway for a week, you can save a few bucks but will also need some transportation to and from the port.
For this 6-day cruise on Carnival Celebration I wanted the convenience of being able to drive home right after I got off the ship and the security of knowing my vehicle would be safe.
I could have used one of many off-site parking options for this cruise. It would have been slightly cheaper too. But for the following reasons I decided to park right at PortMiami, and I’m glad I did.
I was recently just talking with someone who had parked their car with an off-site parking service during a cruise out of Miami. Their car was broken into and several things were stolen. Needless to say, this is not the kind of welcome you want when you’re ready to head home after a cruise.
I know off-site parking places have their own security. And many of them might be very good. But in a city like Miami, I was much more comfortable having my car right at the port, where I knew security surveillance would be running 24/7 and port officials would keep an eye on things.
Parking at the cruise port allowed me to go straight from the terminal to my car. And since I used self-assist with my luggage, I was able to get on the road at a reasonable time.
If I had used a park and shuttle service I would have to wait for the shuttle to arrive, and then wait for it to fill up with enough passengers for the driver to head to the lot. I would also tip the drive, by the way, so this saved some money on that front as well.
Being able to get out of the cruise port among the first passengers was a time saver in traffic. But it also saved time because of what I mentioned in the above point. I’ve spent an hour or longer waiting for a shuttle service to bring me back to the off-site parking lot before.
If I had plenty of time to get back home it’s one thing. But when I have a long 10-12 hour drive ahead of me, I want to get on the road as quickly as possible.
If I wanted to stay in Miami an extra night this would not have mattered too much.
Cost was reasonable
Overnight parking was $22 per day, so for 6 days it cost me $132 to park at PortMiami. All the other parking options on site are the same price except for Garage A, the Royal Caribbean parking lot that has a cost of $25 per day.
I could have found cheaper rates off-site with 3rd party parking providers, but this cost was reasonable enough for me to stick with the simplicity and convenience of staying right at the port.
Some tips for parking in PortMiami
The cruise port in Miami is a long stretch of terminals, with more on the way with the construction of MSC’s new terminal which will be the largest in North America upon completion. It can be a little confusing if you’ve never parked here before.
Know your ship’s terminal
This is key if you want to find the right parking garage. My cruise ship was docked at Terminal F, which is only the 3rd terminal on the left. Even though I already knew the terminal I had to figure out which parking garage to use as well.
After several loops around I finally parked at Garage D, but I should have parked at Garage G. The signage was a tad confusing, but maybe that was just me. I would have had a much shorter walk had I parked at the right garage, but I grew weary of traveling in circles.
I was so used to flying to Miami and having an Uber driver take me to the right terminal that parking was a new experience at this port. You can read my article on deciding to fly or drive to the cruise port here.
Depending on where your ship is docked, here are the closest parking lots and garages.
- Terminal V: Garage G
- Terminal G: Garage G
- Terminal F: Garage G or Surface Lot E
- Terminal E: Surface Lot E or Garage D
- Terminal D: Garage D
- Terminal C: Garage C or Surface Lot C
- Terminal B: Garage B
- Terminal A: Garage A
You can double-check with your cruise line to see exactly which terminal your cruise ship will be using on your embarkation date.
Drop off your luggage first
Instead of wheeling your luggage from the parking garage to the terminal, drop it off with someone in your party. Make sure your partner has some cash to tip the porters as they take the large bags as well.
This will save the hassle of carrying all of your luggage in the morning heat, on top of trying to cross the busy road of the cruise port with everything you will be wearing for the week in tow.
I should note that your bags should all be labeled and have the appropriate tags on them by this point.
Park in the shade if possible
This is Miami, Florida after all. If you can keep your car in the shade of a parking garage for the week you should. This won’t be an option for those surface lots, but if only a few ships are sailing on that day and you get there early enough you should find plenty of empty spaces in one of the garages.
Before the cruise do your check-in early as possible
Why should you check-in as soon as the earliest date arrives? Because it allows you to choose from the earliest check-in times. These early times fill up the fastest. I always set an alarm on my phone for the exact day I can check in. For this Carnival cruise it was 14 days prior to the sail date. I checked in as soon as I could and had an 11am arrival time. The parking garages had plenty of room left.
Don’t leave food in the car
On my way home I noticed a few creatures crawling around the car. One after another, I was smacking these things as I tried to keep my car I the right lane on the highway.
Ants had found their way into my vehicle, even though I didn’t think any food was left in there. These six-legged critters are pretty common in Miami and if some crumbs of road-trips-past are left in there, they will find it.
They would have been much worse if I left an open bag of chips in the console or back seat. Your car will be sitting there for 7 days or longer, so make sure it’s clear of any food. Otherwise, you might find some insects throwing a party when you get back.
Parking at PortMiami was a seamless process for me on my 6-day cruise — well, except for the fact that I parked in the wrong garage and had a slightly longer walk than was necessary.
If I were to drive to the port in southern Florida again I would definitely lean toward parking on-site again, unless I planned on staying in Miami a little longer.
Have you ever parked at the cruise port in Miami before? What was your experience and what recommendations would you make to our readers? Let us know in the comments below.