Cruising: A South Florida Port Guide

Are you ready to set out on the open water and experience the best ports Florida has to offer? Here's a port guide you can't miss when cruising.

There are plenty of reasons why US cruises make up a nearly $40 billion a year industry. They provide hundreds of thousands of jobs that help vacationers to relax any time of year.

If you’re thinking about where in Florida you might want to cruise from, you’re going to need a port guide.

Whether you’ve never cruised out of Florida before or you’re looking for a new perspective on a family tradition, you’ve come to the right place. Check out this guide to the top 5 cruise ports in Florida to make sure you get the most out of your next cruise.

1. Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale

Port Everglades is one of the most active ports for recreation in the US and certainly highest trafficked in Florida. Currently, there are about 40 cruise ships with travel served by 11 cruise line companies. That means you’ll have plenty of options for cruising.

No port guide would be complete without noting that Port Everglades has one of the most high-tech and efficient systems in US travel. It’s the only port in the US with an app for dealing with U.S Customs and Border Protection.

As this app becomes more commonly used in airports, we’ll see more people being able to travel more efficiently. The app allows you to make any customs declarations with your smartphone or tablet. You’ll be surprised how much time this can save you in the whole clearance process.

The most frequent ships to depart from the port are Carnival ships. They added a second cruiser in 2017 and seek to expand service.

If you’re looking to get to Cuba from Fort Lauderdale, you’re in luck. Pearl Seas Cruises is taking people to Cuba for the first time since the 50s. During this 9-night cruise, you and 200 other passengers can see the ports and cities of the island, long off limits to US citizens.

Crystal Cruises is set to expand their service and add two ships for the coming year. They were absent from the port for the last 10 years. A big welcome is in store for this world-class cruise line.

Other cruise lines taking off from Port Everglades include Princess Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, and Silversea Cruises. All of these companies have added new, high-tech liners to serve cruisers.

This port will have the most options but if you want to avoid the crowds, keep scrolling through this port guide.


2. JAXPORT in Jacksonville

Jacksonville is situated at one of the best locations for cruising. It sits at the center of all the main train arteries and in the middle of the network of highways cutting across the south. Wherever you are in the US, you can find a road that leads to Jacksonville.

JAXPORT is one of the most heavily used trade ports in Florida. But it’s also a great place to take a cruise from.

Currently, Carnival is the main cruise line operating out of the port. It was named one of the top 5 ports in the world based on surveys from passengers.

Despite fewer options than Port Everglades, this port still gets plenty of traffic. JAXPORT rounded the two million passenger mark just over a year ago.

Port Miami Parking for Cruises
Photo By: Dawn Pennington (Creative Commons)

3. PortMiami in Miami

PortMiami is trying to compete with Port Everglades for the top spot in every port guide. By increasing their investment in facilities and adding new cruise ships every year, they could become the number one port in Florida very soon.

At the last count, there were about 34 ships departing from the port. Twelve different cruise lines serve the port, with the expansion coming soon.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises added a new ship last year to compete with the biggest line on the market, Carnival. Carnival’s Vista is the largest ship in their fleet and embarks regularly from the port.

Because of all of the added ships, Terminals D and E have seen updated tech and renovations. They’ve expanded to included automated baggage claim. They’ve also been freshened up to seem brighter and more spacious.

Royal Carribean struck a deal with PortMiami to accommodate their newest ship. The deal cost $200 million and will lead to a brand new Terminal A in the coming years. Another “jewel in the crown” of Royal Carribean will be the design of the new terminal, which is to be shaped like the crown in their logo.

Look for new players to join the market including Virgin Voyages. They’ll be adding seven-day trips in the coming years, starting with round trips to the Caribbean.

4. Port Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay is one of the more exciting locations in this port guide. Their lines are taking advantage of a gap in the market by offering expanded service to Cuba. Two lines will be competing for 4-7 night trips to the island.

Between Royal Carribean and Carnival, it should be easy to schedule a custom-priced Cuba trip. No matter what, you’ll get at least one night in Havana.

If you’re looking for a longer trip, there are some great transatlantic options. Holland America and the Norwegian Cruise companies offer regular service.

Cruising: A South Florida Port Guide
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Put on your hard hat because it’s likely when you visit you could see some construction finishing up. The nearly $2 billion revitalization will bring high-rises, a much bigger cruise ship terminal and a brand new marina.

5. Port Canaveral in Orlando

Don’t take the rankings in this port guide as a judgment on the services offered by each port. With the new $85 million in upgrades scheduled for their terminals, Port Canaveral is growing by the year.

Port Canaveral has lines operated by Carnival, Disney, Royal Carribean and Norwegian embarking from this port regularly. Check out our insiders guide for more tips on choosing a Port Canaveral trip.

The port is set to have all new signage, better passenger flow, and higher efficiency. Look forward to a great customer experience next time you visit.

Beyond The Port Guide

There are a lot of factors that make a great Florida cruise. It’s more than the weather and the beautiful people. Expect great culture, cuisine, and entertainment.

If you’re still trying to figure out if a south Florida cruise is good for you, check out our handy guide on what to expect.

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