Florida Cruise Port Tips: Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando

Updated on May 3, 2019
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Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely along the East Coast, including Virginia, Florida and the Carolinas.

Port of Miami is the most active cruise port in the world. © PortMiami
Port of Miami is the most active cruise port in the world. © PortMiami

Florida cruise ports are the starting point for many Caribbean cruises. But they also have plenty of their own attractions for people who have a little time before and after their cruises.

Three Florida cruise ports—Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Port Canaveral—are the most active in the world. They offer three kinds of experiences depending on how travelers plan their vacations and whether they:

  1. fly or drive straight from the airport to the ship and back again.

  2. spend time in the port before embarking because of flight schedules or choice.

  3. spend time in the port after returning, again because of schedules or choice.

A little planning will make the visit to these ports, however brief, a way of enjoying a Caribbean cruise even more.

Best Time to Visit Florida Cruise Ports

Anyone who goes on a Caribbean cruise from a Florida cruise port may want to spend time near the ports where they embark. Each of the major ports offers a wide range of attractions and access to popular beaches. But the beaches are less popular during certain times of the year.

The best time to visit Florida takes into account lower rainfall and comfortable temperatures during the spring months. Seawater is often cool and uncomfortable during the winter. Rainfall spikes from summer through the fall months.

Cruise ships line the Miami port. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons license
Cruise ships line the Miami port. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons license

Port of Miami

There is little doubt that Miami is not only the top Florida cruise port and one of the most active ports in the world. In fact, various sources estimate it is the world’s busiest. It offers seven cruise terminals at the Port of Miami, also known as PortMiami.

Location and Directions

PortMiami lies at 1015 North America Way, Miami, Florida, 33132. It is eight miles from Miami International Airport.

Anyone arriving by taxi, shuttle bus or limousine will drop off in front of each terminal. Drive-in passengers can park at the port.

The Port Miami Tunnel provides direct access from major highways to the port:

  • Visitors coming from the north can take I-95 South to the eastbound I-395 ramp (Miami Beach). Continue on I-395 East and look for the tunnel entrance on the left.
  • Drivers coming from the south can take SR-826 North to SR-836 East, go east on SR-836 to I-395 East (Miami Beach). Continue on I-395 East/MacArthur Causeway and look for the tunnel entrance on the left.
  • Anyone coming from the south also can take I-95 North to Eastbound I-395 (Miami Beach) Ramp. Continue on I-395 East/MacArthur Causeway and be on the lookout for the tunnel entrance on the left.

Parking and Fees

Taxis coming from the airport charge a flat rate of $24 (subject to change). Overnight parking is $20 per night. Garages accept major credit cards but not debit cards.

Budget travelers might consider the Metrorail’s Orange Line, which takes less than a half hour to travel from the airport to the terminals.

Attractions

Nearby attractions include Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts; Bayside, a dining, shopping and entertainment district; HistoryMiami, a city history museum; Jungle Island, a nature preserve; Miami Art Museum; and Miami Children’s Museum

Cruise ships line the docks at Port Everglades. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons license
Cruise ships line the docks at Port Everglades. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons license

Fort Lauderdale/Port Everglades Cruise Port

Port Everglades is not in the Florida Everglades, but rather in Hollywood, FL. The port is one of the top three cruise ports in the world, according to the Broward County Port Everglades Department. It supports 10 cruise lines, 44 ships, 9 terminals and more than 4 million cruise passengers a year.

Location and Directions

The port’s address is 1850 Eller Drive, Hollywood, FL 33301. It is only two miles from Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport.

On I-95 south, take exit 26 to I-595 east, then exit 12b to Port Everglades. On I-95 north, take exit 24 to I-595 east, then exit 12b to the port. On I-75 north or south, take exit 19 to I-595 east, then exit 12b to the port.

Parking and Fees

Parking is $15 a day. Taxi fare between the airport and the port is usually between $10 and $16.

Attractions

Fort Lauderdale has several popular attractions for cruisers with time on their hands.

They include the Beachfront Promenade, located two miles from the port; Las Olas Boulevard, a mile-long shopping and dining district; and the Riverwalk Arts and Entertainment District, which offers Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Museum of Discovery & Science/Autonation 3D IMAX, Florida Grand Opera, Fort Lauderdale History Center, Museum of Art | Fort Lauderdale and Stranahan House. The district includes Riverwalk and Las Olas Boulevard.

Fort Lauderdale is a popular destination in its own right, giving cruise visitors a chance to spend time there before or after their cruise. Likewise, they have easy access to other nearby destinations such as Singer Island.

Port Canaveral Terminal 9-10. © Canaveral Port Authority
Port Canaveral Terminal 9-10. © Canaveral Port Authority

Port Canaveral Cruise Port (Orlando)

The huge popularity of Cape Canaveral as a Florida cruise port is partly the result of its location near Orlando. Cruisers can easily combine a Caribbean cruise with time at Disney World and Universal Studios. It also is next to Kennedy Space Center.

Location and Directions

Port Canaveral is on the east coast of Florida directly west of Orlando and south of Daytona Beach. The port has seven active terminals.

Multiple airports serve Port Canaveral including Orlando International Airport, Melbourne International Airport, Orlando Sanford International Airport, Space Coast Regional Airport and Daytona Beach International Airport.

Melbourne is the closest at 25 miles away, while Orlando is 45 miles away but a straight shot on Route 528 / Martin Andersen Beachline Expressway.

Parking and Fees

Parking lies within walking distance of the ships. Visitors can pay with cash, Visa, Mastercard or traveler’s checks.

The port has flat rates for parking based on the number of nights: three nights $60, four nights $75, five nights $90, six nights $105, seven nights $120 and eight nights $135 for vehicles up to 20 feet in length.

Attractions

The three major area attractions are Disney World, Universal Studios and Kennedy Space Center. Port Canaveral also has three public parks with beaches, bike paths, campgrounds, fishing piers, public boating access and marinas.

Anyone flying into Orlando to reach Port Canaveral will find it easy and tempting to spend an extra day at the amusement parks.

Cruise ship docks by Tampa’s Channelside district. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons license
Cruise ship docks by Tampa’s Channelside district. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons license

Bonus: Tampa Bay Cruise Port

Tampa is not one of the three most active cruise ports in the world, but it is growing in popularity. It is now the home port for ships from Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line.

It offers three terminals named Terminal 2, Terminal 3 and Terminal 6. Terminal 2 is home to ships from Carnival Cruise Line, Terminal 3 houses Norwegian and Royal Caribbean, and Terminal 6 is home to Holland America.

Location and Directions

The port has three addresses based on the terminal numbers: 651 Channelside Drive, Tampa, FL 33602 for #2, 815 Channelside Drive, Tampa, FL 33602 for Terminal 3 and 1333 McKay Street, Tampa, FL 33602 for Terminal 6. The terminals are only nine miles from Tampa International Airport.

Drivers coming from Orlando should take I-4 west to exit 1. Travel south on 21st Street and take a right on Adamo Drive (Highway 60) then left onto Channelside Drive.

Anyone coming from I-275 should travel on I-4 east to exit 1. Go south on 21st Street and take a right on Adamo Drive (Hwy 60) then left onto Channelside Drive.

The directions from the Tampa airport are: exit the airport and follow signs to I-275 North. I-275 will merge with I-4 East. Follow I-4 East to Exit 1. Go south on 21st Street and turn right on Adamo Drive (Highway 60) then left onto Channelside Drive.

Parking and Fees

Parking is across the street from Terminals 2 and 3 and next to Terminal 6. The port Web site provides a link for visitors to pre-pay for their parking. A seven-day pass for self-parking costs $105 (subject to change).

Attractions

The Tampa cruise port is building its appeal as a place where cruise travelers can spend time before or after their trip.

It is continually developing Channelside, a complex offering shopping, dining, an IMAX theater and more. It also has an outdoor plaza with concerts and the Florida Aquarium.

© 2019 Scott S Bateman

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