Florida Cruise Ports: Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Port Canaveral

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

The mother, father and three children start to feel the excitement as they board the plane that will take them to their Florida cruise port. They are on their way to a Caribbean cruise.

The excitement grows even more as they land, taxi to the port and see the giant ship in the distance grow ever larger as they near it. It pops out against the clear blue sky.

For some including this family, the excitement peaks as they board the ship and start to explore.

For others, the excitement may have to wait.

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 fly or drive:

  1. 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.

Cruise ships line the Miami port. Credit: Wikimedia Credit: Wikimedia (Creative Commons 1.0 Generic)

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 umer through the fall months.

PortMiami Tunnel provides easy access to cruise terminals. © Miami-Dade County

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.

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

Ruby Princess arrives at Port Everglades. © Broward County Port Everglades Dept.

Fort Lauderdale / Port Everglades

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, nine 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.

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

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:

Cruise Terminal #2 – 180 Christopher Columbus Drive, Cape Canaveral, FL 32920
Cruise Terminal #3 – 220 Christopher Columbus Drive, Cape Canaveral, FL 32920
Cruise Terminal #4 – 240 Christopher Columbus Drive, Cape Canaveral, FL 32920
Cruise Terminal #5 – 9245 Charles Rowland Drive, Cape Canaveral, FL 32920
Cruise Terminal #6 – 9241 Charles Rowland Drive, Cape Canaveral, FL 32920
Cruise Terminal #8 – 9155 Charles Rowland Drive, Cape Canaveral, FL 32920
Cruise Terminal #10 – 9005 Charles Rowland Drive, Cape Canaveral, FL 32920

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.

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 (GNU Free Documentation License)

Port Tampa Bay

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).

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.


Kinsale Ireland Enchants Visitors with Classic Seaside Character



Sailboats fill Kinsale’s harbor that brings tourists to this picturesque seaside town. © Scott Bateman

Kinsale is a classic seaside town that belongs on any seven-day tour of Ireland.

It has the same character of many seaside towns and villages in other countries including the northeast and northwest coasts of the United States.

Not long ago, these places mainly served a single purpose, which was fishing.

Today, they serve another purpose: tourism. Continue reading

Cliffs of Moher Tour Overwhelms Visitors with Massive Beauty


Cliffs of Moher

The southern view shows the extent of the cliffs, which run five miles long.

By Scott Bateman

The Cliffs of Moher in Ireland are so wide, so tall and so utterly massive that no photograph can capture their overwhelming size.

The most visited natural attraction in the country stands 700 feet at its tallest point and runs five miles or eight kilometers along the Atlantic coast in County Clare.

Visitors who first arrive to take the tour will park in a treeless, wind-swept area across the road from the park entrance with little clue of what lies on the other side

What makes the landscape even more stark is the lack of any buildings, even for visitors. On this chilly morning, sheep seem to outnumber the people. Continue reading

Aruba Cruise Port Shows Off ‘Happy Island’






Aruba cruise port.Credit: Aruba Tourism Authority.

Sunny, warm, and dry year round, cruisers are hard pressed to find a bad time for visiting Aruba.

Also called “One Happy Island”, this 69-square-mile island is a popular and well-loved stop for cruisers.

Aruba is part of the ABC islands. Its neighboring islands consist of Bonaire and Curacao.

The ABC islands are located in the southern Caribbean just north of Venezuela. Because of their location, they tend to miss most of the major hurricanes and tropical storms so well known to their northern neighbors.

Aruba has a desert-like, arid climate. The island receives less than 20 inches of rainfall per year. Weather forecasts often show little to no rain in the coming days. Continue reading

Renaissance Island is an Aruba Paradise


Renaissance Island Aruba

Renaissance Island Aruba © Scott Bateman

Aruba’s Renassaince Island is a paradise just off the coast of the island and accessible with a 10-minute boat ride from the capital city of Oranjestad.

The island is owned by the Marriott Corporation, which also owns the two Renaissance hotels that provide the access to it. Hotels guests can go to the island for free, while others pay a small fee.

The small fee is worth it. The island has two beautiful man-made coves with white sand beaches and pink flamingoes that wander around the guests. The atmosphere is quiet, peaceful and soothing.

Cruise visitors should go either to Renaissance Island or Palm Beach if they are visiting for the day.

St. Lucia ATV Ride Offers Great Views and Thrills


St. Lucia's Pitons

St. Lucia’s Pitons

St. Lucia is a popular stop on eastern Caribbean cruises because of its beautiful harbor and other natural attractions.

One of the best ways for more adventurous people to see those natural attractions is by going on an ATV ride through the back country of the island.

For anyone who hasn’t tried it before, a typical ATV or all-terrain vehicle has three or four wheels and usually has no exterior shell like a car.

In our case, it was more like a squat motorcyle with three wheels. And yes, because it is “all terrain” it can go just about anywhere. Continue reading