Cruise Ship Ports in Florida - The Essential Guide - Cruise Trail

Cruise Ship Ports in Florida – The Essential Guide

If you live in the Sunshine State then you will most likely be familiar with cruise ship ports in Florida. And you will be lucky enough to be able to hop in the car and drive to your cruise port – even if it’s a few hours away. Your luggage gets tossed into the trunk and all you need to do is fill up the gas tank and book your parking spot at the port.

For the rest of us living abroad or out of State, we will need to fly in and make our way to the cruise port using public transport or private transfers. And we may not be as familiar as perhaps Florida residents with the cruise ports, how to get there or what to expect.

Follow our guide below to the cruise ship ports in Florida, and learn all the logistics you need to know to ensure your planning goes without a hitch. And that you make it on board your cruise ship in good time.

Arriving at port same day your cruise departs versus arriving 1, 2 or 3 days early into your departure city

We have been in the travel industry for many years. And we have helped thousands of customers book their dream vacation. So of course we have some great stories to tell.

And we also have horror stories. There is nothing more disappointing than being stranded at the port as you watch your cruise ship sail off into the sunset – without you on board.

And it happens more often than you may like to think. If you usually fly in on the day your cruise departs and have never missed a check in, then indeed you are lucky.

Hoping that your time and budget allow, then we advise you to spend some time in your departure city before you start your cruise.

If you are a new visitor to the city, or even a returning guest, then these pre-cruise days can be absolutely fantastic and a great way to start your vacation.

And that means flying into your departure city at least 3 days ahead of your cruise start date. We have plenty of ideas and tips on how to spend your time in a cruise port city on our cruise tips pages – for example Cruise from Barcelona; or Cruise from Rome, or if you are embarking on a Greek Isles cruise then see our Cruise from Athens page.

Fly into your departure city a few days prior to your cruise start date

Flying early into your departure city means that:

  • If your flight is delayed or worse yet, cancelled, you will be able to reschedule your flight plans and still arrive in time for your cruise, albeit you may miss a hotel night or two.

If this happens, do two things:

  1. Ask the airline staff who help you rebook your flight ticket about getting a “Flight Delay or Cancellation Certificate”. It could be that you need to download this from the airline’s website once you return home after your vacation.

    Request a meal voucher or, if necessary, overnight accommodation at an airport hotel whilst you wait for your next flight. If it’s the airline’s fault that your flight was delayed or cancelled, then they are responsible for taking care of you.
  2. Call your hotel once you have a rescheduled flight and inform them of your approximate time of arrival. Be sure they hold your room for the remaining nights for you so they do not think of you as a “no show”.

    When you arrive at the hotel you can discuss a possible refund for the missed night. If they have a “no refund” policy (it’s not their fault your flight was delayed), then get written confirmation that you did not occupy the room for the missed night. Then refer back to your travel insurance provider for compensation when you get home.
  • It will be less stressful if your flights do not go according to plan knowing that you have allowed yourself extra time.
  • Use the extra time to get to know a new city, experience the culture, try the food, and shop a little more before your cruise starts. If you are lucky, it could be a bucket list destination that you have always wanted to visit. So try and budget for the additional cost of extra hotel nights and some meals. You won’t be sorry.

Flying the same day into your departure city as your cruise leaves port means that you are 100% relying on the airlines to make sure that:

  • Your flight is not cancelled, due to bad weather, aircraft technical problems, a delay at the destination airport which has a knock on effect, or a personnel strike by the airline staff.
  • The flight does not suffer a long delay due to technical problems, overbooking, late passengers, broken luggage conveyor belts, etc.
  • Your luggage arrives and does not go missing. You don’t want to end up boarding your cruise ship with only the clothes on your back. But it’s happened to many.

You are also assuming that your transportation at other end to get you from the airport to your cruise port works according to plan. And that they are no delays, accidents, traffic chaos or strikes that could delay you.

Conclusion: Many of us have travelled on holiday for years without a hitch. But many of us have also experienced delays and disappointments, and lost money in the process due to failed planning.

Why take the risk? Avoid flying into your departure point on the same day your cruise leaves port.

At what time should you schedule your return flight home after your cruise?

Everyone hates checking in too early for a flight and having to wait hours at the airport before boarding. It is often an expensive endeavor too as airport shopping and restaurants are not the cheapest. And it’s even more difficult when travelling with children.

Timing your flight home after your cruise ship has arrived into port can be tricky.

Too early and you risk missing your flight when the disembarkation takes much longer than expected and there are queues for taxis or transfer buses.

And scheduling a flight very late on the day of arrival into port may mean you will end up with that long wait at the airport.

If you book a cruise package with the cruise line, that is, flight and cruise, then very often a transfer is included. The cruise line will never want you to miss your flight so you will have priority disembarkation and they will get you to your departure airport in good time. Sometimes way too early but you cannot control this.

But if you are booking your own flight, here is a list of things to think about to minimize the risk of anything going wrong when you just want to get home. And the general rule is to err on the side of caution.

Your flight booking – getting to the airports from the cruise ship ports in Florida

  1. Check which port your cruise ship arrives at after your cruise (yes, it can be different to your departure port). Then check how far the airport is from the cruise ship port. Google maps is great at giving you the distance and estimated transfer time by road.
  2. Check the time of day your cruise ship is estimated to dock at the cruise port.
  3. Remember the cruise ship has to clear customs and be secured before passenger disembarkation starts. This can often be up to 2 hours.
  4. Check your latest check in time for your flight with the airline. International travelers can expect to need to check in 2 hours before flight departure. Domestic travel is a little shorter.

    But many, many airlines close their gates from around 45 minutes before take off, so better to be cautious and turn up early rather than late.

    Remember you need to check in, leave your luggage, get through security checks and find the right gate number.
  5. If your cruise ship docks early in the morning, the general rule is book a flight which leaves, at the earliest, lunchtime. Or longer if you have a long transfer to the airport (think of Ravenna port outside of Venice for example, where cruise ships now dock instead of Venice Island. Transfer time from Ravenna port to Venice Airport is estimated to be around 2.5 hours (150km).
  6. If your cruise ship docks after lunch the general rule is to book an early evening flight.
  7. Always book a flight ticket that is flexible. That means one that is both cancellable and rebookable. If anything goes wrong – you get sick, you get delayed, etc. you can change your air ticket or get a refund (often against a fee that the airline withhold).

    Top this up with great travel insurance.

    So if things do not go as planned, you don’t lose your money on your flights or at the very least you have the option to rebook to a new flight.
  8. Consider extending your vacation and staying one or two nights at a hotel after your cruise instead. That way there are no issues with flights the same day as port arrival.

Where are the cruise ship ports in Florida located?

There are four major cruise ports in Florida.

  1. Port of Miami – The port is located in Miami, South Florida. About 3.5 km (2 miles) from downtown Miami, 9km (6 miles) from South Beach and 16km (10 miles) from Miami International Airport (MIA).
  2. Port Everglades The port is located in Fort Lauderdale, South Florida.  About 6km (4 miles) from downtown Fort Lauderdale and 5km (3miles) from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) About 45km (28 miles) north of Miami. 
  3. Port CanaveralPort Canaveral is located on the east coast of Central Florida. About 82km (51 miles) east of downtown Orlando and 75km (46 miles) from Orlando International Airport (MCO).
  4. Port Tampa BayPort Tampa Bay is located on the west coast of Central Florida. About 9km (6 miles) from downtown Tampa and 16km (10 miles) from Tampa International Airport (TPA).

Which airports are closest to the cruise ship ports in Florida?

  1. Port of Miami – The port is located 16km (10 miles) from Miami International Airport (MIA).
  2. Port Everglades – The port is located just 5km (3miles) from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) and 45km (28 miles) north of Miami International Airport. It is 78km (49 miles) from Palm Beach International Airport.
  3. Port Canaveral – Port Canaveral is located 75km (46 miles) from Orlando International Airport (MCO).
  4. Port Tampa Bay – Port Tampa Bay is located 16km (10 miles) from Tampa International Airport (TPA) and 130km (85 miles) from Orlando International Airport. It is 230km (140 miles) from Southwest Florida International Airport (Fort Myers).

What are my options for transport to cruise ship ports in Florida?

Both Lyft and Uber are car services widely used in Florida, together with regular taxis and shuttlebuses.

Port of Miami

  • Miami Airport to Port of Miami – we recommend airport shuttle to port. Journey time is about 15 mins but allow for traffic delays. Pre book your shuttle. Taxis are readily available right outside your arrival terminal. Use the Uber app to ring for an Uber which is often slightly less expensive than using a taxi.
  • Arriving by car and parking at Port of Miami – Garage parking facilities are close to the port for both short term and long term cruise parking. Some cruise lines have their own garage parking too. Port Miami parking rates can be found here.
  • Downtown Miami hotel to Port of Miami – Ask your hotel to order a taxi for your transfer to the port. Luckily PortMiami is very close to downtown and therefore the taxi transfer will be quick and relatively inexpensive. And it is the easiest option when carrying suitcases.
  • South Beach hotel to Port of Miami – here again we recommend get a taxi for your transfer to the port. It’s close by but you cannot walk it. It is the easiest option with cruise baggage.

Port Everglades

  • Fort Lauderdale Airport to Port Everglades – It’s a 20 minute taxi ride to the port from Fort Lauderdale Airport. Alternatively there are shuttle services outside arrivals. The cost will be even less as you share your ride with other passengers.
  • Miami Airport to Port Everglades – This journey is about 45 minutes by car. Taxis are the most expensive way to travel costing around USD$90 dollars for the trip. Which is fine is you are sharing the ride between 4 people. Otherwise opt for the cheaper option of the airport shuttle bus leaving every hour. Book your ticket for about USD$25 per person before you leave home.
  • Arriving by car and parking at Port Everglades – There are 2 parking garages that service parking at the port. You cannot prepay or prebook, just turn up and park. Choose the parking garage closest to your cruise terminal number.
  • Downtown Fort Lauderdale hotel to Port Everglades – It’s a 20 minute car ride from downtown hotels to the port. Use a taxi or a car service.
  • Downtown Miami hotel to Port Everglades – There is a shuttle service from designated stops downtown that takes about 1 hour to get to the port. Ticket prices are about USD$25 per person. Alternatively use taxi for around USD$100 or a less expensive Uber ride.
  • South Beach hotel to Port Everglades – Ask your hotel to book a taxi. It’s the easiest and most reliable way to get you to the port on time from South Beach.

Port Canaveral

  • Orlando International Airport to Port Canaveral – There are shared shuttle rides from the airport to the cruise port at Port Canaveral and we recommend you book your place in advance. The fee is around $25 per person. If you are more than 4 or than a large taxi or private car may be worth the cost at around USD$130 for a one way journey.
  • Arriving by car and parking at Port Canaveral – Parking is available directly opposite your cruise terminal. Check which cruise terminal number your ship departs from to get the correct parking area. Then you can just make the short walk with your luggage to board your ship. You will find parking directions and prices here.
  • Orlando hotel to Port Canaveral – For around USD$25 per person you can book a shuttle to take you from your Orlando hotel to Port Canaveral. Rate and info are here. A taxi is the most expensive way to get there, the journey being just under one hour.

Port Tampa Bay

  • Tampa International Airport to Port Tampa Bay – The airport is located just 15 minutes by car to the port. There are several companies offering airport shuttle services which we will less expensive than car if you are just 2 people travelling together.
  • Arriving by car and parking at Port Tampa Bay – Garage parking is available right across from the central cruise terminal. You prepay for your parking before you travel or on the spot.
  • Downtown Tampa Hotel to Port Tampa Bay – we recommend that you ask you hotel to book a taxi for you to get you to the cruise port. The journey is quite short and inexpensive. It’s also the easiest way to get there when you have luggage, so door-to-door is the way to go.

Which cruise lines sail from the cruise ship ports in Florida?

Port of Miami

Carnival Cruise Line – Crystal Cruises – Celebrity Cruises – Azamara Cruises – Costa Cruises – Disney Cruise Line – MSC Cruises – Oceania Cruises – Norwegian Cruise Line – Virgin Voyages –
Regent Seven Seas – Viking Ocean Cruises

Port Everglades

Seabourn – Silver Seas – Holland America – Royal Caribbean International – Princess Cruise Lines – Cunard – Celebrity Cruises – Cunard – Costa Cruises

Port Canaveral

Norwegian Cruise Line – Royal Caribbean International – Carnival Cruise Line – MSC Cruises – Disney Cruise Line

Port Tampa Bay

Carnival Cruise Line – Norwegian Cruise Line – Royal Caribbean International – Celebrity Cruises

What are the best airport hotels to use if we want to overnight at the airport upon arrival?

Here are our top choices for airport hotels that offer reasonable prices and friendly service:

  • Miami International Airport
    Hilton Miami Airport Blue Lagoon
    Pullman Miami Airport
    Sonesta Miami Airport
    EB Hotel Miami
  • Fort Lauderdale International Airport
    Le Méridien Dania Beach at Fort Lauderdale Airport
  • Orlando International Airport
    Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport
    Marriott Orlando Airport Lakeside
  • Tampa International Airport
    Hilton Garden Inn Tampa Airport West Shore
    Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay
    Tampa Airport Marriott
    Hyatt House Tampa Airport Westshore

What are the best cruise port hotels to use if we want to overnight before our cruise starts?

  • Port of Miami
    Holiday Inn Port of Miami Downtown
    Intercontinental Miami
    Fortune House Hotel Suites
  • Port Everglades
    Pier Sixty-Six Hotel & Marina
    Renaissance Fort Lauderdale Cruise Port Hotel
  • Port Canaveral (Orlando)
    Country Inn & Suites by Radisson
    Radisson Resort at the Port
    Residence Inn by Marriott Cape Canaveral Cocoa Beach
  • Port Tampa Bay
    Embassy Suites Tampa Downtown
    Tampa Marriott Water Street
    Hilton Tampa Downton

Meet the Author

Mattias has nearly 2 decades of travel industry expertise, working with cruise lines, tour operators, airlines, IT providers, hospitality suppliers and everything else in between that makes the travel industry tick. more..