Cruise Ports in Florida Ranked From Best to Worst!

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cruise ports in florida

Florida is a paradise for cruise enthusiasts as it’s home to some of the most important ports in the world.

However, not all ports offer the same experience or amenities. In this article, we will rank Florida’s cruise ports from the most favored to those with room for improvement.

This analysis aims to guide travelers in selecting the best port for their future cruising adventures.

How many, what are they and where are the cruise ports in Florida?

Florida hosts 6 major cruise ports. Each one of them serves as a gateway to a variety of destinations like the Caribbean, the Bahamas, and beyond.

Here are the primary cruise ports located in Florida, along with their general locations:

 cruise ports in Florida
All the cruise ports in Florida
  • PortMiami (Miami) – It’s also known as the Cruise Capital of the World. It’s located in Miami and it serves multiple major cruise lines.
  • Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale) – Situated in Fort Lauderdale, it’s in the top three amongst the busiest cruise ports worldwide. It offers a range of cruise options and destinations.
  • Port Canaveral (Cape Canaveral) – Near Orlando, this port is a favorite for families due to its proximity to theme parks and space-related attractions.
  • Port of Tampa Bay (Tampa) – Located on the Gulf Coast, it provides cruises mainly to the Caribbean and is close to some of the major Tampa attractions.
  • JAXPORT (Jacksonville) – Situated in Jacksonville, it mainly offers service to the Bahamas. It’s particularly convenient for cruisers living near North Florida.
  • Port of Palm Beach (Riviera Beach) – Located in Riviera Beach, north of West Palm Beach. It’s quite small and offers a very limited number of cruises.

The ranking

After reviewing multiple sources for cruise port satisfaction, I’ve created a ranking that highlights the key aspects of the major cruise ports in Florida.

The ranking is based on facilities, services, and nearby attractions, which can significantly influence passenger satisfaction.

1. Port Canaveral (Cape Canaveral)

Port Canaveral viewed from ship
Port Canaveral

Port Canaveral is known for its rapid growth and proximity to Orlando’s theme parks, making it a top choice for families.

It hosts a variety of cruise lines and offers an array of nearby attractions, including the Kennedy Space Center and beautiful beaches.

It won the “Best US Cruise Homeport” by CruiseHive for three consecutive years.

According to the readers, it’s the best port in Florida thanks to the easy access, short transfer from the airport, parking availability, and easy access to Orlando’s theme parks.

2. PortMiami (Miami)

PortMiami cruise terminal
PortMiami cruise terminal

Dubbed the “Cruise Capital of the World” PortMiami offers a wide range of itineraries with numerous major cruise lines.

Its modern facilities, coupled with the vibrant city of Miami’s attractions, dining, and shopping options, make it a premier choice.

Many passengers like the port’s accessibility from Miami International Airport and its overall efficiency.

Even tho it’s the largest cruise port in Florida, it never feels too crowded or overwhelmed by the huge amount of passengers.

It is in second place in our ranking but perhaps it is the best port if you want to travel with one of Carnival’s biggest cruise ships.

3. Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale)

Port Everglades
Port Everglades

Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale stands out for its efficiency and the unique experience of public art displays within its terminals.

It’s incredibly accessible, located near Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, and offers a variety of Caribbean and international itineraries.

One of the main positive things is the port’s proximity to beautiful beaches and the “Venice of America” canals of Fort Lauderdale.

Some negative reviews for the embarkation and disembarkation. A few passengers have described them as “hectic“.

4. Port Tampa Bay (Tampa)

Port Tampa Bay
Port Tampa Bay

While smaller in passenger volume, Port Tampa Bay is celebrated for its easy access to local attractions, including The Florida Aquarium and Sparkman Wharf, and its proximity to Tampa International Airport.

It offers quite smooth boarding and disembarking processes, making it a comfortable choice for travelers.

The port is also close to beautiful beaches and a few nice places for nightlife.

Note that it’s a smaller port compared to the other ones, and it cannot accommodate big cruise ships due to bridge access.

5. Jaxport (Jacksonville)

Jaxport of Jacksonville
Jaxport of Jacksonville

Jaxport focuses on voyages to the Bahamas and the Caribbean, providing a more intimate cruise experience compared to larger ports.

It’s quite close to Jacksonville International Airport and to tourist destinations like Amelia Island.

It’s not among the best ones because of the limited cruise line and destination options. It primarily serves Carnival, which may not appeal to all travelers​.

6. Port of Palm Beach (Riviera Beach)

Port of Palm Beach
Port of Palm Beach

Last place in our ranking for the Port of Palm Beach.

It offers a strategic location for quick getaways to the Bahamas, like the cruises with Margaritaville at Sea.

However, it’s very small and has just one cruise terminal with only one berth.

The variety of cruise lines is very limited and it doesn’t serve the major ones like Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and MSC. During 2024, it will only serve Margaritaville at Sea and the Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line.

To Conclude

As you have seen, Florida offers a wide selection of cruise ports. Each one of them has its unique strengths that cater to different traveler preferences.

If you want to be on the safe side, opt for Port Canaveral and PortMiami. They are the most efficient and the ones with the highest number of positive reviews.

While, if you prefer to travel from smaller and less crowded ports, choose one of the others.

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