All told, the Port of Miami has nearly 10 terminals, services over 900 sailings in the typical year, and offers a year-round warm weather locale to start (and end) your cruise.
With so much going on at the port, you might have questions about cruising from the city. For instance, how do you get to the port? Where do you park? What sort of tips and advice is there to make embarkation smoother?
We’ve dug into the all the details of cruising from PortMiami below. It will give you all the details you need to know before you set sail.
Distance from Miami Airport: 10 miles
Number of Terminals: 8 (with more under construction)
Passengers Carried Each Year: 5 million
Cruise Ship Dockings Each Year: 900+
The Miami cruise port sits in a perfect location, on Dodge Island just over the causeway from downtown Miami. About four miles from the open waters of the Atlantic, the port is protected from the ocean yet still close enough to make it a short time to get out to sea.
The port is also near the Miami airport, which is roughly 10 miles away. The ride over will take 15-25 minutes by car.
Map data: Google
If you are driving to the port, the address is:
1015 North America Way
Miami, Florida 33132
The entire South Florida area is a hotspot for tourism, so chances are you might be coming from somewhere other than the airport. In that case, here is the distance and expected drive time from a number of popular areas:
Miami Airport: 10 miles | 15-25 minutes
Fort Lauderdale Airport: 30 miles | 30-60 minutes
Hollywood: 20 miles | 25-45 minutes
South Beach: 6 miles | 15-20 minutes
Doral: 15 miles | 30-40 minutes
Brickell: 3 miles | 10 minutes
Downtown Miami: 2 miles | 5-10 minutes
As we said, downtown is near the port, meaning there are a number of interesting things to do and see right nearby.
Home of the Miami Heat, along with a number of special events, the American Airlines Arena is right at the foot of the bridge that crosses to the cruise port. If you’re staying in the area before or after your cruise, check out the schedule to see if there is a concert of sporting event to give you something to do without going far.
A great place to visit with kids, the Frost Science Museum is just a couple of blocks from the cruise port. The museum offers a lot of science-focused exhibits, along with aquariums and a planetarium. Head up to the roof to get a dramatic sweeping view of the entire port area in the thoughtfully-designed open-air wildlife exhibit.
The Freedom Tower is perhaps Miami’s most famous building. Originally built in the 1920s, the tower looks small and a bit out of place next to the towering modern skyscrapers nearby. Still, there is a lot of history here as it served as a processing center for Cuban refugees following the Communist revolution. Today it houses an art museum and is a gem in the history of Miami.
As you would expect given the number of cruises that leave Miami, it has the capacity to dock a number of cruise ships as once. In fact, with a total of seven terminals (with several more on the way), more than a half-dozen ships can be berthed at any given time.
Currently the crown jewel of the Port of Miami, Terminal A is exclusive to Royal Caribbean and is a monument to the cruise line. Featuring a modern styled look, Terminal A is at the far east end of the port, and is large enough to handle Royal Caribbean’s biggest ships, which are the largest in the world.
While the old Terminal B has been demolished, it will be the new home to a modern terminal for Norwegian Cruise Lines. Featuring a large rounded façade that’s reminiscent of an ocean wave, the terminal will be the pride and joy of the cruise line when it debuts in 2020.
An older terminal that often serves Norwegian Cruise Lines, it gets heavy use while the new Terminal B is under construction. From here you can get a great view of all of the Miami area, looking out east to South Beach or west to downtown.
Often serving Carnival ships, Terminals D & E are where you will likely go if you are sailing on the cruise line’s Carnival Horizon ship. Terminal D in particular is bright, open and airy, making check-in a breeze.
Sailing on MSC? Then you will probably sail from Terminal F. It’s toward the western end of Dodge Island, giving you great city views as you sail away.
Under construction for the arrival of the new cruise line, the new terminal for Virgin (dubbed Terminal V) is going to be the home of one of the most unique new lines ever to set sail. It will serve as home to Scarlet Lady, Virgin’s first ship.
When you cruise, it’s usually a good idea to arrive to the port city the day before your trip. Not only is there a lot of things to do in the Miami area, but it also give you plenty of time should you run into a delay. You don’t have to stress about missing the ship due to a flat tire or delayed flight on cruise day.
Of course, there are a number of hotels near the Miami cruise port. Hotels closest to the port offer higher-end accommodations due to being near downtown and also usually have nicer atmosphere. If you’re not picky, however, you can save some cash by staying at hotels nearer the airport. These hotels don’t have the “flash” of a swanky downtown Miami or South Beach hotel, but offer a comfortable place to stay for cheaper.
Hotels Near the Cruise Port:
Hotels Near the Airport (Usually Less Expensive):
One thing to watch is that many hotels in the touristy areas like South Beach have expensive charges to park and also charge resort fees. If you want to stay in South Beach (only about 5-10 minutes from the cruise ships), you can see our hotels with free parking and our South Beach hotels with no resort fees.
The great news about being in a tourist hotspot like Miami is that there’s an entire industry catering to tourists and cruise passengers to help you with anything you need. That means you have an number of transportation options to get to the port.
We’ve covered all of your options in-depth here in our port transportation page. For most people, however, they will use one of a handful of options.
Live in Florida? Then you might be thinking about driving to the cruise port. While that means you’ll have to deal with South Florida traffic, it is a convenient way to get to your ship. Driving offers you the ability to arrive exactly when you want and to leave to get home as soon as you debark the ship. There is also ample parking at the Port of Miami, but know that it will cost $22 per day. See details on parking below for more details.
If you fly in for your cruise — or simply don’t want to deal with driving — then Uber and Lyft offer service throughout South Florida to the Miami cruise port (including the airports). Getting a ride at any time you want is as simple as opening the app and requesting a ride at your location. Estimated rates from points of interest are below. Keep in mind these rates are for the car, not per person.
Miami Airport: $20
Fort Lauderdale Airport: $37
South Beach: $12
Downtown Miami: $9
Taxis are usually more expensive and less convenient than using a rideshare program like Uber or Lyft. Still, for those without a rideshare account or who simply prefer to take a cab, you can pick one up at the airport or request one from area hotels. Rates from the Miami airport are a flat $27. Estimated fares are below:
Miami Airport: $27 (Flat Rate)
Fort Lauderdale Airport: $67
South Beach: $25
Downtown Miami: $12
If you are staying at a hotel in the area, then know that many of them offer shuttles to the cruise port. Some hotels offer the service for free while others charge a nominal amount for the service. Either way, it’s a simple way to get to the ship on cruise day. See our full list of hotels in Miami with cruise shuttles to the port.
For all of your options on getting to the Miami cruise port, (including more details on each of the items above), see our port transportation page here.
If you’re driving to the port, then you obviously need a place to park your car. As in other port cities, there’s an industry surrounding cruise parking for passengers. We cover all of your options in full detail (with prices and locations) in our Port of Miami cruise parking article.
To keep things simple, you have to main options — park at the official port parking or with an independent parking lot.
Official Port Parking
The Port of Miami offers parking garages and lots near all of the cruise terminals. Parking is literally across the street from the ship. In total there are thousands of parking spaces — you don’t need to reserve a space or worry about finding a spot. Shuttles will also take you to the cruise terminal, even though it’s a short walk.
Parking at the port is convenient but it’s also expensive. Rates run $22 per day. There is space for oversized vehicles like RVs, but the rate is an additional $22 each day. Cash and all major credit cards are accepted, but debit cards are not.
Are you a disabled cruiser? If so, you may be eligible for free parking at the Port of Miami. If your car has special modifications — such as ramps or driving controls — or you have a Florida Disabled Veteran license plate then you can park for free. For more details, see our article on free parking for disabled passengers here.
In addition to parking your car at the port, there are a number of independent lots on the mainland, across from the cruise port. While these lots aren’t near as convenient as parking right at the ship, they do offer transportation to and from the cruise ship. The biggest draw, however, is that they offer much cheaper prices than the port. If you want to save some money, independent lots are one of your best ways.
Hotels with Parking
Miami is known for its tourism and that means there are countless hotels in the area. If you stay in the area between the airport and cruise port, then the hotels also cater heavily to cruise passengers. As a perk, many hotels near the Port of Miami offer cruise parking deals. You stay one night and parking while you are on your cruise is included in your room package or is a small additional daily fee. As a bonus, many of the hotels also offer shuttles to the cruise port. You can see our list of Miami hotels with cruise parking here.
Dropping off passengers at the port? Or picking up someone after your cruise? That’s a great way to help passengers save money and hassle of parking at the port.
While navigating around the port can be a little confusing given the twists and turns and the number of terminals, picking up and dropping off is simple. You’ll see signs at the terminal directing you to the spot where you can let out passengers (and pick them up afterward). Simply pull up and drop them off, similar to what you would do at an airport.
Courtesy: Google Maps Streetview
Numerous signs throughout the port area will direct you to the correct terminal for your ship. It may help to drop off or pick up at the very beginning or end of the terminal as there is less traffic here and it may be less of a hassle to stop and let out passengers.
These days many of us have gotten used to airport security, complete with long lines, body scanners, and strict rules on what you can and cannot bring. By comparison, security at the Port of Miami is much more enjoyable.
While the specifics of each terminal may be a little different, you’ll usually drop off any bags you want to check (simply meaning you don’t want to carry them on and rather have them delivered to your cabin later), enter the terminal and be asked for your boarding documents and ID. After this initial check, you’ll put any carry-on items through an x-ray machine and then you’ll walk through a metal detector.
Assuming that there’s no contraband or prohibited items in your luggage, you’ll collect it on the other side of the x-ray machine and then proceed to check-in.
These days many cruise lines have made a switch to allow passengers online check-in. There, your entire account is set up before cruise day. If you opt for this, you’ll proceed directly to the ship. Your room keys will be waiting in a sealed envelope at your cabin.
If you don’t do online check-in, no problem. You’ll wait in line for a cruise line representative. There are usually dozens of them working in the terminal, making the line move quickly. When it’s your turn, you will set up your onboard spending account, get your room keys and the proceed to the ship.
Unfortunately, all good things have to come to an end, and that also means your cruise. So what’s it like to get off of a cruise ship in Miami?
Thanks to its popularity as a cruise port, we’ve found that Miami is one of the best in the business at getting folks off the ship as quickly as possible. When announced that you can depart the ship, you’ll re-enter the terminal that you left from but be directed to the disembarkation part of the facility.
Here, you will pick up any luggage that you set outside your cabin door for the crew to pick up. Many people, however, choose to simply carry all of their luggage off to get off the ship sooner.
Once off the ship and in the arrival hall, you will simply wait your turn for a Customs and Border Patrol officer to check your travel documents to return into the United States. After that, you simply head outside to find your transportation from the cruise terminals.
What time should I arrive for my cruise from Miami?
When you book your cruise, you’ll be assigned a boarding time or given a window when the cruise ship boards at the port. For instance, Carnival lets you select a 30-minute boarding time of your choice. Other lines simply tell you that boarding is open from, say, 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
If you are given a boarding time, then obviously you should get to the port at this time. Entering the port, parking, and walking to the ship is usually pretty quick. For that reason, we suggest planning only about 10-15 minutes time extra. So if your boarding time is 1:00 p.m., then plan to actually get to the Port of Miami around 12:45.
If your cruise line has a broad boarding window (something like noon to 4 p.m.), then you can arrive at any point during that window. We suggest waiting until the second half of the boarding window to actually arrive. There is usually a big rush of people who want to board as early as possible, leading to longer lines. Waiting a little later can make check-in a breeze.
Is there anything to do at the port?
If you are early for your cruise or need to kill some time before catching a ride to the airport or home, there is a small park at the Miami cruise port. Seafarer’s Park offers a swimming pool, restaurant, tennis courts, basketball court, and a sand volleyball court. It’s where you might find some crew from the cruise ships blowing off steam in between cruises.
If you want to walk over the causeway bridge, there are restaurants and things to do in downtown Miami.
How can I see what ships are in Miami the day I sail?
Chances are slim that you’ll be the only cruise ship in port the day that you sail out and when you get back. If you’re interested in the other cruise ships that you’ll see while in port, then you can see a full schedule at Crew-Center.com. It’s a neat way to know what other mega ships you will see while on your trip.
How long does it take to get to the airport from the Port of Miami?
We mentioned it above, but it takes about 15-25 minutes in normal traffic to get to the Miami airport from the cruise port. Expect 45 minutes to one hour if you are headed to Fort Lauderdale.
This story is originally appeared on Cruzely.com