There’s no arguing that South Florida is the cruise capital of the world. Between Miami and Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale), there are thousands of sailings each year carrying millions of people to warm locales. And while cruising is immensely popular with people in Florida that can drive to the port, lots of passengers fly into the area to take their cruise.
If you’re not familiar with South Florida, the area is home to millions and is served by two major airports: Miami International (MIA) and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International (FLL).
The good news is that having two airports means there are many options based on the airline or flight time you need. In addition, prices are generally affordable since competition between airlines is fierce.
The flipside of those benefits is that many people aren’t sure which airport to use for their cruise. For instance, a cruise might depart from the Port of Miami but you could see cheaper flights into Fort Lauderdale. Given the distance from Fort Lauderdale to Miami and vice versa, it can cost a decent amount to get from one city to the other, negating any savings on airfare.
Below, we try to spell out the pros and cons of flying into each airport based on where you’ll cruise.
Map data: Google
Obviously the most convenient way to get to a cruise from the Port of Miami is to fly into Miami International Airport. The airport is located only about 15-20 minutes from the cruise ships (depending on traffic). That’s about a $15 ride using rideshare services like Uber and Lyft. As well, there is also public transportation that can get you to the ships for just a couple of dollars. Top quality limo and transportation service from Miami International Airport to a Miami Cruise Port will cost $107.
Most major airlines serve Miami International, making it convenient to fly to from just about anywhere in the country and the world. Notably, Southwest and JetBlue do not fly into Miami — only Fort Lauderdale.
Put simply, if you can find affordable fare and plan to cruise out of Miami as well, then it’s a no-brainer to fly into Miami International. The port is only a few minutes away and is relatively cheap to get to.
Just as with cruising from the Port of Miami, it makes the most sense to fly into Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport if you are taking a cruise from Fort Lauderdale. It’s just a few minutes between the airport and the cruise port.
However, that’s not always possible. Sometimes you could find cheaper rates flying into Miami or if flying internationally, your options into Fort Lauderdale may be limited.
In that case, it’s not unreasonable to fly into Miami for a cruise from Fort Lauderdale. The trip to the port will take about 45 minutes to an hour. If you use a rideshare service like Uber or Lyft (our suggested method) it will run about $45-50 for a ride to the port. That rate is per car, not per person. Usually three people with luggage can fit in one car and larger vehicles are available on request.
In other words, if you are looking at airfares and flight times, then you need to factor in about $100 round trip for a ride to the port and an hour each way.
If you like to fly carriers like Southwest or JetBlue (which often have lower fares into the area), then you’ll be flying into the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood airport. These carriers don’t fly into Miami.
The Fort Lauderdale airport is about 25 miles from the Port of Miami, which in South Florida traffic can take you about 40-60 minutes. We suggest using a rideshare service like Uber or Lyft, which costs around $45 to get from the airport to the cruise port. If you are flying in the day before your cruise, there are tons of hotels in the area that offer shuttles to the port as well. Top quality limo and transportation service from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport to a Miami Cruise Port will cost $107.
We think many people will find lower airfare flying into Fort Lauderdale thanks to the presence of Southwest and JetBlue. However, keep in mind that it will cost about $100 round trip to get back and forth from the Port of Miami and take you about an hour each way. Factor this time and cost in before choosing a flight simply because it is a little cheaper.
If you are taking a cruise from South Florida, it simply gets no simpler than flying into Fort Lauderdale and catching a ship from Port Everglades. In total the port is only about 3-4 miles from the airport and a quick 10-15 minute ride.
As an added bonus, major low-cost carriers like Southwest and JetBlue serve Fort Lauderdale, making it an affordable place to fly. And all the major cruise lines (except Norwegian) also sail from Port Everglades, giving you a number of options for sailings.
With a cost of only $10-15 to take an Uber or Lyft to the port, the cost is minimal to get to your ship. As well, being so close to the airport means you can have a wider range of flight times. Top quality limo and transportation service from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport to a Port Everglades will cost $68.
Bottom line, unless the airfare is at least $100 cheaper (meaning you save at least $200 for two people traveling together), then we suggest flying into the airport closest to the cruise port. The least you can expect to spend getting back and forth between Miami and Fort Lauderdale is $100 round trip. In addition, it will take up to an hour each way. It’s far easier (and cheaper) to simply fly into the closer airport.
The only caveat is if you can find a direct flight into one airport and not have to worry about connections. Direct flights are almost always worth your while.
This story originally appeared on Cruzely.com