Ports: Florida & the Gulf — Cruise & Travel Asia

Ports: Florida & the Gulf

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Miami

MIAMI, FLORIDA
Who goes there: Azamara Club Cruises, Carnival Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises, Costa Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Royal Caribbean.

Cruisers like: The Port of Miami is the “cruise capital of the world”; the world’s busiest port with about 4.8 million cruise passengers each year. All of the world’s biggest cruise lines offer cruises from Miami, travelling to the Caribbean and other international destinations. It’s a city with a vibrant, multicultural atmosphere, first colonised by the Spanish in the 1500s. The Latin culture is evident, and large communities of Cubans and Haitians mix with retirees from New York and Canada. In this eclectic city, you’ll find the best in fashion, high-end shopping, music and sports, and every cuisine from Cuban to Peruvian. Near the port, explore the hundreds of shops and restaurants at Bayside Marketplace, picturesque Bayfront Park (an idyllic spot to stretch your legs) and Pérez Art Museum, for a contemporary art fix. Miami is famous for its beaches. Check out glamorous South Beach, with its stunning art deco architecture and a cafe and nightclub scene that buzzes day and night. The neighbourhoods of Coral Gables Coconut Grove and Little Havana are easily accessible. Try Cuban fusion food at one of many award-winning restaurants in Little Havana. Explore a wide range of museums and parks in and around Miami, such as Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, and the inland wilderness of Everglades National Park, home to rare species such as manatees and Florida panthers. Snorkel or take a glass-bottom boat tour over Biscayne National Park coral reef to see shipwrecks and abundant marine life, or play it safe at Miami Seaquarium.

Best for: Everyone.

Getting around: The Port of Miami is a five minute taxi ride from downtown Miami and easily accessible by public transportation, including the Coral Way Route Trolley. Taxis line up for cruise passengers at the port. Some cruise lines offer shuttle service to Miami City Centre and Miami Beach. It is a 10-minute drive from Miami International Airport.

Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA
Who goes there: American Cruise Lines, Carnival Cruise Lines.

Cruisers like: The hub of northern Florida, “Jax” boasts an abundance of nature and wildlife, with the most city parks in the USA and a warm, sunny climate, complete with stunning sunrises. Downtown has romantic walks on the St Johns River. Shop til you drop through Jacksonville Landing, be inspired by cultural offerings and dine on unique cuisine. Just over the Intracoastal Waterway are some of the whitest and widest beaches anywhere, with warm blue water. Golfing is a huge culture in Jacksonville – don’t miss a round at The Players Stadium course at the TPC Sawgrass Facility.

Best for: Beach and nature lovers, golfers, honeymooners and families.

Getting Around: Jacksonville Cruise Terminal is conveniently close to the interstate highway and 15 minutes dive from the airport. Parking is located next to the terminal building. Head downtown and get around on trolleys, the Skyway, buses, water taxis, and the ferry. Downtown Jacksonville’s compact core is safe and easy to walk from place-to-place.

Orlando

ORLANDO, FLORIDA
Who goes there: Carnival Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line.

Cruisers like: Orlando’s Port Canaveral is the world’s second busiest cruise port, with 3.9 million annual passengers. It is the home port of the Disney Cruise Line which has its own US$27 terminal with a themed cafe, play area and murals. Affectionately nicknamed Florida’s Fun Port, vibrant Port Canaveral is conveniently located near sandy beaches, major theme parks, the Kennedy Space Center, the Brevard Zoo, hotels, restaurants and shops. Everyone will enjoy Walt Disney World Resort and theme parks, from the high-energy thrills of Disney’s Hollywood Studios to the international inspiration of Epcot to the fairytale fantasy of Magic Kingdom park and the impressive SeaWorld Orlando. Allow a full day to explore the Cape Canaveral Kennedy Space Center, a must-see attraction. Stand on the Launch Complex Observation Gantry for an aerial view of space shuttle launch pads and the International Space Station Center. Tour the Air Force Space and Missile Museum and learn more about the United States space exploration, and don’t miss the Imax films. Cape Canaveral has outdoor adventures galore, with some of the best surfing beaches on the East Coast. If deep sea fishing is more your style, journey out on a charter, to catch mullet, snapper and more. Don’t miss the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, where bald eagles, manatees and alligators are just a few of the species that call the Cape home.

Best for: Families, beach and nature lovers.

Getting around: The port has modern facilities and the picturesque, 16-hectare Jetty Park with a 300-metre fishing pier. A short drive south takes you to gorgeous Cocoa Beach, the surfing capital of the state. Port Canaveral is 70 kilometes from Orlando, and the Orlando Airport. You can catch one of many shuttles, hop in a taxi, rent a limousine or hire a car.

Fort Lauderdale

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA
Who goes there: Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cunard, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn, Silversea.

Cruisers like: Port Everglades is the main seaport in South Florida and the third biggest cruise port in the world, with 3.4 million passengers per year, the majority on cruises around the Caribbean and the Panama Canal. Ships sail year round, but peak season is from November to April. Port Everglades is the gateway to the popular resort city of Fort Lauderdale, a holiday playground with miles of palm-shaded beaches. Commonly known as the Venice of America, the intricate canal system of Fort Lauderdale is home to large yachts and marinas. One of the best ways to see the city is on a dinner cruise. For cultural flair, take a stroll through the Riverwalk Arts and Entertainment District. See local wildlife with an Airboat tour of the Everglades. Watch out for alligators! Get a feel for the elegant Southern lifestyle; enjoy horse racing and the casino. Visit historic Stranahan House and stroll around Bonnet House Gardens or along Las Olas Boulevard. Fort Lauderdale also has museums and an International Swimming Hall of Fame.

Best for: Everyone.

Getting around: Port Everglades cruise port is just a few minutes from downtown Fort Lauderdale. Taxis, vans and shuttle busses are available. from Port Everglades.

Tampa

TAMPA, FLORIDA
Who goes there: Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, Holland America Line.

Cruisers Like: This warm Gulf Coast port is a great start to a vacation. Hit the rides at Busch Gardens or see the undersea world at the Florida Aquarium, home to over 10,000 aquatic plants and animals. A short walk from the port, Channelside offers waterside entertainment, shopping, and restaurants. Work up an appetite along the Tampa River Walk and head into historic Ybor City for hot Cuban sandwiches and hand-rolled cigars. If you have more time, explore the downtown museums and galleries. The Gulf of Mexico beaches at Clearwater and St Petersburg are the perfect places to escape. Most cruises from Tampa go to Mexico, the Cayman Islands and throughout the Caribbean, on a variety of short or extended voyages, year round.

Best for: Wintertime escapes, beach lovers.

Getting Around: Tampa Cruise Port is conveniently located next to the Florida Aquarium in downtown Tampa. A historic streetcar system connects the cruise port to Ybor City. The Tampa International Airport is eight kilometres from the port. Taxis and shuttles are available to and from the airport.

New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
Who goes there: Carnival Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Crystal Cruises for ocean cruising. American Cruise Line and the American Queen Steamboat Company cruise on the Mississippi River.

Cruisers like: Coined “the most unique city in America” or “the Big Easy”, beautiful New Orleans on the banks of the famous Mississippi River, is steeped in history and tradition as the birthplace of jazz. Second only to the music is the food – sample beignets (French doughnuts sprinkled with sugar) at the famous Café du Monde, with incredible coffee or hot chocolate. If you want classic Louisiana seafood, head over to the Acme Oyster House and grab some fresh oysters or a bowl of gumbo. Stroll from the cruise terminal at the Julia Street Wharf through the Arts District and the French Quarter. Smell the flowers at Woldenberg Park, catch street performances of live music or magic. Hop aboard the Riverfront Streetcar from the terminal, past famous Riverwalk Marketplace, Canal Place, Harrah’s Casino, the quaint shops of the French Market to the new Aquarium of the Americas. Don’t miss a live New Orleans Jazz band performance in one of the local jazz bars.

Best for: Music and art lovers, foodies, river cruise fans.

Getting around: The Riverfront Streetcar covers the main tourist areas and is a fun and inexpensive way to see the city. Many hotels are a short cab ride away, as is the airport. If you’ve driven, you can park at the terminal.

Houston

HOUSTON, TEXAS
Who goes there: Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line.

Cruisers like: In “Space City”, a city of open minds and free thinkers, you can find everything from the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Centre to nightlife, sports and a darn good barbeque. Restaurants, bars, live music, movies and more line the streets, filled with intriguing personalities from all over. Get a taste of the cultural diffusion of Houston in Chinatown or the Mahatma Gandhi District. The theatre district in downtown Houston is a must, where you’ll see fine opera and ballet. In the Museum District, you’ll find the Museum of Natural Science, the Contemporary Arts Museum and the Zoo.

Best For: Science fans, animal lovers, history buffs, culture enthusiasts.

Getting around: Houston’s Bayport cruise terminal is in Pasadena, just outside of Houston. It has relatively easy access to both airports (Intercontinental and Hobby) and is close to Space Center Houston. Parking is adjacent to the Houston cruise terminal, so no shuttles are required. Valet parking is also available