Your Ultimate Cruise Guide

Miami Cruise Port

Find a Cruise from Miami

Port of Miami: An Overview

No city in the United States has evolved into as many disparate identities in so short a time as has Miami. A bit more than a hundred years ago this former Spanish settlement, located along the Miami River where it spills into Biscayne Bay (now the center of the city of Miami), attracted neither interest nor population. That's understandable since up until that point, the only way to reach Miami more ...
No city in the United States has evolved into as many disparate identities in so short a time as has Miami. A bit more than a hundred years ago this former Spanish settlement, located along the Miami River where it spills into Biscayne Bay (now the center of the city of Miami), attracted neither interest nor population. That's understandable since up until that point, the only way to reach Miami was by boat.

That changed in 1896, when financier Henry Flagler extended his new Florida East Coast Railroad south from its previous terminus at West Palm Beach. By the turn of the 20th century the first of Miami's real estate booms was underway, a pattern that continued unabated right up to the Great Depression. Miami was one of the few places on earth where someone could offer you a get-rich-quick deal on 10 acres of swampland, and there was a good chance that you could actually get rich on it. Many made their fortunes here and left monuments to their achievements in places such as the grand Mediterranean-style estates like Villa Vizcaya and the slew of privately developed islands along the causeways crossing Biscayne Bay.

The city of Miami sits on the Florida mainland. Offshore, due east in the Atlantic, are a series of barrier islands. The southernmost island in the near vicinity is Key Biscayne. Next to the north is Virginia Key, then Fisher Island, and then comes Miami Beach. The body of water between these islands and the mainland is Biscayne Bay. Early on, resort developers looked to the Atlantic Ocean beaches of Miami Beach, beginning their development with the elegant Art Deco hotels at the southern tip, now better known as South Beach. As development proceeded northward its complexion changed, becoming more "high-rise" and grandiose, with amenities geared to a wider range of interests, from yachting to golf.

The 1960s saw another sea change in Miami, generating another boom cycle, brought about by the unlikely combination of the advent of universally available air conditioning and the rise to power of Fidel Castro. As Cuban refugees fled in droves to the U.S., they settled in that part of our country most like their former homeland in climate -- namely, South Florida. Miami, whose tropical temperatures were now tamed by indoor climate control, thus tolerable to an influx of workers, became the gateway to the Caribbean for any number of businesses, which soon rivaled tourism as the keystone industry.

The Caribbean population influx also profoundly changed Miami's personality. It is now largely bilingual, with French and Creole also gaining a foothold with increasing waves of immigration from Haiti. It's hard to walk a block in Miami without coming into contact with Cuban food, Cuban music, Cuban culture. It is a dynamic, vibrant city steeped in multiculturalism. These new Miamians and their businesses have also contributed directly to the revitalization of the mainland portion of Miami, leading to a number of tourist assets along the western shore of Biscayne Bay, such as Bayside Marketplace.

Across the bay is the renovated Art Deco district, including South Beach (SoBe), which has become a mecca in its own right, attracting celebrities and those who follow them, whether it be with camera or with autograph book. SoBe is also home to Miami's nightclub, fashion, music and hip dining scene, and rivals Venice, California as the place to go to people-watch.

Not all is development (or overdevelopment, some would say). Though the seaside corridor has been urbanized almost from the tip of Florida to midway up the coast, there is still much for lovers of nature and the great outdoors. The Everglades are within a half-day's drive to the southwest. Off the Atlantic coast a short distance to the south is the only living coral reef in the continental United States. Birders wax poetic over opportunities to spy tropical shore birds and waterfowl found nowhere else in the States. And where else in the U.S.A. might you have to brake to avoid alligators crossing the road?

Whether Miami is your port of embarkation, debarkation or a port of call mid-cruise, it is unlikely that you will encounter a city anywhere on your travels that appeals to as many tastes: foodie, shopaholic, eco-tourist, golfer, water sportsperson or lover of traditional tourist attractions. less

Find a Miami Hotel

One Day in Miami One Day in Miami
Take a day before or after your cruise to get to know Miami. These suggestions will get you started on your visit.
Like a Local: Miami Like a Local: Miami
Locals know how to make the most of the great Miami vibe. Check out a few of the bars, eateries and shops they love.
Miami Cruise Port Essentials Miami Cruise Port Essentials
Everything you need to know about taking a cruise from PortMiami.

Sponsored links

Things To Do
Port Reviews
Shore Excursions

Hanging Around

Bayside Marketplace -- like Boston's Fanueil Hall and Baltimore's Harborplace, this shopping mall/dining center, which lies on the waterfront is a 15-minute walk along Caribbean Way from the port, offers plenty of diversion for a short Miami pit-stop. The center features services such as ATM's, coat/package check, taxis, valet parking and wheelchair rental. Tour boats and fishing charters can be arranged here, too.

Adjacent to the south, the Mildred and Claude Pepper Bayfront Park includes a memorial to the Challenger astronauts. The 32-acre park includes a small sand beach, a tropical rock garden and waterfall, a cascading fountain and a light tower. Other monuments honor World War II veterans, Christopher Columbus and other dignitaries.

Don't Miss

Miami's South Beach: This Art Deco-styled waterfront district has it all -- beautifully restored historic buildings, funky shops and boutiques, elegant restaurants and casual cafes, fabulous people-watching, and an awesome, wide and clean beach. Technically, the art deco district runs from 6th to 23rd streets between Ocean and Lenox avenues and you can take a self-guided walking tour (the Art Deco District Welcome Center, 1001 Ocean Drive, has maps). For serious shopping, head a few blocks west to Lincoln Road (at 17th Street), a four-block-long outdoor shopping promenade with unique boutiques and restaurants.

Rent a car and head to Key Biscayne, an island connected to Miami via two bridges and the Rickenbacker Causeway; nature, beach and marine enthusiasts can choose between the Miami Seaquarium (4400 Rickenbacker Causeway) and Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Recreation Area (1200 S. Crandon Boulevard).

Explore Miami history via the neighborhoods of Coral Gables and Coconut Grove (renting a car is advised). Coral Gables was developed in the 1920s and is best known as home to the Biltmore Hotel, noted for its resemblance to Seville's Giralda Tower); its Miracle Mile (Douglas Road/37th Avenue to LeJeune Road/42nd Avenue) has a mixture of fashionable boutiques and eateries. Bring a swimsuit and head to the Venetian Pool (2701 De Soto Blvd), a fantasy-themed public pool created out of a rock quarry.

Coconut Grove is Miami's oldest section with construction beginning in the 1870s. It's also a place of fashionable boutiques and restaurants. Worth a detour: Vizcaya Museum and Gardens (3251 S. Miami Avenue), an early 20th-century Renaissance style -- and quite grandiose -- estate built for a Chicago industrialist who wanted to recreate a 16th-century Italian estate.

Serious shoppers should head to north Miami Beach's upscale Bal Harbour (9700 Collins Avenue). Shops include the chicest of the chic -- Neiman Marcus, Saks 5th Avenue, Prada, Cartier, Louis Vuitton, to name just a few. Alas, prices are not of the duty-free variety.

Little Havana is the famous 3 1/2-square-mile site where many Cubans fled to after escaping their country. "Calle Ocho" or 8th Street is the main drag and central point (particularly between 11th and 17th Avenues) and it's best as a walking-around destination. Diversions include watching cigars being rolled at the El Credito Cigar Factory (1106 Southwest 8th Street) and visiting the Cuban Museum of the Americas (1300 SW 12th Avenue).

Serenity-seekers should head to the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden (10901 Old Cutler Road) where a mix of man-made lakes winds around one of the world's largest palm tree collections -- not to mention verdant examples of flora and fauna.

Getting Around

On Foot: Miami is such a sprawling city that aside from port-related activities and the Bayside shopping center you'll either need to rent a car or rely on taxis to explore.

Taxis: Line up at the dock.

Renting a Car: At this point in time there are no car rental companies with offices at the pier proper. Nearly all will pick up and drop off at the port. Logistically it makes a great deal of sense to use an operator with facilities close to the port to avoid the traffic, crowds and hassle connected with going to the airport for car rentals. The major players, the location of the renting office, and their numbers to call for pick up and/or reservations are: Alamo (Airport, 305-633-6076); Avis (99 Southeast 2nd Street, 305-379-1317); Budget (Airport, 305-871-2722); Dollar (Airport, 305-894-5021); Enterprise (400 SE 2nd Ave.,305- 379-3003); Hertz (354 Southeast 1st Street, 786-425-2515); National (2301 NW 33rd Ave., 305-638-1026); Thrifty (1520 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 305-604-9827).

Hertz has regular shuttle service from Port of Miami terminals to their rental office, every half-hour, Wednesday through Monday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Keep in mind that off-airport car rentals are often cheaper than at the airport.


Best Beach for a Half-Day Visit: Miami's South Beach, about a 20-minute cab ride from the port.

Best Beach for the Dedicated Beach Bum: The beach at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Recreation Area (1200 S. Crandon Boulevard), on Key Biscayne where you can find everything from kayak rentals to food stalls.


Good sustenance stops include the News Cafe (800 Ocean Drive) for all-day casual fare.

For a great dining experience that's chic-with-a-view, ask for a table on the outdoor patio at La Marea at The Tides (1220 Ocean Avenue).

For authentic casual Cuban fare, try Casa Larios (7705 W. Flager St.) for bistec de palomilla, vaca frita, carnero asado and tres leches cakes.

Also consider Versailles (3555 SW 8th St., Miami) right in the heart of Little Havana. Authentic, but ask for the English menu if you don't want to navigate the Spanish one. Try picadillo or ropa vieja at reasonable prices.

Where You're Docked

Miami Cruise Port Address:
1015 North America Way #210, Miami, FL 33132

Ships dock at the Port of Miami, five minutes from downtown.

Photos of Miami

See photos of Miami from a Norwegian Getaway cruise.

Watch Out For

Theft from motor vehicles is fairly common, as in most large cities. Don't leave valuables within view in rental cars. Also, if you're renting a car to drive around Miami, avoid arguing with other drivers and road rage. As with any city, don't walk around by yourself late at night. Finally, beautiful people abound in Miami, and particularly Miami Beach. Skip the muffin and take the stairs before your visit.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

Currency is the U.S. dollar, and ATM's are readily available.


English, but you'll hear a fair amount of Spanish spoken, as well.

Best Souvenir

A bikini from Ritchie Swimwear (South Beach, 160th 8th Street, Miami Beach; 305-538-0201) that sells tops and bottoms separately in a variety of sizes, and the tan to wear with it.

For More Information

On the Web:
Cruise Critic Message Boards: United States
The Independent Traveler: Florida Exchange

-- updated by Jodi Thompson, Cruise Critic contributor.

"Art Deco Buildings," "Miami Skyline" and "Miami Sunset" images provided by Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.
82% Loved It
Popular Itinerary:
Miami -> Castaway Cay -> Nassau -> Key West -> Miami
78% Loved It
Popular Itinerary:
Miami -> CocoCay -> Nassau -> Miami
72% Loved It
Popular Itinerary:
Miami -> Nassau -> Cruising -> Nassau -> Miami
66% Loved It
Popular Itinerary:
Miami -> Nassau -> Great Stirrup Cay -> Miami
86% Loved It
Popular Itinerary:
Miami -> Cruising -> San Juan -> St. Thomas -> St. Maarten -> Cruising -> Cruising -> Miami
82% Loved It
Popular Itinerary:
Miami -> Caribbean Sea (Cruising) -> Grand Cayman -> Ocho Rios -> Caribbean Sea (Cruising) -> Puerto Limon -> Colon (Cristobal)
82% Loved It
Popular Itinerary:
Miami -> Caribbean Sea (Cruising) -> Grand Cayman -> Ocho Rios -> Caribbean Sea (Cruising) -> Puerto Limon -> Colon (Cristobal) -> Colon (Cristobal) -> Cartagena (Colombia) -> Santa Marta -> Aruba -> Caribbean Sea (Cruising) -> Grand Turk -> Atlantic Ocean (Cruising) -> Miami
Let me start by saying I have always cruised on Ncl and have always been pretty satisfied . My wife and I are Gold Latitudes Level . We usually take 2 cruises a year . When family members wanted to take a family cruise I recommended Ncl , and there ... Read more
Fun Weekend Getaway! DoctorMegan
I felt that reading this forum was pretty useful to help me prepare for this cruise, so I wanted to give back and share our thoughts! :) As a little background, we are a young married couple in our early 30s/late 20s without kids yet. This was a ... Read more
it was great
There are so many people that left terrible reviews about the food and the overall experience on this ship that I was very worried. I booked a cruise for 19 cousins. We were mostly looking for a cheaper cruise so that it could accommodate ... Read more
So much expectation and such a bad experience! Everything badly overcrowded, not enough common areas for this number of passengers. We had ultimate food package but in 1 hour after getting to the ship, we couldn't make restaurant reservations, ... Read more
This was my third Cruise and my girlfriends first cruise, we were in the haven. I love the haven amenities, the courtyard was beautiful and the spa suite was awesome. We attended the Brat Pack show and the Million Dollar Quartet show, both were ... Read more
Mostly good catgirl398
The food was excellent in the complimentary restaurants. I dined at the buffet, main dining room Taste, O'Sheehan's and Margaritaville. The only food I paid for was in the "supper club" and it was average there. Entertainment was ... Read more
As a disclaimer, I have been on 6 cruises all on Royal Caribbean, and this was my first time on another line. My wife has cruised on Royal and Carnival. I'm not sure if it is NCL or just them working the bugs out of a brand new ship, but the whole ... Read more
Read 13 Miami Cruise Reviews

Thank You For Signing Up!

Please Note: To ensure delivery of your free e-letters, please add to your address book.
We're committed to protecting your privacy and will not rent or sell your e-mail address. By proceeding, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.