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.
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.
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.
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.