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Best Cruise Ports for Fishing

Man Fishing at Shore (Photo: isarescheewin/Shutterstock)
Man Fishing at Shore (Photo: isarescheewin/Shutterstock)

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If fishing is one of your favorite hobbies, there's no reason why you can't enjoy it during a cruise on a fishing excursion. In fact, you could probably fish most of the globe by cruise ship if you plan your excursions carefully enough.

The primary mode of fishing on a cruise is by chartered fishing boat, booked either independently or as a shore excursion through the ship. If you book on your own, it is important that you let the charter company know that you are arriving in port by cruise ship so they can advise you on timing and transportation to their location. Also, be sure to ask about licensing requirements in advance.

Be wary that whatever the source, you get what you pay for when it comes to fishing excursions. As a rule, the smaller the number of people on the tour or charter, the higher the price -- but also the more you can expect in terms of service, quality of gear and extras like food and beverages.

With all of that in mind, we fished around and found the best cruise ports to tempt you into setting sail and setting your hook.

Updated January 8, 2020

Juneau, Alaska

Juneau, Alaska (Photo: Greg Browning/Shutterstock)

Whether you are dreaming of reeling in salmon, halibut or trout, most cruise ships will offer one or more fishing excursions in Juneau.

A fishing boat puts you in the heart of the scenic islands of Southeast Alaska, with captains and guides that know where the fish are running at any given point in the season. The Macaulay Salmon Hatchery releases four species of salmon in the area to supplement wild stocks.

Anyone older than 16 will need a fishing license throughout the state. While you can usually purchase a day license from your guide with cash, you might come out ahead by purchasing a three-day or seven-day license online before your cruise if you plan on taking more than one fishing trip during your sailing. Salmon fishing also requires a king salmon stamp.

For those who prefer to book independently, charters in Juneau are abundant, and most are quite good at handling cruise passenger schedules. Getting your catch processed and shipped home is also easy in Juneau.

Ketchikan, Alaska

Ketchikan, Alaska (Photo: AC Photoviz/Shutterstock)

Alaska is full of prime ports for fishing, so if you're truly after a vacation catch, consider booking multiple fishing excursions during your cruise. Positioned closer to the open waters of the Gulf of Alaska than Juneau, Ketchikan offers even more opportunities to reel in your dream haul.

Here, there are ample salmon, halibut and even red snapper on charters that sail a few hours around the Gulf. These trips offer the opportunity to not only catch fish but also possibly see marine mammals like dolphins, orcas, humpback whales and beluga whales.

For more information about regulations and where the hottest fishing spots are in Alaska, the Department of Fish and Game has a wealth of information, including interactive maps that Cruise Critic message board members recommend, especially if you can't fish every port and are wavering on which one may be the best for trying your luck.

Roatan, Honduras

Roatán, Honduras (Photo: Guayo Fuentes/Shutterstock)

The catch from Roatan's warm tropical waters includes wahoo, mahi mahi, yellowfin tuna, tarpon, permit, marlin and sailfish. Booking one of the port's deep sea fishing excursions will allow you to take advantage of the bounty.

The roads around Roatan are narrow and winding, which can make travel times to the fishing boat and back to your ship longer than you might anticipate. There are multiple small-boat harbors around the island, so be sure to clarify where you're meeting your charter if you've booked through a third-party provider.

And don't forget to check on license regulations before you set sail on your cruise, as these can change on short notice.

Key West, Florida

Fort Zachary Taylor, Key West, Florida (Photo: Zhukova Valentyna/Shutterstock)

Fishing opportunities in Key West are abundant. From shore fishing in Fort Zachary Taylor (if you bring your own gear or arrange for rentals in advance) to chartered deep sea fishing excursions, there is something for every angler.

The haul includes tarpon, snapper, jacks, barracudas and even sharks. Florida saltwater fishing licenses are required for shore or pier fishing and can be purchased online in advance from the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Individuals fishing from a fully licensed charter boat are exempt from the license requirement.

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Cozumel, Mexico

Cozumel Island in Riviera Maya of Mayan Mexico (Photo: Tono Balaguer/Shutterstock)

There's a reason Cozumel is one of the hottest scuba diving spots in the Western Caribbean -- fish. The channel that runs between Cozumel has a strong current that brings nutrient-rich waters to the area, making it home to schools of jacks, mahi mahi and tuna, among others.

Billfish, like sailfish and marlin, are possible catches in the deep waters not far offshore, eliminating lengthy boat rides. Charter boats are usually a short taxi ride from the cruise piers. Mexican charter boats are known for offering a level of service that is a step above what you often get from boats in other ports, providing soft drinks, Mexican beer and snacks, and ensuring that five lines are always in the water.

Lahaina, Maui

Lahaina, Maui (Photo: Angela Dowin/Shutterstock)

If fishing the deep blue waters of the Hawaiian Islands is your dream, Lahaina in Maui might be the port for you.

The overall vibe on Maui is adventurous and outdoorsy, with fishing ranking among the top sports along with snorkeling, scuba diving and hiking. Maui also offers some of the best whale watching during humpback migration season between December and May, making fishing charters a dual-purpose activity during those months.

You can fish for big game, like marlin and tuna, or try bottom fishing for snapper and trevally. There are also local guides that will take you shore fishing at remote and hidden beaches -- something you are not likely to find on the other more crowded Hawaiian Islands. No license is currently required in the state of Hawaii, but be sure to verify with your guide or tour operator.

Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Aerial View of Bora Bora (Photo: Christian Wilkinson/Shutterstock)

The turquoise waters are calling you. From shallow lagoon fishing to small boat bottom fishing or all-out sport fishing for big game fish, Bora Bora has options.

There are private charters on the island of all varieties, including excursions that package snorkeling and other water sports along with a day of fishing.

Fish to haul in include swordfish, mahi mahi and wahoo.

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