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Aerial view of downtown Miami and PortMiami (Photo: Jorge Oliver)
Downtown and Port of Miami (Photo: Jorge Oliver)

7 Cruise Ports That are Far From the Airport (and 7 That are a Breeze to Get to)

Aerial view of downtown Miami and PortMiami (Photo: Jorge Oliver)
Downtown and Port of Miami (Photo: Jorge Oliver)
Jorge Oliver

Last updated
Apr 4, 2024

Taking a cruise doesn’t just mean traveling on a ship. Unless you live within walking distance of your embarkation port, your journey will usually involve one or a series of planes, trains and/or automobiles before and after you set foot on your cruise ship.

And while driving can often be a feasible way to reach your embarkation port from your home, flying is still very much the norm. Identifying the closest airport and the logistics involved in transferring from airport to the cruise port is still an inevitable piece of every cruiser’s journey.

However, not all distances between cruise ports and airports are created equal. Fort Lauderdale’s airport, for example, is a breezy 10 minutes from Port Everglades. Southampton, England is a pain-inducing 90 minute drive that can cost a bundle in a taxi. It’s crucial to factor in these distances and commute times (and, let’s face it, costs) when planning your travel to and from your ship.

The good news is that, even on the worst of cases, the distances between airport and cruise port are not insurmountable. Moreover, cruise lines typically offer transfers to and from your embarkation port. And alternate transportation options (like taxis, rideshare services, shuttles and even trains) are usually readily available.

Here are seven cruise ports that are notoriously distant from the nearest airport, and seven that are remarkably close.

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1. Far: Orlando (Port Canaveral)

Orlando International Airport's Terminal C (Photo: Greater Orlando Aviation Authority)
Orlando International Airport (Photo: Greater Orlando Aviation Authority)

As the world’s second-busiest cruise port, Port Canaveral is a popular embarkation hub. This Floridian port is home to seven terminals and the world’s biggest cruise lines, including Carnival, Royal Caribbean, MSC, Norwegian and Disney.

But Floridians and just about anyone who has flown to Orlando International Airport (MCO) know that calling Port Canaveral an Orlando port is a bit of a stretch. The Central Florida city is, perhaps unsurprisingly, located near the middle of the state; a substantial distance from either the Atlantic or Gulf coasts.

And although MCO lies in the eastern fringes of Orlando and therefore significantly closer to the Atlantic Ocean, it’s still 45 miles away (or a 50-minute drive, on a good day) from the cruise terminals in Port Canaveral. Transportation options are limited to taxis, Uber/Lyft or renting a car, so booking a shuttle with your cruise line is a worthwhile plan. You’ll need to factor that drive time in, too, when you book your return flight home. And pad it a bit – security lines at MCO are notoriously long.

2. Near: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)

Silver Nova docked in Terminal 25 of Port Everglades (Photo: Jorge Oliver)
SIlversea's Silver Nova in Port Everglades (Photo: Jorge Oliver)

If Orlando to Port Canaveral represents the farthest airport-to-port distance in Florida, Fort Lauderdale offers the opposite scenario. Less than three miles separate the terminals of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) from the cruise terminals of Port Everglades, making this South Florida city one of the most convenient airport-cruise port combinations in the world. Convenient, as Port Everglades ranks third in the global list of busiest cruise ports, welcoming about 4 million cruise passengers per year.

The port also features a plurality of cruise lines, including Azamara, Celebrity Cruises, Cunard, Disney Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, Royal Caribbean, Silversea and Viking Ocean Cruises. Booking a transfer with your cruise line is a readily available option, but given the short hop to Port Everglades, you can just as easily rely on a taxi or shared ride service.

3. Near: Miami

An Air Canada plane departs Miami International Airport (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
An Air Canada plane departs Miami International Airport (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

In 2023, PortMiami regained its crown as the busiest cruise ship in the world, welcoming a record-breaking 7.3 million passengers. And the port keeps growing, with MSC Cruises’ new terminal set to debut in 2024.

While not as close as Fort Lauderdale’s International Airport to Port Everglades, the distance between Miami International Airport (MIA) and PortMiami comes up to about eight miles. Traffic conditions can vary wildly in busy South Florida depending on the time of day, but you can reasonably expect to cover the distance between MIA and PortMiami in anywhere from 20 to 35 minutes.

Despite the airport’s proximity to the port, give yourself a bit more time on the return journey home: check-in and security can really back up at MIA if you’re not carrying status with an airline or have TSA Pre-Check or CLEAR to help you zip through the crowds.

4. Far: Galveston

View of Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport (Photo: Houston Airports)
George Bush Intercontinental Airport is Houton's busiest airport (Photo: Houston Airports)

As the saying goes, everything is bigger in Texas. And that includes distances.

The Port of Galveston is quickly becoming one of the world’s busiest cruise ports outside of Florida, mainly due to its strategic location on the Gulf of Mexico. It’s also part of Greater Houston, one of the largest and most populous metropolitan areas in North America.

The Houston metropolitan area is serviced by two airports: George Bush Intercontinental (IAH) and William P. Hobby Airport (HOU). But neither one is particularly close to Galveston. IAH holds the lion’s share of the traffic, with an annual flow of 45 million passengers. But it’s also the farthest from the Port of Galveston at a distance of 72 miles, due to its location north of Downtown Houston. This translates to a minimum commute of 1.5 hours to Galveston under normal traffic conditions.

Located southeast of Downtown Houston, HOU is closer to Galveston, but still 42 miles away. Driving time between airport and cruise port can easily take an hour or more. The airport is also smaller and mainly offers domestic routes on airlines like Southwest, Frontier, Allegiant, Delta and American Airlines.

To travel to and from either airport, your options are limited to booking a transfer with your cruise line or seeking your own modes of transportation like taxis or rideshare services. Beware: the latter are not cheap.

5. Near: San Diego

The Port of San Diego, with Koningsdam alongside. (Photo: Holland America Line)
The Port of San Diego, with Koningsdam alongside. (Photo: Holland America Line)

San Diego International Airport (SAN) is famous for being the world’s busiest single-runway airport. Welcoming more than 24 million passengers per year, this airport ranks as the third busiest in the state of California.

But here’s another claim to fame for this Southern California airport: it sits only 2.5 miles away from the Port of San Diego, which also happens to be the state’s third busiest cruise port. So getting from SAN to the ports two cruise terminals – B Street Pier and Broadway Pier – will take you less than 10 minutes by car.

6. Near: Boston

As New England’s largest city, Boston is a popular embarkation port for cruises exploring the Canada/New England route or going down to Bermuda or as far as the Caribbean.

And the capital of Massachusetts offers a refreshingly swift connection between its main airport and its cruise port.

Going from Boston’s Logan International Airport (BOS) to the city’s Flynn Cruiseport is as easy as crossing the Ted Williams Tunnel, a distance covered in less than four miles. Taxi or rideshare service is your best bet, as public transportation – while available – undergoes a longer and less direct trek.

7. Far: Ports of Seward and Whittier, Alaska

Seward (Photo:Alberto Loyo/Shutterstock)
Seward (Photo:Alberto Loyo/Shutterstock)

Texas may be big, but Alaska is huge.

The Last Frontier’s vastness is a main component of its charm, with tens of thousands of square miles of natural beauty to discover.

The ports of Seward and Whittier on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula are the state’s two primary points of cruise embarkation and debarkation. Here you’ll find lines like Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruise Line, Holland America, Celebrity Cruises, Silversea and more on one-way itineraries originating from or ending in Vancouver and Seattle.

But neither Seward nor Whittier have large-scale airports. The closest one, which also happens to be Alaska’s busiest, is Ted Stevens International Airport (ANC) all the way in Anchorage.

From Seward, that’s a distance of roughly 125 miles for which you’ll need to devote about 2.5 hours to cover by car. Whittier is closer: some 60 miles or an hour and 15-minute drive. Alternatively, in both cases you can opt for the longer but much more scenic train ride, which can be arranged as a tour through your cruise line.

8. Near: Vancouver

Vancouver's YVR Airport on a quiet moment (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
Vancouver's YVR Airport on a quiet moment (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

The aptly-named Canada Place in Vancouver is Canada’s busiest cruise port and a major gateway to Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.

The city is also home to Vancouver International Airport (YVR), the country’s second-busiest airport with average annual traffic of 25 million passengers.

While not insignificant, the eight-mile distance that separates Vancouver International Airport (YVR) from Canada Place is fairly benign and manageable in about 30-45 minutes by car, depending on the city’s legendary – and growing – traffic congestion.

A quicker option for those who don’t mind handling their luggage: hop the Canada Line train bound for Waterfront Station. It picks up at YVR just outside the terminal and deposits passengers at Waterfront Station, which offers above-ground and underground connections to Canada Place Cruise Ship Terminal.

9. Near: Ushuaia

Ushuaia seen from Sapphire Princess (Photo: Tim Johnson)
Ushuaia seen from Sapphire Princess (Photo: Tim Johnson)

Cruises to Antarctica have steadily grown in popularity, and the most common way to reach the White Continent on a cruise is from the southern tip of South America.

Ushuaia, Argentina’s southernmost city, is a common gateway to Antarctica. And while crossing the mighty Drake Passage en route to the Last Continent takes an average of two days, commuting from Malvinas Argentinas International Airport (USH) to the Port of Ushuaia is a much less formidable affair, with a mere 6 km (2.3 miles) separating both transportation hubs.

10. Far: Southampton

View of London's Heathrow Airport (Photo: Heathrow Airport)
London's Heathrow Airport is one of the main gateways to the U.K. (Photo: Heathrow Airport)

The port city of Southampton has long enjoyed a rich seafaring tradition, dating all the way back to the days of the Mayflower’s fateful journey in 1620 – and the Titanic’s ill-fated voyage in 1912. Today, it holds the distinction of being the United Kingdom’s chief port, and one of the UK’s most important cruise ports.

Located only five miles away from the port, the local Southampton Airport (SOU) offers flights to a handful of European destinations. Trouble is, most tourists will never arrive into SOU.

If you’re flying into the U.K. to catch a cruise in Southampton, however, your gateways are likely to be London’s two busiest airports: Heathrow (LHR) and Gatwick (LGW). Both lie considerably far from Southampton’s cruise port, the former some 65 miles away and the latter about 90 miles to the northeast.

Worse, for a nation of rail enthusiasts, there aren’t convenient rail connections from either airport – and that means you’re going to have to take a taxi (expensive), rideshare (nearly as expensive) or pre-book a more economical motorcoach. For a few dozen pounds, it’s pleasantly cheap – but beware the Southampton coach station is a decent hike from most hotels.

11. Far: Berlin

View of Berlin Brandenburg Airport's Terminal 1 (Photo: Günther Wicker/Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH)
Berlin's Brandenburg Airport (Photo: Günther Wicker/Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH)

A quick glance at a map reveals that Berlin isn’t quite on any coast, yet the German capital is often listed as a port of call or an embarkation port for many a Baltic cruise. That’s because ‘Berlin’s port’ is not actually in Berlin, but in Warnemünde, some 240km (150 miles) to the north – a good two and a half hour drive in most conditions.

And given its location just south of the German capital, Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER) sits even farther from the shores of the Baltic Sea, adding a handful of miles to your journey.

The local trains are a popular option to cover the distance between Berlin and Warnemünde, and to get from BER to Berlin’s city center. Your cruise line will also very likely offer a transfer option, so be sure to take advantage of this if you’d rather avoid a long and costly taxi ride.

12. Near: Barcelona

Barcelona's Josep Tarradellas-El Prat airport (Photo: Aena)
Barcelona's airport is about 10 miles away from the cruise port (Photo: Aena)

As one of the main gateways for Mediterranean cruises, Barcelona stands out as being home to Europe’s biggest and busiest cruise port. Luckily, the city’s Josep Tarradellas-El Prat International Airport sits just south of the city center, some 17 km (10.5 miles) away from Barcelona’s cruise port.

While not a tiny distance, it can be reasonably covered in under 30 minutes. Cruise transfers, taxis and ride share services are a commonly used and easy option to get to and from the airport. Public transportation is also available, but it involves a combination of trains and buses that can effectively double your commute time and will prove difficult to manage with luggage. Our advice: book a transfer, or take a taxi or rideshare.

13. Far: Rome (Civitavecchia)

The Pantheon in Rome (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
The Pantheon in Rome (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

Cruising or flying to Rome can feel a bit like false advertising. The Italian capital’s cruise port is located in Civitavecchia, a municipality that technically belongs to the wider città metropolitana di Roma Capitale (Metropolitan City of Rome Capital), but it’s actually 70 km (43 miles) northwest of Rome’s city center. Similarly, Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino International Airport (FCO) lies about 30 km (19 miles) from the Eternal City.

What’s more, FCO and Civitavecchia are about 65 km (40 miles) away from each other, translating into an hour commute for cruisers getting to or coming from their ship.

Roma Ciampino, the city’s secondary airport, is only 8 miles away from the Italian capital, but is also a much smaller facility that caters primarily to low-cost carriers within Europe like Ryanair. It’s also farther from Civitavecchia, about 85 km away (53 miles).

Bottom line: budget time to reach FCO when disembarking your cruise ship. The drive is lengthy, the airport chaotic on the best of days. Do yourself a favor and leave lots of time – or better yet, hop the nearby express train in Civitavecchia for a post-cruise stay in Rome.

14. Far: Athens (Piraeus)

Celebrity Infinity alongside in Piraeus, the port for Athens, Greece (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
Celebrity Infinity alongside in Piraeus, the port for Athens, Greece (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

Legend has it that back in 490 BC, a herald named Pheidippides ran from the village of Marathon to Athens without stopping to deliver the news of an important victory over a Persian army. The distance covered by the Greek messenger -- 42.195 km or 26 miles and 385 yards – has since become the official definition of the marathon foot race.

What’s no legend is that traveling from Athens International Airport (ATH) to Piraeus Cruise Port is longer than a marathon, as the distance between both transportation hubs edges closer to 50 km (31 miles). Therefore, you’ll need to budget anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour to cover this distance comfortably – more if you’re trying to reach ATH in traffic.

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