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Jacksonville (Photo:Sean Pavone/Shutterstock)
4.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

By Jodi Thompson
Cruise Critic Contributor

Port of Jacksonville

Jacksonville offers a great blend of outdoor appeal. It's got terrific beaches -- in fact, some 21 miles worth begins just a dozen miles from downtown. Other attractions include golf courses and hiking and cycling trails. The city's cultural scene is vibrant. Jacksonville is also a great family destination because so many of its attractions are kid-friendly.

About Jacksonville


Pro

Great beaches, golf courses, huge shopping centers and an overall kid-friendly atmosphere

Con

It's tough to get around to all the sights without a car

Bottom Line

If you can't find it in Jacksonville, there's nearby access to St. Augustine and Amelia Island


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And, finally, Jacksonville (and surrounding areas like St. Augustine) boasts something that few Florida ports of call can -- there's a lot of nearby history.

Where You're Docked

Jacksonville Cruise Port Address:
9810 August Drive, Jacksonville, FL 32226

Ships currently dock at Jaxport's Dames Point Cruise Terminal (9810 August Drive), although the city is looking to build a new cruise port. Dames Point is about a 15-minute drive from downtown, and even closer to the airport.

Port Facilities

You'll need a car for this port, but within a very short drive are fast-food places and nearby Yellow Bluff Fort Historic State Park is a good place to roam among the oak trees and Civil War relics, if you have extra time on your hands.

Good to Know

As with any big city -- and Jacksonville is very large geographically -- use common sense to keep safe. Don't flash valuables or walk around alone at night. Locals suggest avoiding the northwestern area of the city at night.

Getting Around

Parking: There is a parking lot that lies adjacent to the Dames Point terminal and parking fees are on the Web site). As an option, those who plan to spend a pre-cruise night or two in the city should check out hotels that offer cruise packages which include free or discounted parking for the length of your cruise and transfers to the cruise terminal.

Taxis: Taxis line up at the cruise pier.

Rental Cars: Because Jacksonville and its neighboring sites-to-see are so spread out -- at 840 square miles, Jacksonville is geographically the largest city in the continental U.S. -- this is a good place to have a car handy. Budget, Avis and Hertz are among companies with rental facilities at the airport.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

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

Language

English is spoken.

Food and Drink

On the waterfront, the River City Brewing Company serves fresh seafood, steaks, pasta and has daily chef's specials. Open Monday - Saturday for lunch 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. and dinner 5 - 10 p.m., and Sunday brunch 10:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. (835 Museum Circle Drive; 904-398-2299)

Another option is bb's, an urban-bistro, offers salads, seafood, pizzas, sandwiches, fresh seafood, steaks, chops and pasta. Note: free Wi-Fi and special Foursquare deals. Open Monday - Thursday 11 a.m. - 10:30 p.m., Friday - Saturday 11 a.m. - midnight, opening soon for Sunday brunch. (1019 Hendricks Avenue; 904-306-0100)

The specialties at Benny's Steak & Seafood are pretty self-explanatory. Open Sunday - Thursday 11 a.m. - 10 p.m., Friday - Saturday 11 a.m. - 11 p.m. (The Jacksonville Landing, 2 Independent Drive #175; 904-301-1014)

In the city's historic San Marco district, gourmands should make a beeline to Bistro Aix for chef Tom Gray's award-winning Mediterranean and French-inspired cuisine, a lively bistro atmosphere and surprisingly reasonable prices. Open Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Friday 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Saturday 5 p.m.-11 p.m., Sunday 5 p.m.-9 p.m. (1440 San Marco Boulevard; 904-398-1949)

At Jacksonville Beach, Joe's Crab Shack boasts such specials as Samuel Adams Steampot and The Bean Town Bake, and even has a gluten-free menu. Open daily 11 a.m. - midnight. (6 Beach Boulevard; 904-249-6160).

Shopping

A "Don't Give Up the Ship!" t-shirt from Adams Class Naval Ship Museum Store (904-647-5177) in Jacksonville Landing.

Or a dual-logo golf shirt from TPC Sawgrass Golf Shop for you or the duffer in your life. If you're style-challenged, enlist one of their personal shoppers to help. (110 Championship Way, Ponte Vedra Beach; 904-273-3235)


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