With most mega cruise ships embarking from Miami and Fort Lauderdale, the Port of Palm Beach has been living in the shadows of its sister ports to the south in Florida. That's a shame because the
Palm Beach area is a dazzling destination in its own right, with plenty to do before boarding a cruise.
The port's history dates to 1915 and even housed a car ferry service to Havana, Cuba, after World War II. Although true-blue, multiday cruises with luxurious amenities sailed from the Palm Beach to the Bahamas in the 1970s and 80s, its passenger services dwindled to casino cruises and budget day trips. Multiday cruises returned to Palm Beach in 2009 when Bahamas Celebration made it a homeport. (Small-ship cruise line Pearl Seas offers a couple of voyages with the Port of Palm Beach listed on its 2015 itineraries.)
The second-largest county in Florida, Palm Beach consists of several notable cities, including Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Wellington, Jupiter and West Palm Beach (the largest of the group). Known as a sophisticated playground for wealthy vacationers, Palm Beach has no shortage of lavish golf courses, high-end shopping areas and eclectic restaurants. The area contains 47 miles of Atlantic coastline, as well as the Intracoastal Waterway, which makes it ideal for sport fishing, scuba diving, parasailing, and other water sports, as well as a number of family-friendly beaches.
No matter how long you're there, exclusivity is part of Palm Beach's appeal. You'll be glad you aren't sharing the port with thousands of cruisers disembarking from other ships.
Port of Palm Beach Cruise Port Address:
1 East 11th Street #600, West Palm Beach, FL 33404
The Port of Palm Beach is just over eight miles north of the airport in the small city of Riviera Beach. In the marina district, there's not much to see and do within walking distance. However, Riviera Beach has restaurants, shops, water sports, and creature comforts within a few minutes' drive from the port.
The main tourism hub of West Palm Beach is five miles south of the port, before you get to the airport.
Dolphin appears on many restaurant menus in the area, and it can be worrisome to some visitors. As a heads up, they are not talking about Flipper: It's a nickname for mahi mahi, a white flaky fish that is absolutely delicious.
The area surrounding the port isn't exactly tourist friendly -- so don't linger. While the shopping areas in West Palm Beach are beautiful, they are not immune to pick-pocketing, so keep your belongings close.
U.S. dollars are used, and ATMs are readily available.
English is primarily spoken in the Palm Beach area, but visitors will likely encounter some Spanish-speaking natives during their visit.
Colorful, floppy hats help block the strong sun of the region and add an element of fashion to beach attire. They can be found at most gift shops. Close to the port is Sea Shell City for T-shirts, shells and other souvenirs. Visitors also can spend a day shopping in West Palm Beach to uncover truly individual items.
Just about any tropical cocktail is served in South Florida, but the Rum Runner, invented in the Florida Keys in the 1950s, is still a refreshing favorite. The recipe differs from bar to bar, but generally includes blackberry liqueur, banana liqueur, grenadine, lime juice and -- you guessed it -- rum.