Have you ever wondered what the most popular cruise ports are in the country? Ship Technology ranked cruise ports around the world based on the number of passengers each one handled and came up with a list of the busiest cruise ship ports in the United States.
Port of Miami, Florida
The Port of Miami is not only the busiest cruise port in the country; it’s the busiest in the world. It caters to around 5.6 million passengers annually, and nearly 1,200 ships docked there in 2017. Miami is a popular departure point for cruises headed to the Bahamas, Mexico and other parts of the Caribbean.
In general, there are around 18 cruise ship lines that berth at this port. Leading cruise lines like Norwegian, Carnival, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean and Oceana have their global headquarters here. Both MSC and Virgin Voyages have announced plans to open their own terminals at the Port of Miami as well. Virgin is expected to open in November 2021 and MSC will follow in October 2022.
Port Canaveral, Florida
Given that it’s only 45 miles from Orlando, Port Canaveral is a strategic departure port for people who want to add a cruise to their theme park family vacation. Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, Disney Cruise Line, Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line use Port Canaveral as a departure base. The Terminal 1 facility opened less than five years ago as a location for Royal Caribbean giant Oasis-class ships, including the Oasis of the Seas.
Port Canaveral handles a large number of passengers annually as well — already over 4.5 million. And, it is also an important logistics hub, so a lot of cargo moves through Port Canaveral. On any given day, there are 10 ships docked here, including the various cruise line’s ships.
Port Everglades, Florida
Port Everglades is in Fort Lauderdale and lays claim to offering the most services of any cruise port in the world — more itineraries, more sailings and more cruise lines. It is the world’s largest cruise terminal and has only been open for a decade. Ten cruise lines and 38 ships use Port Everglades. On average, Port Everglades is handling more than 3.8 million cruise ships passengers every year. It even set a high-traffic record in March 2016 when 54,700 passengers passed through the port in a single day.
Like Port Canaveral, Port Everglades is a key cargo port. The RMS Queen Elizabeth made this port her temporary home after she was retired from service and became a museum from 1968 to 1970. The RMS Queen Mary 2 also docked here after its 2004 maiden voyage.
Galveston has been a popular resort town for years, and now it’s gaining popularity as a cruise port. Galveston is located on an island in the Gulf of Mexico, only two miles off the Texas coast. Cruise lines like Carnival, Disney and Royal Caribbean dock here.
This is one of the most walkable cruise ports, as you only need to cross one street and you’re in the center of all the action. Galveston’s downtown area has cool historic neighborhoods, restaurants, bars and stores. There are also other attractions of interest you can visit before you embark on your cruise — you can even spend the day at a waterpark or an indoor rainforest.
New York City, New York
New York City actually has ports in both Manhattan and Brooklyn and services a wide variety of cruises departing for destinations all over the world, including New England, Bermuda, Canada, Europe and the Caribbean. It's also the port for transatlantic cruises. You can also pick up some longer itinerary cruises that head to far-flung destinations. Cruise lines that dock in New York City include Cunard, Princess, Holland America, Norwegian and Carnival. Other lines like MSC Cruises and Silversea visit New York as a port of call.
Port of New Orleans, Louisiana
The Port of New Orleans handles over one million passengers on an annual basis as well. It was rebuilt after suffering devastation during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Today, cruise passengers come and go from the port, enjoying all that New Orleans has to offer. Ships docking at the Port of New Orleans are just behind the convention center and are a close distance to some of the best attractions in downtown.