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Guide to cruises from Miami

In:
05 Jan 2022

Miami is the busiest cruise port in the world and is home to some of Royal Caribbean’s newest and most popular ships. As the hub of the cruising industry, Miami is a convenient port option for those looking for various options of ships and itineraries.

Royal Caribbean sails year round from the Port of Miami, officially known as PortMiami, and offers primarily Eastern, Western, and Southern Caribbean cruises. Whether you’re a seasoned cruiser or are planning your first cruise vacation, here is what you need to know when sailing from PortMiami.

How to get to the Port of Miami

Royal Caribbean opened Terminal A, a brand new, 170,000 square foot terminal at the Port of Miami, in 2018. Nicknamed the “Crown of Miami” due to its unique shape, Terminal A is where all Royal Caribbean cruise passengers will depart from when sailing out of Miami.

PortMiami is located on its own island, Dodge Island, just east of downtown Miami. The address of Terminal A at PortMiami is Dodge Island, 1015 N. America Way, Miami, FL 33132.

Whether you fly or drive to Miami, make sure to arrive the day before your cruise (or earlier if you plan to explore the area). 

Flying to Miami

Passengers arriving by air have two main airport options.

Miami International Airport (MIA) is the closest airport to the Port of Miami. This is the most convenient option for travelers, as the airport is located just a fifteen minute drive away from the port.

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) is another airport option if you are sailing out of Miami. The airport is around a 45 minute drive away from the port, but could be longer depending on traffic conditions.
We recommend choosing Miami International Airport due to its proximity to the port. Whether upon arrival or catching your return flight after the cruise, flying out of MIA is less of a hassle than traveling to and from Fort Lauderdale.

As the terminal is located on an island, the simplest way to get from the airport or a hotel to the port is through a ride sharing app, such as Uber or Lyft, or a taxi.

Driving Directions

If you are driving to PortMiami, there are a few different options to choose from.

From the north, via I-95:

  • Take I-95 South to Exit 2D toward I-395 E/Miami Beach. 
  • Merge onto MacArthur Causeway. 
  • Use the left 2 lanes to take the exit towards Port of Miami Tunnel and follow the signs for your pier terminal.

From Miami International Airport (7 miles):

  • Via Port Tunnel: Take 836 East through the toll. 
  • Continue onto FL836 E/I-395 E, then keep right to merge onto MacArthur Causeway.  
  • Use the left 2 lanes to take the exit towards Port of Miami Tunnel and follow the signs to your pier terminal. 
  • Via Port Bridge: Take 836 East through the toll.    
  • Exit at US1 N.E. 2nd Avenue/Biscayne Boulevard, proceed straight through one light, and then turn right at the second light onto Biscayne Boulevard (US1). 
  • Stay in your left-hand lane and turn left into the Port of Miami on N.E. 5th Street. 
  • Drive across the bridge and follow signs to your pier terminal. 

 

From Ft. Lauderdale International (26 miles):

  • Via Port Tunnel: Take I-95 South to Exit 2D toward I-395 E/Miami Beach. 
  • Merge onto MacArthur Causeway. 
  • Use the left 2 lanes to take the exit towards Port of Miami Tunnel and follow the signs for your pier terminal.
  • Via Port Bridge: Take I-95 South to Exit 3B, N.W. 8th Street. 
  • Turn left onto 5th Street and continue straight until you reach the Port of Miami entrance. 
  • Drive across the bridge and follow signs to your pier terminal. 
  • Get on FL-836 E in Miami from Departures, NW 21st St and Exists 2-3-4

Parking

For those driving, parking is available at the Port of Miami at a rate of $25.00 per day for regular sized vehicles. There are both multi-level parking garages or open-air parking lots available. Oversized vehicles will incur an additional fee and are only able to park in Lot #2, which is adjacent to Terminal E.

There are independently-owned lots with lower daily rates located a few miles away. However, the official parking at PortMiami is the most convenient parking option as it is located adjacent to the terminal. No taxis or rideshares are needed when parking in the official lots, and there are free shuttles available to quickly take you from the parking area to the cruise terminal.

Parking rates are payable by cash, credit card, or traveler’s check. It is important to note that debit cards are not accepted as a form of payment.

Where to stay the night before your cruise

One of our most important pieces of advice when planning a cruise is to fly in the night before your cruise departs. This gives a time buffer in case of any travel delays that may occur as you make your way to Miami.

There are no shortages of hotels and places to stay in Miami the night before your cruise. Most passengers will opt to book a room in downtown Miami, many of which offer views of the ocean and cruise terminal.

We have written several detailed reviews of hotels in the Miami area, and RoyalCaribbeanBlog readers have also offered their hotel recommendations. Keep in mind that these are recommendations, so we cannot guarantee that your experience will be the same as someone else’s.

Hotel Recommendations:

Intercontinental Miami

Holiday Inn Port of Miami-Downtown

DoubleTree by Hilton-Grand Biscayne Bay

Hampton Inn & Suites Miami Midtown

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Miami Airport East (near Miami International Airport)

You can find more hotel recommendations and other tips for your next cruise from our readers on the RoyalCaribbeanBlog message boards.

Several hotels offer shuttle service to the cruise terminal. However, we recommend against using a shuttle service and instead opting for a taxi or rideshare. Using a shuttle service means that you are tied down to the shuttle’s schedule instead of your own. Taking an Uber, Lyft, or taxi gives you complete flexibility on the time you travel to the terminal.

Which Royal Caribbean ships sail from the Port of Miami

Freedom of the Seas calls PortMiami home and offers 2, 3, and 4-night Caribbean sailings. Her 2-night sailings visit Perfect Day at CocoCay, while the 3 and 4-night sailings visit both Perfect Day at CocoCay and Nassau. The 4-night sailings also include a sea day.

Jewel of the Seas will sail from Miami until April 2022, offering 5, 6, and 8-night Western and Eastern Caribbean sailings, visiting ports including Cozumel, Puerto Costa Maya, Bimini, Nassau, Belize City, Antigua, Puerto Plata, and San Juan.

Oasis of the Seas will sail from Miami until June 2022, offering 3, 4, and 7-night sailings visiting ports in the Western and Eastern Caribbean, including Perfect Day at CocoCay. After the summer season sailing from Cape Liberty, she will return to Miami to restart cruises in November 2022.

Oasis of the Seas will also offer a 10-night Eastern Caribbean Holiday sailing in January 2023, visiting St. Thomas, Antigua, Barbados, St. Kitts, and St. Maarten.

Grandeur of the Seas will begin sailing from PortMiami in November 2022, offering 9-night Southern Caribbean sailings visiting destinations including Puerto Plata, St. Croix, St. Kitts, St. Maarten, San Juan, and Labadee. 

Grandeur of the Seas will also offer shorter, 5-night Western Caribbean cruises, with most sailings visiting Key West and Labadee.

Explorer of the Seas will begin sailing from Miami in late April 2022 and will offer primarily 6 and 8-night Western and Southern Caribbean cruises, along with one 5-night and one 9-night sailing. There are two options for 6-night sailings. The first will visit Perfect Day at CocoCay, Jamaica, and Labadee. The second will visit Perfect Day at CocoCay, Jamaica, and George Town, Grand Cayman.

There are also two options for 8-night Southern Caribbean sailings, visiting Labadee, La Romana, Willemstad, Curacao, Oranjestad, Aruba, and Kralendijk, Bonaire.

Symphony of the Seas has called Miami home since its inaugural sailing in 2018, and she will continue to sail from Miami in 2022 and 2023. While Symphony of the Seas will offer two 8-night cruises, the majority of her sailings are 7-night Eastern or Western Caribbean cruises with a stop at Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Depending on the sailing, Symphony of the Seas will visit Puerto Costa Maya, Roatan, Cozumel, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Labadee, and San Juan. Each sailing will visit Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Harmony of the Seas will be sailing from Miami starting in March 2023, offering 7-night Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises that include a stop at Perfect Day at CocoCay. Other than CocoCay, Harmony of the Seas will visit St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Costa Maya, Roatan, and Cozumel, depending on the sailing.

What time should I schedule my flight home after my cruise from Miami?

One mistake some cruise passengers make is scheduling their flight home too early or too late on disembarkation day. Rushing to the airport to catch an early flight can be stressful, whereas waiting at the airport all day for a late flight is also not ideal.

Here are some things to consider when selecting a flight home:

  • Are you flying from Miami or Ft. Lauderdale?
  • What time will the ship arrive in port, and what time will disembarkation begin?
  • What time of day will you be traveling to the airport?

It can be tempting to select an early flight on disembarkation day. After all, you may look at your itinerary and see that you arrive in Miami at 6AM. However, the time that a ship arrives in port and the time that passengers actually begin disembarking is not the same. A good estimate is to assume you will get off the ship around two hours after the ship’s scheduled arrival time.

Therefore, when cruising from Miami, we recommend booking a flight no earlier than 11:30AM for flights out of Miami International Airport and no earlier than 12PM for flights leaving Ft. Lauderdale. Doing so will give you a little wiggle room in case of any unexpected delays.

Royal Caribbean updates: Water cans, Enchantment of the Seas repairs, and more!

In:
13 Dec 2021

There's always something new and different happening with Royal Caribbean that it's hard to cover it all, but there were a few things over the last few days that I've summed up in a new post.

There are smaller updates from across the fleet that I think are kind of interesting, neat, or otherwise good to know.

If you ever have a news tip, feel free to email it to [email protected] for possible inclusion in a future update!

New water cans

It appears Royal Caribbean is rolling out its own brand of water cans to replace water bottles.

For years, Royal Caribbean has offered water bottles to guests, but Joshua Greenfield shared he was on Odyssey of the Seas last week and the ship now had aluminum cans instead of water bottles.

Matthew Moss said the bartender on his ship claimed the cans were easier to recycle than water bottles.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Miami

Royal Caribbean's Terminal A in PortMiami had a festive look when Oasis of the Seas returned to dock there on Sunday.

Karen Fraser snapped up photos of Royal Caribbean's cruise terminal with Christmas red and green colors displayed around the terminal.


Photo by Katie Miller

The building is equipped with LED lighting, which allows Royal Caribbean to change the color lighting as it sees fit.

Pool deck maintenance

Enchantment of the Seas is getting ready to restart cruises on December 23rd, but work on the pool needs to commence first.

Gladys Cruzen shared a letter given to guests on a test cruise to inform them of unplanned maintenance is needed in the adults-only Solarium, in addition to ongoing work on the pool deck.

Enchantment of the Seas will restart sailings from Baltimore when she returns to service.

Spotted: Royal Caribbean cruises scheduled from Miami beginning in July

In:
31 May 2021

We already know Freedom of the Seas will begin test cruises in June 2021, but are revenue cruises already planned as well?

A week ago, Royal Caribbean announced it would start test cruises on its first ship to get approval from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Freedom of the Seas.

Friend of RoyalCaribbeanBlog @UltimateCruiseNews spotted on the Miami Dade County cruise ship schedule at PortMiami listing Freedom of the Seas cruises, beginning on July 2, 2021.

The schedule seems to have Freedom of the Seas offering 3- and 4-night cruises from PortMiami through the month of July.

In addition, the Royal Caribbean app shows very similar dates for Freedom of the Seas on its schedule.

Royal Caribbean has not cancelled its July sailings across the board, and still has bookable cruises on Freedom of the Seas from Cape Liberty, New Jersey on the cruise line website.

Royal Caribbean has not made any announcement about a redployment for Freedom of the Seas, but the schedule might shed light onto what could be coming.

In comparing the Royal Caribbean app dates to the PortMiami schedule, as well as what is listed on Royal Caribbean's website, it seems the app has both sailings loaded in at the moment.

Of course, the docking schedule does not contain much information in the way of determining what the intent is for the ship. Could these sailings in July be revenue cruises? More test cruises? A mistake by the county?

Freedom of the Seas will definitely be conducting test cruises from PortMiami between June 20-22, 2021, and that is reflected on the schedule.

Simulated voyages (also known as test cruises) are when cruise lines can operate ships with volunteer passengers in order to prove their new protocols work.

These are not cruises you can book, but rather, are limited voyages where a cruise line invites certain unpaid volunteers to help go through all the necessary steps and procedures to ensure cruise ships can be run safely.

Each cruise ship needs to be approved by the CDC in order to conduct test cruises.

As to how accurate the July sailings listed are, and if they are the precursor to Royal Caribbean announcing revenue cruises remains to be seen.

In March 2021, the Port of Los Angeles website listed Navigator of the Seas on their schedule prior to Royal Caribbean making their own announcement.

Los Angeles pulled down their schedule for a short time until Royal Caribbean made their formal announcement.

PortMiami wants to broker a deal for shared cruise terminal between Royal Caribbean and MSC

In:
18 May 2021

It looks like there is a chance Royal Caribbean Group and MSC Cruises may come to an agreement on a new cruise terminal in PortMiami.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced a large preferential berthing rights agreement between the two lines.

Essentially, if this deal were to happen, it would provide a new cruise terminal at PortMiami, where Royal Caribbean ships would give  Royal Caribbean Group ships "first dibs" on access to the terminal if a ship would need to dock there, while MSC would also have access to the facility.

The agreement stipulates that Royal Caribbean is the primary third-party cruise line at the shared terminal facility and negotiate terms for minimum revenue guarantees, financing, timing, and construction of Berth 10, a facility which will be operated and maintained by the County and have shore power capability. 

According to Seatrade Cruise News, MSC was originally looking to work with Disney Cruise Line on a joint project that would include Berth 10. 

MSC had plans for a new cruise terminal project for births 8 and 9, with berth 10 available for another cruise line. However, Disney is now looking at a long-term agreement at Port Everglades.

Royal Caribbean also has a new cruise terminal at Terminal A, which opened in November 2018.

Royal Caribbean had been using Terminal G when Terminal A was not available.

Mayor Cava announced the accord, "As we work closely alongside our industry partners to usher in the safe return of cruising, I am pleased to recommend a Memorandum of Intent (MOI) between Miami-Dade County and Royal Caribbean Group to negotiate a preferential berthing rights agreement for the future shared cruise terminal at PortMiami."

"This MOI will be presented to the PortMiami and Environmental Resiliency Committee on June 8 and the Board of County Commissioners on June 15."

The shared cruise terminal will be the first of its kind at the port with the capability of simultaneously berthing three cruise vessels (at Berths 8, 9 and 10) by more than one cruise line. vessels (at Berths 8, 9 and 10) by more than one cruise line.

"This partnership will further solidify the Port’s role as a leader on innovation and sustainability, while generating more good-paying jobs and bringing more passengers as we work to bring back cruising stronger than ever," the Mayor said.

What are berthing rights?

A ship's berth is a designated location in a port used for mooring vessels when they are not at sea.  Essentially, it was what most people commonly refer to as "docking a cruise ship".

Parking a cruise ship is not like finding a parking spot for you car. Berths are limited in any port, and in a port as busy as PortMiami, there is limited availability to get a ship in on specific days.

Cruise lines have to pay to park their ships in a port. Depending on the port, there can be shared terminals or dedicated terminals.

As an example, Royal Caribbean built Terminal A to provide an exclusive spot for its ships to dock when they come to PortMiami.  Norwegian Cruise Line and Carnival have similar facilities.

Preferential berthing rights are used when more than one cruise line uses a particular facility, and it basically means if more than one line wants to use the terminal on a given day, the line with preferential berthing rights gets the first opportunity.

Royal Caribbean joins movement to bring shore power to cruise ships

In:
17 Feb 2021

Royal Caribbean joined five other cruise lines in signing up for an initiative to bring shore power to PortMiami.

Along with the CEOs of Carnival Cruise Lines, Disney Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Lines, and Virgin Voyages, Royal Caribbean announced they support a new push to bring shore power to PortMiami.

This marks the first step in making shore power a reality for cruise ships for cruise ships at Port Miami.

Miami Dade's mayor's office will convene a working group with representatives of each company to work toward an initial installation and eventually a full rollout in the years to come. 

Entrepreneur and former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine is helping lead this initiative as a volunteer special advisor focused on the future of cruising, working with the Mayor's office, the Port, and cruise companies to shape a more resilient cruise industry.

What is shore power?

Ordinarily, when a cruise ship is docked at a pier, it runs off its engines while in port, similar to how your car idles at a red light.  The ship is burning fuel during the process, which like any fossil fuel burning mode of transportation, emits smoke into the air around the port.

Shore power allows cruise ships to "hook up" to electricity at the port, so that the engines do not need to operate while the ship is letting passengers off the ship and bringing new ones onboard.

This means ships using shore power save on fuel use while on port that they would otherwise need to keep the ship going. It also reduces air pollution emissions.associated with consumption of that fuel.

Many ships were built to use shore power. Cruise industry expert Stewart Chiron says over half of Carnival's fleet could take advantage of shore power.

The source of this electricity for shore side power will likely be provided by Florida Power and Light, which obtains most of its electricity from natural gas, followed by Nuclear power.

While natural gas and Nuclear power are cleaner than Diesel engines, there is still air pollution from the electricity generated by natural gas and Nuclear power has its own sets of challenges, including where to store the waste.

Royal Caribbean employees will begin returning to its Miami headquarters

In:
03 Jun 2020

Royal Caribbean's employees will begin returning to its Miami headquarters in the next couple of weeks for the first time since the current health crisis forced the cruise line to have everyone work from home.

Royal Caribbean Senior Vice President of Sales and Trade Support & Service Vicki Freed confirmed that employees will begin returning to the corporate headquarters in Miami beginning on June 8, and the second group will go back on June 15.

The factor in determining the date of return for each employee will depend on which building they work in on Royal Caribbean's campus.

Employees working at the company's headquarters were forced to work from home for a number of months in order to foster proper social distancing and adhere to Florida's regulations. With the state relaxing some of those laws in order to reopen many aspects of life, working from headquarters will now be permitted.

Royal Caribbean has paused construction on its new Miami headquarters in late March. The new headquarters will eventually replace the existing corporate campus, as well as provide more space for other employees to work directly in the company's headquarters.

 

Royal Caribbean has paused construction on its new Miami headquarters due to coronavirus

In:
26 Mar 2020

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd's brand new headquarters that is under construction will remain under construction for while longer.

The Miami Herald reports the construction work for the cruise line's $300 million corporate headquarters in PortMiami is on hold due to uncertainty over the coronavirus.

In May 2019, Royal Caribbean announced plans to expand and renovate its corporate campus on the southwest corner of Dodge Island. 

Work on the site will cease, with the exception of the parking lot adjacent to the building that will be completed as planned, according to the Miami Herald.

Work will resume "at the appropriate time," according to Royal Caribbean.

Once complete, the new campus will be landscaped with indigenous flora and sport a soccer field, volleyball court, basketball court, and fitness center for employees.  It will include a new parking garage and built-in sustainability features, such as electric car chargers, photovoltaic cells, and rainwater collectors.

At the heart of campus will be a 10-story, 350,000 square-foot building influenced by the graceful utility, fluidity, and innovative designs evident in the company’s ships.   

The new corporate headquarters would include a fitness center, a day care, a cafeteria, an auditorium and a maritime innovation center for the design development and renovation of cruise vessels.

Prior to the announced pause, the new headquarters was scheduled to open at some time in 2020.

Photos: Oasis of the Seas arrives home to PortMiami

In:
24 Nov 2019

Following a $165 million drydock, Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas arrived to her homeport in PortMiami.

The talented photographer AdamsAway was able to snap these brand new photos of Oasis of the Seas at her new homeport at Terminal A.

Photos by AdamsAway

Beginning today, Oasis of the Seas will offer 7-night sailings to the Eastern and Western Caribbean.

New lighting added to Terminal A in PortMiami

In:
20 Nov 2019

Royal Caribbean added new lights to its Terminal A in PortMiami, that really make the building stand out once the sun goes down.

Royal Caribbean Chief Meteorologist James Van Fleet shared photos on Twitter of the new lighting.

Mr. Van Fleet also indicated the lights are capable of changing colors.

What do you think of the new Terminal A lights? Let us know in the comments.

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Miami Airport East Hotel Review

In:
24 May 2019

If you ask anyone that is looking for a hotel before or after their cruise, they usually want a clean, safe and reasonably priced hotel. Getting all three of those requirements is no simple task, but I may have just found that with the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Miami Airport East.

Prior to a recent Royal Caribbean cruise, I needed a hotel for two nights prior to my sailing.  I usually stay near downtown Miami, but I spotted a brand new hotel that seemed to offer a great value.  Plus, the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Miami Airport East is located right near Miami International Airport.  This means the drive from the airport to the hotel is a mere couple of minutes, and the drive to PorMiami is about 10-15 minutes.

The Holiday Inn Express & Suites Miami Airport East is one of Holiday Inn's new "Formula Blue" properties.  Formula Blue is meant to appeal to Holiday Inn Express’s target guest—the "smart traveler."  The hotel is designed so that public space is wide open, so guests can immediately scan the area when they walk into the hotel and understand where everything is without having to ask for help. Another design element that supports the smart traveler is a headboard that minimize noise transfer between rooms, ensuring this busy demographic is able to get a restful night sleep.  

Walking into the lobby of the hotel, you can see exactly what Holiday Inn was planning, with an open lobby area that you can easily spot the elevators, kitchen area, seating and more.

The hotel offers an outdoor pool, fitness center, continental breakfast each morning, and complimentary coffee throughout the day in the lobby.  The hotel does offer a shuttle service to PortMiami at regularly scheduled times for a price per person.  In my opinion, you are better off using a ride-share service like Lyft for value and convenience.

For my stay, I reserved a standard King-size bed for $80.75 for the first night, and $84.55 the second night.  That is an incredible price for a name-brand hotel.

Walking into my room, I found a very large amount of living space.  There was even a coffee nook, complete with Keurig machine available for my use.

The bathroom is large as well, which means there is plenty of space for two people to get ready in the morning.

One thing I loved about this room is how many outlets there are around the room. In fact, there are USB outlets, in addition to electric outlets, on each side of the bed and at the desk. This is incredibly convenient.

Overall, the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Miami Airport East is exactly as advertised: a convenient hotel that is well-priced, clean and safe to stay in. The worst thing I can say about this hotel is that you cannot walk anywhere nearby for dining or entertainment.  You will be dependent on taxi or a rental car to get to the fun things to do in Miami.  Of course, a lot of people that want a pre-cruise hotel are only really looking for somewhere to spend the night, and you can always order delivery to the hotel.

What is truly compelling about this hotel was the price combined with the well-kept rooms and building. If you can snag a rate of less than $100 per night (or closer to my $80/night rate) then it becomes an absolute steal compared to paying one or two hundred dollars more per night to stay in downtown Miami.

Your thoughts

Have you stayed at Holiday Inn Express & Suites Miami Airport East? Is this a hotel you’d consider? Please share your thoughts or questions in the comments section below!

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