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Lionel Messi debut for Inter Miami CF celebrated by Royal Caribbean

21 Jul 2023

Messi fever has reached Royal Caribbean.

Freedom of the Seas celebrating Lionel Messi arrival

The Argentinian football star, Lionel Messi, has made big headlines with his arrival as the newest member of Inter Miami for the first game of the season in 2023.

Tickets for the first game with Messi playing skyrocketed on secondary markets, with the average price well over $250.  There was even one ticket that cost $110,000!

Royal Caribbean celebrated the occasion with a light display honoring the team on Friday morning.

At the cruise line's terminal at PortMiami, Royal Caribbean changed its lights to the same pink color of the team with Freedom of the Seas displaying the iconic #10 across more than five decks as it arrived at PortMiami. 

Terminal A pink color

Messi is as big a soccer star as there is in the world, and he signed with the team last week in preparation for the first game against Mexico’s Cruz Azul at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale. 

The soccer star's arrival will provide a welcome boost on the field for Miami, who have struggled in the MLS in recent weeks, having failed to register a win in their last 11 games.

Earlier in the week, Lionel Messi visited a Royal Caribbean cruise ship to meet cruise line President and CEO, Michael Bayley.

Messi with Michael Bayley

Also joining Mr. Bayley was soccer legend David Beckham, who is a co-owner of the team.

David Beckham and Michael Bayley

Royal Caribbean is Inter Miami’s Official Vacation Partner. 

Best Miami hotels near the cruise port

26 Dec 2022

The Port of Miami is the busiest cruise port in the world, with around 5 million passengers setting sail from the city each year. If you’re cruising from Miami, you’ll want to arrive in the city the night before your cruise begins and book a pre-cruise hotel stay.

Miami downtown night

Booking a hotel can be daunting, as it’s easy to be overwhelmed by hundreds of options. Plus, if you’re unfamiliar with Miami, you’ll want to make sure you pick a hotel in a nice location.

To make your hotel planning process easier, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best hotels in Miami. These hotels were recommended to us by Royal Caribbean Blog fans on our message boards or by personal experience our own cruises.

Here’s our list of the best Miami hotels near the cruise port.

Where to stay near the Port of Miami

Miami hotel

We don’t recommend picking a hotel based solely on how close it is to the cruise port. You will take a taxi, Uber, or shuttle to the cruise port anyway, so whether the hotel is 2 miles or 5 miles away from the port is irrelevant.

Instead, pick a hotel based on what you’re interested in doing while in Miami. If you are looking forward to exploring South Beach, consider staying at a boutique hotel near the oceanfront. If your flight doesn’t land in Miami until 11PM, on the other hand, staying at a hotel near the airport is a better choice.

Terminal A in PortMiami

In addition, don’t select a hotel based on whether or not it offers shuttles from the hotel to the cruise port. Here’s why:

Let's say you’re traveling with a group of four people and a shuttle from your hotel to the cruise port is $10 per person. You will spend $40 total to reach the cruise terminal. A Lyft or Uber, on the other hand, may only cost around $10-15 dollars total from downtown Miami to the cruise terminal, as it is priced per ride instead of per person.

Keeping this in mind, our hotel recommendations are based in three areas of Miami: downtown, South Beach, and near the airport.

Best hotels in Downtown Miami

Downtown Miami is close to the cruise terminal yet still offers plenty of ways to kick off your cruise vacation. From walking the waterfront marinas to visiting museums, bars, and restaurants, it’s an exciting place to spend the night before your cruise.

Here are some of our top hotel recommendations in downtown Miami:

Intercontinental Miami

Average nightly price: $450

Address: 100 Chopin Plaza, Miami, FL 33131

The Intercontinental Miami is a 4-star waterfront hotel in downtown Miami, and is one of the most raved-about hotels by many cruisers. It is located just steps away from waterfront parks, bars, and restaurants in downtown Miami.

Related: Intercontinental Miami Hotel Review

There are 653 guest rooms available, which include 22 suites, and you can expect to pay around $450 plus tax for a standard hotel room at the Intercontinental Miami.

Hotel amenities include high-speed wifi, a rooftop pool, 24-hour fitness center, complimentary sauna, steam, drench shower, and relaxation room use, and a tech lounge. Breakfast is not included in the standard hotel fare.

Marriott Biscayne Bay

Average nightly price: $280-375

Address: 1633 N Bayshore Dr, Miami, FL 33132

Also located in downtown Miami is the Marriott Biscayne Bay, a 4-star waterfront hotel attached to a mall. The Marriott Biscayne Bay has both standard rooms and suites.

Amenities at the Marriott Biscayne Bay include free wifi, a fitness center, on-site restaurant, convenience store, gift shop, and room service. The hotel’s pool is currently closed for renovations as of December 2022.

DoubleTree Biscayne Bay

Average nightly price: $250-350

Address: 1717 N Bayshore Dr, Miami, FL 33132

Located adjacent to the Marriott Biscayne Bay and also attached to The Grand Retail Plaza Mall is the DoubleTree Biscayne Bay. The hotel has both standard guest rooms and suites.

The DoubleTree’s amenities include connecting rooms, an outdoor pool, spa, on-site restaurant, concierge service, and fitness center.

Kimpton Epic

Average nightly price: $400-600

Address: 270 Biscayne Blvd Way, Miami, FL 33131

The Kimpton Epic is a luxury boutique hotel in downtown Miami, and it’s a nice way to treat yourself before a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Amenities at the Kimpton Epic include a rare spirits bar, cigar lounge, Japanese restaurant, two pools, a spa, and a rooftop dining venue. Every room and suite has a private balcony providing views of Miami and/or the waterfront.

Hampton Inn Brickell

Average nightly price: $250-450

Address: 50 SW 12th St, Miami, FL 33130

The Hampton Inn Brickell has standard rooms with either one king bed or two queen beds. The hotel also has King or Queen Studio Suites, and connecting rooms are also available.

A hot breakfast is included in the hotel’s amenities, which is always a nice benefit on the morning of embarkation day! Other amenities include an on-site restaurant, fitness center, business center, free wifi, and an outdoor pool.

Comfort Inn & Suites Downtown Brickell

Average nightly price: $170-225

Address: 100 SE 4th St, Miami, FL 33131

With prices between $170 to $225 per night, the Comfort Inn & Suites in downtown Miami offers a nice value for an overnight stay before your cruise. Standard rooms and suites are available.

While not as luxurious as some of the other hotels on this list, the Comfort Inn & Suites provides a nice place to rest your head before boarding your cruise. Free breakfast is also offered at the Comfort Inn & Suites Downtown Brickell.

Best hotels in South Beach Miami

If you’re looking to experience the best of Miami’s party atmosphere, you’ll want to consider spending the night in South Beach. Famous for its beaches and nightlife, South Beach is certainly a fun place to spend time before your cruise begins.

Here are our top hotel recommendations in South Beach:

Gale South Beach

Average nightly price: $300-370

Address: 1690 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

Located in the heart of South Beach, the Gale South Beach is an excellent place to spend the night in Miami. With a rooftop pool, on-site Italian restaurant, and stylish rooms, it makes for a relaxing place to escape the hustle and bustle of South Beach.

Reaching the cruise terminal from South Beach typically takes around 20 minutes.

Kasa El Paseo South Beach

Average nightly price: $200

Address: 405 Española Way, Miami Beach, FL 33139

Kasa El Paseo South Beach is a boutique hotel with influence from Spanish and Mediterranean design. It’s located in the historic district of Española Way and walking distance to shops, restaurants, and bars.

There’s no pool at the hotel, but the beach is a five minute walk away.

Kimpton Surfcomber

Average nightly price: $420 to $520

Address: 1717 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

Recently renovated, the Kimpton Surfcomber is a boutique hotel with Miami’s classic Art Deco design influence. This boutique hotel offers both standard guest rooms and suites, many of which come with views of South Beach’s waterfront.

Amenities include a pool with private cabanas, spa services, a fitness center, weekend yoga classes, backyard games, and a kids beach area with toys.

The Savoy Hotel & Beach Club

Average nightly price: $280 to $430

Address: 425 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach, FL 33139

South Beach has no shortage of boutique hotels, and The Savoy Hotel & Beach Club is another fantastic place to spend a night in Miami. The Savoy is an oceanfront hotel with a large, sprawling pool space in the Art Deco strip of South Beach.

The hotel has two acres of private grounds with unobstructed views of the ocean. All rooms at The Savoy are suites, of which the hotel has 31.

Best hotels near the Miami Airport

If you’re flying to Miami and arriving late the night before your cruise departs, we recommend staying near the airport. You’ll likely be tired after a long flight and hotels near the airport tend to be more affordable than those downtown or in South Beach.

Luckily there are many hotel options near the airport. Here are our top recommendations:

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Miami Airport East

Average nightly price: $165 to $280

Address: 2601 NW 42nd Ave, Miami, FL 33142

The Holiday Inn Express & Suites Miami Airport East offers a comfortable place to stay before your cruise begins. With modern decor and both standard rooms and suites, it’s hard to go wrong with the Holiday Inn.

Breakfast is included in the nightly price. Additional amenities include a pool and fitness center.

Residence Inn by Marriott Miami Airport

Average nightly price: $300 to $430

Address: 1201 NW 42nd Ave, Miami, FL 33126

The Residence Inn Miami Airport is an all-suite hotel located just a seven minute drive from the airport. Studio, 1 Bedroom, and 2 Bedroom suites are available, so this hotel is a nice option for families.

Amenities at the Residence Inn include complimentary breakfast, airport shuttle service, pools, and a fitness center. 

Aloft Miami Airport

Average nightly price: $230 to $350

Address: 7220 NW 36th St, Miami, FL 33166

Aloft hotels are known for their modern design and social atmosphere, and the Aloft Miami Airport hotel is a great choice for spending the night near the airport before your cruise.

The Aloft Miami Airport does not have suites, but has guest rooms with either two queen beds or one king bed. The hotel features an on-site restaurant, bar, fitness center, outdoor pool, convenience store, meeting space, and other amenities.

More cruise planning tips & tricks:

Royal Caribbean signs deal to build new cruise terminal in Miami in new deal with port

15 Nov 2022

Royal Caribbean signed a new deal with PortMiami to expand its operations there, which include more passengers and a new terminal.

Symphony of the Seas in PortMiami aerial

The 50-year deal was signed on Tuesday for a cost of $2.8 billion that encompasses a development and lease agreement.

There's plenty in this deal, but cruisers will find it most interesting that construction of a new Terminal G is included, which will be for exclusive use by Royal Caribbean and its subsidiary companies, including Celebrity Cruises, and its lease there for 36 years.

Terminal G is one of the older cruise terminals in Miami, and usually used by Royal Caribbean on days when Terminal A is occupied.

Cruise ship docked in Miami

Terminal A is the brand new cruise terminal Royal Caribbean opened in 2018 that serves as its primary cruise terminal. When there is more than one Royal Caribbean ship in port, they will use other terminals, such as Terminal G.

In addition to Terminal G, Royal Caribbean will be able to share another terminal with MSC Cruises. That terminal will be complete in October 2028.

Credit to Florida Politics for reporting on this deal first.

Re-starting new headquarters construction

Also part of the deal is for construction to resume on Royal Caribbean's new global headquarters.

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

Royal Caribbean headquarters rendering

Unfortunately work halted due to the global health crisis, but the new arrangement with Miami-Dade has provisions for the continued redevelopment of Royal Caribbean’s global headquarters.

There's also an extension to its lease there through at least 2072.

New agreement benefits both parties

Prior to today's announcement, Royal Caribbean Group's deal was set to expire in 2033.  Under the new deal, Miami-Dade county will see an additional $2.5 billion from Terminal G usage and $260 million from the headquarters lease.

Under the new arrangement, Miami-Dade will finance completion of Royal Caribbean’s headquarters and Terminal G’s construction. In return, Royal Caribbean will guarantee passengers totals ranging from 600,000 annual passenger movements during the reconstruction of Terminal G to 1.5 million yearly passenger movements once it reaches “substantial completion,” estimated to be in 2027.

It will also create 12,000 permanent, cruise-related jobs, including roughly 1,000 additional positions with Royal Caribbean.

Royal Caribbean said the jobs will pay average salaries of more than $100,000. The company also anticipates needing 9,634 construction jobs for the project.

Shore power

Royal Caribbean will utilize shore power as part of its deal in the new terminal.

All the major cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean, agreed in 2021 to bring shore power to cruise ships in PortMiami.

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.

Guide to cruises from Miami

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


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!

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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