Florida’s Forgotten Cruise Ports

 In 3 Questions Answered About 3 Top Florida Cruise Ports, we have information about the three top cruise ports in the world; Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Port Canaveral. Commonly asked by both first-time and experienced cruise travelers, how to get to the port and, if coming in town prior to sailing or lingering a bit after, where to stay. But there are other cruise ports in Florida and while they may not rank very high on a worldwide list, they have their advantages.

If avoiding massive crowds and enjoying every part of your cruise vacations are important, the ports of Tampa and Jacksonville should be on your list of places from which to sail. Unlike their big sister Florida ports, already mentioned, both Tampa and Jacksonville move far fewer passengers off and on their homeported ships.

In a south Florida port, turnaround day sees tens of thousands of passengers getting off and on ships during turnaround day. That’s one good reason to consider Tampa or Jacksonville, two of Florida’s forgotten cruise ports.

Port of Tampa

Located on Florida’s west coast, Tampa is closer to Central and South America. Of particular interest here is that short sailings to Mexico from Tampa get more time in port, staying until 8PM or later.

Tampa also homeports four vessels from three cruise lines: Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines that sail a variety of 4, 5, 7, and 14-day cruise itineraries.

Stay, Park and Cruise fans will like the Hampton Inn Tampa/Rocky Point or the Intercontinental Hotel Tampaas best budget/luxury hotel options.

Port of Jacksonville
Moving over to the east coast of Florida, Jacksonville (aka JAXPORT) has been a big cargo shipping port for decades. Here, there are fewer choices for cruise travelers with just one ship. 2,052-passengerCarnival Fascination sailsto The Bahamas and Key West on four-day and five-day cruises from Jacksonville.

Stay, Park and Cruise fans will like the Hampton Inn here too. The Hyatt Regency Jacksonville is also a good choice.

But there is one other cruise port in Florida, one we don’t hear all that much about.

The Port Of Palm Beachhas been trying to attract small cruise ships for quite some time with limited success. Celebration Cruise Line is the port’s one regularly sailing line, operating 2-night sailings to the Bahamas.

An interesting advantage with this option is that total vacation time can be 2- to 14-days by combining the Celebration cruise with assorted land packages in the Bahamas. But this is typical of small ports, perhaps not in the best location; they make up for their shortcomings with some unique features all their own.

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