The ports from which the most cruise ships leave are Fort Lauderdale and Miami, both in Florida. You’ll pretty much cruise the Bahamas or the Caribbean from them, however, there are times you will go along the Eastern US coast, the Panama Canal (to California), or even across the Atlantic.
But are they the best ports for you?
I’ve been to the ports at Port Canaveral (fly into Orlando, FL, for this one), Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades), Miami, and Galveston, TX. Which do I like the best? Galveston!
While it may not be the best looking port, nor the most comfortable, it is closest to my home. Driving to this port takes less time than flying and catching transportation from the airport. I factor in from the time I leave my home, to get to the airport, until I get to either the port or hotel (if I’m going in the day before – which, by the way, is a good idea). Driving is also less expensive, and we can visit our daughter who lives near Galveston.
But which port is best for you?
If you have a specific itinerary you want, your choice could be limited. If you want to cruise with a particular cruise line or on a specific ship, again, there are limitations.
However, if you just want to get on a ship, well, then choose your favorite port.
Galveston has two cruise lines there year round: Carnival and Royal Caribbean. Disney also leaves from there seasonally, but they are getting ready to move to New Orleans.
Choosing one close to you, within a day’s drive, can help financially, or allow you to spend more for a better stateroom. The more people you have riding in the car, the more you save!
Be sure to arrive at least one day before. You will need to factor in the cost of the hotel, but that will give you peace of mind in being close to the port so you don’t miss your ship.
You will also need to decide if you want to park at the port or leave your car at the hotel. Parking at the port can cost a pretty penny, but it will usually be the quickest way to your car when you get off the ship.
Many hotels near the ports have specials that will allow you to park your car at the hotel while you are on the ship. The hotel will even take you to the port and pick you up when you return.
If you must fly, be sure to again arrive at least the day before. This gives you buffer in case your flight is cancelled or you are bumped from your flight. You want to be sure you get on the ship!