Top Cruise Developments at Florida Ports

Port Canaveral upgrades will include a new parking garage, revamped embarking/debarking areas, new gangways, pier extension and other updates for cruise travelers.
Port Canaveral upgrades will include a new parking garage, revamped embarking/debarking areas, new gangways, pier extension and other updates for cruise travelers.

Agents with cruisers who love to sail from PortMiami in south Florida and Port Canaveral in central Florida have many new sales opportunities this winter and throughout 2016. Here’s a sampling of what’s new at PortMiami, the world’s largest cruise port, and Port Canaveral, the gateway to Orlando’s theme park and Space Coast attractions and beaches.

In November, Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ship, the 4,200-passenger Norwegian Escape, will begin sailing seven-day eastern Caribbean cruises year-round from PortMiami. It’s the largest ever home-ported ship to sail from Miami. Cruises will depart every Saturday and visit St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; Tortola, British Virgin Islands; and Nassau, The Bahamas.

The 164,600-grt (gross registered tonnage) ship was floated out of Germany’s Meyer Werft in August. Following inaugural events in Europe and Miami, Norwegian Escape will sail seven-day Eastern Caribbean cruises departing every Saturday from Miami beginning on November 14. As the first of the line’s Breakaway-Plus Class, Norwegian Escape is 1,098 feet in length and 136 feet wide. Its hull features signature artwork by marine wildlife artist and conservationist Guy Harvey.

The new ship boasts many “firsts” including the first Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville restaurant at sea and Norwegian’s first dedicated nursery for young cruisers under the age of two. It will also feature the largest waterpark at sea with the new Aqua Racer slide, as well as the largest ropes course at sea. The ship also features the popular, ship-within-a-ship Haven complex, along with Studios, designed and priced for solo travelers.

Also continuing year-round at Miami are the short cruise product on the 2,004-passenger Norwegian Sky, offering three- and four-day cruises, and the 4,000-passenger Norwegian Getaway, sailing Eastern Caribbean itineraries through November 14 and then switching to year-round western Caribbean. Starting in April 2016, the ship will begin calls at Harvest Caye, Norwegian’s new island destination in Belize. 

The 3,690-passenger Carnival Breeze is one of five ships sailing from PortMiami this winter season.
The 3,690-passenger Carnival Breeze is one of five ships sailing from PortMiami this winter season.

Carnival Cruise Lines has five ships sailing from PortMiami this winter season including the 3,006-passenger Carnival Splendor sailing week-long Caribbean cruises, plus Carnival Ecstasy, which operates three-day Bahamas and four-day Key West/Cozumel cruises and Carnival Victory which offers four- and five-day western Caribbean voyages. Operating six- and eight-day Caribbean voyages is the 3,690-passenger Carnival Breeze. Year-round, the 2,974-passenger Carnival Glory sails seven-day eastern and western Caribbean cruises from PortMiami.

Miami Cruise Month returns in January 2016, as the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau and its partners set up promotions that include hotel stays, attraction visits, pre- and post-cruise heritage tours and more. In total, PortMiami says a total of 18 different brands with 39 ships now sail from the port, so clients have many other choices too — from Oceania Cruises to Celebrity Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises, MSC Cruises, Disney Cruise Line and others.

A suite in the 4,000-passenger Norwegian Getaway
A suite in the 4,000-passenger Norwegian Getaway

If your clients want a bit more time to save for their cruise vacation, much is happening at PortMiami in winter 2016-17 and beyond as well. In late 2016, PortMiami will become the homeport for Carnival Cruise Line’s largest ship, Carnival Vista; it will sail European voyages for summer 2016 before arriving in fall at PortMiami to begin year-round cruising. This 133,500-ton ship has plenty of new onboard features including SkyRide, the line’s first onboard brewery and the first IMAX Theater on a cruise ship. New stateroom options will include Family Harbor accommodations and Havana staterooms and suites.

Carnival Corp.’s new “fathom” brand will initiate voluntourism cruises to the Dominican Republic and Cuba from PortMiami starting in spring 2016. In 2016-17, Royal Caribbean International’s Enchantment of the Seas will sail year-round from PortMiami while Navigator of the Seas will alternate five-night and nine-night cruises.

In addition, MSC Cruises plans to home port its new MSC Seaside year-round at PortMiami starting in December 2017. That’s the first of the line’s new Seaside-class and represents another step in MSC’s plan to foster a stronger North American presence. Cruisers will discover a waterfront promenade with public spaces, shops and restaurants, an enhanced MSC Yacht Club, panoramic elevators with sea views and other high-tech advancements. An interactive Aqua Park will span two decks and be the first at sea with “slideboarding” technology, which combines a slide and interactive game.

Port Canaveral

For clients seeking Orlando and Space Coast fun in the sun, Port Canaveral along Florida’s Atlantic Coast continues to expand. Rosalind Harvey, the port’s senior director of communications and community affairs, tells us that during the port’s August commission meeting, upgrades were approved for Cruise Terminals 5 and 10 so those facilities can accommodate larger ships. What does that entail? The upgrades will include a new parking garage, revamped embarking/debarking areas, new gangways, pier extension and other updates for cruise travelers. 

The first phase of Port Canaveral’s Cove project is also under way and will include a 60,000-square-foot retail and restaurant development on 14 acres. The Cove will connect the Exploration Tower, the port’s seven-story 23,000-square-foot, $23 million visitor and community facility, and the new Cruise Terminal 1 Plaza, which hosts retail and entertainment venues for cruise passengers and port visitors.

Broad sidewalks, outdoor seating and tropical plantings will shape the walking experience of a retail promenade. Harvey said the developer is currently lining up retail stores and restaurants. A workshop on the Cove project was held recently.

Ship-wise, what’s new this coming winter season and in 2016 at Port Canaveral? Carnival Victory arrives as a new year-round ship, starting on February 25, while Carnival Magic will also become a new year-round ship on April 20. Seasonally, Disney Magic will become Disney Cruise Line’s third homeported ship; Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream are both year-round vessels.

On May 25, 2016, Royal Caribbean International’s Majesty of the Seas will become a new year-round ship. Clients who love big ships will likely appreciate knowing that Royal Caribbean’s hugely popular, Oasis of the Seas, with Central Park and Boardwalk neighborhoods, an AquaTheater, surf pools, zip lining and a lot more, will begin sailing year-round from Port Canaveral on November 5, 2016. Next year, Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas also will take over three- and four-night Bahamas cruises from Enchantment of the Seas.

The Central Park neighborhood on the Oasis of the Seas. The ship will begin sailing year-round from Port Canaveral on November 5, 2016.
The Central Park neighborhood on the Oasis of the Seas. The ship will begin sailing year-round from Port Canaveral on November 5, 2016.

In addition, on November 21 of this year, Norwegian Spirit becomes a new winter season ship sailing from Port Canaveral. In November 2016, it will be replaced by Norwegian Epic, another mega-ship that will sail from the port during the winter 2016-17 season, offering seven-day eastern and western Caribbean itineraries, as well as three- and four-day cruises to the Bahamas.

Much is yet to come in Florida cruising. Most notably, Richard Branson’s new Virgin Cruises will begin sailing from PortMiami in 2020.

More Florida Port Updates

Port Everglades invested nearly $200,000 earlier this year to upgrade Wi-Fi in each of its nine cruise terminals so guests have speedy Internet access — perfect when clients desire to send a selfie to friends while boarding their cruise ship. Ship-wise, in November 2016, Royal Caribbean’s newest Oasis-class cruise ship, Harmony of the Seas, will replace Oasis of the Seas at Port Everglades and sail seven-night eastern and western Caribbean itineraries. In addition, Holland America Line’s new Koningsdam will sail from Port Everglades on 10- and 11-day cruises starting in November 2016.

Holland America Line’s new Koningsdam will begin sailing from Port Everglades November 2016.
Holland America Line’s new Koningsdam will begin sailing from Port Everglades November 2016.

JAXPORT, the cruise port at Jacksonville, FL, now allows cruisers to pay for their parking online in advance. JAXPORT is a strong drive-market cruise port. The port has lighted, fenced, security-monitored parking that’s close to the cruise terminal facility. Parking cost is $15 per day per passenger vehicle, or $30 per day for oversized recreational vehicles. Cruisers can still pay with cash or major credit cards on site, but now those who prefer to do so may pay conveniently in advance online at jaxport.clickandpark.com

Carnival Cruise Line’s 2,124-passenger Carnival Pride will return to the Port of Tampa to operate a series of seven-day cruises departing January 15, 22 and 29, and February 19, 2017, visiting Cozumel, Mexico; Belize City, Belize; Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan; and George Town, Grand Cayman. Carnival Pride will also offer a five-day cruise round-trip from Tampa, February 14-19, 2017, calling at Grand Cayman and Cozumel. A 14-day Carnival Journeys voyage will depart Tampa February 26, visiting Cozumel, Limon, Colon, Aruba, Bonaire, and St. Maarten before arriving in Baltimore on March 12, 2017. Following this voyage, Carnival Pride will resume its year-round schedule of seven-day cruises from Baltimore beginning March 12, 2017.

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