What's New at Florida Ports

Carnival, Disney and Royal Caribbean are among the lines with ships home-ported at Port Canaveral in 2015.
Carnival, Disney and Royal Caribbean are among the lines with ships home-ported at Port Canaveral in 2015.

Cruisers love sailing from close-to-home ports, and during the first quarter of the year, many clients head for Florida. As Wave Season is in full swing, we thought it a good idea to check out what’s new in north Florida (JAXPORT), central Florida (Port of Tampa and Port Canaveral) and south Florida (Port Everglades and PortMiami). We’ll also take a look at developments in other U.S. ports and beyond.

JAXPORT, Jacksonville, FL: In May, the port and Carnival Cruise Lines reached an agreement to extend the Carnival contract for one year, with an additional one-year option. So Carnival Fascination continues to sail from the JAXPORT Cruise Terminal in North Jacksonville to Key West and the Bahamas on four- and five-day cruises.

More than 1.6 million passengers have sailed from Jacksonville during its first decade of cruising. JAXPORT attracts many drive-market cruisers and a survey of past passengers revealed that 95 percent would choose the port for their next cruise departure. Visit www.jaxport.com.

MSC Divina recently began its second winter sailing out of Miami. Pictured: Balcony stateroom
MSC Divina recently began its second winter sailing out of Miami. Pictured: Balcony stateroom

Port Canaveral, FL: New this winter, Royal Caribbean International home ports Explorer of the Seas here, offering guests a new nine-night itinerary featuring Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao and Haiti. Freedom of the Seas and Enchantment of the Seas also are home-ported at the central Florida port. Quantum of the Seas also will make nine calls this winter season, while Anthem of the Seas will make eight port calls in 2015-2016.

Expanding service earlier this year, Carnival Cruise Lines now serves 600,000 guests annually from Port Canaveral; it has three home-ported ships including the newly updated Carnival Liberty; that ship will be replaced in March 2015 with Carnival Valor, which will operate five- to eight-day Bahamas and Caribbean sailings.

Disney Cruise Line also sails from the port with three ships and, for the first time since 2012, Norwegian Cruise Line is back with winter season Norwegian Spirit voyages.

Port Canaveral’s new Cruise Terminal One was completed this year. In 2015, the port plans everything from an onsite rental car pick-up/return to enhanced co-marketing to fill ships, improved pre- and post-cruise options and the start-up of the port hotel’s luxury brand. For more information about sailing from Port Canaveral along the Space Coast, visit www.portcanaveral.com.

Port Everglades, FL: This month, the port is celebrating a $24 million renovation at Terminal 4 that includes covered ground transportation drop-off and pick-up areas, 172 additional parking spaces, new interior check-in counters, improved lighting and new artwork.

Plus, there are new separate vehicle entrances for Terminal 2 and Terminal 4. In November, the port welcomed Princess Cruises’ newly launched Regal Princess as a new home-ported ship for the winter Caribbean season.

Next summer, Port Everglades will begin construction on an $18 million, 250-foot extension of Terminal 4’s adjacent pier to accommodate larger cruise ships. Completion is slated for 2016. Check out www.porteverglades.net.

PortMiami: In August, the port opened a new underground cargo tunnel connecting directly with I-395 and I-95, thus removing one million trucks every year from Miami streets and helping alleviate traffic for cruisers headed to the port’s seven cruise terminals.

Calling the tunnel a “remarkable feat,” Richard Fain, chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. said, “It upgrades the experience for our commuting employees and our guests.”

Also, a $3 million renovation at PortMiami’s Terminal J is benefitting guests sailing on Azamara Club Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises. Perks include new terminal furniture, more lounge seating, renovated restrooms, new check-in counters and exotic atrium landscaping. Visit www.miamidade.gov/portmiami.

Port of Tampa: In an expanded presence, Royal Caribbean is deploying two ships, Vision of the Seas and Brilliance of the Seas, simultaneously at Tampa during winter 2014-2015.

Carnival Cruise Lines’ Carnival Pride, fresh from a $75 million update with new Fun Ship 2.0 features, also home ports at Tampa this winter season, sailing seven-night voyages. It joins Carnival Paradise, which sails year-round short cruises.

Also home porting this winter are Holland America Line’s Ryndam and Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Sun, while German cruise line, AIDA, also has added Tampa as a new port call for two of its ships during winter 2015-2016. Visit www.tampaport.com.

A new $70 million cruise terminal for Royal Caribbean International opened last fall at Cape Liberty in Bayonne, NJ. It accommodates the new Quantum of the Seas, and then later will handle berthing for Anthem of the Seas. The new terminal includes a 36,000-square-foot check-in terminal, a 60,000-square-foot luggage area, a parking deck, additional parking and berth improvements. Visit www.cruiseliberty.com.

Princess Cruises’ newly launched Regal Princess is calling Port Everglades home this winter. Pictured is the ship’s secluded Sanctuary area.
Princess Cruises’ newly launched Regal Princess is calling Port Everglades home this winter. Pictured is the ship’s secluded Sanctuary area.

Norwegian Cruise Line and the Port of New Orleans inked a new four-year berthing agreement with three one-year options. That means at least one Norwegian cruise ship will sail seasonally from New Orleans through 2018 with the possibility of an extension through 2021. Norwegian Dawn just launched a winter season of sailings from New Orleans. Visit www.portno.com.

Global Port News

In late 2014, officials in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, approved construction of a new large sea lock in IJmuiden, enabling the new generation of energy-efficient, medium-sized oceangoing vessels including cruise ships to access the port. The lock will be “more tide independent,” meaning less wait time for ships. Construction is slated to begin in 2016 with the lock opening in 2019. Visit www.portofamsterdam.com.

Marina Bay Cruise Center Singapore just received $7 million in updates—designed to take passengers from ship to shore in just 15 minutes. The center now has a fourth passenger boarding bridge, two more X-ray machines to increase customs screening, doubling of luggage trolleys to 800, expansion of the Arrival Hall’s passenger waiting area, training for cab drivers and modifications to the taxi stand set-up to improve turnaround time, new terminal check-in counters and a luggage conveyor system that’s now capable of handling 1,200 bags per hour. Visit mbccs.com.sg.