PortMiami in Florida, US, is the busiest cruise port in the world, handling 5.6 million passengers with 1,185 ships docked in 2017.

In December 2018, the port also saw its largest amount of passengers handled in a single day. It is estimated that the port hosted 52,000 passengers on 9 December, with nine vessels from cruise lines such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Disney, and Norwegian docking at PortMiami.

The port is formally known as Dante B Fascell Port of Miami and handles more than seven million tonnes of cargo per annum. It facilitates the operations of cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian, as well as being the home port of the largest cruise ship by gross tonnage, Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas.

In 2018, MSC Cruises and Virgin Voyages announced plans to open a terminal each at PortMiami. MSC Cruises’ terminal is due to open in October 2022 and will house its new World Class cruise ships. Meanwhile, Virgin Voyages’ terminal is scheduled to open in November 2021, having invested approximately $150m.

Port Canaveral

Port Canaveral in Brevard County, 45 miles east of Orlando, Florida, had 4.5 million cruise passengers in the 2017 fiscal year, making it the second busiest in the world.

The port is also a key logistics hub, handling approximately 5.4 million tonnes of cargo a year, including salt, vehicles, petroleum, and containers. On average, ten ships dock at the port every day, including vessels from cruise lines Carnival, Disney, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian.

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The port’s Terminal 1 facility opened in December 2014 to facilitate Royal Caribbean’s new Oasis-class ships. In 2015, the port became home to the Oasis of the Seas, which was one of the largest cruise ships in the world at the time.

Port Canaveral offers a variety of tourist attractions such as dining, beaches, excursions and the Exploration Tower landmark. The port is one of the biggest Foreign Trade Zones (FTZ) in the US at more than five square miles, offering a number of benefits for trade customers using the port to import goods.


The Mexican island of Cozumel saw 4.1 million cruise passengers in 2017, outranking Port Everglades for the first time. It had 1,240 cruise ship calls in the same year, which is 55 more than PortMiami. The island is located east of the Yucatán Peninsula.

There are three cruise ship piers on the island, Punta Langosta, the International Pier and Puerta Maya. Cruise lines that operate services to the island include Celebrity Cruises, Costa Cruises, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Royal Caribbean.

Puerta Maya was built by Carnival Cruises and is served exclusively by the operator. It is the port’s southern-most pier, located further down from the International Pier. Puerta Maya features a variety of modern facilities due to the fact that it is positioned further from the island’s main town San Miguel than the other piers.

Terminals are equipped with modern facilities, including duty-free shopping and other attractions inspired by Mayan culture. San Miguel offers a range of activities aimed at tourists, but visitors can easily access the whole island, which features remote beaches, snorkelling and diving in the coral reef, as well as preserved Mayan ruins.

Port Everglades

Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, South Florida, served more than 3.8 million cruise passengers in 2017.

In 2017, 846 vessels docked at Port Everglades, which features nine terminals and is home to ten cruise lines, including Princess, Holland America, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean and Carnival. Peak travel season at the port is between November and April, although ships sail all year round.

“Port Everglades was the first home of Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas in 2009, as well as its sister ship Allure of the Seas in 2010.”

In addition to being the fourth-busiest cruise port in the world, it is one of the busiest in the US in terms of cargo handled. More than one million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) are moved at the port each year. In 2017, the facility surpassed PortMiami by approximately 50,000 TEUs.

The port was the temporary home of the RMS Queen Elizabeth when the vessel was turned into a museum from 1968 to 1970 after it ended services. RMS Queen Mary 2 docked at Port Everglades following its maiden voyage in 2004.

Port Everglades was the first home of Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas in 2009, as well as its sister ship Allure of the Seas in 2010. Both vessels were the largest in the world at the time.

Prince George Wharf

Prince George Wharf is the main cruise port in Nassau on the island of New Providence in the Bahamas. It served approximately 3.6 million passengers in 2017, with a total of 796 cruise ships docking.

The port is designed to facilitate up to seven cruise ships, with a total capacity of 12,000 passengers at any one time. It is situated between New Providence and Paradise Island, with its main tourist destination Atlantis resort located a short boat ride away.

In December last year, the Government of the Bahamas launched a request for proposals for a new operator that will develop the port.

The government opened bidding for a new operator for the port after it received a proposal from Global Ports Holding to enhance the facility and its surrounding area for increased tourism, which is the main source of income for the Bahamas’ economy. This month, Global Ports Holding was awarded the contract.

Port of Shanghai

The three cruise port terminals in Shanghai, China, namely Wusongkou, Shanghai Port, and Waigaoqiao, handled 2.8 million passengers in 2016.

The Shanghai Port International Cruise Terminal was designed to facilitate one million passengers a year and is located north of the Bund in Hongkou District. It cannot accommodate ships larger than 87,000t due to a low bridge over the river to the city, so large cruise vessels use Wusongkou or Waigaoqiao ports.

Wusongkou port is also known as Baoshan Cruise Terminal due to its location in Baoshan District. It handles most of the large cruise ships arriving at Shanghai with its 774m-long dock. It can handle two large cruise vessels, each weighing up to 200,000t.

The third port, Waigauqiao, is rarely used for cruise ships these days. Shanghai’s Yangshan Deep Water Port near Hangzhou Bay is known as the busiest container port in the world, handling more than 40 million TEUs in 2017.

Port of Barcelona

Port of Barcelona in Spain has seven cruise terminals, which saw 2.7 million passengers in 2017 from a total of 778 ships.

The Port Vell harbour is a famous tourist attraction at the Port of Barcelona and has a dock for large vessels, but cruise ships do not normally dock there. Cruise ships can dock at four terminals at the Adossat Wharf or the three terminals near the World Trade Centre pier.

Terminals A and B at Adossat Wharf both cover 6,500km² with two areas each. Terminal C features a passenger embarkation system, a communications building, as well as a mobile and fixed gangway. Also known as Palacruceros, Terminal D is the largest, with two floors spanning 10,000km².

The North, East and South terminals at the World Trade Centre pier are designed for smaller cruise ships and are closest to Barcelona’s La Rambla street in the gothic quarter. Sant Bertrand Terminal near the World Trade Centre offers ferry services to the Balearic Islands.

Out Islands

The Out Islands of the Bahamas handled more than 2.6 million passengers in 2017 across the main public ports of entry on the islands of The Abacos, Andros, Bimini, Eleuthera, The Exumas, and Long Island.

There are approximately 26 ports of entry on the six islands mentioned but cruise ships mainly use tender boats. Cruise ships anchor near destinations such as Princess Cays on Eleuthera or Dunmore Town on Harbour Island and visitors travel to the island on tender boats.

“Norwegian Cruise Lines was one of the first operators to buy an island, making Great Stirrup Bay its private resort in 1977.”

The Out Islands includes all of the islands in the Bahamas excluding New Providence and the Grand Bahama and comprises more than 700 islands, but only 14 of them are inhabited. Several cruise lines have bought some of the small islands and have turned them into private resorts.

Many cruise passengers are transported on tender boats to the private islands. Only one of the private islands, Disney Cruise Line’s Castaway Cay, has the facilities for large vessels to dock. The operator has recently announced controversial plans to buy land on Eleuthera in order to build a new port.

Norwegian Cruise Lines was one of the first operators to buy an island, making Great Stirrup Bay its private resort in 1977.

Port of Civitavecchia

Port of Civitavecchia in Italy is also known as the Port of Rome and witnessed 2.2 million cruise passengers in 2017.

The new Terminal Amerigo Vespucci was opened in May 2018 as a dedicated cruise ship terminal. A shuttle bus service operates at the harbour to transport passengers along the cruise terminal, which has a length of 2,000m for cruise ships to berth. The port’s 170m-long Dock 25 located landside opposite the terminal is also available for cruise ships.

Largo della Pace is the main information and transit hub for the port, offering shuttle services to various cruise terminals and to the town centre, as well as a comprehensive information point for tourists.

The port is also a popular ferry transport hub, with the Autostrade Del Mare (ADM) terminal offering regular services to the Italian islands of Sardinia and Sicily, as well as Spain and Tunis, in addition to other destinations that vary from year to year.

The town of Civitavecchia is located approximately 80km north-west of Rome and passengers can board a 45-minute train from the town’s main station to get to the capital city.

Balearic Islands

Across the four Balearic Islands off the coast of Spain, five cruise ports handled 2.1 million passengers in 2017.

The port of Palma in south-west Mallorca is one of the biggest operated by the Port Authority of the Balearic Islands, with cruise ships berthing at Estacion Maritima’s quays. The facilities were expanded in 2015 to accommodate the Allure of the Seas vessel, which was the largest cruise ship in the world at the time.

The port of Alcudia on the northern coast of Mallorca is mainly used by commercial and small vessels, but the newly extended Poniente Quay has been designed to handle smaller passenger cruise ships.

Port d’Eivissa is on the island of Ibiza and started handling cruise ships following the expansion of Botafoc breakwater on the eastern side of the port. Mahon port on the island of Menorca has a 6km bay with the capacity for up to three cruise ships to berth near Mahon town centre.

La Savina port on the smallest island of Formentera is not used by cruise ships but features a passenger terminal for smaller vessels.