Cruising from the Port of Miami - Orlando / Florida Guide
Florida Guide > Places to Visit
We first sailed from the Port of Miami over 8 years ago, when we arrived to embark on our first cruise, on board Enchantment of the Seas, a brand new Royal Caribbean ship in her inaugural season, and the thrill of driving across the bridge and seeing the funnels of our cruise liner ahead, in the distance, has never left us.
Since then, the Port of Miami has expanded hugely, but it still offers one of the most amazing vistas as your ship leaves the dock. The Port of Miami is located south of the beaches, and a long and wide waterway was constructed to enable large ships to enter and leave the port. At the end of this waterway there is a large circular area where many of these huge ships appear to turn on a sixpence, with the grace of a ballerina pirouetting on the spot – an amazing feat for a ship weighing in at up to 160,000 tons, and over 1,000 ft in length and 150ft in width!
In the last few years the emergence of the huge superliners of over 100,000 tons has necessitated the building of vast new terminals, in order to make embarkation and disembarkation as simple and as efficient as possible. Royal Caribbean's two huge and amazing new terminals dominate the port.
We normally fly in at least a day early if we are picking up a cruise in Miami, but if you are combining this with a holiday in Orlando, then make sure you arrive in good time. If you are held up for any reason the ship will simply sail without you. There can be no more heartbreaking start to your cruise vacation than the sight of it sailing into the sunset – without you!
We like to find a convenient hotel to overnight in, so that the next morning we feel refreshed and ready to go. We like to arrive at the port as early as possible, so that we can settle in and explore the ship. Whichever cruise line you decide on will send you pre-boarding information which will give you your embarkation time. This will normally be around midday, or a little later, and ships normally sail around 5.00 pm.
If we have no hire car to return, then we book a taxi to take us to the port - normally around $24, although some hotels offer free transport to the port. However, if you have a rental car to return then Dollar, and many other car hire companies, offer free shuttles from their depots to the port. Be prepared for a long wait, and for them to be crowded, and if you are unlucky, they will deliver passengers to many ships before you reach your destination, so allow plenty of time for this operation.
When you arrive at the Port of Miami there will be porters waiting to take your luggage. They will have airline type labels available for you to put on your suitcases, which will identify the deck your stateroom is on, and its number. We would advise you to add your own identifying label, too. Don't forget to tip - this very important - after all, the safe delivery of your luggage is in his hands, and you do not want to end up wearing the same clothes all cruise! However, they are usually very friendly and helpful.
Once you have left your luggage at the appropriate place on the dockside, you will be directed into the terminal building, and up the escalator to the check in desks, where you will have to present passports and all documentation, such as tickets or e-tickets. We had already done internet check in when we joined our last cruise on ‘Explorer of the Seas,’ so our check in was very quick, and our Charge Cards, which are also our stateroom key cards, were ready and waiting. Ships operate a no cash system so these cards are vital. They are also a requirement if you wish to disembark the ship at the various ports, as this card is scanned as you leave the ship and as you re-board, by the security personnel. In this way security can maintain an instant check on who is on board and who is on land. Do take care of these cards, and if you should lose them report them at once to the Guest Services Desk (once called the Purser’s Desk), as they could be used fraudulently to purchase items on board. You will not be allowed to leave or rejoin the ship at ports without it, nor will you be able to access your stateroom. As UK citizens we had to have our fingerprints and photos taken again, but this was quick and simple.
Following this, you will have your hand luggage, and personal effects scanned, and you will also walk through a scanner. Then, clutching your information leaflets, you are on your way. A short walk will lead you to the covered walkway, similar to an aeroplane gangway, which leads straight into the heart of the ship. The ship’s photographer will be standing, with camera at the ready, to capture this moment for you, and once on board it will be only a matter of hours before you will be able to view this photograph, and purchase your first souvenir of your vacation.
Now, you are all set for your cruise, just a few steps more and you will be standing on the deck of your cruise liner, excited, perhaps slightly overawed by its splendour, but eager to start this most exciting of holidays.
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