The cruise ship industry contributes enormously to a nation’s economy by boosting the tourism sector and generating millions of jobs. Cruising has become a way to get off the hectic mundane life and enjoy some days of calm at sea.
With the advancements in maritime technologies, modern cruise ports are being built to accommodate the biggest cruise ships endowed with state-of-the-art facilities.
In this article, let us have a look at the 10 largest cruise ports in the world and their awe-inspiring characteristics.
1. Port of Miami
Known for its pristine beaches, bayside markets and vibrant nightlife, Miami is the Cruise Capital of the World and welcomes the biggest passenger ships on its nine modern cruise terminals. In 2020, the port received 3.4 million travellers and around 35 ships. It is situated on the Dodge island near the Bay of Biscayne in the Atlantic Ocean and is just a short drive from the International airport of Miami.
The terminal infrastructure is excellent and inclusive; it has ramps for differently-abled people, a car-parking facility for those arriving via roads, air-conditioned lounges, taxis and shuttle services.
The port terminals are named alphabetically and operated by a cruise line. For instance, Terminal A is operated by Royal Caribbean International. It is the biggest passenger terminal in the United States covering 170,000 square feet and handles 2.5 million passengers each year. Terminal J is jointly operated by Oceania and the Regent Seven Seas and receives only luxury cruise liners. It is currently undergoing expansion and renovation to construct additional restrooms and escalators.
Miami port is also one of the biggest container ports in the US, popularly known as the Cargo Gateway of the Americas. It has trade connections with 100 nations and 250 ports across the globe, including countries of the Far East, Europe, the Caribbean and Asia. It has specialised wharves for dealing with general cargo, RORO and breakbulk and its annual cargo tonnage is around 7.42 million tonnes.
2. Port of Canaveral
The Global Traveller Magazine declared Canaveral as the World’s Best Cruise Port in 2019. It is the second busiest passenger port in the world comprising seven cruise terminals, out of which three are undergoing expansion. More than 5 million people visit the port every year contributing 80% to its total revenue earnings. It is also the first LNG cruise facility in the Americas. Renowned cruise lines such as the Disney Cruise Line and Carnival operate at the port.
Canaveral port has a Cove which is a recreational area housing restaurants, hotels, lounges, souvenir shops, casinos and much more. Most cafes offer outdoor seating allowing tourists to watch the beautiful waterfront. After sunset, the promenade along the harbour is lined with street-side musicians, DJs and performers. Tourists can also enjoy camping and fishing at the Jetty Park, a popular beach or visit the theme parks in Orlando including the famous Kennedy Space Centre.
It is also a major commercial port that serves Central Florida and handles more than 6 million tonnes of dry cargo, liquid bulk, break-bulk, project cargo and container goods. It has numerous specialised terminals, an automated facility, inland warehouses and a logistics department.
Positioned strategically, the port is close to major consumer markets and also houses facilities of the US Armed forces.
3. Port Everglades
Everglades port is situated amidst Broward County, two miles from the international airport in Florida. It has three entrances and is close to Fort Lauderdale and Dania beach. Other popular attractions include the Sawgrass recreation park, the Florida Everglade holiday park and the Billie Swamp Safari.
It received more than 3 million passengers in 2020 and set a world record on 1st December 2019 by receiving 55,964 passengers in a single day. The Porthole Cruise Magazine named it the Best domestic port of 2016.
Presently, Everdale consists of eight modern cruise terminals welcoming ships from prominent cruise lines like the Viking ocean cruises, Silversea cruises and Balearia Caribbean. The fully air-conditioned terminals offer free wifi, restrooms and a huge seating area with a cafeteria, a shopping centre and a few exhibition halls. Interestingly, the terminals showcase the artwork of emerging painters as well as renowned artists like Dale Chihuly, as part of the Public art and Design Programme.
It is also the leading container port in Florida and the 12th busiest container facility in the United States handling all types of cargo. Approximately 3000 vessels move 25 million tonnes of cargo through the port each year. It serves more than 145 ports and 70 nations in Europe, the Middle East and the Far East, the Caribbean and the Americas.
4. Port of Cozumel (San Miguel de Cozumel)
Cozumel is a beautiful cruise port lying in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. More than 2 million tourists visit the port annually to enjoy its sunny weather and indulge in water sports like sailing, scuba-diving etc. The port lies on Cozumel island which is home to 100,000 people, most of them employed in the island’s tourism sector.
Ships from Cozumel regularly leave for Cancun, known for its archaeological sites belonging to the Mayan civilisation. The island is surrounded by many coral reefs and lined with beaches like the paradise beach and the Sanchos resort which has an aqua park, swimming pools, trampolines and other fun-filled activities.
Another famous tourist attraction is the Chankanaab eco-park where people can swim with dolphins, go on short treks with groups, and try snorkelling and cliff jumping. Close to the park are the Pearl farm and the Cozumel museum.
Cozumel cruise port has three terminals lying on the western part of the island. Punta Langosta Pier receives yachts and smaller cruise ships. The largest ships are received at the International terminal while the Puerto Maya terminal built by Carnival Corporation boasts the most modern and luxurious facilities. It has several shops selling watches, shoes and clothes of the world’s top brands and houses internationally famous food chains and fine-dine restaurants.
5. Port of Nassau
Nassau port is situated on New Providence Island near the coast of Florida. The main seaport of the Bahamas, it handles approximately 3 million passengers annually. Two miles from the cruise port is the most visited Paradise island which has the Atlantis resort.
Downtown Nassau has many cafes, bookstores and old buildings. Bay Street is a shopping hub filled with stores selling bead jewellery, ceramics, colourful dresses, hats and much more. People can visit the National Art Gallery and the Pompey Museum to familiarise themselves with the town’s rich history. Kids would enjoy a visit to the Nassau zoo, Adastra gardens and the Science Centre.
The Nassau Cruise port is being transformed into one of the most breathtaking waterfronts in the world due to the implementation of a 300 million dollar renovation project. The Prince George Wharf will be expanded to solve the problem of congestion near the terminal area and an additional berth would be constructed for accommodating four Oasis-class ships at once. Also, a new terminal building, entertainment area, an amphitheatre and coral exhibits would adorn the port in the coming years.
6. Port of Shanghai
The Shanghai port in China is famous for being the busiest in the world however it also boasts the world’s sixth-largest cruise terminal capable of handling more than 1.5 million passengers annually. Located at the mouth of the river Yangtze, the port lies in the centre of the 18,000-kilometre long coastline.
The Shanghai Cruise port houses three cruise terminals. The Wusongkou Cruise terminal lies in the Paotaiwan Bay and can easily accommodate three big cruise ships weighing between 100,000 to 150,000 tonnes. It covers more than 100 hectares of the land area including terminal buildings, offices, shopping centres etc.
Shanghai International Terminal situated on the river Huangpu has an 890-metre waterfront area and covers 42 hectares. Three passenger ships weighing around 70,000 to 80,000 tonnes can be berthed simultaneously at this terminal.
The Waigaoqiao Terminal is located in the Pudong area and can receive the world’s biggest cruise liners. It has a water depth of 12.5 metres and a 990 m long waterfront area. The facility can receive four cruise ships carrying more than 5000 passengers.
7. Port of Barcelona
Barcelona is the third biggest container port in Spain which handled 3.42 million TEUs in 2018. It connects the hinterland and Northern Spain with the Mediterranean region and has shipping connections with the Far East, North Africa, the Middle East, the Mediterranean and the Americas. It is also a principal cruise port of Europe having numerous marinas and ferry terminals.
There are seven cruise terminals located near Barcelona’s La Rambla, a shopping centre in the heart of the city. Four terminals are located at the Adossat Quay and the remaining three known as the North, South and East terminals are near the World Trade Centre pier. Ferries plying between the Balearic Islands and Barcelona are received at the Saint Bertrand Terminal.
The cruise port area of Barcelona port houses clubs, bars, multiplex cinemas and the biggest aquarium in Europe. People can also book Golondrinas or small ships for touring the area.
8. Port of Civitavecchia
Civitavecchia is the cruise port of Rome, the capital city of Italy. It is the second busiest passenger port in Europe and one of the largest ports in the Mediterranean region. Around 2200 ferries and over 80 cruise ships carrying more than 2.5 million tourists are received at the port each year. It has 15 wharves divided among 8 cruise terminals with their own parking spaces. Ships enter the port from the Adriatic Sea after passing through the Giudecca canal.
A new cruise terminal was completed in 2018 covering 11,000 m2 of land area. Known as the Amerigo Vespucci Cruise Terminal, it is owned by Costa, Royal Caribbean and the Mediterranean Shipping Company. It contains two terminal buildings, a 500 m2 waiting area and a cafeteria.
The city is famous for its architecture dating back to the Renaissance period. Tourists can visit the Colosseum, the Sistine Chapel, the fountain of Benedict and Fort Michelangelo, named after one of the finest Italian sculptors. The city also has a yellow sand beach just a few miles from the cruise port which is perfect for sunbathing, relaxing and swimming.
9. Port of The Balearic Islands (Palma de Mallorca)
A chain of islands flaunting a perfect mix of the Mediterranean and the Spanish culture lie in the Balearic sea close to the Iberian Peninsula. Known as the Balearic islands, they are famous tourist destinations popular for their scenic beauty, extravagant resorts, theme parks and rich cuisine. The Port of Palma is an amalgamation of tradition and technology and receives more than 1.5 million tourists annually.
Palma is the largest of the five island ports and lies in the centre of the city, near the Old town. The port has a long promenade and is divided into four operational areas; the commercial quays that handle cargo traffic, the Poniente wharves, the marina berths and the western breakwater.
The Poniente wharves host popular Mediterranean regattas such as the King’s Cup and also support recreational sailing. The marina berths receive cruise ships and superyachts. The western wharves are dedicated to commercial fishing.
10. Port of Galveston
Covering 840 acres, Galveston is the fourth busiest passenger port in North America. It was opened in the early 18th century as an important industrial port. Today, it serves commercial shipping vessels and cruise ships. It has two modern cruise terminals with a water depth of 30 feet. They cover 221,000 sq ft and include 3 parking areas, ATMs, a post office, a help desk and free wifi.
A third one is being constructed and will become operational in 2023. One can visit the famous Texas Seaport Museum or visit the art galleries and theatres located near terminal 1. The second terminal has an expansive food court and a shopping centre.
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