Cruise from Florida, New Orleans, or Charleston: Picking a Port in Southeastern US

Cruise from Florida to many amazing tropical destinations

Many people cruise from Florida and other southeastern cruise ports every year, making it one of the regions of the world best known for its cruises. This is in large part due to its proximity to the Caribbean, the Bahamas, and the various other regions that it can reach, like Canada, Europe, and South America. With so many cruise ports that you can depart from, it is important to know what the benefits of each port are, so we’ve got a rundown on each of the ports and what sets them apart from the rest. Not every cruise line sails at each port, so you will need to check if the cruise you want is available there before you book. This is something that you can figure out by talking to a travel agent or by using the search tool on the website.

Miami, Florida

Miami is one of the most well known southeast cruise ports

Miami is not just the one of the busiest of all Southeast cruise ports, it is also known internationally as the cruise capital of the world. It makes sense because it is positioned right on the tip of Florida, making it a great departure point for many destinations across the Atlantic, from Canada up in the north to the Caribbean and South America in the south, and even across the pond to Europe and Africa. Many cruise lines use this port, with many even having their own terminals, including Terminal A for Royal Caribbean, Terminal B for NCL, and Terminal V for Virgin Voyages. Miami is a great choice for a cruise from Florida thanks to its diverse choices, plus you get the benefit of enjoying the culture and attractions of the famous beach town before and after your cruise.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Ocean at beach with pier with buildings and water.

Being so close to Miami, Fort Lauderdale has many of the same benefits as a prospective departure point for a cruise from Florida. Their port, called Port Everglades, is a hub for Caribbean and transatlantic cruises and it serves many major and minor cruise lines, including Celebrity, Disney, Royal Caribbean, Cunard, and many more. The city of Fort Lauderdale is a hot tourist spot in its own right, with beautiful beaches and waterways, plus a vibrant nightlife and restaurant scene. This is everything you look for in a southeast cruise port.

Port Canaveral, Florida

beach with water and bridge with small buildings.

If you are going to take a cruise from Florida with the family, it only makes sense to combine your trip with a day or two at one of the many theme parks that are nearby in Orlando. That’s what makes Port Canaveral so appealing for many cruisers who have young kids. There are many cruise lines that sail out from here, but it is a favorite port for Disney Cruise Line thanks to its proximity to their theme parks, so you can always expect to see Disney ships coming and going. In addition, they’ve also got plenty of beach action at Cocoa Beach, as well as the Kennedy Space Center where you may even get to see a rocket blasting off!

Tampa, Florida

Waterways with city skyline, boat in the water, with land and boats

Being on the western side of Florida means that Tampa is positioned to be the gateway to the Gulf of Mexico, so this is the southeast cruise port you will likely want to pick for a cruise from Florida to western Caribbean or Mexico. You may want to use this port out of convenience if it is closer to you, which won’t make much of a difference if you are sailing somewhere in the gulf, but you are less likely to find cruises going to other destinations like Europe. If you do pick Tampa as your cruise port, be sure to check out the historic Ybor City for some vintage shopping or spend a day at Busch Gardens before or after your cruise.

Jacksonville, Florida

Ocean with water sand and pier with people

Jacksonville has only been serving cruise lines since 2003, and is something of a rising star among southeast cruise ports. While it isn’t as busy as some of the other cities on this list, it still serves many cruise lines and destinations and can be your embarkation port for cruises to places like the Bahamas and the Caribbean. It is also further north than the other Floridian towns on this list and features easy access and parking, so it is more convenient if you are driving into Florida to take your cruise.

New Orleans, Louisiana

Building in French quarter with windows and potted plants.

There are a couple of really compelling reasons to choose New Orleans for your cruise port, starting with the simple fact that it is New Orleans. The home of Mardi Gras is a vibrant and lively town year-round and a great place to spend a couple of days before or after your cruise. The other reason to pick this port is because in addition to serving Caribbean and Mexico cruises, it also serves river cruises that go up the Mississippi river. This provides a great opportunity to explore many historic towns right here in the US.

Charleston, South Carolina

City view with buildings, trees and cars

The last southeast cruise port on our list is the farthest north, making it a good option for anyone who doesn’t want to make the trip all the way down to Florida. Cruises from here mostly go to the Bahamas and the Caribbean, much like other southeastern ports, but you will get a little more time at sea due to the longer distance to get there. Charleston itself is a charming town known for its history and hospitality, earning it renown as a tourist destination. If you end up picking this as your cruise port, be sure to check out King Street for local shopping and extraordinary food.

To find your own cruise from Florida or other southeastern ports, visit for the largest selection of cruise line deals — we can help you book the smart way! We give you our exclusive bonus offers and all qualifying cruise line offers, plus all of the cruise line loyalty program benefits. Book online at or call 800-288-6006 today.

Related: Caribbean Cruises: What To Do at Top Destinations

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