The Cruise Ship Capital of the World: Miami

So with the Miami Heat winning the NBA championship last night, I thought maybe we should talk about Miami, well not exactly Miami, but the Port of Miami.

(Source: miamibeach411)

As we all know, the Port of Miami is the “Cruise Ship Capital of the World” with over 4 million passengers passing through the port each year, sailing on Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Azamara, MSC, Costa, Disney, and others to the Caribbean and beyond. Along with cruise terminals, the Port of Miami is also home to Royal Caribbean International, with their headquarters built in the shape of their iconic “Crown & Anchor” logo. The port also features some of the most modern and state of the art cruise terminals that are regularly used by Carnival and Royal Caribbean. While the port offers all of these record breaking statistics, state of the art equipment, and major cruise line headquarters, if it hadn’t been for a hurricane, the Port of Miami we know of today may have never existed.

Around 1901, a hurricane (remember, this is before we named our hurricanes) slammed into Miami with so much force that it actually cut off a small piece of land from the south end of South Beach and creating a channel in between it. The piece of land that was cut off is now known today as Fischer Island. This channel suddenly opened up a new route for ships to enter the port instead of going around Cape Florida. In 1902, the US Government decided to “officially” dredge the channel to create a proper entrance into the port. The left over sand created various islands in the channel that would later become Dodge Island. So had it not been for a hurricane in the early 1900’s we may not have the same Miami sail away’s that we enjoy today.

Government Cut, circa 1902 (Source: Wikipedia)

Anyway, continuing the story. Suddenly, the port began to flourish and there was a need for growth at the port. So around the 1960’s the government of Miami decided to build a man-made island out of three smaller, separate islands. Suddenly in 1964, after much construction, hard work, and government red tape; Dodge, Lummus and Sam’s Island became Dodge Island, where the current port is located today. In 1966, NCL operated the very first cruise from the newly built port on the Sunward, which departed 2 times a week on 3 and 4 night cruises. However, it wasn’t until around the 1970’s that we began to see cruise ships docking in Miami on a regular basis. As more cruise lines began to drop anchor in Miami, the port continued to grow. With increasing cruise ship visits, the port eventually decided to build 5 terminals to handle the ships. While the terminals were state of the art back then, they cannot compare to the terminals we use today. Most of these terminals were later demolished and rebuilt, but some of the terminals still remain. These terminals were expanded and raised and still retain their original bases and lower levels. You can still actually see the original buildings in 2 of the terminals.

Royal Caribbean HQ (Source: Chase Construction)

Skip to modern-day, the Port of Miami is the world’s largest cruise ship port handling more than 4 million passengers each year. With 7 modern-day terminals, the port is able to handle 7 massive cruise ships at a time and with port improvement projects scheduled for the next 25 years the port is still growing. Recently, the Port of Miami announced that they will expand one cruise berth, build three new ones, and even build a new terminal that will be able to berth 2 Oasis Class sized cruise ships at one time. Obviously, these new

project caught the eye of the cruise lines, and now they have new cruise ships berthing in Miami. These include the Carnival Breeze (2012,) Celebrity Reflection (2013,) and Norwegian Getaway (2015.)With both these new ships and the port improvement projects the Port of Miami will continue to grow and lead the cruise industry into the future as the “Cruise Ship Capital of the World.”This port highlight is the first of many more to come. Every Friday I will highlight a new homeport. If you have any suggestions on ports or just want to let me know which port is your favorite homeport, then let me know in the comment section below. Have a great Friday everyone!

The Port of Miami is the world's largest cruis...


  • Port of Miami website
  • Wikipedia
  • “Watch the Port of Miami” by Arthur Chapman
  • Miami Dade website
  • Header image: Port of Miami
  • Lower image: Wikipedia



Mike Faust

Mike Faust is an avid world traveler, often found traversing city streets in Asia and Europe rather than his home city of Boca Raton. Mike has touched down in 39 countries, set sail on 35 cruises, and flown over 400,000 lifetime miles.