Top 10 Busiest US Cruise Homeports

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The rebirth of the cruise industry followed nearly two years of suspended operations due to the pandemic. Updated 2022-23 cruise guest numbers for each busiest cruise homeport, with how the facilities have measured up to the robust re-emergence of the vacation-at-sea option.

Here is Cruise Hive’s list of the top 10 busiest cruise homeports based on cruise guest traffic, including passengers on home-ported ships plus port call visitors.

1. Port Canaveral (Florida)

Florida’s Port Canaveral is the busiest cruise port in the country. Passenger traffic from 2022, revealed in February 2023, shows the northeast Florida port welcomed 4,072,396 cruise guests, overtaking PortMiami, which previously held the title.

All of the major cruise lines have terminals at Port Canaveral, and the facility holds the record for having the highest number of ships calling. That is likely due to its proximity to the theme parks of Orlando.

Port Canaveral
Photo Credit: Canaveral Port Authority

Port Canaveral officials in April 2023 revealed they intend to construct a new cruise terminal, at a cost of around $175 million. The port has not yet revealed a project timeline, nor has a cruise line partnership been announced, but the port’s goal is to eventually have the capacity to accommodate up to 6.4 million cruise passengers per year.

Opened in 1953, Port Canaveral in 2021 became the first liquified natural gas (LNG) port in the US, an important milestone since many new ships are being constructed to use the environmentally friendly fuel and existing ships are being upgraded to use it.

  • Name: Port Canaveral
  • State: Florida
  • Annual Cruise Passengers: 4,072,396
  • Number of cruise terminals: 7
  • Address: 9245 Charles Rowland Drive Cape Canaveral

2. PortMiami (Florida)

The sprawling PortMiami, with its cruise terminals and a major cargo facility, spread across 518 acres, welcomed 4,022,544 million cruise guests in 2022 (it had exceeded 5 million pre-pandemic) and for years had been known as the largest cruise port in terms of passenger volume.

But PortMiami has lost its lead position to Port Canaveral, by roughly 50,000 cruise guests, annual passenger reports show. The Miami port, now the second-busiest port, could regain its top position after another large terminal debuts late in 2023.

PortMiami Cruise Ships
PortMiami Cruise Ships (Photo Credit: PortMiami)

Built in partnership with MSC Cruises, the new terminal will have capacity to handle an additional 36,000 passenger movements per day. When completed, it will be the largest passenger cruise terminal in North America.

Virtually all of the major cruise lines have a presence at PortMiami, particularly during winter seasons when Caribbean cruising is at its peak. The port, which opened in 1960 and is located in Biscayne Bay, is a leader in shore power development, with plans to provide shore power at four of its cruise terminals by late 2023, allowing ships to curtail emissions while running hotel operations in port.

  • Name: PortMiami
  • State: Florida
  • Annual Cruise Passengers: 4,022,544
  • Number of cruise terminals: 9
  • Address: 1015 North America Way, Miami

3. Port Everglades (Florida)

Port Everglades is located in Fort Lauderdale, the South Florida destination synonymous with spring break fun. The port has emerged as the third-busiest cruise port in the US, with 3,826,415 cruise guests moving through the port in 2022.

Used as a frequent home port by the major cruise lines and as a port of call for hundreds of cruise ships each year, the facility is north of Miami and is known as an embarkation port for Bahamas and Caribbean cruises.

Cruise Ships Docked in Port Everglades
Photo Credit: Solarisys / Shutterstock

In early 2023 the port took delivery of a strategy report that will guide its plans for installing shore power technology later this decade.

The port, which opened in 1928 under the name Bay Mable Harbor, is close to two major airports; it is three miles from Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport and 25 miles from Miami International Airport. It also is one of the country’s busiest container ports, and is a major petroleum storage and distribution hub.

  • Name: Port Everglades
  • State: Florida
  • Annual Cruise Passengers: 3,826,415
  • Number of cruise terminals: 8
  • Address: 1850 Eller Drive, Fort Lauderdale

4. Port of Galveston (Texas)

It could be argued that the Port of Galveston is the most historic cruise port operating in the US. It was established in 1825 by the Congress of Mexico, when Texas was still part of Mexico.

Located on Galveston Island at the northwestern edge of the Gulf of Mexico, the port is a major drive-to port for cruisers hailing from the Southwest and from Gulf Coast cities. Its 2022 cruise guest arrivals totaled 2,207,852.

Carnival Vista Cruise Ship in Galveston
Photo: Carnival Cruise Line

Cruise ships departing from Galveston primarily sail Western Caribbean itineraries, but some cruise lines offer Eastern Caribbean voyages as well.

As the fourth-busiest port in the US regarding cruise passenger traffic, the Port of Galveston is looking ahead to welcoming even more cruisers as it enjoys a new cruise terminal in partnership with Royal Caribbean.

The cruise line will use the 161,000-square-foot terminal for the future home-porting of its Oasis-class, 5,500-guest Allure of the Seas, one of the biggest ships sailing.

The port has overcome challenging times. In 2008 it took a direct hit from Hurricane Ike, which caused $250 million in damage. The port’s nearest major airport is in Houston, about 50 miles away.

  • Name: Port of Galveston
  • State: Texas
  • Annual Cruise Passengers: 2,207,852
  • Number of cruise terminals: 3
  • Address: 123 Rosenberg Avenue, Galveston

5. Cape Liberty Cruise Port (New Jersey)

The fifth-busiest port, Cape Liberty Cruise Port, began life as a federal government-run site that distributed military supplies during World War II.

It was eventually turned over to local authorities in Bayonne, N.J., who in turn entered into a partnership with Royal Caribbean in 2004.

An agreement between the town and the cruise line led to the construction that year of a cruise terminal, where Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas was to become the first cruise ship to sail from the port. Today it is among the top five busiest cruise ports in the country, welcoming 1,537,695 cruise guests to Bayonne Harbor.

Cruise Ship at Cape Liberty
Photo Credit: Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock

Its location about 10 miles from Manhattan makes it a convenient embarkation port for cruisers living in the tri-state metropolitan area of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, which together are home to some 24 million people.

The port’s three terminals support operations for the major cruise lines, which offer itineraries to the Bahamas and the Caribbean, the Eastern Seaboard, plus seasonal cruises to Canada/New England.

  • Name: Cape Liberty Cruise Port
  • State: New Jersey
  • Annual Cruise Passengers: 1,537,695
  • Number of cruise terminals: 3
  • Address: 4 Port Terminal Boulevard, Bayonne

6. Port of San Juan (Puerto Rico)

We thought, as Puerto Rico is a US territory and an important hub for cruises, it should be added to our list! San Juan, Puerto Rico, is home to two facilities serving cruise ships and their guests, located just one mile apart.

The San Juan Cruise Port has two cruise terminals accommodating four ships, while the nearby Pan American Pier has two terminals that can dock two ships.

These facilities help make the port, which opened in 1970, among the busiest in the Caribbean and the sixth-busiest in the US. All told, the two facilities together welcomed 1,379,367 cruise guests in 2022, including from home-ported ships and those calling at the popular port.

Cruise Ships Docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico
Photo Credit: Darryl Brooks / Shutterstock

San Juan’s location, northwest of St. Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean Sea, makes it a prime embarkation port for ships heading to the Southern Caribbean.

The port in mid-2022, entered into a partnership with Global Ports Holding, which has promised a major investment to expand and upgrade existing infrastructure.

The initial investment phase includes about $100 million to repair and upgrade the ship piers. A second round of financing could enable the port to add docks that accommodate the industry’s largest ships.

  • Name: Port of San Juan
  • State: US Territory of Puerto Rico
  • Annual Cruise Passengers: 1,379,367
  • Number of cruise terminals: 2
  • Address: Pan American Pier 1 East, Calle Lindbergh, San Juan; Pan American Pier 1 West, Calle Tadeo Rivera, San Juan

7. Port of New Orleans (Louisiana)

The Port of New Orleans is situated on the Mississippi River near the Gulf of Mexico, making it a sought-after embarkation port for ocean cruises to the Eastern and Western Caribbean, Mexican destinations, and Central America port calls, as well as for river ships that ply the Mississippi.

Read Also: IDEAL Hotels Near Port of New Orleans

There has been a deepwater port in that location since the US bought the territory from France in 1803, but it wasn’t until 1984 that the first cruise terminal was developed. In 2022, the facility was the seventh-busiest US port, accommodating 1,048,112 cruise guests.

Cruise Ships in New Orleans
Photo Courtesy: Port NOLA

All major cruise lines sail from New Orleans, an important drive-to port for cruisers living in the Southern US. The port, which also has a big cargo operation, is a short distance from the city’s downtown, and cruise guests can easily access the historic French Quarter and other attractions.

Like Galveston, New Orleans often finds itself in the path of hurricanes that strengthen over the Gulf of Mexico. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina caused about $165 million in damage to the port.

  • Name: Port of New Orleans
  • State: Louisiana
  • Annual Cruise Passengers: 1,048,112
  • Number of cruise terminals: 2
  • Address: 1350 Port of New Orleans Place, New Orleans

8. Port Tampa Bay (Florida)

On Florida’s west coast, Port Tampa Bay emerged in 2022 as the ninth-busiest US cruise port, handling 1 million cruise guests. The port’s three cruise terminals, Terminal 2, Terminal 3, and Terminal 6, are a short drive from Tampa International Airport.

The city of Tampa provides easy access to downtown attractions and the Orlando area’s many shore excursion choices. Ships from Tampa typically cruise the Western and Eastern Caribbean, and the Bahamas.

Tampa Cruise Port
Photo Credit: Felix Mizioznikov / Shutterstock

Cruisers arriving at the Tampa port will find a major cargo and container operation, as well as a thriving shipbuilding and repair business. The port opened in 1924 and today attracts the industry’s major cruise lines for home-porting as well as port calls.

The port also takes steps to provide services to cruise ship crew members. Early in 2023, it opened a Seafarers Center, which offers support to international crew visiting the port. Located in Terminal 3, the center is a hub for package and mail delivery, and other needed services.

  • Name: Port Tampa Bay
  • State: Florida
  • Annual Cruise Passengers: 1,000,000
  • Number of cruise terminals: 3
  • Address: 1101 Channelside Drive, Tampa

9. Port of Seattle (Washington)

The Port of Seattle, circa 1911, has two cruise terminals that together accommodated 983,539 cruise guests in 2022, making it the 10th-busiest cruise port in the country.

The Washington State port’s claim to fame is its proximity to Alaska, and several of the major cruise lines routinely embark their Alaska cruise guests in Seattle starting each May, as they gear up for the busy summer season.

The port’s main competitor for the summer windfall of cruise ships is Vancouver, British Columbia, located less than 150 miles north of Seattle and, therefore, even closer to the pristine cruising grounds of the Last Frontier State.

Norwegian Bliss Cruise Ship in Seattle
Norwegian Bliss Cruise Ship in Seattle (Photo Courtesy: Port of Seattle)

The Seattle port is situated in protected Elliott Bay and is home to the Smith Cove Cruise Terminal at Pier 91 and Bell Street Terminal at Pier 66.

In line with Washington’s focus on protecting the environment, the Port of Seattle is in the midst of a five-year waterfront development project in partnership with the Seattle Aquarium.

The development of the so-called Ocean Pavilion, launched in 2021, focuses on the future of ocean sustainability, and will highlight the diversity of marine life and maritime career opportunities in the region.

  • Name: Port of Seattle
  • State: Washington
  • Annual Cruise Passengers: 983,539
  • Number of cruise terminals: 2
  • Address: Smith Cove Cruise Terminal at Pier 91, 2001 West Garfield Street, Seattle, and Bell Street Terminal at Pier 66, 2225 Alaskan Way South, Seattle

10. Port of Los Angeles (California)

The Port of Los Angeles ranks No. 10 on the busiest cruise port list, with 578,668 cruise guests moving through the facility’s World Cruise Center.

The port, with two cruise ship berths and two terminal buildings comprising the cruise center, is a homeport for cruise lines operating voyages to the Mexican Riviera, through the Panama Canal, and to Hawaii and Alaska.

Port of Los Angeles
Photo Credit: MODpix / Shutterstock

Roughly a half-hour drive from downtown Los Angeles, the port was founded in 1907 but had been used as a trading and cargo port since the early 19th century. A bid to expand its cruise facilities surfaced several years ago but was sidelined by the pandemic.

Early in 2023, the proposal emerged again, with a plan to add another terminal and redevelop its existing cruise center and its piers, enabling the accommodation of larger ships. The port also is a popular port call for cruise ships offering a variety of West Coast sailings.

  • Name: Port of Los Angeles
  • State: California
  • Annual Cruise Passengers: 578,668
  • Number of cruise terminals: 2
  • Address: 100 Swinford Street, San Pedro

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