Key West Cruise Port: Piers, Things Nearby and Getting Around

Affiliate Disclaimer

Nestled within the southernmost point of the continental United States, Florida’s Key West is a tropical paradise that offers a uniquely laid-back lifestyle, culture, and some truly stunning natural beauty.

Due to the unique shape of the archipelago, as well as its convenient proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Caribbean Islands, it is no wonder that the Florida Keys are home to a bustling cruise port

Today, we will take a deep dive into the Key West Cruise Port. Whether planning a cruise vacation that departs from Key West, Florida or briefly visiting as part of your cruise itinerary, you’ll learn everything you need to know. We’ll cover detailed descriptions of the cruise terminals and provide lists of must-see attractions, dining recommendations, and excursion options. 

Key West Cruise Port Location and Accessibility 

The Key West Cruise Port, also known as the Port of Key West, is located on the west side of Key West’s historic Old Town District. Not only does this allow for convenient access to some of the region’s most iconic attractions, but it also means that the cruise terminals are just 3 miles west of the Key West International Airport. 

Those arriving at the airport can easily make their way to the cruise terminals via taxi or dedicated shuttle service. While traffic conditions can impact your arrival time, typical travel time from the airport to the port drop-off points is about 10 to 15 minutes by car. 

Key West Port Terminal Facilities 

Since the Key West Port caters to privately owned yachts and other vessels, it isn’t strictly reserved for cruise ships. That said, the port is equipped to handle full-sized cruise ships and has piers dedicated to this task.

Cruise ships tend to dock in one of three piers – Pier B, Mallory Square Pier, or Navy’s Outer Mole Pier. Pier B is by far the most commonly used, so there is a very good chance that your cruise will either arrive or depart from here.

Holland America Ship Docked in Key West
Holland America Ship Docked in Key West (Photo Credit: Dennis MacDonald / Shutterstock)

The terminal facilities at Pier B are pretty modern and comfortable. While they are smaller than Pier B, the same can be said for the cruise terminals in the other two cruise piers. Modern amenities, like dedicated check-in counters, luggage services, and public washrooms, are all available.

Read Also: Florida Cruise Ports – Your Full Overview and Guide

Unfortunately, the port terminals are not equipped with free Wi-Fi, but cell phone reception in the area is reasonable. Plus, they are located so close to Old Town that you can easily find a hotel, coffee shop, or restaurant offering public Wi-Fi. 

All three cruise piers are also wheelchair-friendly, so those with mobility issues will not encounter any problems as they make their way to and from their respective cruise ships. 

Cruise Lines Using Key West Cruise Port

Given that Florida is a popular departure point for American cruise travelers, Key West cruise port is a high-traffic hub for some of the most well-known cruise lines. With so many cruise lines using the port, there is a diverse array of itineraries, schedules, and cruise line options.

Cruise Ships at Key West Cruise Port
Cruise Ships at Key West Cruise Port (Photo Credit: Dennis MacDonald / Shutterstock)

Popular cruise lines that use the port include the Norwegian Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, and Holland America Line.

Key West Seasonal Weather Conditions 

Choosing when to visit Key West is an important decision. While the region tends to get plenty of sunshine and warm temperatures, tropical storms, hurricanes, and other severe weather events can be an issue at certain times of the year. 

To make things simple, here’s a basic overview of the seasons in Key West, Florida:

Aerial View of Key West, Florida
Aerial View of Key West, Florida (Photo Credit: Gianfranco Vivi / Shutterstock)

Summer (June to August)

As you’d expect, the summer months can be hot and humid. Average daytime temperatures tend to sit between 85 and 95° F. Despite the heat, it remains an extremely popular time to visit. 

Visitors arriving in the summer should avoid activities during the heat of midday. Instead, relax during the day and explore during the morning and afternoon. You can also escape the heat by enjoying the water. Scuba diving and snorkeling are both popular activities during the summer months. 

Fall (September to November)

Cruise passengers stopping in Key West during the fall can expect cooler temperatures and limited rainfall. Temperatures tend to sit in the high 70 to low 80° F range. While these conditions are comfortable, there is a risk of hurricanes and tropical storms, especially in October and November. 

Monitor weather conditions and be prepared for the risk of departure delays or itinerary disruptions. 

Winter (December to February)

The winter months are considered the peak season for Key West. Cruise passengers and other travelers flock to the area to enjoy the mild temperatures and sunshine. Expect similar temperatures to the fall but with lower humidity and minimal rainfall. Enjoy strolling down historic Duval Street and enjoying the bustling excitement of street festivals and the holidays. 

Spring (March to May)

Temperatures rise steadily throughout the spring. This causes the tropical plant life to bloom, which makes Key West even more picture-perfect. With temperatures in the mid-70s to low 80s F, it’s an ideal time for watersports and enjoying the beaches. 

Spring showers can be an issue during the day but tend to be brief. We suggest taking an evening spring stroll to enjoy the beauty of a Key West sunset. 

Attractions Near the Port 

Once you exit the terminals at the Key West Cruise Port, you will discover various historic sites, exciting outdoor amenities, and various other attractions, all within walking distance. While you can explore and discover your own fun, we recommend making time for the following highlights: 

Ernest Hemingway Home Museum

Located just a 20-minute walk or 5-minute taxi ride from the cruise port, the Hemingway Museum is easily accessible. This former home of the famous American author is one of Key West’s top landmarks.

Ernest Hemingway Home Museum
Ernest Hemingway Home Museum (Photo Credit: Dennis MacDonald / Shutterstock)

It also happens to be a fascinating stop for history buffs and literary fans alike.  On your way to the museum, you can also make a quick stop to see the historic Key West Lighthouse, just 200 feet away!

Visit the Beaches

While the beaches aren’t as spectacular as those found on some of the Caribbean Islands, there are some nice beaches where you can spend the day. South Beach is located on the southern end of Duval Street, while the area’s largest beach, Smathers Beach, is 3 miles away near the airport.

Higgs Beach is also about 2 miles from the cruise port, but its playground is worth the trip for those with kids. If you are limited on time, Straw Hat Beach is located within Fort Zachary Taylor Park, just 1 mile south of the cruise port.

Mallory Square

Situated on the north end of Duval Street, Mallory Square is roughly a 25-minute walk or 5-to-10-minute taxi ride from the main cruise terminals. Watch street performers, visit local vendors, and take in the sights and sounds of Key West.

Mallory Square Key West
Mallory Square Key West (Photo Credit: Dennis MacDonald / Shutterstock)

Fort Jefferson

Located within Dry Tortugas National Park, Fort Jefferson can be visited from Old Town via a dedicated ferry. Given that it’s on a separate island located 70 miles away, you won’t be able to walk or drive to the historic fort, but it is well worth your time. Explore the fort and take in the views of the turquoise waters and coral reefs surrounding the island.

Key West Aquarium

Across from Mallory Square, you will find the Key West Aquarium. With a wide range of tropical fish, sharks, sea turtles, and more, it is the perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon in Old Town.

Key West Aquarium
Key West Aquarium (Photo Credit: Peter Etchells / Shutterstock)

Fort Zachary Taylor State Park

Located just 1 mile from the cruise piers, this historic state park features a well-preserved pre-Civil War fort, water sport rentals, nature trails, and picture-perfect views from Straw Hat Beach.

Old Town Trolley Tours

For those looking for a relaxing way to explore Old Town, you can hop on a trolly tour by visiting the departure point at 6810 Front Street. This is just a 15-minute walk from the cruise terminals. Iconic red street trolleys make a loop around the town. These narrated tours will take you past some of the area’s most iconic points of interest, so it is a great way to see everything if you are limited on time.

Key West Trolleys
Key West Trolleys (Photo Credit: pisaphotography / Shutterstock)

If guided tours aren’t your thing, you can also rent a scooter or bike and explore what Old Town offers. Short-term rentals are readily available throughout the area.

Transportation Options from Key West Cruise Port 

For those visiting as part of an itinerary stop or shore excursion, you will be relieved to learn that transpiration to and from the cruise port is very simple and affordable. For those looking to stretch their legs, the port facilities are conveniently located within walking distance of many of Old Town’s top tourist attractions.

Florida Keys Road Sign
Florida Keys Road Sign (Photo Credit: travelview / Shutterstock)

Just outside of the port, you will also see a well-marked taxi line. Due to its popularity as a tourist destination, ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft operate throughout Key West, especially in Old Town. Again, you can also enjoy guided trolly tours and pedicab rides through Old Town.

Dining

Key West leans into its reputation as a place where people can kick back and relax. To enhance this reputation, it is a true culinary paradise. Only a short walk from the port terminals, you can find a wide variety of restaurants serving local seafood, tropical cocktails, and just about any other type of dishes and drinks you can think of.

Sloppy Joe's Bar In Key West
Sloppy Joe’s Bar In Key West (Photo Credit: Dennis MacDonald / Shutterstock)

From major chain restaurants and well-known fast-food establishments to more unique, family-owned options, it’s easy to find something that will appeal to your cravings.

For those looking for a unique taste of Key West, we recommend Blue Heaven for brunch and Sloppy Joe’s Bar for live music and cold beers. Both establishments are Key West icons. In fact, Sloppy Joe’s was even a regular stop for Hemingway and other famous residents of Old Town

For a more casual option, try exploring the many food vendors of Mallory Square. Here, you will also find plenty of nearby waterfront restaurants. Best of all, they’re all located within walking distance of the piers. 

Don’t miss your opportunity to try some truly iconic Key West dishes, like Cuban sandwiches, key lime pie, conch fritters, white chocolate cake, and more.

Shopping

Despite its relatively small size, Key West boasts a wide array of options for shoppers. From upscale designer stores to humble souvenir and antique shops, you will find exactly what you want by taking a stroll down Duval Street. The Duval Square Mall, located on the south end of the street, is a good option if you are looking to shop for clothes.

Duval Street, Key West
Duval Street, Key West (Photo Credit: travelview / Shutterstock)

There are also a few jewelry and accessories stores just outside the main piers on Front Street and the north side of Duval Street. Here, you will find unique jewelry pieces, designer sunglasses, and much more.

Excursions and Cruise Line Policies

If you are just briefly visiting the port as part of a larger itinerary, you may be interested in booking one of the many excursion options available through the main cruise lines. Just make sure you book through your cruise line, or at least pay close attention to departure times, meeting points, and other policies your cruise line has in place.

Worth Reading: St. Thomas Cruise Port – Piers, Overview and What to Do

Not only can booking through your cruise line help you secure your spot ahead of time, but the excursion provider will understand exactly when you need to return to the port, which can help you avoid missing the departure time.

Southern Most Point in Key West
Southern Most Point in Key West (Photo Credit: Dennis MacDonald / Shutterstock)

Here are just a few of the options available through the main cruise lines operating in Key West:

Water Sports

Given the tropical waters surrounding Key West, plenty of water sports excursions are available. Snorkeling, catamaran rides, scuba diving, dolphin spotting tours, kayak tours, sailing lessons, jet skiing, and more are all fairly easy to book through cruise lines using the port.

Guided Tours

From guided walking tours of Old Town to narrated trolley and Conch Train rides, there are plenty of excursions that allow you to take in the unique history, architecture, and lifestyle of Key West in a limited amount of time. 

Fishing Excursions

Key West is famous for fishing, so it’s no surprise that fishing experiences are available. From deep-sea fishing tours to basic pier-based fishing and cooking lessons, there’s something for anglers of all experience levels. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

Can you walk around Key West from the cruise port? 

Absolutely! Key West’s Old Town is a highly walkable destination. Many of the main attractions and iconic restaurants are just a short walk from the cruise ports. 

How far is the beach from Key West Cruise Port? 

Several beaches are scattered throughout Key West, but the closest to the cruise port would be Straw Hat Beach, just over a mile away. Or you could make your way to Smathers Beach via taxi. Although the beach is larger, it’s roughly 3 miles from the piers. 

Do you tender in Key West? 

While some ships will choose to tender in other parts of Key West, especially if the port is overly busy, most cruise lines will actually dock within the port.

Haiyan Ma
Haiyan Ma
I absolutely love cruising with my favorite ports of call being in the Caribbean. As a former crew member for Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival Cruise Line I can continue my passion by sharing my experiences with readers. Find out more about us here.

CRUISE HIVE NEWSLETTER

Free expert cruise tips and news from Cruise Hive! We'll send you the latest cruise updates daily to your inbox.

Don't Miss Any Cruise News!

We'll send you the latest cruise updates daily to your inbox.

181 Shares
Copy link