In a groundbreaking move, the JAXPORT Board of Directors has approved a significant partnership with Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), marking the addition of a second seasonal cruise operation from Jacksonville, Florida. This move promises to enrich the local tourism sector, create jobs, and offer an array of tropical getaway options to passengers.
A New Era for Jacksonville’s Cruise Industry
In an exciting development, the JAXPORT Board of Directors has unanimously approved a three-year agreement with NCL. Starting in November 2025, Norwegian Gem, boasting a capacity of 2,394 passengers, will homeport in Jacksonville.
The ship will offer seasonal cruises through April each year until 2028. The cruises will include destinations to the Bahamas and Eastern Caribbean, signaling a new era in the North Florida’s growing drive-to cruise market.
David J. Herrera, president of Norwegian Cruise Line, expressed his enthusiasm about the partnership.
“Today marks a new milestone in the relationship between Norwegian Cruise Line and JAXPORT,” he said. “We look forward to Norwegian Gem’s arrival to Jacksonville in November 2025, and welcoming guests from the area, as well as neighboring cities and states.”
The initative is anticipated to substantially boost to Jacksonville’s tourism appeal, leveraging the strategic advantage of having more than 98 million consumers living within driving distance of the JAXPORT Cruise Terminal.
JAXPORT’s Strategic Expansion
As JAXPORT, a full-service international cargo and cruise seaport located in Jacksonville, embarks on a significant expansion through this collaboration with Norwegian Cruise Line, it build upon the legacy initiated by Carnival Cruise Lines.
The christening of Carnival Miracle at the Port of Jacksonville in February 2004 marked the beginning of Jacksonville’s journey in the cruise service industry.
Today, as Norwegian Cruise Line becomes the second cruise operator to sail from Jacksonville, it represents a significant milestone in JAXPORT’s ongoing efforts to diversify and expand its offerings.
According to a 2019 study, the cruise industry in Jacksonville plays a crucial role in the regional economy, supporting nearly 800 jobs and contributing over $187 million annual economic impact to Northeast Florida.
A key factor driving the popularity of cruising out of Jacksonville is the port’s easy access, with 60% of travelers highlighting this as their primary reason for choosing Jacksonville.
JAXPORT CEO Eric Green said of the expansion, “Expanding our popular cruise program provides passengers throughout the Southeast U.S. and beyond with even more reasons to choose Jacksonville for their next vacation. We thank Norwegian Cruise Line for their partnership and look forward to working with them to attract more tourism, and the jobs and economic impact it supports, to our community.”
The Norwegian Gem Experience
Norwegian Gem is gearing up to introduce passengers to tropical retreats, beginning its journey from Jacksonville in November 2025. The vessel will offer three 12-day and two 11-day roundtrip voyages across the serene waters of the Eastern Caribbean.
The voyages will include exotic locales such as Great Stirrup Cay, NCL’s private island in the Bahamas; Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic; St. Thomas and St. John’s, U.S. Virgin Islands; Antigua; Basseterre, St. Kitts; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and more.
Additionally, the ship will conduct a series of 4- and 5-day cruises to The Bahamas, featuring stops at Great Stirrup Cay, Freeport, and Nassau. Bookings for these sailings will open on February 15, 2024.
Carnival’s Continued Presence in Jacksonville
Carnival Cruise Line, as the pioneering cruise operator from Jacksonville, continues to offer a variety of short cruises to the Bahamas from JAXPORT.
Carnival Elation, providing year-round voyages, includes 4- and 5-night itineraries to destinations like Nassau, Freeport, Bimini, Princess Cays, and Half Moon Cay.
Starting July 2025, Carnival Elation will also include visits to Carnival’s new Celebration Key private island in its itinerary, enriching the cruise options available from Jacksonville.
Scheduled to sail from Jacksonville through at least April 2026, Carnival Elation underscores Carnival’s ongoing commitment to Jacksonville, complementing the city’s expanding cruise portfolio and enhancing its appeal as a versatile cruise destination.