Welcoming more than 7.2 million passengers in 2023, Miami regains its position as the Cruise Capital of the World and eyes a bright future in 2024 with the arrival of new ships.
PortMiami Marks Historic Achievement in 2023
As the 2023 Fiscal Year concluded on September 30, 2023, PortMiami celebrated a significant milestone by recording a nearly 7% increase in cruise passenger totals. The port ended the year with a record-breaking 7,299,294 passengers, surpassing its previous peak of 6,823,816 passengers set in 2019 before the pandemic.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Caya praised the achievement, adding, “PortMiami continues to drive our economy forward, creating opportunities for residents and businesses across our county. The Port is an industry leader, which is future-ready and committed to innovative, efficient, and sustainable growth.”
PortMiami experienced unprecedented surges in cruise passengers in 2023, setting single-day records on February 12 with 58,984 passengers and then surpassing it on April 9 with 67,549 passengers.
The upcoming winter months of 2023 and 2024 are set to be bustling, with eight new ships from eight different cruise lines making their way through PortMiami. This includes the much-anticipated debut of Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas, touted as the world’s largest cruise ship, set to embark on its maiden voyage on January 27, 2024.
Icon of the Seas will bring 7,600 passengers to the Magic City, along with Oceania Cruises’ Oceania Vista (1,200 passengers), Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Venezia (4,090 passengers), Scenic Cruises’ Scenic Yacht II (228 passengers), Crystal Cruises’ revitalized Crystal Serenity (740 passengers), MSC Cruises’ Explora I (922 passengers), Norwegian Cruise Lines’ new Norwegian Viva (3,009 passengers), and Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ Seven Seas Grandeur (750 passengers).
These new ship arrivals could bring 18,539 additional passengers to PortMiami in one docking, significantly boosting passenger numbers. Historically the world’s busiest passenger port, PortMiami experienced a brief shift in ranking earlier this year when Port Canaveral surpassed it.
This change was highlighted in the annual passenger totals released by the Florida Ports Council, which recorded traffic between January and December. The Space Coast port, located an hour east of Orlando, edged out PortMiami with 4.07 million passengers compared to Miami’s 4.03 million, winning by a narrow margin.
Despite this, the lastest Fiscal year report for Port Canaveral indicated a different trend. Although the port achieved a record number 6.8 million passengers in 2023, this figure did not surpass PortMiami’s impressive count.
Anticipation builds as, pending the alignment of Fiscal Year data with the Florida Ports Council’s January-December figures, PortMiami is on the cusp of fully reclaiming its position as the Cruise Capital of the World.
Expanding Capacity in a Cutting-Edge Port
Located on Dodge Island in Biscayne Bay, PortMiami spans a 518-acre area and annually hosts more than 60 cruise ships from more than two dozen cruise lines. The port, which currently houses nine cruise terminals, is on track to enhance its facilities with the completion of the new state-of-the-art Terminal AA/AAA.
This terminal, a project exceeding $450 spearheaded by MSC Cruises, is designed to accommodate the latest generation of cruise ships. Upon its completion in early 2024, Terminal AA/AAA is expected to facilitate up to 36,000 passenger movements daily, significantly boosting the port’s capacity and efficiency.
The Sunshine State boast three of the top 10 busiest cruise ports globally. Alongside PortMiami and Port Canaveral is Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, completing a powerful trifecta in the cruise sector. Port Everglades mirrored the high performances, also welcoming 6.8 million passengers during the 2023 Fiscal Year.
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Further cementing Florida’s status in the industry, Port Tampa Bay – among one of the 10 busiest ports in the United States – finished its Fiscal Year with a record-setting 1,149,289 passengers, marking a significant double-digit percentage increase from its already record-setting performance in 2022.