Tips for Popular U.S. Cruise Ports

Tips for visiting popular US homeports. - Photo by Canva

Cruising from a port in the US comes with a plethora of options ranging from multiple Florida cities, the scenic Northeast, to bustling West Coast metropolitan areas, and cities along the Gulf Coast. No matter what port your cruise departs from, there are some great options of activities to do and places to see before or after you board your ship. Here, we've combined a list of our best tips to keep in mind when planning your next cruise from a US homeport.  

Baltimore, Maryland   

Our Tip: The American Visionary Art Museum is a must-see as well as Camden Yards, one of the nation’s best baseball stadiums. Also, don’t miss a fantastic Italian meal in Little Italy! Looking for a guided tour of the city? We recommend a city walking experience from Private History in the Making

Member Tip: You MUST try the crab cakes at G & M Seafood!!! They are the most delicious crab cakes I've ever had. The portion was so large that I had enough left for lunch the next day. - TravelBug14

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Boston, Massachusetts 

Our Tip: Located within walking distance of the cruise terminal in Boston is the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. It’s a must-see for anyone interested in the Kennedy presidency and events during the Cold War, as well as a particular era in American life. It’s a visit you’re not likely to soon forget given all of the artifacts and photos of Camelot, some that are rarely seen elsewhere. 

Boston is a very walkable city with many attractions accessible on foot. History buffs will love this Freedom Trail Walking Tour of the city.

Member Tip: I love Boston downtown. Every corner you turn, there are beautiful historical buildings. If you happen to be there during lunchtime, just follow the longest line of the well-suited locals, then you will find the best food. - Jessmin

Member Tip: Loved Boston. I walked the entire city via the Freedom Trail. If you do NE/Canada out of Boston, I recommend going a day early to explore this beautiful city. - 4cruises4me

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Galveston, Texas 

Our Tip: Galveston offers everything from entertainment and shopping to over 32 miles of Gulf Coast beaches. 

Member Tip: My favorite port! We live in Louisiana but always choose Galveston as our port. Easy boarding and I love spending the night before in Galveston! The Pleasure Pier is always fun and there’s good food. - theneall123

Member Tip: We love Galveston. Go to the Strand for shopping and have a beer. Ride the Ferry and see dolphins - there’s so much to do. We normally go a day or two before the cruise and spend time on the island. - countrycurry

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Honolulu, Hawaii   

Our Tip: The Snorkel and Sail with the Turtles excursion takes you out into the water and lets you get a glimpse of Hawaii's underwater creatures. The stars of this tour are the Hawaiian sea turtles, but expect to see an array of other marine life, too. 

Member Tip: Don't miss Pearl Harbor. The town is super crowded with lots of shopping, but nothing that isn't on the mainland. Do the Diamondhead Stairs - they are worth the view! - bigdogclaire

Member Tip: Loved the double-decker bus (Pink line). The fare is $2 and it goes through all the high end shopping in Waikiki and loops back to Ala Moana shopping center right in front of Waikiki beach. - SeaNSud628

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Los Angeles, California (San Pedro)

Our Tips: Doing your own thing in Los Angeles has endless possibilities, from taking a TMZ bus tour of Hollywood and celebrity homes in nearby Beverly Hills to attending the taping of a TV show.  A breakfast visit to Farmers Market in Television City could be combined with a visit to the CBS studios nearby, or if there’s time, visit one of the major film studios.  

For those wanting to get away from the entertainment and celebrity scene, visit the Griffith Observatory in the Hollywood Hills where you can take in a panoramic view of the Los Angeles basin, take the subway out to picturesque Santa Monica, or walk along the boardwalk in world-famous Venice Beach where you will see all kinds of humanity — it’s sort of like the Times Square of the West Coast.  Most of these options will require Uber or a taxi given how spread out Los Angeles is and the city’s lack of reliable public transportation. 

Southern California has virtually no rain from May through November, so any outdoor activity you might plan during a visit then will likely not be interrupted by bad weather. 

Member Tip: We had a great time in Long Beach before we embarked. I highly recommend Catalina Island, Queen Mary, and the Aquarium of the Pacific! - CarolynBull

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Miami, Florida 

Our Tip: There is so much to see in Miami that we recommend the Miami Sightseeing, Bayside, and Baycruise tour. This all-day guided adventure will take you to all the must-see attractions of Miami from land and water in just one day. Highlights include visits to the famous South Beach, the Art Deco District, Key Biscayne, the mansions of Coral Gables, and Bayside Marketplace. Next, you will hop aboard a boat for a 90 minute Biscayne Bay cruise that includes downtown Miami, the Port of Miami, Fisher Island, and the grandiose homes of "Millionaire's Row."

Member Tip: I would recommend anyone cruising out of Miami add a day or two beginning or end to enjoy this fabulous diverse city. Take a tour, visit South Beach and Little Havana ( you won't need to cruise to Cuba). There’s so much to see and do. Depending on the time of year, take in a sporting event with the Miami Heat, Marlins, Dolphins or Panthers. - jomofl

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New Orleans, Louisiana 

Our Tip: In New Orleans, every day is an eating event featuring the best food in the world. From haute cuisine to hominy grits, there are flavors of every taste. We recommend checking out the guided Taste of New Orleans tour where you can sample iconic New Orleans dishes like gumbo and beignets. 

Member Tip: Best dang city in America! Try Acme Oyster house and Cafe Du Monde! Culture and food make this city what it is. Bourbon street is a must, try a Grenade at tropical isle and a hurricane at Pat O'Briens. - jamessizemore86

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Port Canaveral, Florida

Our Tip: Combine surfing with shopping for the ultimate beach excursion in Port Canaveral. This tour includes round-trip transportation to and from your port destination to the Cocoa Beach Surf Company for over two hours of professional surfing lessons and then time for shopping at world-famous Ron Jon Surf Shop. 

Member Tip: We loved the Cocoa Beach area, very close to the port. The port was easy to enter and exit. So far this has been the most organized port that we have been to. - iveycrew

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Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale), Florida 

Our Tip: Fort Lauderdale has 23 miles of beaches, 300 miles of inland waterways, and swimming pools galore. Resort for a Day’s Tidal Cove Waterpark at JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa pass is perfect for families. This shore excursion includes the use of the resort’s pool and the Tidal Cove Waterpark.

Member Tip: If you are there the day before embarkation there is a small State Park down by the cruise port that has a jetty that you can go on to watch the ships leave. Be there around 4 pm. The park is $6 per car. It's a lot of fun! - MarkWiggam

Member Tip: Flew in a few days early before our cruise to enjoy the area. We stayed at the Hilton right along the beach and went for walks every day, enjoyed the Florida sun, ate great food, went to a spa, and shopped on Las Olas Blvd. This may not have been an actual port stop, but you can easily make this an enjoyable extension of your cruise. - Ablessedlife2

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San Diego, California     

Our Tips: Avoid what may be tantalizing suggestions to visit Tijuana, Mexico to the south unless you are prepared to deal with pickpockets (or worse), as well as potential immigration issues and border hassles. Instead, go for a great meal and scenery in La Jolla where you can enjoy fantastic views of the Pacific while dining al fresco in San Diego’s near-perfect year-round climate. Unlike its city neighbor to the north, you aren’t as likely to experience the type of gridlock traffic and delays on the freeways which makes most of this spread-out city very accessible but, just like Los Angeles, you’ll need wheels to get most everywhere.     

We recommend taking the Two Hour San Diego Harbour Cruise and Sea Lion Adventure where you will travel 13 miles through San Diego's South and North Bay and catch views of over 50 landmarks. 

Member Tip: There is a free shuttle to the Seaport Village which is an excellent place to shop and walk around. - Sen

Member Tip: We took a cab to the famous San Diego Zoo and were not disappointed. A must see! - 4Goodtimes

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San Francisco, California 

Our Tips: Avoid the suggestions to go to Fisherman’s Wharf and the restaurants and bars in the touristy Union Square area downtown. Instead, head toward the South of Market area or the Castro neighborhood where you will hang out with the natives and also enjoy a true slice of San Francisco life. In a wealthy city (that doesn’t flaunt its wealth) you’re likely to be seated at a restaurant next to a young tech millionaire who could be mistaken for a backpacker. Head to North Beach, which is home to the city’s Italian community and full of great restaurants. There, you can also visit the cafe where Francis Ford Coppola wrote The Godfather and see where members of the Beat Generation hung out.  

San Francisco is a very walkable city where it’s almost impossible to tell the difference between hipsters, hippies, and homeless, unlike the much more pretentious and spread out Los Angeles to the far south. Make sure you’re on deck when your ship passes underneath the famed Golden Gate Bridge as you enter or leave the San Francisco Bay, otherwise you’ll miss the most iconic and perhaps memorable image of the City By the Bay, as it is known. 

Member Tip: Used the Muni Mobile app on our smartphones to buy a $12 all-day transit pass. The historic streetcars go right by the ship’s port and take you along the Embarcadero and Market Street. We took the Powell Hyde streetcar to coffee and had some sourdough (world’s best) at Boudin’s Bakery. - orcowboy52

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Seattle, Washington    

Our Tips: Seattle has a superb public bus system, making it very easy and inexpensive to get from the airport to your hotel or ship, a good option instead of expensive cabs or Uber if you aren’t carrying a lot of luggage. The city also prides itself on its coffee culture, and there are endless cafes worth patronizing.

Nature lovers will enjoy the Mount Rainier National Park Tour, America's fifth-oldest protected park, and home to the greatest single-peak glacial system in the country. 

Member Tip: The Public Market in Seattle was amazing, eating there is a must!!! It was very easy to take the Link Light Rail to get to downtown and a very short walk to interesting places. It is only 6 bucks for an all day pass for the rail. - bcuniewski

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Seward, Alaska

Our Tip: We recommend The Real Alaska Tour for those checking out the area in just one day. Seward is known as The Gateway to Alaska and Mile 0 of the Iditarod Trail. On the tour, see first-hand the effects of the 1964 Earthquake and stand in awe of the mountain that is home to the second-oldest foot race in the United States.

Member Tip: We concluded out cruise in Seward and found it to be a beautiful city with friendly people. While there we did an all day boat tour to the glaciers in the area. We saw many whales, orcas, porpoises, seals, puffins, etc. - katierney23

Member Tip: We spent a couple of days here. Fished successfully for halibut and shipped 30 lbs. home to enjoy after our vacation. Loved the free city bus ride all over town. - cruisefreakgirl

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Tampa, Florida  

Our Tip: The city has what may be America’s most user-friendly airport, so take advantage of that if you have a choice of where you want to arrive and depart. It is also home to several great museums including the Tampa Museum of Art and the Florida International Museum. Just a short drive over the bay is the Dali Museum in Downtown St Petersburg. Adventure seekers will love this speedboat and dolphin surfing excursion

Member Tip: Tampa has an aquarium right next to the pier. We got a half-price discount coming off the ship for entrance AND they stored our luggage for the day. With 12 hours before our flight, we took advantage of the storage and explored Tampa a little bit too. - elissa56905123

Member Tip: If you can do an additional day before or after your cruise, DO IT! Tampa has the Florida Aquarium, minor league baseball and major league spring training, pro football, hockey, Ybor City, and all the cultural events anyone could care to explore. - gri5thj

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What's your favorite U.S. homeport to sail out of?


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