PortMiami Solidifies Itself as ‘Cruise Capital of the World’ with New Cruise Line Terminal Upgrades

PortMiami is the 'Cruise Capital of the World' - Photo by Canva

Odds are if you’ve planned a cruise, especially to the Caribbean, it’s likely you’ve either sailed out of or considered sailing out of PortMiami. Situated on Biscayne Bay with the skyline of Downtown Miami on one side and the Atlantic Ocean just a short sail away, PortMiami is the premier hub for most major cruise lines. Over the past few years, PortMiami has further solidified its position as the ‘Cruise Capital of the World’ as multiple lines have invested millions in their terminals at the port. It is currently the busiest cruise and passenger port in the world. 

There are 11 terminals at PortMiami that cater everything from large major cruise lines all the way to small vessels or luxury cruises. When cruising officially resumes in the U.S., cruise lines sailing out of PortMiami will include: Carnival Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, Virgin Voyages, Disney Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara, Crystal Cruises, Oceania, Regent Seven Seas, and Viking Ocean Cruises. PortMiami is also a port of call for the following lines: AIDA, Hapag-Lloyd, Hurtigruten, P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises, SAGA, Scenic Cruises, Seabourn, TUI Cruises, and Windstar Cruises. 

As the cruise industry has grown in terms of passenger volume and new innovations in ship design, cruise lines have responded by creating new terminals or completely overhauling existing terminals and other needed upgrades to accommodate this growth. When these new terminals are built at PortMiami, the cruise lines are considering factors such as ease of parking for passengers, how to quickly and efficiently move passengers from land to sea, and what is needed to accommodate for larger and larger ships entering into their fleets.  

Here is a look at all of the major completed terminals or those in construction, all of which have been finished or broken ground within the past few years. 

Completed Terminals

Royal Caribbean International - Terminal A

Symphony of the Seas docked at PortMiami - Photo by Royal Caribbean International 

Royal Caribbean International was the first of the major cruise brands to complete a terminal upgrade at PortMiami. Terminal A, aka the ‘Crown of Miami’, opened to passengers in November 2018 and is currently the largest cruise terminal in the world. Designed by England-based architecture firm Broadway Mayland, this state-of-the-art terminal spans 170,000 square feet. 

Terminal A is LEED-certified and can accommodate Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ships. The terminal was designed to accommodate up to 2 million passengers per year. 

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Norwegian Cruise Line - Terminal B

The Norwegian terminal at PortMiami can accommodate ships of up to 5,000 passengers  - Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line 

At nearly 166,500 square feet, the new Norwegian Cruise Line terminal at PortMiami was completed in 2020, forever redefining the city skyline. Designed by Miami-based global architect firm Bermello, Ajamil & Partners Inc., Norwegian’s terminal will accommodate ships of up to 5,000 passengers. The modern terminal draws its inspired design from the Fibonacci nautilus, with its spiraled and multi-level façade, providing vast grand water views and panoramic vistas of Miami. A dedicated lounge and service area will offer a warm and welcoming arrival for guests, and a new parking garage and valet parking area with direct access to the terminal will streamline the arrival and departure process for more efficiency.

Norwegian will officially debut the new terminal upon its return to service.

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Cruise Terminals Under Construction

Carnival Cruise Line - Terminal F

Carnival is building an all-new Terminal F at PortMiami- Photo by Carnival Cruise Line

In January, Carnival broke ground on an all-new Terminal F at PortMiami. The $120 million dollar, 471,000 square-foot terminal is slated for completion in September 2022. The terminal is set to be home to Carnival Celebration, the line’s newest LNG-powered Excel-class ship, as well as Carnival Mardi Gras.

Carnival got its start sailing from PortMiami in March 1972 offering voyages on the original TSS Mardi Gras. The line’s opening of the terminal in 2022 will coincide with the year of Carnival’s 50th birthday festivities. 

“We are proud of Carnival's role in making Miami the cruise capital of the world, and today marks the continuation of an incredible 50-year partnership with PortMiami and Miami-Dade County. This expanded terminal built specifically for Carnival Celebration will make an incredible addition to the existing facilities at our largest embarkation port,” said Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy at the terminal’s January 29th groundbreaking ceremony. 

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Virgin Voyages - Terminal V

Video Credit: PortMiami and MiamiDadeTV

Cruise line newcomer Virgin Voyages broke ground on a state-of-the-art terminal in January 2021. When complete, the new 100,000 square-foot ‘Terminal V’ will be Virgin Voyage’s flagship terminal, home to the Scarlet Lady and Valiant Lady

The two-story building is being designed by architecture firm Arquitectonica and will feature Miami-inspired elements to blend in with the city skyline. The terminal is slated for completion in 2021. 

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MSC Cruises - Terminal AA/AAA

MSC Cruises is set to build and operate PortMiami’s cruise terminals AA and AAA and its two berths. The terminal will be located on the easternmost part of the port and is being designed by architecture firm Arquitectonica. Completion of construction is slated for 2022. 

MSC Seashore, the line’s longest vessel, is set to sail out of MSC’s existing space at PortMiami in November 2021.  The newest ship in the MSC fleet will spend the Winter 2021-2022 season sailing Caribbean voyages. Read More: MSC Unveils New Details for MSC Seashore

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In addition to physical growth at PortMiami, cruise lines along with the City of Miami have all come together to address the long-term environmental impacts of the port. In February 2021, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava signed a letter of intent with the CEOs of six cruise companies (Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean Group, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, MSC Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, and Virgin Voyages) as well as the CEO of Florida Power & Light to bring the pollution control technology called Shore Power to PortMiami. All of these parties will form a task force to work through the logistical and funding challenges of installing Shore Power, which allows ships to turn off their engines while docked and plug into the local electrical grid. 

(Sources: PortMiami and Miami Herald)

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