US Cruise Ports Waiting to Welcome You Aboard

The United States is home to a number of stunning cruise ports, offering the opportunity to explore some of the country’s most beautiful coastal regions.

From bustling cities in Florida and California to charming fishing towns in Alaska and Hawaii, cruise ports in the USA are as diverse as the country itself.

Whether you’re looking for the vibrant nightlife of Miami, the exciting adventure of the rugged coastlines of Alaska, or a tropical getaway, there are plenty of options available for an unforgettable vacation.

In this post, I break down different US cruise ports and fun things and tours to do in each location.

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List of Cruise Ports in the USA by State

Here is an overview of some of the best cruise ports in the USA:

  • ALABAMA: Mobile Cruise Port
  • ALASKA: Juneau Cruise Port, Ketchikan Cruise Port, Icy Strait Point, Seward Cruise Port, Whittier Cruise Port
  • CALIFORNIA: Long Beach Cruise Port, Los Angeles Cruise Port, San Diego Cruise Port, San Francisco Cruise Port
  • FLORIDA: Fort Lauderdale Cruise Port, Jacksonville Cruise Port, Miami Cruise Port, Port Canaveral Cruise Port, Palm Beach Cruise Port, Tampa Bay Cruise Port, Key West Cruise Port
  • HAWAII: Honolulu Cruise Port, Port of Hilo
  • LOUISIANA: New Orleans Cruise Port
  • MARYLAND: Baltimore Cruise Port
  • MASSACHUSETTS: Boston Cruise Port
  • NEW JERSEY: Bayonne Cruise Port
  • NEW YORK (BROOKLYN): Brooklyn Cruise Port
  • NEW YORK (MANHATTAN): Manhattan Cruise Port
  • OREGON: Portland Cruise Port
  • SOUTH CAROLINA: Charleston Cruise Port
  • TEXAS: Galveston Cruise Port
  • VIRGINIA: Norfolk Cruise Port
  • WASHINGTON: Seattle Cruise Port
  • PUERTO RICO: San Juan Cruise Port

West Coast United States Cruise Ports

Seattle Cruise Port, Washington

Cruise passengers walk a bridge from downtown towards the embarkation area for the Norwegian Cruise Lines Bliss Ship at Pier 66 in Seattle Harbor.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Seattle’s expanding cruise industry welcomes some of the world’s largest ships to docks on Elliott Bay. The city’s strategic location along the West Coast means it’s just a day’s journey by water to Canada or California, and you can reach Alaska or Mexico in less than a week.

In addition to the six major cruise lines that operate weekly service out of Seattle, you can also sail around Elliott Bay, Lake Union, Lake Washington, or along a combination of local waterways in smaller sightseeing boats like Argosy Cruises.

Norwegian Cruise Line, Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, and Royal Caribbean all offer seven-day summer cruises from Seattle to Alaska. Some provide additional destinations, such as Princess’s 16-day Hawaiian Island trip or Carnival’s 17-day one through the Panama Canal, but those have numerous travel days at sea on the itinerary.

Seattle has two main cruise terminals: Bell Street cruise terminal at Pier 66 and Smith Cove cruise terminal at Pier 91.

For a smaller, less traditional cruise experience, UnCruise leaves from Fisherman’s Terminal for trips to Alaska and the San Juan Islands.

All itineraries to Seattle should include a stop at Pike Place Market and Space Needle. Two other can’t-miss tourist attractions are the Olympic Sculpture Park in Belltown, the Museum of Flight by the airport, and the Seattle Art Museum Downtown.

If you are traveling to Seattle with kids, consider the aquarium, a ride on the Seattle Great Wheel, and the sights along the waterfront.

Several cruise options also depart from Lake Union Park. A 45-minute narrated Ice Cream Cruise on the Seattle mini ferry is a family favorite on Sundays.

Seattle Tours:

San Francisco US Cruise Port, California

San Francisco, California 04/12/2019: Pier 27 port
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

As a port town and a hub during the 19th-century gold rush, San Francisco is a major landmark and one of the most vibrant cities in the United States.

It’s a popular departure port for cruise ships that sail to the California coast, Mexico, Hawaii, Alaska, and beyond.

Two main cruise terminals are Pier 27 James R. Herman Cruise Terminal, and Pier 35 on the Embarcadero.

One of the best things to do in San Francisco is a stroll along the bay. The 2-mile walk along the Embarcadero from the Ferry Building offers a chance to take in some of the city’s most spectacular views.

The Ferry Building is a foodie paradise with organic, seasonal produce and local treasures, such as Mariposa Baking Company and Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream.

Other highlights in the area are the hands-on science museum, the Exploratorium, Levi Strauss headquarters, and Fisherman’s Wharf.

One of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge is from a boat on one of the bay cruises, especially the ones that take you right under the bridge.

You can board the ferries that leave from the Fisherman’s Wharf from Pier 39 (Blue & Gold Cruise) and Pier 41 (Red & White Cruise) for an hour on the bay and a trip under the bridge.

Alcatraz Landing at Pier 33 is the departure point for tours to Alcatraz, the infamous prison island.

San Francisco Tours:

Cruise Port at San Diego, California

San Diego, California. Travelers in front of the cruise ship terminal in San Diego, California.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

From San Diego port, you can sail up the West Coast to Vancouver or through the exciting Panama Canal all the way to Florida. It can also be a great starting point for a Mexican or Caribbean getaway.

The two main cruise terminals B Street Pier and Broadway Pier host the following cruise lines: Holland America, Disney Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Windstar Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises, MSC Cruises, Viking Cruises, Silversea Cruises, Oceania Cruises, and Hurtigruten.

San Diego is a US beach vacation paradise, complete with idyllic year-round temperatures and 70 miles of pristine coastline.

The United States cruise port in San Diego is located on the waterfront right in the heart of town, making it an excellent spot for sightseeing.

To get a great overview of the city from the water, you can choose from multiple tour companies offering a range of harbor cruises.

A popular option is the Flagship cruise with dinner and dance cruises, brunch cruises, and winter whale-watching tours from December to mid-April.

If you get bored of water, Balboa Park is the perfect spot to explore and take in some of San Diego’s history, art, culture, and nature.

San Diego Tours:

United States Cruise Ports in Alaska

Ketchikan Alaska Cruise Port

Cruise ships in the port of Ketchikan, Alaska
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Most large Alaska cruise lines, such as Princess, Norwegian, and Holland America, stop only in the major ports and generally start from Vancouver or Seattle. Many cruises also take you through Glacier Bay National Park and to some of Alaska’s largest glaciers, like Hubbard Glacier.

Every year between May and September, Ketchikan receives around one million cruise ship passengers, and for a good reason.

Alaska is all about a true wilderness experience. Ketchikan isn’t accessible by road; the only way to see this charming small town is by boat.

There is no better place in the US to view totem poles in all their colorful glory than in Ketchikan.

Another top Alaska experience is paddling in the rainforest.

If you have any extra time, explore Creek Street and grab a cup of coffee and a bite to eat at New York Cafe.

Ketchikan Tours:

Cruise Port at Icy Strait Point in Hoonah, Alaska

ICY STRAIT POINT, ALASKA, USA - AUGUST 25, 2022: The Carnival Splendor docked near the tidepool area, where people look for wildlife.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Icy Strait Point is Alaska’s only privately owned cruise ship destination. All organized activities are tailored to fit the cruise ship schedule, so book well in advance.

Common cruise lines that provide transport to Icy Strait Point in Hoonah, Alaska, are Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Disney Cruise Line, Cunard, Oceania, Windstar, and others.

Highlights at Icy Strait Point include one of the world’s largest zip lines, Tlingit dance performances, and whale-watching trips to nearby Point Adolphus. The village of Hoonah is only a 20 to 30-minute stroll along the coast.

Humpbacks or orcas? Do you have a favorite? The good news is that you will likely see both during a whale-watching excursion in the Icy Strait.

After a jam-packed day of sightseeing, Cookhouse Restaurant is perfect for a lunch break.

Icy Strait Point Tours:

Juneau Cruise Port, Alaska

Majestic Princess of Princess cruises at the cruise dock in Juneau.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Juneau, Alaska’s capital, is on the North American mainland but can’t be reached by road.

The city’s geographic isolation and compact size are bordered by steep mountains and water, making it much more similar to an island community like Sitka than to other Alaskan urban centers, such as Fairbanks or Anchorage.

With a day in port, explore St Franklin Street with its shops, bars, and restaurants. Don’t miss out on Tracy’s Crab Shack with to-die-for crab cakes.

The city also provides a variety of hiking trails to nearby glaciers and ice fields.

Allocate some time to the Alaska State Museum or the Walter Soboleff Building, where you can learn about the Indigenous cultures of Southeast Alaska—Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian.

Other Juneau highlights are the Mt. Roberts Tramway, plenty of wilderness areas, quiet bays for sea kayaking, and even a famous Mendenhall Glacier.

Smaller ships typically sail from Juneau or other ports, stopping at the popular towns as well as smaller, offbeat villages.

Juneau Tours:

Central United States Cruise Ports

Mobile Cruise Port, Alabama

Mobile, Alabama, is America’s only seaport.

From Mobile, you can take a Carnival Fantasy operated by Carnival Cruise Line to Progreso, Costa Maya, or Cozumel in Mexico. These cruises are often as short as four days to enjoy relaxation on board and shore excursions.

Other cruises departing from Mobile include stops in the Bahamas, Key West Florida, Grand Cayman Island/George Town, Costa Rica, Belize, and Panama Canal.

Mobile offers many tourist activities to keep you entertained on your visit.

One of the top attractions is Bellingrath Gardens and Home, an exquisite 65-acre estate featuring beautiful gardens.

Battleship Memorial Park is a great way to learn about local history. The USS Alabama and other historic ships from World War II are on display here. You can even have a unique submarine experience.

Mobile Tours:

Galveston Cruise Port, Texas

Galveston TX/USA: Cruise ship Carnival Vista in port at a deserted cruise terminal
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Galveston is a mid-sized city on the Texas Gulf Coast known for its beaches, water sports, historical sites, and beach town charm.

It’s also home to Port Galveston and three cruise terminals that offer year-round cruises.

Located only about an hour from Houston makes it a convenient spot to hop on a cruise.

And the best part is it’s only about half an hour from the Gulf of Mexico. So you can sip those margaritas on the beach in no time.

The cruise lines departing from here are Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Princess, and Disney.

When it comes to things to do near the port, Pleasure Pier is a must-visit. Here you’ll find plenty of food, shops, and even roller coaster rides.

Enjoy a stroll in town and marvel at pretty Victorian-style houses, or head to Moody Gardens.

Galveston Tours:

East Coast United States Cruise Ports

Cape Liberty, New Jersey Cruise Port

Newest Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Quantum of the Seas docked at Cape Liberty Cruise Port
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Cape Liberty cruise port in Bayonne, New Jersey, is a popular departure point for cruises to the Caribbean with Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Azamara, and German cruise line TUI Cruises.

From here, you can sail to exciting tropical destinations, such as Transatlantic, Bahamas, Bermuda, Caribbean.

The port is close to Manhattan, so many travelers choose it as their embarkation port when they want to combine a few days in New York City with their cruise vacation.

The highlight is seeing the Statue of Liberty and the NYC skyline straight from the port on a clear day.

Spend some time exploring the area and take a stroll in Bayonne Park.

Cape Liberty Tours:

Baltimore, Maryland Cruise Port

Baltimore has been a major port city since the 1700s, making it one of the US oldest port cities. Over the years, it has blossomed into a major Maryland tourist destination.

The harbor was once a thriving destination for supplies arriving by steamship. Today, it’s home to many attractions, museums, restaurants, upscale hotels, and a beautiful waterfront promenade.

Fell’s Point is about a five-minute drive east from the Inner Harbor, or you can reach it by water taxi. It is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Baltimore, with many historic buildings and trendy restaurants.

Nearby, Little Italy is a great spot to sample delicious Italian cuisine.

If you travel with kids, they’ll love this 1.5-hour adventure pirate cruise.

You can choose between Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Line for cruises departing from Baltimore, MD. Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas sails to Bermuda, Canada, New England, and the Caribbean. Meanwhile, Carnival Pride sails to the Bahamas and various Caribbean islands.

Baltimore Tours:

Fort Lauderdale, Florida Cruise Port

Amsterdam owned by Holland America docked at Fort Lauderdale
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Florida is home to two of the busiest cruise ports in the US, the Port of Miami and Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades, both major ports of embarkation for Caribbean itineraries. Outside of Orlando, cruisers embark from Port Canaveral.

Fort Lauderdale is the yachting capital of the world with its sparkling shoreline.

Downtown Fort Lauderdale’s Las Olas Boulevard has many boutiques, restaurants, art galleries, cafés, and nightlife venues. It’s a pedestrian-friendly street, making it a great place for a pleasant stroll.

If you still didn’t get enough of the water, you can opt for a romantic evening cruise through downtown Fort Lauderdale or take an airboat to Florida Everglades National Park accompanied by a master naturalist.

Fort Lauderdale Tours:

Port of Palm Beach, Florida

Cruise Ship and Cargo Boat parked in dock Port Palm Beach
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

The Port of Palm Beach is the exclusive home port of the Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, with year-round cruises aboard Grand Celebration and Grand Classica to Grand Bahama Island.

Palm Beach is one of Florida’s wealthiest cities, so you can expect mansions, private clubs, and upscale shopping and golfing.

You can explore the historic sights, like the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum and the church of Bethesda-By-The Sea.

The port is also within short distance of West Palm Beach, Lake Worth, and Fort Lauderdale.

Palm Beach Tours:

Port Canaveral, Florida Cruise Port

Disney cruise ship Fantasy docked in Port Canaveral
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Port Canaveral is the busiest cruise port in the USA for multiday cruises. It’s a launch point for major cruise lines such as Disney, Royal Caribbean, MSC, Carnival, and Norwegian.

These cruise ships can take you to the eastern or western Caribbean or, with more time, to Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, the Panama Canal, or South America.

The north end of the port has some good waterfront restaurants with big viewing decks. Seafood Atlantic is ideal if you love seafood. For something more low-key, Southern Charm Cafe is a popular local diner serving Southern comfort food at great prices.

About 50 miles east of Orlando, the Space Coast’s string of beach towns, from Titusville to Melbourne, are popular for weekend side trips from Walt Disney World or for beach getaways pre-or post-cruise from Port Canaveral.

It’s also a great spot to watch rocket launches.

The best view at Port Canaveral is no longer from the top of a cruise ship but from the top of the Exploration Tower. This seven-story structure makes the cruise ships look not so massive after all.

The tower is conveniently located only a short walk from the cruise port and offers amazing views of the cruise port, the Atlantic Ocean, the Banana River, and even the Kennedy Space Center.

Port of Miami, Florida Cruise Port

The Port of Miami is known as the cruise capital of the world. It’s a busy US cruise port that can transport you to the Caribbean, Mexico, South America, and beyond.

A wide variety of cruise lines offer their services in Port of Miami – Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Celebrity, Oceania, Azamara, Regent Seven Seas, Virgin Voyages, Seabourn, MSC, and Disney.

The Bayside Marketplace near the Port of Miami is a waterfront complex of entertainment, dining, souvenir shops, and retail stores geared toward cruise ship passengers. This mall has Foot Locker, Skechers, Gap, and other chain stores. There’s also a Hard Rock Cafe on-site.

Grab lunch at Joe’s Stone Crab, Miami’s seafood restaurant. You can take it away for a picnic to South Pointe Park, where cruise ships and other boats go in and out of the Atlantic Ocean and Biscayne Bay.

Miami Tours:

Key West, Florida US Cruise Port

Key West cruise port has been active since 1969, and today over five hundred cruise ships dock here every year.

Key West is a popular Florida destination and is included in many cruises from Fort Lauderdale, Port Canaveral, Tampa, and Miami.

Holland America, Carnival, and Royal Caribbean offer routes from Key West port to the Bahamas, Cuba, Grand Cayman, Jamaica, and more.

The cruise port of Key West has three main terminals, Mallory Square, Pier B, and Outermole (or Navy Mole).

As a tourist destination, Key West has a lot to offer, an average temperature of 79°F, 19th-century architecture, and a laid-back lifestyle.

Mallory Square and Pier is one of the disembarkation points for cruise ship passengers. The area is buzzing with street performers – human statues, sword swallowers, rope walkers, musicians, street food vendors, and more. The main highlight, however is a tropical sunset.

The historic Old Town area runs from White Street to the waterfront. To get a taste of the history of Key West, you check out the old Victorian-style houses, Audubon House and Tropical Gardens, or Ernest Hemingway home and museum.

The highlight is Dry Tortugas National Park, with an impressive historical fort and even more beautiful azure waters.

Rent a boat, go fishing, swim, dive, snorkel, or marvel at the sun, sea, and sky. A fun thing to do is kayaking to secluded islands through mangrove forests.

If you have more time, Key West Express operates ferries between the Key West Terminal, Marco Island, and Fort Myers Beach.

Key West Tours:

San Juan, Puerto Rico Cruise Port

cruise ship in port from top, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

The cruise port in San Juan is one of the most popular destinations for Caribbean cruise itineraries receiving around 500 ships and approximately 2 million cruise passengers every year.

Many cruise ships start or end their journeys in San Juan.

Cruise ships dock in one of the main piers – Pan American Pier and Pier 4, right at the bottom of the historical city of Old San Juan.

Getting to Old San Juan from the cruise ship port is pretty easy. Just a short walk of a couple of blocks or a ride by taxi or rideshare will take you into the heart of the walled city.

While here, you should definitely not miss a chance to sip a glass of authentic Pina Colada cocktail, which originated in Puerto Rico.

Calle de Fortaleza is a perfect place to get your photos with hanging street art that changes monthly. Another cool place is La Casa Estrecha, the narrowest house in Puerto Rico.

For sweeping ocean views, head to Castillo San Felipe del Morro, a historic Spanish fortress.

Puerto Rico Tours:

Hawaii United States Cruise Ports

Honolulu Cruise Port

Ship in Port of Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

O’ahu is home to Honolulu, the state’s capital and main cruise port. The port has two terminals – Pier 2 and Aloha Tower (Pier 11) that are conveniently located in downtown Honolulu.

The cruise lines passing through Honolulu port are Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Princess, Seabourn, Holland America Line, Disney, Carnival, Ponant, Regent Seven Seas, P&O Cruises, and Explora Journeys.

Oahu is undoubtedly a dream holiday destination. You can find here Waikiki, the most famous Hawaiian beach, some of the best world-class surfing on the North Shore, and the historical sight of Pearl Harbor.

Thanks to 112 miles of coastline and beautiful beaches, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to soak up the sun and enjoy water sports and outdoors.

Oahu Tours:

Departing From These US Cruise Ports

As you can see, there is no shortage of fantastic cruise ports in the US. Your choice of cruise port will depend on the traveling distance, the cruise lines available, and the itineraries offered.

Are you a fan of cruising? Discover these best cruises to take.

If it’s your first time cruising, you might find this article helpful.

So get ready for your next big cruise and start planning your dream cruise holiday.


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Travel Writer at Savoteur | + posts

Casandra Karpiak is a travel writer and owner of Savoteur. A Toronto native with Danish roots currently residing in British Columbia, her travel writing has been seen on The Associated Press wire, MSN, FOX, CBS, NBC, Entrepreneur, 24/7 Wall St, Times Daily, and many more. When she’s not traveling, she can be found at hockey arenas all over BC cheering on her two young sons.