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Port Guide

Miami: Cruise port guide – what to see, do & eat

Miami cruise port is a major cruising hub and a frequent starting point for Caribbean vacations. Here’s what you need to know.

Words by Nick Dalton

Miami is a city of gleaming, modern hotels – and Miami cruise port is a string of gleaming, mostly-new cruise terminals. There are something like a dozen of them, from Terminal G with its illuminated sail-like roof to Norwegian Cruise Line’s futuristic, curving ‘Pearl of Miami’, Royal Caribbean’s jagged ‘Crown of Miami’ to Virgin Voyages’ Palm Grove.

Newest to Miami cruise port is MSC’s $300m terminal, set to open in 2024. Unlike many cities where terminals can be several miles apart, they’re all clustered at the edge of downtown, on Dodge Island, across a short causeway, and on smaller, adjoining Star, Palm and Hibiscus islands.

Miami itself has plenty of places to stay, many hotels towering above the coast with views over the port and cruise ships coming and going. Given that anyone flying from Europe pretty much has to get here the day before departure, a night or two here is a bonus.

Most cruises from here head for the Caribbean and if you feel the need for more relaxation on your return, Miami’s famed South Beach, lined with fabulous Art Deco buildings (and which you all but pass as you’re sailing in), is the natural choice for sea, sand, restaurants and nightlife.

Transfers: Miami airport to cruise port

Practical bits

It’s easy – and it’s not. Miami has plenty of free and inexpensive public transport but it’s not widely heralded, as if they’d rather save it for locals.

How much does it cost to Uber from Miami airport to cruise port?

Miami International Airport is barely 15km from Miami cruise port and it’s easy to get an Uber.

But if you would rather have a journey that’s like a cruise excursion – great views and a sense of exploration – the Metrorail, starting high above the ground with views over to the South Beach hotels, is only $2.25 into the city and the central Government Center stop, handy for many hotels.

From airport to Miami cruise port, one of the city’s free trolleys (small buses dressed up like historic transport) weaves through the streets and across the bridge with several port stops.

The Coral Way trolley can easily be boarded at the Freedom Tower stop near the waterfront. Walk there from your hotel or hop on the Metromover, a free monorail that weaves between the skyscrapers.

How to get from Miami cruise port to South Beach

Post-cruise, you might find it easiest to grab an Uber for the 15-minute ride to South Beach. Or for a friendly, fun journey you could take the trolley for five minutes, then Metromover to the Adrienne Arsht stop by the bus station where the 120 bus (also $2.25) gives you a stirring ride across the causeway before cruising the South Beach streets.

How to get to Miami airport from South Beach

Easy! The 150 bus – another regular city service – has a string of handy stops and costs $2.25 for the 40-minute run to the airport.

Things to do in Miami

Fun bits

When you arrive the day before your Miami cruise take a sunset stroll around downtown. Walk along the banks of the Miami River, often busy with pleasure craft alive with cocktails and Cuban music, and through the greenery of Bayfront Park, often with views of bigger vessels.

Nestled close to the port bridge, curving around a small harbor, is Bayside Marketplace. It’s not the razzle-dazzle of modern Miami but a cheery, noisy waterfront collection of shops (Claire’s trinket emporium, a king-size Victoria’s Secret underwear store), open bars with loud music and even louder cocktails served by curiously-dressed wait-people with tattoos and body piercings, plus the relative tranquillity of a Hard Rock Café and Margaritaville.

What to do in Miami Beach

Enjoy the beach

This is a collection of barrier islands, both natural and man-made, just off-shore with the beach facing out to sea and a world of marinas looking toward the mainland. On South Beach, the greenery of Lummus Park covers a long strip between road – Ocean Drive – and beach, a place for walkers and cyclists (and to sit with a morning coffee from McDonald’s).

The Art Deco Welcome Centre, a museum, gift shop and organizer of a wealth of walking tours. The beach itself is deep, and very long with gaily painted lifeguard posts.

Four free trolley routes let you explore different parts. South Beach Loop covers the liveliest spots, Middle Beach goes farther afield while the Collins Express shoots from end to end, linking with North Beach Loop and almost reaching the resort of Bal Harbour.

Venetian Way

A historic 4km causeway between South Beach and the mainland via a collection of bridges (some stone, plus a couple that raise to let yachts through), man-made islets and tree-lined road across Biscayne Bay.

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, it follows the path of the 1913 Collins Bridge that opened up the beach area to development and is a lush, purely residential crossing with hideaway homes that’s divine for a quiet stroll, jog or cycle (or even, as I saw, a respectable skateboarder being towed at speed by his sheepdog).

Great views across to the Miami cruise port terminals and a wealth of seabirds, including swooping pelicans and flocks of startlingly white egrets. No cafes or bars so take sandwiches.

Lincoln Road

Miami Beach’s main street when conceived in 1914 – a glossy parade of shops from beach to bay, but which became traffic-jammed by the 1950s.

In 1960 cars were banned and it was one of the first major pedestrianisation projects in the US. Now protected, it is a delight of trees and greenery lined with shops (including a Pele Sport selling Inter Miami football shirts) and open-air restaurants.

The Wolfsonian

Beautiful art museum (almost opposite the Chelsea Hotel), a 1927 Mediterranean revival building that used to be a summer furniture store for Miami’s rich winter visitors. It’s a juxtaposition of time and space – the ornate wooden ceiling looks like it comes from a medieval church but was in fact rescued from a Miami car dealership.

A mesmerizing collection of modern landscapes features everything from power stations to Nazi autobahn construction. And, bizarrely, another room at The Wolfsonian houses the sketchbooks and designs of early 20th-century Castleford artist Albert Wainwright.

What to do in Miami city

A dozen free trolley routes around downtown Miami and its outposts, most running from early morning until 11pm, make it possible to zip around.

The Metromover [below, right], three city center loops but operating as one service at quieter times, is a fabulous ride through the towers, an attraction in itself – and you can’t find yourself disappearing into the suburbs as at the end of the line you simply come back.

Once you’ve taken the 120 bus across the bridge to the city center (Adrienne Arsht Metromover stop and bus station), there are lots of options.

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

A waterfront idyll, an Italianate mansion built in 1916 as the winter retreat of combine harvester millionaire James Deering [above]. The estate of clipped gardens with statuary, colorful lizards and even iguanas, cossets the house, filled with original art and furniture, then gives way to an extravagant stone waterfront.

A highlight at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is the lifelike – and lifesize – stone galleon built in the sea as a swimming platform. A fabulous day out with walks amongst the trees, and a delightful café with shaded open-air tables, offering tea on the terrace. Just north of downtown Miami; from South Beach take bus 120 to Adrienne Arsht, ride the Metromover to Brickell station then Brickell trolley to the gate.

Little Havana

Colorful streets filled with restaurants, shops, cigar-rolling stores, bakeries, art galleries, murals and lively music thanks to the Cuban population.

Máximo Gómez Park is known as Domino Park for its lively domino games mixed with political discussion while just up the street is Azucar, an artisan ice-cream shop with many flavors such as guarapiña (sugarcane and pineapple).

The action centers on South West Eighth Street, reached by the Little Havana trolley from Brickell Metromover station.

Frost Science Museum

Modernistic yet strangely old-school museum (things to read rather than multi-sensory exhibits) along with planetarium and aquarium on six levels, the latter running through three of them with hammerhead sharks and much more.

On two outdoor terraces at the Frost Science Museum there are ponds, tanks with rays, sea birds and waterfront views across the surrounding park. From the beach take the 120 bus, then Metromover one stop from Adrienne Arsht to Museum Park.

Brickell City Centre

An upmarket four-level, indoor/outdoor shopping complex in the Brickell district, the sleek new financial area, just across the Miami River from hotels that you’re likely to be staying in pre-cruise, and close to Brickell Metromover station.

There’s a huge Saks Fifth Avenue department store, plenty of other top names and lots of places to eat and drink.

Hidden delights from Miami cruise port

South Pointe

The stretch of beach farthest south on South Beach and with a waterfront park looking across a channel to little Fisher Island. There’s also 140m South Point Pier, loved by fishermen and with views stretching away into the sandy distance.

Miami Beach Botanical Garden

On the site of an early 20th-century golf course, a little north of Lincoln Road on Collins Canal (once used to transport mangoes and avocados to the port) that cuts across the island.

Miami Beach Botanical Garden is free and there are more than 100 species of palm tree, and lots of fruit, including pineapples, plus lakes, fountains and a canal promenade.

Farther afield

If you’re staying on and hiring a car, the Everglades aren’t all that far from Miami, with airboat rides across the alligator-infested swamps.

Flamingo Gardens, tropical and subtropical, is a green haven dating back to 1927 with more than 3,000 species of plants and trees. Not just flamingos – rescued alligators, bobcats, eagles, otters and panthers too.

Where to eat and drink in Miami

Foodie bits


South Beach has so many places to eat but you don’t always want the boisterous – and noisy – atmosphere of the beachfront. A couple of streets back, Limoncello, a pretty yet understated Italian has a small roadside terrace and a decent selection of homemade pasta dishes, not least lobster ravioli, plus cocktails featuring the namesake lemon liqueur.


The other end of the spectrum, 18 stories above the sea in the glitzy 1 South Beach hotel. Beach chic by day, real chic as the sun goes down, cocktails and Japanese-influence cuisine (tempura, sashimi and such) in a casual (up to a point) setting.

Hotels near Miami cruise port

Bed bits

For a pre-cruise night in downtown Miami, the JW Marriott Marquis is ideal, with a panoramic 19th-floor open-air swimming pool with ocean and river vistas.

As for other Miami hotels near the cruise port, there’s the more modest Courtyard by Marriott around the corner goes and the nearby Comfort Inn.

Post-cruise, Miami Beach is a world of hotels, but just be aware when booking that the beach goes on for some 15km and South Beach is the nearest to Miami and the cruise port, and by far the most colorful area.

Many Miami hotels face the sea, such as the unassuming Art Deco delight, the Leslie, with its rooftop pool, and the giant Loews. The strip, however, can be hectic after dark with music pouring from every bar and restaurant, and hotels a street or two back are part of the fun but can be quieter.

Hotel Chelsea is a great option, reasonably priced and in a neon-lit 1936 building. Its lobby bar and restaurant with is Havana Vieja, ornately and colorfully Cuban.

Here has info on both the city and South Beach while here has detailed transport information. For terminals and travel head here; airport here

Published 11.30.23