Top 10 Cruise Ports in America

With cruise ships leaving from over 20 different cities in America including Alaska and Hawaii this list was harder to put together than I thought it would be. It also doesn’t help that I have not been able to personally visit many of the ports on the west coast (so sorry for the east coast bias). I still want to keep this a top 10 list however to follow in the footsteps of my other list such as top 10 cruise lines. What I’m looking for in terms of a great home port is number of cruises offered year round, destinations from the port, choice of cruise lines and convenience.

Any number of American cruise ports probably could have slipped into the ten spot but cruises from Baltimore offer not only a great port city with the Inner Harbor and world class sporting events but the city is within an hours drive to the nations capital. This opens up all kinds of possibilities for pre and post cruise stays in either Baltimore or Washington D.C. This is also a great port if you are looking for cruises to Bermuda or cruises through New England and Canada.

Cruise lines – Carnival, Royal Caribbean
Destinations – Caribbean, Bahamas, Bermuda, New England, Canada

9. New Orleans
A few years ago this port wouldn’t even have sniffed the top ten. Now with a rejuvenated French Quarter and the addition of new cruise lines and top ships such as the Navigator of the Seas and Carnival Conquest, New Orleans finds itself on the list of best cruise ports to leave from. Be sure to stay an extra night or two in New Orleans to get the full experience. Currently, itineraries are fairly limited and only go to Mexico and the Western Caribbean. While New Orleans is a great city, the lack of destinations keep this port from moving further up the list.

Cruise lines – Carnival, Royal Caribbean, NCL
Destinations – Caribbean, Mexico

8. Tampa
Like New Orleans, cruises from Tampa are somewhat limited in their itineraries with most ships sticking with Western Caribbean destinations but what sets Tampa apart from New Orleans are the long cruises with Holland America. Considered by many to be the best cruise line for seniors, Holland America offers several lengthy two week cruises throughout the Caribbean. Cruise from Tampa are also typically a bit cheaper than the other major ports in Florida.

Cruise lines – Carnival, Royal Caribbean, NCL, Holland America
Destinations – Caribbean, Mexico

7. Port Canaveral
I have to admit that when I started this post I thought Port Canaveral would be much higher on the list because that is where we typically cruise from. As it turns out there are quite a few fantastic cruise ports throughout the country that I have been missing out on. The city itself isn’t really a destination location but what does set Port Canaveral apart from other ports however is that it has become the somewhat official cruise port of Disney World due to its proximity to Orlando (even though Tampa is only a few miles further away on the other coast). This means if you are looking for a Disney cruise chances are you will be heading out of Port Canaveral. Port Canaveral also offers an excellent embarkation process and it isn’t uncommon to be on the ship less than 30 minutes after you park.

Cruise lines – NCL, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Disney, Costa
Destinations – Bahamas, Caribbean

6. San Francisco
Our first great west coast city to make the list is San Francisco. San Francisco’s forte is the long two week plus cruises to places such as Hawaii and Alaska. Also available are 20+ day one way trips through the panama canal, the Caribbean and South America. Because of the longer itineraries San Francisco is a favorite amongst retired senior cruisers.

Cruise lines – Celebrity, Crystal, Cunard, Holland America, Norwegian, Oceania, Princess, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean, Silversea
Destinations – Hawaii, Alaska, Mexico, Panama Canal, Caribbean, South America,



Lady Liberty © by Greg Knapp


5. New York City
No other port offers a chance to sail past the Statue of Liberty and for that New York finds itself in the top 5 cruise ports in America. Terminals in both Manhattan and Brooklyn provides chances to cruise past Lady Liberty on magnificent ocean liners like many have done for hundreds of years. Be sure to book a balcony cabin for this cruise. New York is also home to the Queen Mary 2 which is the only ship still continually cruising a transatlantic routes between New York and Southhampton, England.

Cruise lines – NCL, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Disney, Cunard, Costa, Crystal, Regent Seven Seas, Silversea
Destinations – Bahamas, Caribbean, Bermuda, New England, Canada, England

4. Seattle
Seattle could easily be in the top three if it weren’t for the limited cruise season for the port. Seattle is the main U.S. port for cruises to Alaska from May to September and its perfect for cruisers wishing to cruise without a passport. Several cruises leave from Vancouver to Alaska but if you fly to Canada from the United States you will be required to have a passport. The beautiful northwest scenery also means you should extend your stay in Seattle to see the sites.

Cruise lines – NCL, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Celebrity, Princess, Holland America, Disney
Destinations – Alaska



Miami © by bunnygoth


3. Miami
When you think of cruising, the first port that comes to mind for most people is Miami. It could be because Miami itself is almost as good as a Caribbean island with its white sand beaches and clear blue water. While it’s true Miami is a fantastic city that offers fantastic cruises, it turns out not to even be our top choice for the state of Florida. But don’t let that take away from the #3 American cruise port.

Cruise lines – Azamara, NCL, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Celebrity, Oceania, Costa
Destinations – Alaska

2. Los Angeles
Los Angeles is to the west coast what Ft Lauderdale and Miami are to the East Coast. From here you can catch many of the top cruise lines to world class destinations such as Hawaii and even a round trip cruise to Tahiti on Princess Cruise Lines. Then when your month long cruise is done you can spend a few more days in the bright lights of Hollywood.

Cruise lines – Carnival, Celebrity, Crystal, Cunard, Holland America, NCL, Princess Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn, Silversea
Destinations – Mexico, Hawaii, Canada, Tahiti

1. Ft Lauderdale
Twenty years ago Miami probably would have got the best of Ft Lauderdale on this list but with many of the top cruise ships in the world calling Ft Lauderdale home including the Oasis of the Seas and the Celebrity Solctice it’s hard to argue with the top spot (unless you are a west coaster).

Cruise lines – Carnival, Celebrity, Costa, Cunard, Holland America, MSC, Princess, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn, Silversea
Destinations – Bahamas, Caribbean

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