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You plan to go on a cruise sometime in the next year. What’s the first thing you think about? Your destination, right? Do you want to relax on the beaches of the Bahamas or see the icy beauty of Alaska? Get some Latin flavor in a South American country or tour the historic ports of Europe?

But while your destination is obviously very important, don’t neglect another important decision: your departure port. The United States is home to no fewer than 20 ports (if you include Vancouver) where you can board your cruise and head out for adventure. Knowing where these ports are and which cruises depart from them can make your travel easier, shorter, and much less expensive.

Below you’ll find a guide to all 20 ports in the country.


Norfolk. If you like friendly locals, Colonial history, and being surrounded by mermaids (they are the symbol of the port), Norfolk is a great port to stay in for a day or two. Visitors will also discover a bustling arts scene, and don’t be surprised if you stumble onto a festival – there are more than 130 held here every year!

  • Cruise linesCarnival
  • Destinations– Bahamas, Bermuda, cruise to Nowhere


Bayonne. Want great access to and views of the Manhattan skyline and Statue of Liberty without having to pay to stay in New York? In and of itself, Bayonne isn’t much of a city for people to visit, but the port has been vastly renovated since 2004. You’ll be close to nearby attractions without having to pay the inflated price of actually staying there.

  • Cruise lines– Royal Caribbean, Celebrity
  • Destinations– Bahamas, Bermuda, Caribbean, Canada/New England, Transatlantic (to Barcelona, Spain)


Long Beach. The biggest claim to fame for Long Beach is that it is relatively close to both Los Angeles and San Diego, offering you access to two world-class cities if you stay for a few extra days on either end of your trip. But even people who stick to the city itself can enjoy the Aquarium of the Pacific, take tours of the Queen Mary, and find some nice local eateries.

  • Cruise lines– Carnival
  • Destinations– Mexican Riviera, Mexican Baja, Hawaii


Charleston. Only Carnival travels out of Charleston, to the Bahamas and Caribbean, but as a port town, the city itself is well worth the visit. One of the most picturesque places in America, it’s a place that has been around for centuries and endured a lot of strife, but still managed to come out on the other side whole. You’ll find history everywhere you look, as well as lots of Charlestonians eager to share it with you.


  • Cruise lines– Carnival
  • Destinations– Bahamas, Eastern Caribbean


Galveston. If you want a port that’s walkable, Galveston is the perfect place to go – the downtown is literally just across the street! You’ll also find family-friendly excursions, such as their giant waterpark or indoor rainforest. It’s not a cruise hub like some of the other cities on this list, but is definitely worth considering for those interested in the Bahamas or Caribbean.

  • Cruise linesRoyal Caribbean, Carnival
  • Destinations– Eastern and Western Caribbean, Bahamas


Jacksonville. Kid-friendly attractions, hiking and biking trails, and 21 miles of beaches make Jacksonville worth the trip if you want to take a Carnival ship to the Bahamas. Unfortunately, that’s your only option at this port, making the city better as a destination than a departure point.

  • Cruise lines– Carnival
  • Destinations– Bahamas

Boston Cruise Ship Accident Attorney


Boston. When you think of Boston, do you think about the Celtics, Patriots, and Red Sox? Harvard? Paul Revere? Cheers? Most likely you don’t think about it being a cruise city, but there are a several major lines and ships that depart from Beantown, as well as some cruises that you can’t find anywhere else.

  • Cruise linesNorwegian, Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn
  • Destinations– Bermuda, Canada/New England, Caribbean, Transatlantic


San Diego. This is the city that most people see in their minds when they imagine Los Angeles – gorgeous beaches, lush greenery, great Mexican food, and a thriving metropolis on the coast of Southern California. Don’t forget to visit the world famous Balboa Park, which is home to the San Diego Zoo and several other attractions. The cruises aren’t bad either, especially for those headed to Mexico or South America.

  • Cruise lines–Celebrity, Holland America, Disney, Royal Caribbean
  • Destinations– Hawaii, Mexico, Panama Canal, South America, Transatlantic, U.S. Coastal, Transcanal, Pacific Northwest, Alaska


Honolulu. Head to Hawaii if you want to explore the Australian outback, sail north to Vancouver, or get a detailed look at the Hawaiian Islands themselves. Just build in a bit of extra time to stay on shore and enjoy Hawaii itself.

  • Cruise lines– Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Carnival
  • Destinations– Australia, Vancouver, Hawaiian Islands


Baltimore. What makes Baltimore a great port for cruises? Visitors will enjoy the Inner Harbor and availability of professional sports events year-round, as well as the ability to visit our nation’s capital only an hour away.

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

 New Orleans Cruise Ship Accident  Attorney


New Orleans. Itineraries are fairly limited, but new cruise lines and ships have been added in recent years, and the city itself is well worth visiting. Add an extra day or two to your trip to see the rejuvenated French Quarter and take a laid-back stroll around town.

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


Tampa. Why Tampa? There are several specific things that make this an interesting departure port. First off, cruises leaving from here tend to be less expensive than in other Florida ports. Holland America, the cruise line generally thought to be the most senior-friendly, also offers several longer cruises from Tampa.

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


Port Carnaveral. If you’re interested in cruising on a Disney ship, this is the place to go. You’ll also be near Disney World, Universal, Sea World, and a number of other family-friendly theme parks and attractions, so you can take advantage of those before or after your cruise.

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


San Francisco. You’ll find no shortage of things to see and do if you come to San Francisco a bit early or linger after your cruise ends. People choose this port because they’re looking for longer trips – San Francisco specializes in cruises from two weeks to more than 20 days.

  • 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

New York City Cruise Ship Injury Attorney


New York City. You get to sail past the Statue of Liberty. Does there need to be another reason to depart from New York? There are a number of destinations you can reach from New York, but perhaps the one that matters most is England – the Queen Mary 2, which is housed at this port, is the only ship still regularly sailing this transatlantic route.


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


Seattle. If you want to cruise to Alaska without needing a passport, Seattle is the place to go. Unfortunately, the cruise season here is limited due to weather, but from May to September, this is the main way people in the U.S. sail to Alaska. The city and the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest aren’t bad either.

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


Miami. A fantastic city with gorgeous beaches and many things to see and do, Miami also has a wealth of cruise lines that sail out of its port to a number of different destinations – even around the world. Unfortunately, it also has all of the problems that come along with being a port in a large international city, so if you have the option to depart from elsewhere in Florida, it may be worth it.

  • Cruise lines– Azamara, NCL, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Celebrity, Oceania, Costa
  • Destinations– Caribbean, Bahamas, Bermuda, Costa Rica, Transcanal, Mediterranean, Transatlantic, Northern Europe, World, Atlantic Coast, South America


Los Angeles. If you live in the western part of the United States and want to go on a cruise, L.A. is the place to go. Come because most of the major cruise lines offer trips to numerous destinations out of this port, then stick around to see the Hollywood sign, tour some movie studios, and ogle people on the Venice Boardwalk.

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


Ft. Lauderdale. A number of the top cruise ships in the world call the port of Ft. Lauderdale home, making it a fantastic place to set out on the trip of your dreams. Ft. Lauderdale also offers a more relaxed vibe than traveling out of Miami or other bigger cities.

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


Vancouver. The only “U.S.” port not actually in the United States, Vancouver hosts almost all major cruise lines and offers a wide variety of destinations to choose from… though only for the warmer part of the year. Head around town and you’ll find plenty to do, from endless shopping and eating options to concerts, sports events, and more.

  • Cruise lines– Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Carnival, Princess, Regent Seven Seas, Silverseas, Oceania (all for only part of the year)
  • Destinations– Alaska, Pacific Northwest, Hawaii, South Pacific, U.S. Pacific Coast, Transcanal, Transpacific, Transatlantic

Cruise Injury Lawyer


Ultimately, what’s going to matter most is that the port you choose has the cruise that you want to take, but at least knowing your options puts the ball in your court.


When you’re preparing for your cruise, don’t forget research the potential dangers and what you need to do if something bad happens to you. Cruise lines have a duty to keep you safe, so you should always speak to an experienced cruise accident attorney if you think their negligence caused you harm.



About the Author:


Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of The Law Office of Andrew Winston. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, and was recently voted by his peers as a Florida “SuperLawyer”—an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state—and to Florida Trend’s “Legal Elite.”