When people decide to go on a cruise the whole experience is important to them, not merely the time spent at sea.
Florida now is facing major challenges to its infrastructure when it comes to boarding the cruise ships and disembarking at the end of the cruise; the latter being especially important when passengers have a flight to catch.
Currently, sometimes it can take hours to disembark and to clear immigration which leads to frustration and even heated arguments. The situation is worsening by the day as the cruise ships become larger and larger with more passengers and more ships want to use Florida as their base. At present almost two thirds of all of the American cruise passengers board their ships in Florida.
There are 15 seaports in Florida, five of them major and they are now investing $3.5 billion to try and make improvements via construction projects.
Port Everglades is having its navigation channels both deepened and widened to take the larger ships and at Port Miami, not only is the channel being increased in size, they are also building a tunnel to go directly to the highways and putting in a rail service to connect the port to the existing railway system.
Port Canaveral has recently opened a new terminal which cost $110 million and has plans for renovating another two terminals and is building a plaza with a hotel, shops and restaurants in time for two new ships, the Norwegian Epic and Carnival Magic to move to Port Canaveral as their home base. In fact the numbers of passengers using Port Canaveral are expected to increase by half over the next couple of years, from 4.2 million cruise passengers to six million a year.
All of this work will take time, so passengers travelling via Florida ports should expect continued delays and frustration when boarding and disembarking and should ensure they leave themselves plenty of time for any onward flights.