Cruises from Jacksonville
Located in northeast Florida on the Atlantic coast near the Georgia border, this relatively unknown Florida metropolis became known for cruises during Superbowl XXXIX in February 2005, when ships from Holland America, Radisson, and Carnival all docked at various points around the city to provide additional high-profile hotel rooms. This also gave cruise lines the opportunity to preview the city and its port facilities, and today Jacksonville is the home port of the Carnival "Fun Ship" Celebration.
While this is currently the only line operating out of the city, plans are under consideration to build a larger terminal and passenger port facilities east of the Dames Point Bridge; the existing 63,000 square foot terminal is west of the bridge, but the span's 175 foot clearance is a barrier to the larger ships in most mainstream fleets.
The 1,486-passenger Celebration offers two alternating itineraries for interested travelers: 4- and 5- day Bahamas voyages. The 4-day option visits both major ports of the Bahamas, Freeport and Nassau, with one "Fun Day" at sea for passengers to explore the many options this small vessel offers. The longer 5-day cruise also calls at Nassau, but journeys further south to include Key West as its second port of call. The longer cruise includes two days at sea due to the longer distance between destinations.While veteran cruisers may scoff at these meager ports of call, particularly when other short cruise options often visit a greater number of ports, the cruises from this northern city are an excellent option for first-time cruisers who want to wet their feet before trying more intensive voyages as well as for experienced cruisers interested in a more laid-back, relaxing voyage. While the Celebration still offers Carnival's signature fun-filled atmosphere, the smaller ship and more isolated embarkation port help tone down the party-esque vitality without disrupting it altogether.
Florida is well-known for vibrant tourist attractions, but for individuals interested in a less frenetic atmosphere, this northeastern port is the perfect option. Popular sites and attractions include:
- Alltel Stadium: The home of the NFL Jaguars football team, this stadium also hosts college bowl games and other special events including concerts and family-oriented fairs.
- Beaches: The beaches of northeast Florida are just as luxurious as those in more popular areas but without the hefty crowds. Public and private hotel beaches are both available.
- Fort Caroline: Built in 1564, this fort is one of the first European settlements in America. While the remains of the original fort are as yet undiscovered, the current recreation includes native Timucuan huts and other artifacts.
- St. Augustine: A short drive south of the city is quaint St. Augustine, the first permanent city in the United States. Stately manor homes demonstrate the Spanish heritage of the area, and unique shopping opportunities and boutiques make any visit enjoyable.
- Cancer Survivors Park: A tribute to cancer survivors, this unique park includes recreations of all seven of the city's bridges that span the St. John's River. Visitors can cross all the spans and enjoy several themed walks dedicated to cancer survival and recovery throughout the park.
- The Landing: With a number of shops and a wide range of restaurants and microbreweries, the Landing is the perfect spot to spend an evening. From its location on the river's bank, diners and visitors are treated to stunning views of passing boats and the illuminated Main Street Bridge.
- Amelia Island: Spas, world-class golf, horseback riding, antique shopping, and other luxurious pastimes await visitors to this resort community just north of Jacksonville. Stunning architecture and graceful landscaping highlight the area's relaxed Mediterranean ambience.
- City Zoo: Dozens of specialized exhibits are home to more than 900 species of birds and animals in this 60-acre wildlife sanctuary. Highlights include close views of lions, jaguars, and elephants as well as a petting zoo and walk-in aviary.
- Kingsley Plantation: This historic home was once the headquarters of one of the biggest slave traders in America. Daily tours of the house, slave quarters, and grounds are offered by knowledgeable guides.
- Golf: As the home of The Players Championship every March, the city offers more than 20 challenging golf courses for players of a wide range of skill levels. The World Golf Village with an IMAX theater and celebrity pro shop and restaurant is just south of the city.
Getting to the Port
The passenger port facilities are located just 15 minutes from the international airport (JIA) and taxi and cruise ship shuttle services are available. Since the terminal is north of the city, visitors do not need to brave downtown traffic to reach the cruise ship; drivers approaching from the south can circumvent the city on the 9A/295 interstate bypass. Parking at the terminal is $12 per day.
To learn more about Jacksonville and its cruise terminal, visit the official website, www.jaxport.com. Prospective passengers can also contact the port facility at:
Jaxport Cruise Terminal
9810 August Drive
Jacksonville, FL 32226
Telephone: (904) 630-3006