Miami has long boasted the nickname ‘Cruise Capital of the World’. But over the last ten years, has the port continued to improve its cruise offering, so deserving to keep the title?
Miami’s record as a cruise port over the last decade can be illustrated by comparing the scheduled cruise ship departures for the month of January 2023 against January 2013. The data employed comes from ‘cruises from Miami’ at cruisetimetables.com. (The 2013 data comes from cruisetimetables.com at archive.org).
1) Number of cruise ship departures. 125 in January 2023, 84 in January 2013, a near 50% increase.
2) Number of cruise passengers on cruises. Assuming ships are 80% full (and using double occupancy figures), 205,000 cruise passengers left for a cruise from Miami in 2023 compared with 125,000 in 2013, a 64% increase. Larger cruise ships account for the bigger rise in cruise passenger numbers than cruise ships numbers.
3) New cruise lines. Two new major cruise lines have appeared on the block in 2023 – MSC and Virgin Voyages. MSC’s ships MSC Seascape and Divina are based in Miami for January 2023, likewise Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady and Valiant Lady. Two cruise lines with ships based in Miami in January 2013 are missing in 2023: Crystal, who are no more, and Costa, who have retreated back to Europe (but Costa by Carnival is coming later next year to the US).
4) Size of cruise ships. Four new large cruise ships (with capacity for more than 5000 passengers) are based in Miami early in 2023. These are Carnival Celebration (5374 passengers), MSC Seascape (5878), Oasis of the Seas (5400) and Symphony of the Seas (5518). By comparison, the largest ship out of Miami in 2013 was Carnival Breeze (3646). At that time Port Everglades stole a march on Miami by welcoming the new mega-ships Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas.
5) Length of cruise. Little change here, breakdown for 2023, 30% short cruises (1-4 nights), 45% medium cruises (5-7 nights), 20% long cruises (8-14 nights), 5% extended cruises (14+ nights), and for 2013 35%, 45%, 15% and 5%. As a side note, Royal Caribbean only offered short cruises out of Miami in January 2013, for reasons unclear.
6) New ports of call. In the last 10 years, we’ve seen the rise of the cruise line initiated port – Disney has developed Castaway Cay, MSC Ocean Cay, NCL Harvey Caye and Carnival Amber Cove. Other major new ports include Falmouth, Jamaica, and Bimini Islands, Bahamas.
7) Prices. The cost of a cruise has changed little in the last 10 years. In 2013, a week long cruise on a popular cruise line would start from $400-$500, in 2023 the price is very similar. The only big movers have been Disney, whose minimum prices for a 7 days cruise have increased from around $1000, to around $2000.
8) New cruise terminals. Since 2013, we’ve seen the construction of four new cruise terminals – MSC Cruises’ terminal AA/AAA, Royal Caribbean’s terminal A, Norwegian Cruise Lines’ terminal B and Virgin Voyages terminal V.
9) Number of sea days. Cruisers fall into two camps – you either love sea days, or you hate them. If you’re in the latter camp, you are always worried that the cruise lines are increasing the proportion of sea days to improve their revenues. But has this been the case over the last 10 years? In January 2013, 7 days cruises leaving Miami had an average of 3.5 sea days. In January 2023 the figure is 3.3 sea days. Perhaps the cruise lines are (surprisingly) not trying to up sea days?
All in all, many positives for the cruise vacationer. Prices have largely held steady, the variety of port calls on offer has increased, and newer cruise ships offer a wider range of activities. And the shipboard wi-fi’s a lot better!
Another big change in the last ten years has been Port Miami tunnel. It has made getting to the port in a car way easier than it used to be. A big thumbs up to the port for executing such a great infrastructure project.