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Guide to Jacksonville Cruise Port (2024)


While Port Canaveral, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and Tampa are the four most popular cruise ports in Florida, did you know you can also sail out of Jacksonville?

Although you may not have as many ship options compared to itineraries departing from South Florida, it is convenient for those who may not want to drive the extra five hours to Miami. Plus, since it's a smaller port, you will not have to deal with as much traffic. 

Whether you are counting down the days until your next cruise or considering sailing out of Jacksonville, here's everything you need to know about Florida's northernmost cruise port. 

What cruise lines sail out of Jacksonville?


As of March 2024, Carnival Cruise Line is the only mainstream line to homeport in Jacksonville; however, beginning in November 2025, Norwegian Cruise Line will be joining them. 

In February 2024, the JAXPORT Board of Directors approved a four-year agreement for a three-year cruise operation with NCL. The cruise line will homeport in Jacksonville from November to April every year through 2028. 

Carnival exclusively sails to The Bahamas, offering 4- and 5-night voyages, along with the occasional 6-night cruise, onboard Carnival Elation, a 71,909 gross registered ton vessel that initially launched in 1998. The ship is one of two remaining Fantasy Class ships still in service, as Carnival Fantasy, Ecstasy, Sensation, Fascination, Imagination, and Inspiration are no longer in service. 


Upon Norwegian's arrival to Jacksonville, Norwegian Gem will offer three 12-night and two 11-night Eastern Caribbean sailings, as well as 4- and 5-night cruises to The Bahamas that visit their private island, Great Stirrup Cay

The longer cruises will visit ports like Tortola, British Virgin Islands; Basseterre, St. Kitts; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands; and St. John's, Antigua, so you can sail to far-flung Caribbean destinations that aren't available on a Carnival cruise from Jacksonville. 

At 93,530 gross registered, Norwegian Gem is larger than Carnival Elation; however, neither ship is as large as mega-ships like Carnival Celebration or Norwegian Viva, making them great options for those who prefer a more intimate cruising experience or don't care about all the bells and whistles of newer vessels. 

Read more: 9 Best Reasons to Get Off Your Cruise Ship in Nassau

The JAXPORT Cruise Terminal is located at 9810 August Drive Jacksonville, Florida


If you are driving from north of Jacksonville on I-195 South, you'll want to take Exit 362A off of I-95 to merge onto I-295 South. From there, you'll drive roughly 8-10 minutes before reaching Exit 41 for Zoo Parkway/Heckscher Drive. 

At the bottom of the exit ramp, you will turn right onto Zoo Parkway. After passing New Bern Road, you'll continue for a few minutes before reaching August Drive, which is the terminal's entrance. From there, follow signs leading to the parking area. 

Those driving on I-195 North will take Exit 337 to merge onto I-295 for approximately 20 minutes. Then, you'll take Exit 41 for Zoo Parkway/Heckscher Drive and continue until you reach August Drive. 


Passengers arriving from the west will have to take I-10 toward Jacksonville before taking Exit 356 onto I-295 North. After roughly ten minutes, you'll reach Exit 41 for Zoo Parkway/Heckscher Drive. Stay on the road until you arrive at August Drive, then enter the cruise terminal and proceed to parking. 

Those driving from a pre-cruise stay in Jacksonville Beach will take Atlantic Boulevard West to I-295 North. From there, you'll continue over the Dames Point Bridge and continue on I-295 until you reach Exit 41. Take a left onto Zoo Parkway at the bottom of the exit ramp, and continue a few minutes until you reach August Drive. 

Finally, if you are flying into Jacksonville International Airport (JAX), the best way to reach the terminal is to hire a rideshare, as it's only about 11 miles, or 25 minutes, away. If, however, you are renting a car, you will leave the airport via Airport Road and head east on I-95. Then, you'll follow the same instructions as those who are arriving from north of Jacksonville by taking Exit 362A onto I-295 South, etc. 


Note that Carnival doesn't offer any transportation from the airport, so you will be responsible for making your own arrangements. Ubers generally cost around $30. 

Numerous airlines fly into JAX, though, so whether you're a loyal American, Delta, United, or Southwest fan, you should be able to find a flight that meets your needs. Since it's smaller, you may have to connect through an airline's hub, especially if you are flying from a smaller airport. The majority of flights to Jacksonville depart from cities like New York (LGA, JFK, and EWR), Charlotte (CLT), Atlanta (ATL), Chicago (ORD and MDW), Miami (MIA), Dallas (DFW), Philadelphia (PHL), Denver (DEN), Houston (IAH), Boston (BOS), Detroit (DTW), and Washington D.C. (IAD and DCA). 

Read more: Why you should plan a cruise within driving distance

You can pay for parking on-site

Parking lot

JAXPORT features a fenced-in, secure parking lot for passengers that's located steps away from the terminal building. Moreover, it's monitored by JAXPORT security 24 hours a day, and there are also designated disabled parking spaces available. 

While you can pay for parking upon arrival, you may also pay in advance online. Simply input your cruise's departure date, and the website will provide you with quotes matching your itinerary. It's a handy tool to help you appropriately budget for this cost. 

For my 5-night Carnival Elation cruise on March 9, 2024, the website indicated that standard parking (i.e., 7:00 am on 3/9 to 12:00 pm on 3/14) was $85; however, passengers with oversized vehicles would have to pay an additional $85, resulting in a total fee of $170. This breaks down to $17 per day for standard vehicles and $34 for oversized ones. 


Per JAXPORT's website, there's free parking available for drivers with a state-issued disabled veterans plate, as well as those with a permanently affixed Florida Toll Exemption decal. 

If you want to save some money, you can consider parking off-site. Unlike JAXPORT, however, you'll want to make your reservation ahead of time to secure your spot. Off-site options include Parking Mall, which is located directly across from the cruise terminal, as well as WallyPark, the only option that provides a covered option. 

Both cost around $11, making them more affordable than parking at the terminal. 


I found parking at the terminal to be extremely easy. We pulled into the lot and had our cruise boarding pass, as well as photo ID, checked by staff. Then, we proceeded to another booth to pay. When we arrived, there was no traffic and plenty of open spaces; however, I did notice that the lot filled up as final boarding approached. That being said, it was never completely full. 

If you end up parking further away from the terminal building, you can utilize the tram service. While complimentary, we did tip the driver since he helped unload our suitcases from the car. 

Whether you want a pre-cruise lunch or disembarkation day breakfast, there are a few dining options close by


Located just a few minutes away on Zoo Parkway are Wendy's and Dunkin Donuts Express, with the latter being located inside the Pilot Travel Center. Note that it isn't a full-service Dunkin. When I stopped by for a post-cruise coffee before my drive back to North Carolina, I was a tad disappointed. 

Personally, I would prefer to indulge in a juicy Guy's burger once onboard the ship; however, if you have a later arrival time, Wendy's is a convenient option that will keep you near the terminal. Likewise, disembarkation day can be hectic. If you're ready to get on the road, Dunkin will give you the caffeine fix you need without straying far from your route. 

There are far more options about 20 minutes north at the River City Marketplace. Here, you'll find a Mexican restaurant, as well as Carrabba's Italian Grill, Five Guys, Mellow Mushroom, and more. Additionally, St. John's Town Center, which is situated approximately 20 minutes south of the terminal, boasts a plethora of dining options, including Chick-fil-A, Firebird's Wood Fired Grill, Noodles & Company, BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse, and Panera Bread. 

Nearby hotels


Unless you live a few hours away via car, it's advisable that you arrive in Jacksonville the night before your cruise. This will ensure that if there happen to be any hiccups along the way, you won't miss your ship's departure. Thankfully, there are plenty of hotels near the cruise terminal, so you won't be too far away on embarkation morning. 

At just five minutes away, the closest hotel to JAXPORT is the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Jacksonville - Blount Island. However, there are also numerous other options located near the airport, which is roughly 25 minutes away. These include the Aloft Jacksonville Airport, Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Jacksonville Airport, and Hyatt Place Jacksonville Airport. 

While slightly further south, I opted to stay at the Hyatt Place Jacksonville / St. Johns Town Center before my Carnival Elation cruise, primarily due to the reviews. Overall, it was a great pre-cruise hotel. Not only was it clean with friendly staff, but it was also surrounded by shops and restaurants, which made it easy to stop for sunscreen en route to the terminal. It had a lovely deck that overlooked a small lake, and we enjoyed the complimentary breakfast, too. 

I found embarkation to be rather hectic; however, this might not be the case for everyone 


Despite being a small cruise terminal, boarding Carnival Elation was more chaotic than I anticipated. Since that facility was somewhat aged, it didn't have adequate air conditioning, making it warm while waiting in line for security. There was also a lot of miscommunication amongst port employees, as some told us that there were two lines to enter the building, while we could only find one. 

There were plenty of porters available to assist with luggage. Note, though, that if you're coming from the right side of the parking lot, you may need to walk to the front of the terminal building. 

Waiting in line for security was the lengthiest part of the boarding process, namely due to how they lined everyone up to have their carry-on bags sniffed by the K9 narcotics drug. Once that was complete, though, the rest of embarkation went smoothly. 


We spoke with a port agent who verified our documents and then sent us to the (steep) gangway, which was located outside. In total, it took around 40 minutes to complete the boarding process. 

Read more: The extra step you should take so you aren't delayed getting onboard a Carnival cruise

Disembarkation was easy, albeit a bit chaotic 


Thankfully (knock on wood), I've never had any issues departing a cruise ship. When disembarking Carnival Elation, we were routed through, what seemed like, all of Deck 7. We couldn't simply walk through the atrium. Instead, we had to loop through the cabin hallways before finally being able to disembark. 

Once off the ship, though, everything went smoothly. Since we didn't have to collect any luggage, we joined the passport line and were out of the terminal in minutes! There was hardly any traffic leaving, so we were on the road in no time. There was no parking garage to weave through, either. I appreciated Jacksonville's parking situation compared to ports like Port Canaveral and Fort Lauderdale. 

Something I didn't think about, however, is that rolling heavy suitcases down the steep gangway was more difficult than I thought. If I ever cruise out of Jacksonville again, I will take advantage of the cruise line's standard disembarkation, in which you leave your suitcases in the hall the night before. 

Read more: 10 reasons to get off your ship as early as possible on disembarkation day

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