Cruising is Back – What’s New?

July 2021 marked the return of the cruise industry for the United States. Ever since then, many cruise lines have slowly introduced more ships back into operation. Many cruise lines went upwards of 16 months since the last time a revenue cruise happened – with ships now sailing with room to spare onboard and modified health requirements. There was an initial discussion about cruises to nowhere, however that was quickly reeled back in due to the Passenger Vessel Services Act of 1886 (read more about this Act on our Cabotage post). Thanks to some quick thinking, cruise ships were given permission to sail from Seattle to Alaska regions while bypassing a stop-over in Canada. That was one of the first major changes to the cruise industry from the COVID-19 pandemic. This article will expose some of the other changes the industry saw in the Caribbean region during the shut-down, focusing on some cruise port destination make-overs.

Port Canaveral – Cruise Terminal 3

Port Canaveral saw a major new addition completed in time for the arrival of the new Mardi Gras. Cruise Terminal 3 underwent a transformation to be able to accommodate the larger vessels that have entered the passenger cruise industry. Designed to resemble the launch platform of a space rocket, the new terminal has its own dedicated parking garage with enough space to host the vehicles of passengers who are sailing. This transformation coincided with the launch of Carnival Cruise Lines newest ship, Mardi Gras. Cruise Terminal 3 opened in mid 2021 upon the arrival of the new ship.

The new terminal building at Port Canaveral (courtesy of

Port Miami – Terminal B | The Pearl of Miami

If you are sailing out of Miami with Norwegian Cruise Lines, you may find yourself at the newly remodeled Terminal B, now titled the Pearl of Miami. Construction began on this new terminal building in 2018 and was originally scheduled to be ready for passengers by 2020, however the pandemic set the timeline back by one year. Advanced technology was built into this port which will see up to 5,000 passenger ships embarking regularly. Some of the amenities that were part of the $239 million price tag include a dedicated waiting lounge, bar lounge, service area and parking garage with optional valet service.

Pearl of Miami cruise terminal (courtesy of

Terminal C, which also serves Norwegian Cruise Line ships is also undergoing renovation and will be merged and incorporated with the new Pearl of Miami when completed.

Port Miami – Terminal V

With the introduction of Virgin Voyages to the cruise market, it is only appropriate that they have an exclusive terminal built just for them in Miami. Terminal V was originally named Terminal H during the planning process of the Port Miami area, however when Virgin Voyages decided to make Miami their home-base, it was only natural that their terminal name would begin with the same letter as their line. At a cost of $180 million, Terminal V carries a tropical theme and has all of the hardscapes and textiles you would expect to see onboard a Virgin Voyages ship.

Bimini Cruise Port

A new cruise port was introduced in the Caribbean in July of 2021. Originally this Bimini, Bahamas port operated for a smaller cruise service (Bimini Superfast), transporting passengers from Miami to the small island pair. In preparation for the launch of the new cruise line, Virgin Voyages, an area not far from the pier saw improvements creating a daytime destination. Resorts World Bimini took over operations of the nearby Hilton and expanded their presence with the improvements made to the pier. The renovations were made to be able to handle the largest of cruise ships and with a distance of 55 nautical miles from Miami, many cruise lines are arranging for their ships to make a stop at this convenient Bahamian location. A complimentary shuttle is available to take passengers from the cruise pier to the shopping district. There are two distinct islands, North Bimini and South Bimini, which can be accessed by a ferry for $8 from the pier in the north to the island in the south.

Nassau Cruise Port

One of the world’s most popular cruise destinations that serves a large number of itineraries from the east coast of Florida is around half-way complete with its major renovation. In late 2019 Nassau Cruise Port began a revitalization project that was expected to take 24-months to complete. With the help of Global Ports Holding Plc, Nassau will introduce a safer cruise experience for all passengers, beginning with a terminal building that will greet passengers who are entering the area. Nassau has plans to become a destination port for over-night stays, and embarkation opportunities. The Straw Market will move into permanent buildings and there are plans for an easy-to-navigate transportation hub for tour buses and taxis to use. Part of the development also includes new restaurants and retail shops sure to captivate the most savvy shopper.

Image courtesy of Global Ports Holding

Nassau Cruise Port will still have the two large cruise ship berths, capable of handling multiple mega cruise ships in the port at the same time with an increased capacity of up to 33,000 passengers per day. There will also be several new berthing areas for smaller, private lines to operate out of. Another new addition, is an outdoor amphitheater, capable of providing an entertainment space for concerts. Additionally, next to the terminal building there will be a Junkanoo museum for added value to those passing by the port. Construction on the piers is expected to be complete by December 2021 and the buildings will be finished sometime in 2022.

Antigua Cruise Port

You may already be familiar with the works of Global Ports Holding if you have sailed to the far Southern Caribbean. Antigua Cruise Port, in St. John’s harbor, recently completed its makeover in early 2020 to allow that cruise port to be able to host larger cruise ships. The transformation will allow for the small island to grow from being able to host 800,000 passengers to over one million each year. To support the increased passenger capacity, the port area also saw some new infrastructure additions including new retail and dining options. This also included growth opportunities for local trades-people to move in and be able to display their local arts and craft for sale.

Image courtesy of Antigua Cruise Port


As you can see, there are quite a few things that you missed while the cruise industry was in its hiatus. I’m glad that cruising has come back, even if it’s at a reduced capacity. I am excited to check out some of these changes in person soon!

Have you visited any of the ports that were mentioned in this article? Have you seen other ports that underwent a makeover during the shut-down that we should feature in a future article? Let us know your thoughts and we look forward to see you on our next blog!

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