A Guide to Wheelchair Access and Assistance at Florida Cruise Ports

a guide to wheelchair access and assistance at florida cruise ports

If you’re planning on cruising to the Caribbean, chances are good that you’ll be departing from one of Florida’s major cruise ports. Hopefully you’ve selected a fully accessible itinerary and used an accessible travel agent to help you book an accessible cabin. If so, then all you have to do is show up at your Florida port of departure and sail away! But wait…it’s not that simple for wheelchair users. Here are the procedures for requesting wheelchair assistance at the four major Florida cruise ports, what to expect from wheelchair assistance, and the accessible features at each port.

Port Canaveral

Port Canaveral is truly a unique place of departure and is Florida’s fastest growing cruise port. Located just 45 miles east of Orlando, visitors can have the ultimate Florida vacation by combining the Orlando theme parks and Space Coast attractions such as Kennedy Space Center with a cruise from Port Canaveral. The cruise terminals are new, innovative and ultra modern, designed to enhance your overall cruise experience from the moment you enter the terminals until you board your luxury cruise ship.  Enjoy a cruise to the Bahamas, Eastern, Western and Southern Caribbean and other tropical destinations or even half-day gaming cruise. Carnival Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International offer a variety of cruises from 3 to 14-day cruises.

Port Canaveral has more recreational facilities than all other Florida Ports combined, including our new Exploration Tower and Cove harbor-side dining and retail area. You also can enjoy Port Canaveral’s Jetty Park, which is a 5-acre ocean front beach complete with campground, fishing pier, boat ramps, picnic areas and new refreshment and food concession pavilion.  Two other Parks are also located at the Port– Freddie Patrick and Rodney S. Ketcham–which are complete with boat ramps, picnic facilities and viewing areas for manatees and wildlife native to central Florida.

Special Assistance Requests

In order to make sure you have wheelchair assistance waiting for you at Port Canaveral, you need to make arrangements ahead of time with your cruise line. Your accessible travel agent should be able to do this for you, or you can call the numbers below. Please have your reservation number handy!

Each terminal has a limited supply of wheelchairs used to transport guests onto and off the ship, so cruise lines are unable to loan you our wheelchairs for the duration of the cruise. To get wheelchair assistance for boarding the ship, please contact one of the cruise line representatives once you arrive at the cruise terminal and let them know you reserved the service. 

Accessible Parking

Port Canaveral no longer offers pre-paid parking. Please pay to park at your cruise terminal’s designated parking area and simply take a short walk/roll to your ship’s check-in area. Parking is $17.00 per day. Accessible parking spaces are available and the fee is waived for vehicles transporting certain persons who have disabilities that have special equipment, such as ramps, lifts, foot or hand controls for use by a disabled person, display a Florida Toll Exemption Permit as explained in s. 316.1964, Florida Statutes, or display a Florida Disabled Veteran (DV) license plate issued under s. 320.084; s. 320.0842; or s. 320.0845, Florida Statutes. For passenger safety, security, and convenience, please proceed directly to the cruise terminal to drop off passengers and baggage. Here is where you will request your reserved wheelchair assistance. Porters will assist you with your baggage, and parking personnel will direct drivers to the appropriate parking facility. All parking facilities are convenient, secure and patrolled 24 hours a day. Passenger and luggage drop off is available in front of the terminal or in the parking facility. Click here for Port Canaveral cruise terminal locations and directions.

Accessible Transfers

If you are cruising on Disney Cruise Lines, they offer accessible transportation for passengers between Orlando International Airport and the cruise terminal, as well as between Disney resorts that are booked as part of a cruise package. If you need an accessible taxi to take you to Port Canaveral from the airport or local hotel, you MUST reserve it ahead of time. Some options include Orlando Wheelchair Transportation and Mears Transportation.

Port Tampa Bay

In close proximity to the top-rated airport in the United States, cruise passengers can take a little more time sightseeing, shopping and taking in the cultural faire of the city of Tampa. World-class shopping, a unique assortment of museums and top zoos, Busch Gardens, and the allure of Ybor City (the historic Latin Quarter pronounced “EE-BOR”), are just a few of the colorful characteristics that make Tampa one of the premier cruise port destinations in the South. Well-appointed luxury hotels and upscale dining are also very close by. Channelside’s outdoor plaza is often a venue for live music and provides a perfect setting for socializing and enjoying clear, balmy nights. Adjacent to Channelside, a stop at the Florida Aquarium is essential to those who crave the fascination of the underwater world.

Tampa now homeports five vessels from four cruise lines: Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America, Royal Caribbean International and Norwegian Cruise Line, offering the variety of 4, 5, 7, and 14-day cruise itineraries. State-of-the-art in design, the terminals incorporate the far-reaching and diverse needs of all security agencies, while providing a comfortable, expedient cruise experience to customers. Other characteristics of the Port’s cruise terminals include customer-friendly information areas, superior security, full passenger amenities and on-terminal parking.

Special Assistance Requests

In order to make sure you have wheelchair assistance waiting for you at Port Tampa Bay, you need to make arrangements ahead of time with your cruise line. Your accessible travel agent should be able to do this for you, or you can call the numbers below. Please have your reservation number handy!

Each terminal has a limited supply of wheelchairs used to transport guests onto and off the ship, so cruise lines are unable to loan you our wheelchairs for the duration of the cruise. To get wheelchair assistance for boarding the ship, please contact one of the cruise line representatives once you arrive at the cruise terminal and let them know you reserved the service. 

Accessible Parking

There are three cruise terminals located at Port Tampa Bay. All three are in the same proximity and are all located along the Channel District. The Port Tampa Bay parking garage is located across the street from the central cruise terminal (Port Tampa Bay Cruise Terminal 3 – 815 Channelside Drive, Tampa, Florida 33602).  Signs on-site also direct cruise passengers. Parking is free for disabled passengers who have vehicle modifications such as hand controls or ramps. You may also demonstration 100% rated disability with a DMV-issued disabled veteran license plate and/or registration. Accessible parking spaces are available in the garage.

Accessible Transfers

If you need an accessible taxi to take you to Port Tampa Bay from the airport or local hotel, you MUST reserve it ahead of time. Some options include Wheelchair Transport Service and United Cab.

Port Everglades

Port Everglades, located in Greater Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood, Florida, is ranked second among cruise ports worldwide and has more homeported cruise ships than any other port. A common mistake, Port Everglades is not actually part of the wetland ecosystem known as the Florida Everglades. It is located on the southeastern coast of the Florida peninsula within the three cities of Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood and Dania Beach, as well as unincorporated Broward County. The Port is conveniently situated near the Atlantic Ocean shipping lanes, the Florida East Coast railway, Florida’s highway system, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and the beautiful beaches of Greater Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood. Port Everglades serves all of South Florida and is in close proximity to Miami (23 miles south), West Palm Beach (48 miles north) and Orlando (215 miles north).

Special Assistance Requests

In order to make sure you have wheelchair assistance waiting for you at Port Everglades, you need to make arrangements ahead of time with your cruise line. Your accessible travel agent should be able to do this for you, or you can call the special assistance numbers below. Please have your reservation number handy!

Each terminal has a limited supply of wheelchairs used to transport guests onto and off the ship, so cruise lines are unable to loan you our wheelchairs for the duration of the cruise. To get wheelchair assistance for boarding the ship, please contact one of the cruise line representatives once you arrive at the cruise terminal and let them know you reserved the service. 

Accessible Parking

There are three entrances into Port Everglades.  The 17th Street Causeway entrance which is located at Eisenhower Boulevard, State Road 84 entrance located just off of US 1 and the I-595 East entrance.  Proper Identification such as Driver’s License or Passport is required and your vehicle may be subject to search. Convenient parking for cruise passengers is available in the Northport and Midport Parking Garages and the Northport and Midport Surface Lots. The Northport garage services Northport cruise terminals, including Cruise Terminals 1 & 2. Cruise Terminal 4 has its own dedicated lot with 172 surface parking spaces. The Midport garage services Cruise Terminals 19, 21, 22/24, 25, 26, 27 and 29. Cruise Terminal 18 has its own 600-space surface parking lot adjacent to the term. Port public garages provide disabled parking with unimpeded access to crosswalks and elevators. In compliance with Florida Statute 316.1964, parking fees are waived at all Port Everglades lots and garages to disabled persons operating vehicles with ONE of the following qualifications: display a Florida Toll Exemption Permit, demonstrate the vehicle is modified with specialized equipment such as ramps, lifts, or foot and hand controls for use by a disabled person, or Display the “DV” license plate from any state.

Accessible Transfers

If you need an accessible taxi to take you to Port Everglades from the Fort Lauderdale airport or local hotel, you MUST reserve it ahead of time. Here is a list of taxi companies in Broward County that offer wheelchair accessible taxi service.

PortMiami

Known worldwide as the “Cruise Capital of the World,” PortMiami has been the world’s leading cruise port and it continues to advance its No. 1 homeport status with more ships and additional leading-edge passenger terminal facilities. Millions of passengers travel through PortMiami every year and with 22 cruise lines berthing 55 ships, PortMiami continues to be the departure destination of choice for cruises to the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Mexico and other exciting destinations.

Special Assistance Requests

In order to make sure you have wheelchair assistance waiting for you at PortMiami, you need to make arrangements ahead of time with your cruise line. Your accessible travel agent should be able to do this for you, or you can call the special assistance numbers below. Please have your reservation number handy!

Each terminal has a limited supply of wheelchairs used to transport guests onto and off the ship, so cruise lines are unable to loan you our wheelchairs for the duration of the cruise. To get wheelchair assistance for boarding the ship, please contact one of the cruise line representatives once you arrive at the cruise terminal and let them know you reserved the service. 

Accessible Parking

PortMiami is located at 1015 North America Way, Miami, Florida, 33132. Once on-port follow signs to your destination. Parking is conveniently available at all cruise terminals for $20.00 per day (over-night) or short-term parking (daily) for a flat fee of $7.00. Spaces are also available for over- length vehicles and trailers at special rates. Designated disabled permit parking spaces are available in each garage. All facilities are patrolled by security. Passengers may drop-off luggage at their designated terminal prior to parking; this is where you would request wheelchair assistance from a cruise line employee. 

Accessible Transfers

If you are cruising on Disney Cruise Lines, they offer accessible transportation for passengers between Miami International Airport and the cruise terminal, as well as between hotels that are booked as part of a Disney cruise package. If you need an accessible taxi to take you to PortMiami from the airport or local hotel, you MUST reserve it ahead of time. Here is a list of taxi companies in Miami-Dade County that offer wheelchair accessible taxi service

Are you ready to book an amazing wheelchair accessible cruise from a Florida port? Contact me at Spin the Globe/Travel so we can start planning your Caribbean adventure!

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1 Comment

  • Victoria July 5, 2018 at 2:25 pm Reply

    Wow this is the best and most comperehensive post I’ve ever seen! So much good information for accessible travelers!

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