Jump Onboard from Jacksonville
The Carnival Celebration sails year-round from JAXPORT's cruise terminal.*
By Lizz Dinnigan
Tucked into Florida’s northeast corner, Jacksonville’s JAXPORT Cruise Terminal is the year-round home port for Carnival Celebration.
That ship is currently the only ship that embarks from JAXPORT. Through August 2008, it sails two itineraries -- a four-day cruise to Freeport and Nassau in the Bahamas, and a five-day cruise that includes Key West, FL and Nassau.
Sailings presently depart from a 63,000-square-foot temporary facility (see photo at right.*) with ship height restrictions near the Dames Point site. The temporary facility is bordered by Heckscher Drive and State Road 9-A in northeast Jacksonville.
To ensure the port's growth in cruise embarkations, JAXPORT would like to build a permanent cruise facility at a yet-to-be-determined point on the St. Johns River.
Any new facility would "solve" the height restriction currently in effect for any cruise line that wants to dock at Jacksonville. The proposed new terminal would berth up to two ships simultaneously. At present, though, no firm timetable has been given for the project.
Cruisers headed to the cruise port either drive to the terminal, or alternatively, fly to Jacksonville International Airport (www.jaa.aero). Airport-to-port taxi fares range from $20 to $25.
Visitor parking consists of a well-lit, fenced outdoor parking lot adjacent to the terminal building. It's just a short walk to the check-in kiosks.
Parking rates are $10 per day and $20 for oversize vehicles. Advance reservations are not required. Cash and most major credit cards are accepted.
The port is accessible from I-95, I-295 and state road 9-A. See the port’s map for directions (www.jaxport.com/sea/c_drex.cfm).
There are no restaurants at the terminal, but vending machines dispense water, soda and snacks.
Seeing the Sights
The cruise terminal is not within walking distance of any attractions. So, the most logical way to experience Jacksonville is to drive downtown. It's a good idea to do so pre-cruise and see a bit of the city -- before heading to the pier garage.
If you choose to instead park your car at the port and then take a 25-minute taxi ride between the cruise port and downtown, you'll pay approximately $20 to $30.
Once downtown, a free trolley and a connecting monorail skyway (www.jtaonthemove.com) transport riders from the north bank to the south bank of the St. Johns River, which intersects the city; the skyway is an affordable, $.35 per ride. Downtown can easily be explored on foot.
The area is in the midst of $1.6 billion in redevelopment projects. One example is Jacksonville Landing (www.jacksonvillelanding.com), the city’s waterfront shopping, dining and entertainment hub, and special events headquarters.
Jacksonville also boasts 10 major museums. It also has the largest urban park system in the country.
Or you might prefer to catch the action at a sporting event by staying a night in town pre- or post-cruise. The city is home to the National Football League's Jacksonville Jaguars (www.jaguars.com). Games are scheduled from September to December at the municipal stadium. Pre-season begins in August.
The Jacksonville Barracudas professional hockey team (www.jaxcudas.com) take the ice for the first time in their new Jacksonville Ice arena this fall to spring.
Alternatively, you might try to catch a foul ball when the Jacksonville Suns (www.jaxsuns.com) play one of 70 home games between April and September at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.
For More Information
Cruise Port Telephone: 904-357-3006
Cruise Port Web: www.jaxport.com
Local Tourist Information: www.visitjacksonville.com
Lizz Dinnigan is a freelance writer and copy editor for SouthernTravelNews.com™ and SouthernCruising.com™. She is the former associate editor - cruise for Travel Agent Magazine, a major national weekly trade publication.
*Photos are owned, copy righted and used courtesy of the Port of Jacksonville and Carnival Cruise Lines. All rights reserved. Do not link to nor copy these photos. Thank you.