Even as PortMiami’s impressive line-up of attractive luxury ships have helped the port earn the reputation of being the cruise capital of the world, much of the port's value comes from its less glamourous but more voluminous cargo operations.
From finger piers in the Miami River to the world's premier passenger cruise port, the port has mirrored the development of Miami. Constantly facing the difficulties of shallow water and the need for dredging, the modern port of today reflects on its beginnings in a plan for further expansion and development. Located in the midst of beautiful, but very shallow Biscayne Bay, no pioneer could possibly have envisioned what the future held.
Contributing $27 billion to the local economy annually and supporting more than 200,000 jobs in South Florida, PortMiami is the second most important economic engine in Miami-Dade. The port primarily handles containerized cargo along with vehicles, industrial equipment and small amounts of break bulk, which is cargo shipped in boxes, crates or barrels. Currently, the port is in the process of undergoing tremendous transformation. In the next couple of years, more than $2 billion in capital improvement projects have been planned inorder to deepen the port’s channel and improve connectivity with U.S. markets in the Southeast and Midwest. These enhancements support the port’s ambitious plan to double its cargo traffic before the end of the decade. Long known as the cargo gateway of the Americas and a major north/south logistics hub, exciting new east/west trade opportunities are now arising for PortMiami, thanks to a major game changer in world trade - the expansion of the Panama Canal. At present, close to 70 percent of imports enter the U.S. through West Coast ports. Much of it is carried by the newest generation of mega cargo ships too large to sail from Asia through the canal to reach U.S. East Coast ports. But that is set to change in the days to come. The canal is being widened and deepened to accommodate ships nearly three times larger than before. These massive Post-Panamax vessels offer shippers greater cost efficiency by using less fuel to move twice as much cargo. By the time the first of these deep-draught ships sails through the Canal in 2015, PortMiami’s channel will be dredged to the necessary depth of 50-52 feet. Not only will PortMiami be the nearest U.S. port to the Panama Canal, it will be one of only four on the eastern seaboard able to handle the super-sized cargo ships—positioning it perfectly to benefit from increased Asian trading opportunities. Located at the trade nexus for North-South and East-West trade routes, Miami is an ideal transfer spot for transshipment. The port has a number of transshipment advantages, including frequent sailings to Latin America, Asia and Europe, and intermodal flexibility such as on-dock rail that will give shippers the additional convenience of loading exports in addition to transshipment. PortMiami’s proximity to the Americas and the Caribbean makes it an ideal hub for shippers from around the world. By creating things like the Transshipment Committee and facilitating cooperation between stakeholders, shippers, brokers, and others, PortMiami is able to ensure safe and efficient processing of goods, no matter their final destination.
Cruising Along Home to 13 cruise lines and some of the world's most exciting and modern cruise vessels, the port’s 2013 cruise season marked the greatest fleet expansion ever in a single season, including the arrival of two new cruise brands – Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Disney Cruise Line - and three new build ships: the Carnival Breeze, Celebrity Reflection and the Oceania Riviera. The expansion continues during the 2014 cruise season as PortMiami welcomes the Italian brand MSC Cruises and the MSC Divina. Additionally, Norwegian Cruise Line’s new build ship, the Norwegian Getaway, arrived this winter. The ship marks MSC’s entrance into the Miami market and will homeport year round in Miami, sailing three- to seven-day itineraries throughout the Caribbean. Norwegian’s Getaway, pegged as Miami’s Ultimate Ship, will also homeport here year round. The ship, featuring Miami-themed bars, restaurants and artwork throughout, will be sailing seven-day itineraries to the Eastern Caribbean. Last year, PortMiami welcomed more than four million cruise passengers and the port is anticipating a surge in cruise traffic as 2014 promises to be yet another banner year. Miami continues to be the departure destination of choice for cruises to the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Mexico and other exciting destinations. Seven cruise terminals, some of the most modern in the world, are designed to quickly move passengers from land to sea.
PortMiami tunnel After years of planning and construction costing more than $1 billion, PortMiami’s twin-tunnel system is slated to open in the next four weeks for cars and trucks to access the port from Miami’s highway system, bypassing the central business district. Once the tunnel is fully open, trucks will be able to enter it from the median of the eastbound MacArthur causeway and emerge at the port between the cargo harbor and the cruise ship terminal. Today, trucks heading to the port must meander through downtown Miami streets. The PortMiami Tunnel will improve access to and from the Port, serving as a dedicated roadway connector linking the Port with the MacArthur Causeway. All traffic currently enters and exits the island on the existing bridge. Both cruise terminals and cargo handling facilities are located on the island. Cruise and administration facilities are mostly located on the northwest quadrant of the port, while Royal Caribbean offices and Cruise Terminal J are at the southwest corner. Container yards and space for ships to maneuver and park comprise the remainder of the island. Entering the port, cargo and cruise traffic are routed onto separate roadways from a point just east of Port Boulevard Bridge. An existing bridge for outbound cargo traffic provides a grade separation with the inbound cruise roadway.