The Best Spots to Watch Cruise Ships in Miami

Besides the many beaches, Miami is also known for it being a Cruise-Hotspot. Many cruise ships leave from Miami on cruises from far too distant. The Caribbean, Bahamas, and Cuba are just a few destinations you can visit from Miami. These ships are basically a small town floating on water. I have never been on a cruise so far but it is on my bucket list.

If you want to watch the cruise ships in Miami, there are a few spots you could do so. It doesn’t matter if you go on a cruise and just want to watch your ship from the outside before departing or you are just into photographing them. Below a list with my favorite spots to watch cruise ships.

  1. Port of Miami: Who would have guessed that you can watch the cruise ships from the port itself? Nobody? Well, now you know. Most of the time the terminals obstruct the view of the ships and it’s not that great of a picture. Of course, if you are going on a cruise you want that picture as well.

    Port of Miami

  2. Museum Park and American Airlines Arena: From the shoreline behind the American Airlines Arena and the Museum Park you get a great view of the Port of Miami Cruise Ship Turning Basin. The cruise ships will turn around here either before or after docking at the terminals at the Port of Miami. It is amazing to see this gigantic ships basically turning on the spot. Definitely fun to watch. You get a few of Port of Miami Cruise Ship Turning Basin also from the Bayside Marketplace. Get upstairs and find a restaurant with a view of the basin. But from Bayside your view won’t be as good as it will be obstructed by the bridge connecting Downtown Miami with Dodge Island (Port of Miami). Besides watching ships, the nearby museums are great to watch some art as well.
  3. Port Blvd Bridge and MacArthur Causeway Bridge: As mentioned, the Port Blvd Bridge will obstruct your view by watching the ships from Bayside. However, you can just watch the ships turning around from the bridge. Another good bridge to watch the cruise ships turning is the MacArthur Causeway Bridge which is located north of the Port Blvd Bridge. The bridge has a sidewalk as well and you probably can find some free parking on Watson Island next to the stairs leading up to the bridge. Besides watching cruise ships you also get a good view of the Miami Skyline from this bridge.
  4. Watson Island Shoreline: You used to be able to watch the cruise ships docked at the terminal or even turning around from here. All that changed within the last two years. Most of the shoreline is fenced off and you have an ugly fence in your photos. You used to park your car right next to the Miami Seaplane Base which gave you an incredible view of the ships docked at the terminals. Many people came here to fish as well. Now this part is fenced off and it became or it was supposed to become the Miami Heliport. Besides everything being fenced off, you don’t see much here of a heliport. There are some markings on the ground and it looked like they started to install utilities and now it’s an abandoned heliport before it ever got used. During my latest visit, there was a broken ship hull laying on the heliport area. Probably from the hurricane last year but nobody ever dared to remove it. You used to walk right under the MacArthur Causeway Bridge and watch the ships from here, but this is now off the limits by a construction fence. The only spot you could view it now is from Island Gardens Deep Harbour. This place was just built recently and the development is supposed to feature a restaurant and much more. At the moment there is not much here of that besides the yacht harbor. This one is only for the super rich and their guests.
  5. MacArthur Causeway: You can walk or bicycle along the causeway all the way to Miami Beach. MacArthur Causeway runs parallel to the Main Channel on which the cruise ships sail in and out from the port. Be aware of the traffic along the causeway.
  6. South Pointe Park and Pier: The South Pointe Park runs parallel to the Government Cut, a manmade shipping channel between Miami Beach and Fisher Island. Next to the north jetty is the South Pointe Pier. This is the furthest point you can walk. Many people come here for fishing. Just north of the pier is the world famous South Beach. The Government Cut opened in 1905 and was authorized by the U.S. Government (hence the name) to provide a direct route for the ships to the Port of Miami. Before construction of the channel began, Fisher Island was part of the peninsula of Miami Beach with just dry land in between. Cargo and Cruise Ships enter the Port of Miami through the Government Cut. That’s why this location is great to spot more than just cruise ships.

    South Pointe Pier in Miami Beach: Looking along the Main Channel toward the Port of Miami covered in a thunderstorm.

The Map below shows the current ships docked at the port and is great for planning to find out what ships to expect.

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