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Who doesn’t love a good sail away? It’s pretty cool watching cruise ships leave on the web cams, but even better in person. Living in Florida we sometimes take cruise ship sail aways for granted.
Since we can’t always be on the ship, here’s a list of some of the best places to watch sail aways in Florida.
1. Miami Beach
- South Pointe Park
Located on the North side of the harbor, this is a great place to watch cruise ships leave because South Pointe Park has a pier at the mouth of the river. It’s like you can almost touch the ships leave.
You can grab a drink from the outside bar at Smith & Wollensky’s and have the perfect land-side sail away party. There is a hourly metered fee for parking here but the views are stunning.
Tip: Arrive early because you do have to pay an hourly rate for parking and parking can get bad in South Beach.
2. Fort Lauderdale
- John U. Lloyd Beach State Park
- Admission $6 per car
This state park in Dania Beach is located on the south side of the harbor and has great view points watching the ships parade out of the harbor and into the Atlantic Ocean. The winter months are the best to ship watch in Port Everglades because there are sometimes a dozen ships leaving. The park has a long pier, pavilions and bathroom facilities.
Tip: This place can get crowded so I’d suggest getting there an hour before sail away to claim your spot.
- Fort De Soto State Park
- Admission $5 per car
The admission price is well worth the money. You can spend all day at Fort De Soto and then come afternoon line up to watch the ships leave Tampa Bay and head into the Gulf of Mexico.
Tip: The actual fort isn’t anything spectacular but if you have some time to kill you can do a self-guided tour.
- Mayport Boat Ramp
The best place is the boat ramp located at fishing village of Mayport, Florida on the south bank of the river. It’s located about a mile up from the mouth of the St. Johns River off State Road A1A and offers cool views of Carnival Fascination leaving. There are four floating docks at the boat ramp so you can pick your spot. The boat ramp has bathroom facilities.
Consider parking your car and taking the Mayport Ferry across the river when the ship is coming to get some great point of view shots.
Tip: As you enter Mayport, there’s a public beach on your left. You can watch the ship make the turn in the river and then drive down to the boat ramp to snap more photos.
5. Port Canaveral
- Jetty Park
- Admission $15 per car
Jetty Park in Port Canaveral is also an excellent place to ship spot. You’ll find this park where the harbor and ocean meet. The park has a long pier and bathroom facilities. Since Disney sails out of Port Canaveral, you’ll be in ear shot when one of the Disney ships blows their magical When You Wish Upon a Star horn.
Tip: Fish Lips is a restaurant along the harbor that is perfect for ship spotting and dining.
Of course there are other places to ship spot but these are some of the best places I’ve found over the past few years. If you have a favorite spot, feel free to leave them in the comments.