9810 August Drive
Jacksonville, Florida 32226
Phone: (904) 630-3080
As a premier Florida port for international trade and cargo, the Jacksonville Port Authority also has capitalized on a cruise industry thriving amid changing times to develop its own status as both a passenger cruise port and as a key player for such stellar land-based events as Super Bowl.
Long before the 2005 Super Bowl XXXIX, plans were set for Carnival Miracle to dock along the St. Johns River as a floating hotel near the stadium. Jacksonville’s port – marketed as JAXPORT – also made splashy news when former U.S. Army private Jessica Lynch served as godmother to Carnival Miracle at its naming ceremony. That occasion in early 2004 was heralded as the “first time a brand-new cruise ship had been introduced at the nation’s newest cruise homeport.”
Such cruise hoopla prompted Jacksonville promoters – noting that (over and above Jacksonville Jaguars football) Jacksonville Zoo has North America’s largest jaguar exhibit -- to develop marketing tags such as “What do the world’s two largest cruise lines, the National Football League (NFL) and exotic animals have in common?” Answer: All have “discovered Jacksonville and the Beaches.”
Within the discovery realm, JAXPORT does indeed make it easier than ever for anyone within driving distance of northeast Florida to sail away without the cost or extra effort of booking air transportation. To that end, Celebrity Cruises (premium division of Royal Caribbean, the industry’s No. 2 operator), and Carnival (the world’s largest cruise operator), discovered JAXPORT early on. Celebrity launched cruises from there in 2003 with its 1,374-guest ship Zenith on 11-14 night adventures to southern and western ports like Grand Cayman, Costa Rica, Mexico, and U.S. Virgin Islands. Carnival brought the 2,124-passenger Miracle to Jacksonville for six weeks early in 2004 for inaugural voyages, and provides year-round 3- to 6-day adventures with other Carnival vessels calling in places like Nassau, Key West, and Cozumel.
Jacksonville and its surrounding beaches -- tucked in Northeast Florida corner known as the First Coast -- have long been considered hidden gems of the Sunshine State. Home to white sandy shoreline with splashes of southern charm, the area is being “discovered” by travelers with assorted interests – now most notably cruising.
Altogether and with multi-million dollar upgrades in the works, JAXPORT owns and operates three public marine terminals and one passenger cruise terminal on the St. Johns River: Blount Island Marine Terminal, Talleyrand Marine Terminal, Dames Point Marine Terminal, and Jaxport Cruise Terminal. All cruise ships depart from the Jaxport Cruise Terminal – 15 minutes from Jacksonville International Airport and 20 minutes from downtown.
From north of Jacksonville, take I-95 south to State Road 9-A South, exit 362-A, (1 mile past Jacksonville International Airport). Take State Road 9-A South for six miles to Heckscher Drive exit (State Road 105). Turn right on Heckscher Drive (SR 105). Cross New Berlin Road, and go ½ mile. Turn left on August Drive at cruise terminal entrance. Follow signs to parking.
From South of Jacksonville, take I-95 north, through Jacksonville, to Heckscher Drive, exit 358-A (State Road 105 North). Stay on Heckscher Drive/SR 105 North. Pass Jacksonville Zoo, and go four miles. Turn right on August Drive at cruise terminal.
From West of Jacksonville, take I-10 East. Take I-295 North (this becomes State Road 9-A), exit 356. Pass the I-95 interchange, staying on I-295/SR 9-A South for six miles to Heckscher Drive exit. Turn right on Heckscher Drive (State Road 105 South). Cross over New Berlin Road. Go ½ mile, turn left into cruise terminal on August Drive.
From Jacksonville International Airport, leave via Airport Road, east toward I-95. Take I-95 South for 1 mile to State Road 9-A South (Exit 362-A, one mile past Jacksonville International Airport). Take State Road 9-A South six miles. Turn right on Heckscher Drive (State Road 105). Cross over New Berlin Road. Go ½ mile, turn left into cruise terminal on August Drive.
From Jacksonville Beaches, take Atlantic Boulevard West to State Road 9-A North. Take State Road 9-A over Dames Point Bridge (also known as Napoleon Bonaparte Broward Bridge). Take first exit off bridge, Heckscher Drive (SR 105). Turn left on Heckscher Drive (SR 105 South). Go 1 mile, then turn left on August Drive into terminal.
Parking ($15 per day per vehicle, $25 per day for oversized vehicles, with rates subject to change) is lighted, fenced and patrolled by 24 hours by JAXPORT security. The lot, next to the terminal, is only a short walk. JAXPORT provides special assistance for disabled guests.
For pre- and post-cruise adventure, here’s a sampling of hotel, dining and attraction options near JAXPORT:
Benny’s Steak & Seafood
Riverfront ambiance combines with Deep South/Old Floridian influence, with a menu of fresh cut certified angus beef along with the freshest of seafood. Some eclectic southern style dishes tempt even the most seasoned traveler. 2 Independent Drive, Suite 175, Jacksonville. (904) 301-1014
Within Jacksonville’s historic San Marco district and named after the French town of Aix-en-Provence, the city-hip Bistro Aix – pronounced Bistro “X” -- provides distinctive food and wine amid an atmosphere of 1940’s brickwork with French-imported antiques, an exhibition kitchen, and a curved marble and copper chef’s bar. Among favorites are risotto with wild mushrooms and sweet pea puree and oak-fired Fish Aixois. 440 San Marco Boulevard, Jacksonville. (904) 398-1949
Serving lunch or dinner indoors or on the garden patio, Casbah Café’s Mideast and Mediterranean cuisine includes falafel, lamb kabobs, vegetarian stuffed grape leaves, and Casbah pizzas, plus desserts and pastries, African coffees and beer and wine. In the hookah lounge, low tables allow patrons to sit on the floor, and they are welcome to try the hookah pipes -- ornate Middle-Eastern water pipes -- for smoke flavored tobacco made in-house. Belly dancers perform some evenings. 3628 St. Johns Avenue, Avondale, Jacksonville. (904) 981-9966
This festive restaurant owned by Silvia Pulido specializes in Cuban-American fare steeped in Latin culture from Cuban sandwiches to signature paella. Dinner options include chicken, steak, roast pork and seafood, with rice, black beans and plantains. Beer, wine and wine-based drinks are served along with Café Cubano, tropical milkshakes, and pastries. Next door is Cuba Libre Bar, Jacksonville’s first upscale Latin club, with exotic drinks, cushy leather couches and a dance floor. 2578 Atlantic Boulevard, Jacksonville. (904) 399-2262
River City Brewing Company
Overlooking the St. John’s River and the picturesque downtown skyline from the south bank near top hotels, River City Brewing Company serves lunch and dinner with a global menu of seafood, steaks, pasta and daily specials. Sundays attract crowds for the brunch buffet and a seafood buffet. A full service bar and deck has daily happy hours and entertainment on weekends. 835 Museum Drive, Jacksonville. (904) 398-2299
Roy’s Jacksonville Beach
Founded in Honolulu to raves from the likes of Bon Appetit and Food & Wine, Chef Roy Yamaguchi’s Hawaiian Fusion cuisine also makes waves in Jacksonville Beach. Signature creations include the Maui Onion and Spinach Salad in warm pancetta balsamic vinaigrette and Thai Stuffed Chicken with fruit chutney and macadamia curry sauce. Among star desserts is the Haupia Napolean. 2400-101 South Third Street, Jacksonville Beach. (904) 241-7697
Adventure Landing Jacksonville Beach
Family entertainment awaits year around at Adventure Speedway, a twisting quarter mile go-kart track with live racing results posted on a finish-line leader board. Shipwreck Island Water Park has an assortment of extreme slides including the Hydro Half Pipe and Eye of the Storm. 1944 Beach Boulevard, Jacksonville Beach. (904) 246-4386.
Budweiser Brewery Tours & Gift Shop
Admission is free for 45-minute open-air gallery tours overlooking the floor of the Brew Hall. A step-by-step look at the all-natural Budweiser brewing process showcases speed and efficiency of Anheuser-Busch bottling and canning operations. Midway through, visitors are invited to the Hospitality Room for complimentary tastings, and there’s plenty of logo merchandise in the gift shop. From I-95, take Exit 360. Exit 111 Busch Drive, Jacksonville. (904) 696-8373
Jacksonville Museum of Modern Art
Billed as the area’s art and soul, the Jacksonville Museum of Modern Art features contemporary works in an urban setting with three floors of gallery space, studio classrooms, an interactive center, a museum store and Café Nola. 333 North Laura Street, Jacksonville. (904) 366-6911.
Museum of Science & History (MOSH)
At MOSH, three floors of scientific, historical and anthropological galleries include the marine mammal exhibit, Atlantic Tails: Whales, Dolphins and Manatees of northeast Florida. The Hixon Native Plant Courtyard showcases flowers, trees and other plants native to the St. Johns River area within a carefully preserved habitat in the heart of downtown. 1025 Museum Circle, Jacksonville. (904) 396-7062
For more on where to stay, what to see, where to dine, and what to do, visit:
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