JAXPORT, the northern Florida cruise port in Jacksonville, marked a milestone on November 13, 2023, when it welcomed its 3 millionth cruise guest.
A family of cruisers hailing from Georgia pushed the arrivals number over the mark as they arrived for their sailing aboard Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Elation.
Carnival Cruise Line and JAXPORT celebrated the port’s 3 millionth cruise guest, the Lester family of Clayton, Georgia, who were ready to set sail on their fourth Carnival Cruise Line voyage. The cruise line extended VIP treatment to the family, who were booked on a 4-day voyage to the Bahamas aboard Carnival Elation, a Fantasy-class ship.
The Lester family enjoyed a special, complimentary dinner at Carnival Elation’s Chef’s Table, the exclusive, multi-course culinary experience offered on most Carnival Cruise Line vessels. They also were treated to other VIP services and amenities during their cruise.
The lucky VIPs chose to cruise from JAXPORT because it is close to their home in Georgia. Indeed, Jacksonville is known as a drive-to port based on its location in the northern region of Florida, and is considered to be within one day’s drive of 100 million people.
Carnival Cruise Line is the only cruise brand providing year-round sailings from JAXPORT. It was back in 2004 when Carnival Cruise Line began offering itineraries from JAXPORT to the Bahamas, and later to the Eastern Caribbean, aboard Carnival Ecstasy.
In 2019, before the pandemic pause, Carnival Cruise Line welcomed about 150,000 guests on more than 70 cruises departing from Jacksonville.
In February 2022, Carnival Spirit replaced Carnival Ecstasy and temporarily sailed from JAXPORT until April 2022, when Carnival Elation was deployed for a long-term homeport. The ship is scheduled to remain in Jacksonville through 2024, sailing her series of 4-, 5-, and 7-day cruises to the Bahamas and Eastern Caribbean.
JAXPORT’s Cruise ship data for 2023 is not yet available from the port, but records show that in 2022 there were 52 calls. For comparison, the pre-pandemic years of 2018 and 2019 saw 78 and 76 calls, respectively.
The port’s busiest months for cruises were October, March, and May, when eight ship calls were recorded in each month. January was the port’s least busy cruise month, with just three calls. After cruises resumed in March 2022, the port posted $2.6 million in cruise-related revenues for that fiscal year.
JAXPORT’s major industry is cargo, not cruise. Roughly 75% of all port revenues is derived from cargo operations, mainly containers and autos. The port has three cargo terminals, two intermodal container transfer facilities, and the passenger cruise terminal, situated along the St. Johns River.
Carnival Elation, which entered service in 1998 and accommodates 2,000 guests in double occupancy, offers several itineraries from Jacksonville.
A 4-day Bahamas cruise calls at Freeport, Bahamas, and Bimini. A 5-day cruise calls at Nassau, Bahamas, and the Princess Cays private island, and features two sea days. Some itineraries will call at Celebration Key, the new private retreat that Carnival will open in July 2025.
The ship offers six stateroom categories, including suites and Grand Penthouse Suites. It also features Carnival Cruise Line’s signature Carnival Waterworks aqua park, with its popular Twister Waterslide, its SplashZone for children, and thrilling racing slides.
Guests can choose from several dining venues, such as the main dining rooms, Guy’s Burger Joint, Tiffany’s Bar & Grill, Bonsai Sushi Express, BlueIguana Cantina, and Chef’s Table, along with some dessert specialty venues.
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