Norwegian Cruise Line has reached out to travel agents and booked guests with an alert about potential heavy traffic and road closures near PortMiami for the upcoming weekend – Friday, March 22 through Sunday, March 24 – due to the Ultra Music Festival.

During the three day event, four different Norwegian Cruise Line ships are likely to be impacted, as well as multiple vessels from other cruise lines.

The downtown Miami area, including near the cruise port, is known for heavy traffic congestion, and the weekend of March 22-24 will be even crazier than normal with the Ultra Music Festival in town. Norwegian Cruise Line has reached out to alert travelers of the potential congestion and urged guests to allow ample time to reach the cruise terminal.

“The Ultra Music Festival will take place this weekend from Friday, March 22, 2024, through Sunday, March 24, 2024, at Bayfront Park in Downtown Miami, and severe traffic is anticipated,” the email reads.

During the 2022 festival, 165,000 attendees enjoyed the event, as well as vendors, musicians, journalists, local authorities, and more. As the festival takes place in and around Bayfront Park just south of Port Boulevard less than one mile from the cruise terminals, the impact on cruise traffic can be extreme.

“To ensure a smooth embarkation day, we highly encourage all guests to please allow ample time to arrive at the pier for embarkation,” the email said. “PortMiami will remain open on NE 5th Street, however, guests are encouraged to utilize the Port of Miami Tunnel, which can be accessed from I-395.”

Cruise Ships at PortMiami, Florida (Photo Credit: Francisco Blanco)

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The email also outlines road closures and rerouting for both northbound and southbound Biscayne Boulevard, noting that the Miami-Dade Police Department will be on hand to manage traffic.

“We encourage guests to plan accordingly as they may encounter heavy delays,” the email said.

At this time, no delays are expected for cruise ship departures and all passengers are expected to be onboard by each ship’s stated all-aboard time.

In total, 19 cruise ships will be moving through PortMiami from Friday through Sunday. This will add to the traffic difficulties, and guests should take care with their driving route or consider using shuttle services or group rides to minimize delays.

On Friday, March 22, Norwegian Sun and Norwegian Pearl will be in port, while Norwegian Joy is docked on Saturday, March 22. On Sunday, March 24, Norwegian Encore is in PortMiami.

Other ships from Royal Caribbean International, MSC Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, Virgin Voyages, and Seabourn Cruise Line will also be in port through the weekend. Of special note is that the world’s largest cruise ship, Icon of the Seas, is in port on Saturday. Sunday is the busiest day, with eight total ships in port.

Cruise Ships Docked at PortMiami, Florida (Photo Credit: Anthony Giarrusso)

In total, when counting both disembarking guests finishing their cruises as well as travelers arriving to begin their vacations, the cruise port will manage approximately 36,000 guests on Friday, 45,600 guests on Saturday, and an amazing 60,000 guests on Sunday.

All the cruise ships are likely to be filled close to maximum capacity as this is the busy spring break season and more families are traveling. Furthermore, spring break traffic to nearby beaches and other Miami-area attractions may add to the congestion.

The Ultra Music Festival, which has sold out tickets for its 2024 event, is an outdoor electronic music festival featuring a more than 100 bands, musicians, and groups. It is held annually at Bayfront Park, and over three days, will draw close to 200,000 attendees, performers, vendors, and service personnel.

The event began in 1999 and has grown larger over the years, though is still slightly smaller in recent years than the numbers reached prior to the pandemic, when the festival was cancelled for two years. The event does continue to grow and will undoubtedly influence one spring weekend’s worth of cruise traffic each year.

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