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Key West Cruise Port Guide: Tips and Overview

City Tours and Shore Excursions

Next are listed the most popular Carnival Cruise Lines tours in Key West, with USD prices per adult:

  • catamaran and snorkeling tour
  • Butterfly Conservatory
  • Trolley and Train tours
  • History tours
  • biking tour
  • boat rides

Port Key West cruise ship schedule shows timetable calendars of all arrival and departure dates by month. The port’s schedule lists all ships with cruises going to or leaving from Key West, Florida. To see the full itineraries and their lowest rates just follow the corresponding ship-link.


Things To Do And See In Key West

One of the nicest and inviting aspects of Key West is that whatever the cruise traveler would like to do or see it is always very easy to get to anywhere on your own. However, there are many thinsg to do which you can only enjoy with a shore excursion, a sightseeing service or a local tour guide. Here are the top things to do in Key West:

  • Sail on a catamaran and snorkel
  • Go on Kayak Nature Tour
  • Explore Key West on a Bike Tour
  • Experience watersports like parasail, paddleboarding, jet ski or snuba
  • Hop-On and Hop-Off the Old Town Trolley
  • Enjoy the ocean life on a glass bottom boat
  • Discover Key West on the Conch Train
  • Explore the highlights of Key West on a tour or on your own
  • Visit Hemingways home and Sloppy Joes
  • Take a Pub Crawl Tour
  • Watch a dolphin show
  • Visit the Aquarium and the Butterfly Gardens
  • See Key West on an helicopter tour
  • Tour President Trumans Little White House
  • Take a Rum and Cigar tour
  • Spend some time on a beach
  • Go on a harbour cruise around Key West
  • Savor a genuine Key lime pie

Conch Tour Train in Key West

Can Key West Ban Ships From Pier B

Pier B is privately owned by the Pier B Development Corporation, owned again by Mark Walsh. The city of Key West owns the Mallory Square dock. The city leases the Outer Mole Pier from the U.S. Navy. While the ordinance could include Pier B and ships docking here, the question is whether the city wants to go there.

There is a perpetual contract between the ownership of Pier B and the City of Key West. First of all, both parties would need to agree to end that contract without it being a breach of contract. If the city passes the ordinance without an agreement with the owners of Pier, it will likely lead to lawsuits:

Commissioner Billy Wardlow: I know we can do something at Mallory Pier and the Outer Mole, but Pier B being private property is different. I wouldnt want someone telling me what I can do with my property.

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Key West Ban On Large Cruise Ships Officially Becomes Law

The City of Key West officially certified the results of a recent referendum that limits cruise ship traffic to Key West.

The residents of Key West voted on November 3 to approve three proposals that would effectively ban large cruise ships from Key West, and the results of the voting were certified this week by Monroe County Supervisor of Elections R. Joyce Griffin.

The voter-approved amendments to the City Charter have now been authenticated by Mayor Teri Johnston and filed with City Clerk Cheryl Smith.

The final tally for the three new laws of Key West are as follows:

Limiting persons disembarking from cruise ships to 1,500 per day.YES: 8,186

Prohibiting cruise ships with a capacity of 1,300 or more persons.YES: 7,852

Prioritize cruise lines with the best environmental and health records.YES: 10,587 NO: 2,453

The group behind the proposal, Key West Committee for Safer Cleaner Ships, celebrated the certification with its backers and vowed to defend the new laws against any legal challenges, “After 30+ years of rising dissatisfaction with the effects of unregulated cruising, the people of Key West have spoken loud and clear.

“And while we expect corporate powers to challenge the new laws in court and in the monied halls of Tallahassee, one thing is certain: the City Commission now has an unquestionable mandate to defend this legislation against any and all opponents.”

Voter Referendum Would Have Limited Cruise Ship Calls

Key West Cocktail Cruise

After the voters of Key West made their decision at the ballot box in November, the Greater Key West Chamber of Commerce warned that the new restrictions would mean reducing cruise ship calls down to 22 and just 11,000 passengers. Thats a far cry from the 400 ships and nearly 1 million cruise passengers who visited the city in 2019.

The state argued that Floridas seaports are a vital part of the overall economy and allowing local governments to set their own regulations would have an adverse affect on their economic value.

Key West city officials have announced theyll hold a special city commission at City Hall on July 6th at 5pm to discuss the situation.

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Truman Little White House

One of the greatest historic landmarks you can visit on a Key West cruise is the Harry S. Truman Little White House. Its situated in the so-called Truman Annex neighborhood of Key Wests Old Town and served as the winter White House for 175 days, and 11 separate visits, during Trumans tenure as U.S. president.

The house is now a museum, which is open to public. On guided tours, visitors can see this historic site and visit the rooms where the Truman family worked, lived and relaxed. Various items that Truman actually used are still there, including his telephone, briefcase and books.

Large Cruise Ships Are Set To Return To Key West

Florida lifts its ban on large cruise ships in Key West.

Large cruise ships have won their battle with idyllic Key West.

Key West residents approved a ban on cruise ships carrying more than 1,500 passengers in November, a time when the industry was effectively shut down by the pandemic. But with cruise lines sailing from the U.S. again, Florida’s governor has overturned the law and is prohibiting the state’s cities from attempting to limit ship traffic in the future.

That decision paves the way for major cruise lines like Royal Caribbean to return to the Florida Keys as cruises restart sailings from U.S. ports. Under the law Key West voters approved last year, Royal Caribbean’s entire fleet which includes several of the world’s largest cruise ships would have been banned.

A similar battle against cruise ship traffic is being waged in Venice, where the cruises are also winning. About a month ago, the Associated Press reported that Venice residents were surprised by the sight of a large ship in a Venetian canal for the first time in more than a year, despite the passage of a law banning big vessels from the heart of one of Italy’s most charming cities.

Venice is continuing to fight, teaming up with celebrities like Mick Jagger, Tilda Swinton, Wes Anderson, and Francis Ford Coppola to protect the city of canals. “Venice is suffering, and we, citizens of the world, cannot remain deaf to her cries,” an open letter signed by supporters reads, according to the AP.

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Will Cruise Ships Return To Key West

A state legislators attempt to nullify a Key West referendum on cruise ships moved a step closer to passage on March 10.

A majority of Key West voters elected in November to reduce Key Wests pre-pandemic cruise ship industry by about 92%, compared to pre-pandemic port visits.

With ballots as their voices, those voters about 62% of them told city lawmakers to change the citys charter so it would prohibit cruise ships that carry more than 1,300 total people, not just passengers, from docking in Key West. The charter change would also mean no more than 1,500 people can come ashore in Key West on a given day and gives docking priority to ships with the best environmental records.

Then the Florida legislature convened on March 2 and Sen. Jim Boyd, a Republican from Bradenton, filed Senate Bill 426, which would nullify the Key West charter changes by taking away port cities authority to turn away certain ships, based on size, passenger count or other characteristics.

Boyds bill also expressly nullifies any local referendum or ballot initiative to change a citys port operations. The bill applies to four of Floridas 15 ports that are owned by cities and not counties Key West, Pensacola, Panama City and St. Petersburg.

The Florida senate transportation committee on Wednesday morning passed Senate Bill 426 with a 5-2 vote. Senator Keith Perry was absent for the vote.

Who supports SB 426?

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Florida Governor Overturns Key West Cruise Restrictions

Cruise Ships Return to Key West – November 27, 2021

Fast forward to summer 2021, when Florida Governor Ron DeSantis introduced a transportation bill that forbids local governments to control or regulate commerce in seaports, overturning the local referendums.

However, Mayor Teri Johnston of Key West is trying to find ways to restrict cruises from calling to the island. The only issue is that one of the cruise berths, Pier B, is privately owned. Government cant intervene with private property.

Guests disembarking Azamara Quest in Key West.

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Transportation In Key West

Key West is only about four miles long and two miles wide, which means tackling the city on foot isnt such a daunting idea. But there are also a variety of other methods to see Key West, like the Old Town Trolley. This simple hop-on, hop-off trolley service runs all day. You can also rent bikes or scooters to catch the Key West breeze while you explore. By-the-minute pedicabs are also scattered throughout the town. For a sightseeing tour youll never forget, take the Conch Tour Train, which has been showing tourists around town since 1958.

Hemingways Home And Other Museums

The Hemingway Home and Museum is a must see along with landmarks and museums such as the Truman Little White House, the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum and the Tennessee Williams Key West Exhibit.

Aquarium in Key West

For the cruise traveler with children there are many interesting attractions, such as the Key West Aquarium, the Shipwreck Treasure Museum, the Butterfly & Nature Conservatory, the Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden, the Nancy Forrester Garden, the Audubon House and Tropical Gardens, or the Ripleyâs Believe It or Not!

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What Do Key Wests New Referendums Say

It is important to understand exactly what the new cruise ship referendums in Key West are in order to fully grasp how they will impact Disney Cruise Lines fleet the Disney Dream, the Disney Fantasy, the Disney Magic, and the Disney Wonder.

As per the Herald, these new restrictions for cruise ships were passed by Key West voters:

  • Limit the number of daily cruise ship visitors at 1,500. Voters approved this by about 63%.
  • Prohibit cruise ships with 1,300 passengers or more from docking. This passed with about 60% of the vote.
  • Give docking priority to cruise lines that have the best health and environmental records. This passed with about 81% of the vote.

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Two of Disneys ships the Dream and the Fantasy are unable to make port in Key West due to their size. They are too large for the ports channel. The upcoming Titan class Disney Wish is even larger, so it will not dock in Key West either for logistical reasons.

However, the Disney Wonder and the Disney Magic currently have 38 Key West, Florida calls scheduled collectively. Disney Cruise Lines official website has additional details about these cruises.

At this time, both the Wonder and the Magic which each have a capacity over 2,700 will be unable to dock.

DCL offers these details about visiting Key West as a port of call:

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Local Currency & Tipping Customs

From Miami: Key West Full

Key Wests official currency is the U.S. dollar , and ATMs are widely available. Credit cards like VISA and MasterCard are accepted most places as well. Tipping in Key West is similar to other U.S. destinations. Leave a 15-20% tip at restaurants and bars. Dont forget to tip your barista for your morning cafe con leche, too. Carry a little bit of cash for your tour guide or bellhop.

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Carnival Cancels Key West Stops In September October

The Carnival cruise ship Imagination comes slowly into view during a pre-pandemic port call as Conch Tour Trains arrive to pick up passengers. The cruise line has dropped port calls in Key West in September and October.

  • ROB ONEAL/The Citizen

The Carnival Fascination heads out to sea after a port call in Key West in 2013.

  • ROB ONEAL/The Citizen

The Carnival Ecstasy is seen moored at Pier B in 2014.

  • ROB ONEAL/Free PressThe Carnival Ecstasy is seen moored at Key Wests Pier B in 2014.

Carnival Cruise Lines said Friday it was cancelling port calls in Key West in September and October, according to cruise line officials. The cruise line did not specify its reason for the cancellations.

Key West City Manager Patti McLauchlin said Friday she was not aware of any cancellations other than the Sept. 25 planned port call of Carnival Dream. The ship will instead sail from Galveston to Freeport, Half Moon Cay and Nassau in the Bahamas.

They have cancelled that one, McLauchlin said. Are they cancelling other trips to Key West? I have not gotten any word on that.

According to the website, the Carnival Sunrise also will not return to Key West, but will instead leave on four- and five-night sailings from Miami.

The Carnival Cruise Lines website has 23 ports listed on its Sail From tab, but Key West no longer is among them. Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa and Port Canaveral are listed under that category.

History Of Port Of Key West

In 1969 the Port of Key West received its first regularly scheduled cruise ship it was the SUNWARD. She called on Key West once a month. The Sunward moored at either the Navys Mole or Pier B facility. Records indicate that between 1969 and 1984 the Port of Key West received 266 port calls. In the 1999 fiscal year 415 cruise ships called on the Port of Key West allowing 597,009 passengers to experience Key Wests charm, many making return trips to complete their Key West experience.It wasnt until 1984 that the City Commission, at the recommendation of City staff, made improvements to the City-owned Mallory Dock, making it a full cruise ship docking facility.

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Pier B And Mallory Square

If your cruise ship is the only one in port which happens quite frequently this will be most probably where she will dock. This is a perfect location just, literally, a couple of minutes walk away from the Old Town one of the top attractions of Key West where many highlights are located.

There is also the possibility that your cruise ship will dock at another pier close by, also right at the heart of the Old Town, in Mallory Square this is a famous spot where crowds gather to watch the sunset and it can get very busy when returning onboard at the end of the day.

Outer Mole Pier in Key West

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Cellular Phone & Data Services

Scaling back cruise restrictions in Key West

Customers of the four major U.S. wireless carriers can expect the following levels of service in Key West:

Cell service: Verizons CDMA service provides digital coverage to the greater Key West area. Data services: Verizon offers 4G LTE coverage in the greater Key West area.See details on Verizons cell and data services coverage in Key West.

Cell service: AT& Ts GSM service covers all of the greater Key West area.Data services: AT& T offers extensive 4G and 4G LTE service in the greater Key West area.See details on AT& Ts cell and data services coverage in Key West.

Cell service: Sprints CDMA service provides digital coverage to the greater Key West area. Data services: Sprint offers extensive 3G service in the greater Key West area.See details on Sprints cell and data services coverage in Key West.

Cell service: T-Mobiles GSM service is available in all of the greater Key West area.Data services: T-Mobile offers extensive 3G/4G service in the greater Key West area, with some spotty coverage.See details on T-Mobiles cell and data services coverage in Key West.

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Shop Art And Souvenirs

There are many art galleries at your disposal, whether you intend to buy or just be inspired. Streets like Duval, showcase plenty of mind-bogglingly beautiful art. Every month there are art events that showcase new artists. So be on the lookout for something new and otherworldly beautiful.

Get all your Key West souvenirs online, so you dont have to worry when in port.

Duval Street And Other Major Streets In The Old Town

Parallel to Wall Street, Front Street is a good reference thoroughfare as it connects to all other major streets in the Old Town Duval Street, Whitehead Street, Greene Street or Caroline Street. If docked at Pier B, the cruise traveler will be exiting right into Front Street by the Customs House Museum and next to the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum.

The southern section of Front Street is a dead-end, although the Truman Little White House is close by, but at the northern end the cruise travel will find the off-the-beaten-track A& B Marina a quaint harbor with very nice restaurants and a boardwalk that will take you to the Historical Seaport.

Harbor Wak in Key West

The Turtle Museum and a handful of well-known restaurants/bars are found at the Historical Seaport. At the northern end of the port, you will find the Flagler Station Museum.

Flagler Station Museum in Key West

Both Greene Street and Caroline Street also end by the Historical Seaport but the later doesnt have much to see along the way besides the Richard Kemp House.

Duval Street in Key West

Duval Street is certainly the most famous of all streets in Key West, known for its lively nightlife and profusion of stores with well-known brands, one of a kind shops, boutiques, art galleries, and souvenirs.

Sloppy Joeâs in Key West

Whistle Bar in Key West

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