A New Cruise Ship is Coming to Jacksonville

Florida’s bustling cruise scene is set to receive a new addition with the arrival of the Norwegian Gem in Jacksonville. While Fort Lauderdale, Port Canaveral, and Miami have long dominated the cruise landscape, Norwegian Cruise Line’s decision to bring the Gem to Jacksonville offers a convenient option for travelers in the northern part of the state.

Jacksonville is a great option for those who drive to port

Jacksonville, located in NorthEast Florida, has a small cruise terminal called JAXPORT. It provides a great option for those looking to drive from Northern Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina, saving guests coming from Northern states a little over two hours of driving. It’s not the best for guests who want to fly in, as the regional airport has fewer options than larger airports like Atlanta and Orlando, and driving from those airports takes several hours. 

“Expanding our popular cruise program provides passengers throughout the Southeast U.S. and beyond with even more reasons to choose Jacksonville for their next vacation.”


Norwegian Gem sailing out of Jacksonville starts November 2025

The Norwegian Gem originally debuted in 2007 and received a significant overhaul in 2015. The ship has 14 different restaurants and 16 bars and lounges. Guests can relax in the three pools and five hot tubs on the decks. 

It will sail several longer 11- and 12-day sailings, which will explore the Eastern Caribbean. During these cruises, it will visit Norwegian’s private Island, Great Stirrup Cay, as well as Puerta Plata Dominion Republic, St Thomas, Antigua, and San Juan,

malting bar on Norwegian Gem
Maltings Whiskey Bar on Norwegian Gem

The Gem will also sail shorter 4- and 5-day cruises from Jacksonville. Those sailings will visit the Bahamas exclusively, stopping at Great Stirrup Cay, Freeport, and Nassau. 

Norwegian Gem joins the Carnival Elation

Because of the Dames Point Bridge, only smaller-sized ships can port at Jacksonville’s JAXPORT cruise terminal. For years, Carnival has had its smaller and older Fantasy-class ships in the port. Currently, Carnival is sailing the Carnival Elation out of the port. 

The Gem offers a newer and slightly larger option. It’s nine years newer than the Carnival Elation. It’s also 33% bigger, but don’t expect a big ship; it only holds roughly 2,400 guests, a sweet spot for guests who love more intimate ships. 

Sailings from Jacksonville open mid-February

Norwegian Gem will homeport in Jacksonville, Fla. from November to April every year through 2028. Sailings for the Norwegian Gem will open for booking on February 14, 2024. 

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Randy Young

Randy Young is the founder and editor-in-chief at Cruise Spotlight. He has been in marketing for 19 years and has been cruising for just as long. Over the years, he's worked with products like TVs, copiers, light bulbs, and EV chargers, but cruising has always been his passion. There's nothing Randy likes more than the first couple of hours on a ship, exploring every nook and cranny and seeing how it's different from everything else out there. He's known for providing detailed and analytical coverage of cruising to help cruisers get a comprehensive picture of a ship's offerings.