Mayport Cruise Terminal: Finding Common Ground

April 23, 2010 65 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

While Mayport is a shell of its former self, many oppose the very thing that could possibly revitalize this historic village. Can common ground be found?

Mayport vs. JAXPORT

For the last couple of years, the line has been drawn in the sand between the Mayport community and JAXPORT. However, there is an opportunity for both sides to come to a compromise that can fulfill the goals of each party.

Mayport Community Development Corporation's Position
Mayport Community Development Corp. opposes the cruise terminal in Mayport because it would harm the character of the village and would mostly benefit out-of-towners, not residents, said Ronda McDonald, the group's chairwoman. The group wants to attract a developer that would build a boardwalk featuring mixed-use buildings and eco-tourism outfitters.

JAXPORT's Position
Authority spokeswoman Nancy Rubin said the scope of the terminal is being rethought and the community will be invited to take part in the planning process.

Economic Impact
Aside from giving the authority revenue to maintain its commercial operations, the cruise industry has an annual $25 million impact on the area. Visit Jacksonville interim CEO and President Mya Carter said port surveys found that 40 percent of passengers spend a day in the port city, and each overnight cruise visitor spends about $290 on retail, dining, local transit and lodging in the homeport city.

Selected Cruise Terminal Examples

The cruise terminals shown below indicate these complexes can be designed to accommodate multiple interests and needs in compact areas.

Alabama Cruise Terminal - Mobile, AL

A two-story 66,000 square foot terminal and 500 space parking deck connected to downtown Mobile via a riverwalk and riverfront park.

Half Moone Cruise & Celebration Center - Norfolk, VA

Norfolk's cruise terminal's location includes a waterfront public park, a riverwalk, and two museums.

Image by cityboi757 at:

Named for a fort built in 1673 on the same site, Norfolk's Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center is open for business and welcoming passengers from across the country. The state-of-the-art facility was designed to be much more than just another terminal and boasts one of the nation's largest privately-owned ocean liner collections as well as 400-year-old artifacts from historic Jamestown. Embarking has never been easier; a recent Bermuda-bound passenger said his experience was "flawless and fast." With the addition of the Half Moone in downtown Norfolk, no other port comes close.

Tampa Cruise Terminal - Channel District Tampa, FL

Tampa's terminal is surrounded by a mixed-use retail/dining/entertainment complex, an aquarium and floating ship museum (SS American Victory).

Tampa Port officials have worked with the community to develop a lively downtown waterfront. A few years ago, an entertainment complex called Channelside opened on the waterfront and it is a short walk from the Tampa cruise terminals. Channelside has lots of entertainment, shopping, and restaurants in a comfortable water-side atmosphere. The Florida Aquarium is between the cruise terminals, home to over 10,000 aquatic plants and animals from Florida and all over the world.

Mallory Square Dock - Key West

Cruise ships visiting Key West dock at the city owned Mallory Square.

Mallory Square is a plaza located in the city of Key West, Florida, United States.

It is located on the waterfront in Key West's historic Old Town, adjacent to the cruise ship port. It is located just west of the northern end of Duval Street, facing the Gulf of Mexico. It runs the entire length of Wall Street. Adjacent to the square are the Key West Shipwreck Historeum Museum and the Old Post Office and Customshouse.

Image by Deror avi at

In 1984 the city opened a pier right on Mallory Square. The decision was met with considerable opposition from people who felt it would disrupt the tradition of watching the sunset at Mallory Square. In response to this, the city passed an ordinance requiring cruise ships to leave port two hours before sunset, enabling them to return after sunset without an additional docking fee.


The Mayport waterfront today.

Metro Jacksonville believes the goals of the Mayport Community Development Corporation can be achieved by working with JAXPORT on the design of the proposed terminal. Terminals in Key West, Mobile, Norfolk and Tampa indicate that cruise terminal sites can include a mix of uses and public space that benefits residents and tourist.

Considering the decaying state of the waterfront, the shrimping industry, and the local economy, it may be in Mayport's best interest to avoid wasting this unique opportunity for economic stabilization and revitalization.

Article by Ennis Davis