I have taken several cruises and arrive early a. m. What I do is take my time to pick up my lugage and have a long leisure breakfast or lunch and get any last minute needs at a store. Alcohol is expensive on board and if you enjoy afternoon martini, buy a bottle of Vodka and stash it in your luguage. Car rental is cheap in Miami and I have rented one before, but felt rushed to drive and return the rental. At the terminal there are shops and restaurants around. You could leave your things at the pier and take a ride out to the beach. One time I flew in a day ahead, checked in a hotel near the airport, (cheap)played a round of golf, enjoy a night out in Miami and the next day, return the rental car and caught the cruise with ease.
Access to the Port of Miami is restricted by land (you have to go through a security gate and show passport or ID) but it is restricted by water also.
You used to be able to transit across on the north side of Dodge Island where the cruise ships are docked. Now the Coast Guard will get very upset with you if you go inside the security zone around cruise ships. All transit of Government Cut while a cruise ship is in transit is forbiidden.
"ACTION: Temporary final rule.
"SUMMARY: The Coast Guard is establishing two temporary fixed security zones. One security zone encompasses the waterway located between MacArthur Causeway and Dodge Island in the Port of Miami. These security zones are needed for national security reasons to protect the public and ports from potential subversive acts. Entry into these zones is prohibited, unless specifically authorized by the Captain of the Port, Miami, Florida, or his designated representative.
DATES: This rule is effective from 11:59 p.m. on October 7, 2001
Discussion of Rule
" We are creating two security zones: One in the Port of Miami, Florida and one in Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. These temporary fixed security zones are activated when cruise ships and vessels carrying cargoes of particular hazard are moored within these zones.
The Port of Miami fixed security zone encompasses all waters between Watson Park and Star Island on the MacArthur Causeway south to the Port of Miami on Dodge Island. The western boundary is formed by an imaginary line from points 25 deg.46.76' N, 080 deg.10.87' W, to 25 deg.46.77' N, 080 deg.10.92' W to 25 deg.46.88' N, 080 deg.10.84' W and ending on Watson Park at 25 deg.47.00' N, 080 deg.10.67' W. The eastern boundary is formed by an imaginary line from the traffic light located at Bridge road, which leads to Star Island on MacArthur Causeway directly extending across the Government Cut channel to Lummus Island, at 25 deg. 46.32' N, 080 deg.09.23' W."