We’re all for saving money on cruises. And if you are a disabled passenger with a handicap, you should know that you could save a lot of money on parking.
All of the cruise ports in Florida — Miami, Port Everglades, Port Canaveral, Tampa, and Jacksonville — have convenient on-site cruise parking lots. This parking puts you just steps away from you ship, but it comes at a high price. These lots charge between $15-25 per day! A 7-day cruise at some ports can run a bill of nearly $200 for parking alone.
However, thanks to a Florida law, parking for disabled guests can be free. The Florida Statute is 316.1964, and it says that if one of the following criteria are met, then you are entitled to free parking:
- Display a Florida Toll Exemption Permit
- Drive a vehicle is modified with specialized equipment such as ramps, lifts, or foot and hand controls for use by a disabled person
- Display the “DV” license plate – Disabled Veteran
That said, the rules around free parking are specific. For that reason, we HIGHLY suggest you contact the port ahead of time to discuss your situation and confirm you can park for free. We’ve listed contact information for each port below.
Things to note:
- These rules require you to have modifications to your car, not just a disabled parking hangtag. Simply having a hangtag does not mean you can park for free.
- This rules apply only to the parking lots operated by the cruise port. If you plan to park off-site at an independent lot, then you’ll have to pay for parking.
Port of Miami Free Disabled Parking
The Port of Miami has updated its rules as of November 2013. Now disabled parking is charged, unless the following requirement is met:
“In accordance with Florida Statute 316.1964, ONLY vehicles with specialized equipment such as ramps, lifts, foot or hand controls, for use by a person with a disability, or any vehicle that is displaying the “DV” license plate issued under s. 320.084, s. 320.0842, or s. 320.0845 or displaying the Florida Toll Exemption permit, is exempt from parking charges.”
To inquire if you will receive free parking, you can call the port at 305-347-4800.
Port Everglades Free Disabled Parking
At Port Everglades, cars must have one of the following criteria met in order to qualify for free parking:
- Display a Florida Toll Exemption Permit as explained in Florida Statute 316.1964
- Vehicle is modified with specialized equipment such as ramps, lifts, or foot and hand controls for use by a disabled person
- Display the “DV” license plate – Disabled Veteran – issued under Florida Statue 320.084
Meanwhile, the process for parking is very detailed. This is from the port’s website:
“At the entry to the parking garage or surface lot, pull a parking ticket from the automated machine and get the attention of one of the parking agents in an adjacent exit booth. Advise that parking agent that you would like a disability waiver of parking. The parking agent will call for a parking supervisor to determine if the vehicle qualifies.
“Once the supervisor verifies that a waiver is allowable, the driver’s name, address and the registration number on the sticker, license plate or hanging tag will be recorded on the parking ticket and signed by the supervisor. The driver will be given the parking ticket and directed to enter the garage.
“Upon exit, the parking ticket will be surrendered to the parking attendant with all parking fees waived.”
You can contact the port directly at 954-468-3680
Port Canaveral Free Disabled Parking
Port Canaveral also follows the guideline that cars must be modified for disabled persons to be eligible for free parking. From its website:
“DISABLED PARKING spaces are available, and the fee is waived for vehicles transporting
certain persons who have disabilities that:
- Have special equipment, such as ramps, lifts, foot or hand controls for use by a disabled person;
- Display a Florida Toll Exemption Permit as explained in s. 316.1964, Florida Statutes; and
- Display a Disabled Veteran (DV) license plate issued under s. 320.084; s. 320.0842; or s. 320.0845, Florida Statutes.
“Parking agents will not grant parking waivers for any other reason than the ones listed above.”
You can reach the port for more details at 321-783-7831, ext. 327
Port of Tampa Free Disabled Parking
As with Port Canaveral and Port Everglades, handicapped guests must have some sort of modification to their vehicles or have Disabled Veteran license plates.
Here’s what the port’s website previously said, although it appears to have been taken down:
“Tampa Port Authority follows the Florida State Statute, 316.1964, relating to handicap parking as such all customers are required to pay for parking unless their vehicle has modified foot or hand controls, wheelchair lift or ramp or has been issued a “Toll Exempt” sticker from the state of Florida. Vehicles utilizing our valet parking service do not receive any discounts.
“Should your vehicle meet the above noted criteria and is the vehicle being parked you will need to advise the parking staff on-site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week prior to making payment for parking.”
To call the Port of Tampa and ask about your status or specific questions, dial 813-905-7678
Port of Jacksonville Free Disabled Parking
Just as with most other ports, a hangtag on your mirror isn’t enough to earn an exemption at the Jacksonville cruise port, but they do offer free disabled parking
Here is what the cruise port’s website says about the topic:
“JAXPORT’s cruise terminal follows all guidelines outlined in the Florida statute regarding disabled parking.
“Free parking is available for drivers with a state-issued disabled veterans plate, as well as those with a Florida Toll Exemption decal that is permanently affixed to their vehicle.
“Persons in a vehicle that has been modified to accommodate a disabled driver, such as hand/foot controls and installed ramps, are eligible for free parking with a disabled parking placard or decal.”
We recommend calling the port to ask about your specific parking at 904-357-3006.
My wife is disabled and I have an SUV with handicap plates and a scooter carrier on a hitch.. On occasion we’ve been denied a parking waiver mostly at Port Canaveral for not having ramps, handcontrols or a mechanized lift. Her scooter lift is .manually operated. I don’t understand are we qualifying the vehicles disability or the persons?
The issue is that Florida ONLY recognizes the FLORIDA DV plate and not the other 49 states that have disabled veterans. That a slap in the face of every veteran in America that is disabled and just as deserving as the ones with FL plates. Other cruise ports in other states don’t have an issue, only Florida. What a crock of crap
Soooo only people handicap in FL can park free. Or Disabled Vets. Not at all discredited THEM. But you’re literally leaving out 49 other states of disabled people. Got it. How stupid.
Thank you for the contact information. I have a friend whose husband drives them down from South Carolina to go on a cruise with the equipment she needs with her, They are always able to park free in their van with ramp for her powerchair. I believe they go out of Port Lauderdale each winter. So far, so good.
I think this is some straight BS. My husband lost his leg and is an above the knee amputee; he didn’t loose his leg in a war but while @ work. He has the permanent handicap license plate. It’s wrong for these ports to only allow individuals that have served this country to park for free. I’m not discrediting those individuals but their are others that suffer with other disabilities as well.
Does the vehicle have modifications to him operate it? If so, then he should be able to park for free. It might be worth a call to the port.
“In accordance with Florida Statute 316.1964, ONLY vehicles with specialized equipment such as ramps, lifts, foot or hand controls, for use by a person with a disability, or any vehicle that is displaying the “DV” license plate issued under s. 320.084 or the Florida Toll Exemption permit, is exempt from parking charges.” I have and used my DV plate at the Miami Cruise Port. I parked at no cost to me!!! The cruise ports in other Areas try to skirt the law by not posting the portion stating that a DV license Plate is also in that portion of the law not limiting it to special devices!!!