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A portis a facility for receiving shipsand/or transferring cargo. It is usually found at the edge of an ocean, sea, river, or lake. The best ports have deep waterin channelor berth, and protection from the windand waves. Harbour pilotand tugboatsare often used to maneuver large ships in tight quarters as they approach and leave the docks. Ports which handle international traffic also have customsfacilities.


A prerequisite for a port is a harborwith water of sufficient depth to receive ships whose draftwill allow passage into and out of the harbor.

Ports sometimes fall out of use. Rye, East Sussexmarker was an important Englishmarker port in the Middle Ages, but the coastline changed and it is now from the sea, while the ports of Ravenspurnmarker and Dunwichmarker have been lost to coastal erosion.Also in the United Kingdommarker, Londonmarker, the River Thames was once an important international port, but changes in shipping methods, such as the use of containers and larger ships, put it at a disadvantage.


Ports often have cargo-handling equipment, such as cranes(operated by longshoremen) and forkliftsfor use in loading/unloading of ships, which may be provided by private interests or public bodies. Often, canneriesor other processing facilities will be located nearby. Some ports feature canals, which allow ships further movement inland.Access to intermodal transportation, such as trainsor trucks, are critical to a port, so that passengers and cargo can also move further inland beyond the port area.

Port types

The terms "port" and "seaport" are used for different types of port facilities that handle ocean-going vessels, and river portis used for river traffic, such as barges and other shallow-draft vessels. Some ports on a lake, river, or canal have access to a sea or ocean, and are sometimes called "inland ports".

A fishing portis a type of port or harborfacility particularly suitable for landing and distributing fish. It may be a recreational facility, but it is usually a commercial one.

Portis a nautical termthat refers to the left side of a craft either an airplane or ship. Starboardis the nautical term that refers to the right side of a craft.

A "dry port" is a term sometimes used to describe a yard used to place containers or conventional bulk cargo, usually connected to a seaport by rail or road.

A warm water portis where the water does not freeze in winter time. Because they are available year-round, warm water ports can be of great geopolitical or economic interest, with the ports of Saint Petersburgmarker, Dalian, and Valdezmarker being notable examples.

A seaportis further categorized as a "cruise port" or a "cargo port". Additionally, "cruise ports" are also known as a "home port" or a "port of call". The "cargo port" is also further categorized into a "bulk" or "break bulk port" or as a "container port".

A cruise home portis the port where cruise-ship passengers board (or embark) to start their cruise and also debark(or disembark) the cruise ship at the end of their cruise. It is also where the cruise ship's supplies are loaded for the cruise, which includes everything from fresh water and fuel to fruits, vegetable, champagne, and any other supplies needed for the cruise. "Cruise home ports" are a very busy place during the day the cruise ship is in port, because off-going passengers debark their baggage and on-coming passengers board the ship in addition to all the supplies being loaded. Currently, the Cruise Capital of the World is the Port of Miamimarker, Floridamarker, closely followed behind by Port Evergladesmarker, Florida and the Port of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

A port of callis an intermediate stop for a ship on its sailing itinerary, which may include up to half a dozen ports. At these ports, a cargo ship may take on supplies or fuel, as well as unloading and loading cargo. But for a cruise ship, it is their premier stop where the cruise lines take on passengers to enjoy their vacation.

Cargo ports, on the other hand, are quite different to cruise ports, because each handles very different cargo, which has to be loaded and unloaded by very different mechanical means. The port may handle one particular type of cargo or it may handle numerous cargoes, such as grains, liquid fuels, liquid chemicals, wood, automobiles, etc. Such ports are known as the "bulk" or "break bulk ports". Those ports that handle containerized cargo are known as container ports. Most cargo ports handle all sorts of cargo, but some ports are very specific as to what cargo they handle. Additionally, the individual cargo ports are divided into different operating terminals which handle the different cargoes, and are operated by different companies, also known as terminal operators or stevedores.

Ports of the World

North America

The ports of the United States handle more than 2 billion metric tons of domestic and import/export cargo annually. American ports are responsible for moving over 99 percent of the country's overseas cargo.

For details on U.S. Ports, see the List of ports in the United States. For details on all North American ports, see the List of North American ports.


For details on East Asian ports, see the List of East Asian ports.

See also

Water port topics

Other types of ports


External links

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