The maritime industry is in a period of unprecedented change. Around the world, and in every sector radically new forces are requiring adjustments and adaptations. Ports are particularly vulnerable because, as intermediaries in complex transport chains, they are exposed to the full force of developments on both land and water spheres. This paper explores the challenges confronting seaports in this environment. An overview of the major systemic changes themselves is given, as a backdrop to evaluating how ports are impacted. While the conclusion is drawn that ports have lost the means to influence events to the degree they used to, and are being forced to react to changes, a variety of issues are presented that suggest that there are opportunities for port authorities to intervene and better control the future. These are opportunities, however, that require reappraisal of the role of ports in logistical chains on land and water.