You start out as a simple sailor on a small ship in a local region. At first you explore the world and trade between towns friendly to each other. The aim is to acquire both gold and status; enough to eventually become a governor yourself.
Over time you will gain the increasing interest and goodwill of other governors. You will be able to further enlarge your riches with the initially easy orders and missions that they provide you with.
Port Royale offers the player many different types of buildings or factories and a variety of production workshops. Countless buildings have their own unique and very specific function; from the small shipyard and the corner pub right up to the governor's palace. So players can have their ship repaired in the shipyard, get the newest gossip from the pub or request a privateering letter from the governor.
After the player has established their own warehouse, they can start thinking about establishing workshops. For this a decision is required on whether to tend to the physical welfare of the population or establish plantations of tobacco, cocoa or sugarcane for export the Old World.