Florida is home to the busiest, largest, and most accessible cruise ship terminals in the world, and right in the heart of it all is Port Canaveral.
It’s the second busiest port in the world for multi-day cruises, after Miami, and sits on the coast less than an hour east of Orlando. The port is home to ships from Carnival, Disney and Royal Caribbean, among others, and with its convenient location close to Orlando and Daytona Beach, it’s easy to see why millions of passengers start off their cruises here every year.
With six cruise terminals designed for smooth embarking and disembarking, and a new state-of-the-art terminal planned for 2012, Port Canaveral has been built to get you in the mood for smooth sailing.
An Out-of-this-World Role for Port Canaveral
The port was dedicated in 1953, but it didn’t begin focusing on the cruise industry until the 1980s, rapidly growing to handle its high volume of both cruise ships and cargo. It also plays a support role to the nearby John F. Kennedy Space Center. For each Space Shuttle mission, the external tanks were floated into Port Canaveral from where they were constructed in Mississippi. The solid rocket boosters were also towed to the port after being ejected post-launch and fished out of the Atlantic Ocean.
Port Canaveral is close to three international airports. It’s 45 miles east of Orlando International, 27 miles north of Melbourne International, and 65 miles southeast of Orlando Sanford International. Orlando International Airport is probably the best bet, but Melbourne’s airport is well serviced from across the United States.
If you fly to Orlando, there are shuttle buses available to bring you to Port Canaveral. Taxis and limos could be a little cost prohibitive, at nearly an hour’s drive time. Your cruise can also arrange for your transfers, but a cheaper solution could be to rent a car. Florida doesn’t charge for one-way rental drop offs, so you can rent a car at the airport, and run a few errands before dropping it off at the port.
If you’re dropping off a rental car at the port, there are shuttle buses that will get you and your luggage to your terminal. There is also plenty of gated parking lots nearby, both indoor and out, if you choose to drive your own car.
If you have a few hours before getting on your cruise ship, there’s lots to do right around Port Canaveral. There are a number of great restaurants right on site, and The Cove is a waterfront recreation area with charter boats, a casino ship, lounges and shops.
Of course, the highlight of having your cruise start and end at Port Canaveral might just be all the other attractions right in the neighborhood. Orlando is one of the best places in the world to bring your family, so add a few days onto your trip, and see Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World, Discovery Cove and Gatorland. You can also explore American space history by taking a tour of the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, or check out the alligators on an air-boat ride through Central Florida’s Everglades.
When it comes to ease and entertainment, Florida’s Port Canaveral offers every traveler a wealth of choice for the perfect family vacation.