9005 Charles M Rowland Drive
Cape Canaveral, FL, 32920
Port Canaveral is Florida's third-busiest cruise port and ideally situated for pre- and post-cruise fun, due to its proximity to Orlando attractions, Cocoa Beach and the Kennedy Space Center. Passengers are split between cruisers driving from Florida and points north (including Georgia and the Carolinas) and visitors who fly into Orlando International Airport, 43 miles away. Port Canaveral is also a popular first port of call for ships coming from the northeast on their way to the Bahamas or Caribbean.
The port has seven cruise terminals, situated on both sides of the shipping channel that connects to the sea.
Port Canaveral is in Brevard County. If you're planning to drive to Port Canaveral from points north and south, take I-95 to North Atlantic Avenue in Cape Canaveral, and turn left onto North Atlantic Avenue. If you're coming from points east, such as Orlando, take State Road 528 (The Beachline) west.
Port Canaveral and the nearby area have outlets for all of the major car rental companies, including Hertz, Avis, Budget and Payless, all serviced by shuttles to the port terminals. If you're flying into Orlando or Sanford International Airports, a nice option is to rent a car there and use it to see the sites and explore the area around the Cape before returning the car at the port before your cruise.
There's ample parking outside of each terminal, mainly in covered parking garages that are easily accessible from the terminal. (Terminal 10 has outdoor parking as well.) Parking rates are flat fees, depending on how long your cruise is, starting with $60 for a three-night cruise. Each terminal has dedicated disabled parking, and the parking fee is waived for vehicles with special equipment, such as wheelchair ramps and lifts. There are additional fees for vehicles more than 20 feet long.
Port Canaveral offers a Parking Voucher Program in conjunction with 20 area hotels, but the voucher does not apply to prepaid parking.
Most cruise lines offer shuttle service from Orlando International Airport and Sanford International Airport; it often comes with luggage service as well, transporting your bags directly to your cabin. Some cruise lines (Disney, Royal Caribbean) include the service with cruise packages; others charge a fee, so check with your cruise line.
There are also multiple private shuttle options available. Mears Transportation is the preferred provider at Orlando International Airport and Orlando Sanford International Airport. It offers transfers by sedan, SUV or van, but multiple companies offer the service. In all cases, reservations need to be made in advance, and rates shift depending on how many people are in the party. Expect to pay more for shuttles from Sanford International Airport, as it is 15 or so miles farther from the port.
Mass transit options are limited. The closest Amtrak train stations are in Sanford and Orlando, and the closest Greyhound terminal is in Titusville, 25 miles from the port. From any of these, you'll need to take a taxi, as the port is not serviced by local public transportation.
888 Taxi is the preferred vendor at Port Canaveral, and plentiful taxis are on hand when ships arrive in port. Most nearby hotels, either in Cocoa Beach or the Orlando area, offer group shuttle service at discounted rates.
Check with your cruise line for the best time to arrive, as it depends on ship and departure schedule. Don't arrive too early. (The port advises no more than 30 minutes before your boarding time.) Due to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol regulations, cruisers arriving earlier than that may not be allowed to enter the cruise terminal.
With seven cruise terminals, it's important you know which one to go to. Disney Cruise Line has its own dedicated terminal, uniquely designed to match the Disney brand. All other terminals are nonexclusive and shared by multiple ships, but they generally berth as follows:
Terminal 1: Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line
Terminals 6 and 10: Carnival Cruise Line
Terminal 8: Disney Cruise Line
Terminal 2 is reserved for Victory Cruise Line, a gaming cruise that offers twice-daily sailings seven days a week.
All terminals are clearly marked, as is the signage leading to respective parking garages. Each cruise line offers its own version of expedited VIP service inside its respective terminals.
Upon disembarking the ship, passengers pick up their baggage and are directed to the customs area, located inside each terminal for easy expediting.
Porters are available at each cruise terminal to assist with luggage.
Wheelchair service is provided by the cruise line, per industry standards. There is ample room in front of each terminal for passenger drop-offs.
Wi-Fi is available at no charge in terminals 1 and 6, as well as in Jetty Park, an adjacent public recreation area with a beach, marina, campsites and RV hookups.
The south side of Port Canaveral has several restaurants, most with decks overlooking the shipping channel. They're popular with both cruise passengers and locals, who come to dine on casual seafood and watch the massive ships sail out to sea. For sundries, Sunrise is a small marina shop on the south side of the port. On the north side, Seafarers is a small market catering mainly to cruise ship staff, with a variety of small items. For larger purchases, there is a Walmart three miles away on Highway A1A, and the Merritt Square Mall is eight miles away. For beach gear, Ron Jon Surf Shop and neighboring Cocoa Beach Surf Company are five miles away in Cocoa Beach. All are serviced by rotating shuttle service, as well as taxis.
Seating in each cruise terminal is based on ship size, with ample seating for the expected passenger count. Terminals are designed to accommodate cruisers faced with unforeseen delays, but they're more way-through stations than places to hang out, so time your arrival accordingly.
Each terminal has ample bathrooms for men and women (all with handicapped access), including restrooms located in the parking garages.
For security reasons, luggage storage is not available at Port Canaveral.
Always check with your cruise line as to the ideal time to arrive at the port for your sailing. That said, the port is at its busiest between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. on departure days. Save yourself from potential lines by arriving a little bit later in the day, if possible; that also gives you more time to explore the area or hit the beach.
--By Susan Moynihan, Cruise Critic contributor
Updated December 05, 2019