WHEN IT COMES TO PLACES OF entry and departure, airports are both more common and can have more character than the average cruise port. Port Canaveral, however, near Orlando, Florida, boasts tons of charm to complement the plentiful cruises departing daily.
Dedicated in late 1953, in the beginning Port Canaveral focused less on cruising and more on supporting the fishing industry. The port came into its own as a cruising destination in the mid-1970s when cruise lines discovered it and began offering shore excursions to attractions in Central Florida. Since then, Port Canaveral expanded to accommodate more than 4 million cruise passengers every year.
Unsurprisingly, Disney Cruise Line operates out of the port. Additionally, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line and Carnival Cruise Line call the port home. Canaveral offers visitors plenty to do outside of the normal cruise boarding activities. Beaches, rocket launches, a casino and more make Canaveral more than a run-of-the-mill spot to catch a cruise. Outside of the cruise industry, the port operates as a destination in itself, complete with options for travelers looking to spice up their time just before or after cruising.
Despite its success in attracting cruisers and cruise lines, Canaveral refuses to rest on its laurels. Earlier this year, the port earned Green Marine certification for the second time, proving its commitment to preserving the environment.
Port Canaveral provides ample parking; for those embarking on multiday cruises, parking is available directly adjacent to the cruise terminal of departure. As it stands now, Port Canaveral is the second-busiest cruising port in the world in multiday embarkations (the Port of Miami remains the busiest by number of passengers). Looking toward the future, Canaveral officials aim to take the top spot by continually renovating and improving the port to provide more amenities and options for travelers.
Cruises departing from Port Canaveral typically sail above 100 percent capacity. The proximity to family-friendly attractions throughout Florida makes Canaveral an excellent port of departure for families looking to parlay a cruise into an extravagant trip to Disney World or Universal Studios.
Port Canaveral officials cite a study from Bermello Ajamil and Partners, a cruising consultancy agency, which argues industry ship growth will require 10 new cruise terminals in the near future. Canaveral’s extra space, deep-water channel and accessibility make it the best candidate to accommodate new ships servicing Florida.
Recently, the port invested more than $300 million in terminal renovations, including $150 million for Terminal 3 alone. Carnival Cruise Line’s biggest and newest ship will arrive next year and call the terminal home.
CAPE CANAVERAL PORT AUTHORITY portcanaveral.com
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