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Guide To Port Canaveral Cruise Port, Florida

Updated on July 15, 2011
Aerial View Of Port Canaveral
Aerial View Of Port Canaveral

Port Canaveral, On The Space Coast

On the Atlantic coast of Florida, halfway between Jacksonville and Miami, sits the city of Cape Canaveral. The city is delimited on the north by Port Canaveral, on the south by Cocoa Beach, eastwards by the Atlantic Ocean and westwards by the Banana River.

The powerful tides which swirl around the Cape make it unsafe to ships, and many seamen have met their fate in wrecks around the Cape. The peninsula was first given the name Cape Canaveral by Spanish sailors as early as the sixteenth century. Because of the dangers to boats, the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse was constructed in 1846, aiding ships to sail without danger avoiding the Cape.

The small farming and fishing settlement of Artesia grew up just south of Cape Canaveral in the early 20th century. In the 1930s, half-a-mile south from Artesia, a number of journalists purchased a tranche of land naming their  property development Journalista.  This section ultimately grew to be the area called Avon-by-the-Sea.

In World War II 2 naval air bases were constructed on the Florida coastline, one was sited at the Cape. In the late 1940s the US air force picked the Cape as a space base, as rockets could be fired over the Atlantic ocean without any danger. The incoming surge of people led to a construction rush on the area southwards from the station, and during the 1950s Artesia and Avon-by-the-Sea amalgamated to form the urban center Cape Canaveral.

The building of a deep-water harbor at Port Canaveral started in 1951, and was completed by 1953.  The port handled the delivery of large components. In the 1970s Port Canaveral made a handy port-of-call for cruise ships whose passengers were enthusiastic to call at the theme parks of central Florida. In the next decade, Premier Cruises and Carnival Cruises homeported at Port Canaveral, offering trips to Freeport from newly opened cruise terminals.

The 1990s were a period of fast growth for the cruise port, with the building of 3 new cruise terminals.  Disney cruises started running cruises from the port.

Today more than a million people leave on their cruise vacation from Port Canaveral each year. Carnival and Disney now have competition from Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean at the port.

Terminals 5, 8 and 10
Terminals 5, 8 and 10
Terminals 2, 3 and 4
Terminals 2, 3 and 4

Cruise Ship Facilities At Port Canaveral

Port Canaveral has six cruise terminals, though just three are in continual use for multi-day cruises. They are terminals 5, 8 and 10 which are located on the north bank of the port. Terminal 2 hosts a casino ship. Terminals 3 and 4 are less utilized.

A Side (North) Terminals 5, 8 and 10

Cruise terminals 5, 8 and 10 are situated on the A or north east docks, alongside Charles M Rowland Drive. These newer terminals are each capable of processing 3000 plus people, with long enough docks to berth the new super sized ships.

Cruise Terminal 5 is an attractive building, with a thirty foot high atrium filled with tropical plants and waterfalls. Embarking cruisers are handled on the top floor, disembarking cruisers on the bottom. Cruise Terminal 8 was specified by and built for Disney Cruise Line, and is an attractive art-nouveau style building with an impressive 80 foot high circular glass tower foyer. Cruise Terminal 10 features an efficient passenger embarking/disembarking arrangement, and fully automatic baggage handling.

Each terminal provides the basic services including cab rank, pay phones, ATMs, vending machines, check-in desks and restrooms. A dedicated parking area for the use of passengers is situated next to each terminal.

B Side (South) Terminals, 2,3 and 4

Cruise terminals 2, 3 and 4 are located on the B or south west side, by George King Boulevard.

These cruise terminals were part of Port Canaveral's first facilities dedicated to cruise ships, and all 3 have a capacity around 1800 people. The 3 cruise terminals share 2,153 feet of dock which is long enough to manage three medium-length or two large cruise ships. A big parking area for passengers’ use is situated beside each cruise terminal.

For the port website see Port Canaveral.

Beach on St Thomas, USVI
Beach on St Thomas, USVI

Itineraries On Offer

The range of cruises available are the Eastern Caribbean (St Thomas, St Maarten and San Juan), the Western Caribbean (Roatan, Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Belize), or the Bahamas (Freeport and Nassau). Longer voyages are on offer, examples would be repositioning transatlantic cruises.

See cruises from Port Canaveral for a complete selection of cruises.

Jetty Park
Jetty Park

Things To Do Near Port Canaveral

Jetty Park
Jetty Park is a attractive Atlantic facing park that encompasses a beach, pavilions, picnic areas, camping and a playground. A favorite with both fishermen and walkers is the pier, which offers close-up views of cruise ships entering/exiting Port Canaveral, and super fishing for tarpon, common jacks and redfish.  The clean sandy ocean-facing beach has lots of facilities including convenient parking, year-round lifeguards, freshwater showers and restrooms. The busy Cove Waterfront area situated between the park and the port has restaurants, cafes and shops. The park is part of the Port, and is situated on the south side of the port main channel.

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
Whether or not you can recall Apollo 11’s amazing flight most people are enthralled by the idea of traveling to space. The Kennedy Space Center is the base of NASA’s operations and was the launch site for the Apollo missions. At the Center you can watch a space movie at the IMAX center, go to the LC39 Observation Gantry and the Apollo/Saturn V Center, discover all about the future of space travel at the Exploration Space exhibition and enjoy the Shuttle Launch Experience.  The Space Center is only 11 miles north of the port.

US Astronaut Hall of Fame
The US Astronaut Hall of Fame spotlights US astronauts. See intriguing range of memorabilia including the Science On A Sphere show, space suits, the Sigma 7 Mercury rocket and an astronaut training simulator.  The Hall of Fame is around 5 miles west from the Space Center.

Cocoa Beach Pier
Originally built in 1962 Cocoa Beach Pier is among the best-known spots on the Space coast.  The 800 ft pier boasts 5 restaurants, occasional live entertainment, 4 bars and souvenir shops.  The beach next to the pier offers restrooms, year-round life guards, freshwater showers and beach-hire concessions. Cocoa Beach is around 4 miles south of the port.

Orlando Amusement Parks
Drive west from Port Canaveral on Hwy 528 to reach fabulous attractions like Universal Studios, Disney/MGM Studios, Sea World of Florida and Walt Disney World all less than an hour’s drive away.

Journeying To/From The Port Canaveral Cruise Port

By Car
North Cruise Terminals
Drive towards Port Canaveral on Hwy 528, cross Merritt Island, and leave at the sign marked A Cruise Terminals joining SR 401 North. Carry on for 1 mile then leave at the sign for the cruise terminals.
South Cruise Terminals
Enter into Port Canaveral on Highway 528 and exit at the sign for B Cruise Terminals.  Then make a left below bridge to George King Boulevard. Continue for 1 mile. Next follow signage to the required terminal. 

By Air
Orlando International Airport 
Orlando International Airport, positioned on the south eastern fringe of Orlando, is about an hour’s drive west of Port Canaveral.  A transfer can be arranged by cab or shuttle.
Melbourne International Airport
Melbourne International Airport is around 40 minutes drive south from Port Canaveral. Travel from the airport is possible by shuttle bus or cab.


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    • capitula profile image


      6 months ago

      Terminal 3 is in the process of being demolished, to make way for a brand new $150m terminal - also to be called cruise terminal 3 - to open in late 2019/early 2020.

    • capitula profile image


      5 years ago

      Port Canaveral's very impressive new welcome center - the Exploration Tower - is well worth a visit if you're traveling to the port.


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