The Complete Guide to Booking a Cruise From Port Canaveral: Tips, Transfers and Top Picks

Are you ready to set sail on an unforgettable adventure from Port Canaveral? Recently, when looking for a trip with our family, we started considering a cruise out of Port Canaveral, Florida. While I've been on several cruises, I've never set sail out of Port Canaveral and ran into a few unknowns. Port Canaveral, is located on Florida's Space Coast, and it's one of the busiest cruise ports in the world. It serves as a gateway to popular destinations in the Caribbean and the Bahamas. There are a few important things to know to help you have the best cruise yet if you are planning on leaving Port Canaveral, and I'm going to share everything that I learned during our planning and through our travel with you so that everything can be smooth sailing!


The Complete Guide to Booking a Cruise From Port Canaveral: Tips, Transfers, and Top Picks


Planning a cruise? Start here: A Beginner's Guide to Cruises

Choosing the Right Airport When Sailing out of Port Canaveral 

When booking a cruise from Port Canaveral, the most convenient airport to fly into is Orlando International Airport (MCO). It's located approximately 45 miles west of Port Canaveral and offers plenty of flight options from domestic and international destinations. 

It's normally advised to fly in or arrive the day before your cruise departure. You don't want a flight delay to cause you to {literally} miss the boat.

Pros and Cons of Cruise Ship Private Islands

Where to Stay

There are several options to consider when you fly into Orlando International Airport. You can either stay in and around the airport for the night, or you can start your travel and make the 45-mile drive to the Port Canaveral area.


We decided to stay near the airport for a few reasons. 

Advantages of Staying in the Orlando Area Before a Cruise

florida port canaveral cruise tips

1. Lots of lodging options

There are plenty of hotel and lodging options. We were traveling as a group of four adults {two college kids were with us} and we wanted to have a suite-style room. This gave us the space we needed for sleeping {everyone had their own bed and the privacy of their own room}, and we only had to pay for one hotel room, not two.

2. Free airport shuttle service

We selected a hotel that offered free airport shuttle service so that we didn't need to add the expense of an Uber of Lyft transfer.

3. Easy transfer to the port

Being off the airport property also allowed us the option for a port transfer. The hotel {as well as the cruise line} offered a port transfer at the cost of $30-40/per person per leg. We were able to request an Uber that was comfortably sized for the four of us with our luggage and it cost us $45 total. A savings of about $80.

ProTip: Give yourself about an hour before cruise check-in to travel from the Orlando area to the cruise terminal.

We stayed at Staybridge Suites Orlando South. We chose this hotel because of the suite-style rooms, free airport transfer, and free breakfast. They also had a really nice outdoor pool area and plenty of sidewalks for stretching your legs before or after your flight. 

Orlando is also home to the big mouse {Walt Disney World} and other incredible theme parks like Universal Studios so if you want to squeeze in an extra day or two before or after your cruise, consider staying close to the theme parks and give yourself enough time to enjoy the parks. 

ProTip: Hotels and lodging closer to the parks will be more expensive than what you will find closer to the airport. 

For more information about your Orlando Vacation, check this out!

Hotels Near the Port

Port Canaveral offers a variety of hotels that are conveniently located near the cruise terminal. I'd suggest making sure that you select one that offers free shuttle service to the port so that it's easier to embark on your cruise adventure. 

ProTip: if you are leaving from the airport, your shared car service {like Uber or Lyft} will likely cost a bit more because of airport taxes and fees. This was another reason we chose to stay near the airport. 

Don't miss this! 5 Things I'm Glad I Packed for My Caribbean Cruise

Cocoa Beach

Just a short drive from Port Canaveral, Cocoa Beach is a popular destination for pre and post-cruise stays. There are beautiful beaches, a vibrant dining scene, and fun attractions that will provide a little bit of something for everyone!

5 things to do before and after your cruise port canaveral

Things to Do in the Port Canaveral Area

Before or after your cruise from Port Canaveral, take some time to explore the surrounding area and enjoy all that Central Florida has to offer!

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Located just a short drive from Port Canaveral, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex offers an immersive experience where you can learn about space exploration, see historic spacecraft, and even meet astronauts. You might even get lucky and be there during a rocket launch!

There is a parking fee. Allow at least four hours to fully explore the complex. Tickets for 1-day admission are $75 for adults, and $65 for children {ages 3-11}.

Explore Cocoa Village

Spend a leisurely morning or afternoon stroll through Cocoa Village, a charming waterfront district with boutique shops, art galleries, and cozy cafes. Keep an eye out for dolphins. You can often spot them in the nearby Indian River. This little area with historic buildings and picturesque views will give you just the right amount of things to do before or after you board your cruise.

Beach Day at Cocoa Beach

If you didn't think you would get enough beach days on your upcoming cruise, you can visit the pristine sandy shores and crystal-clear waters of Cocoa Beach. If you are from the west coast, and never put your toes in the Atlantic Ocean, this is a great opportunity to feel that warm ocean water. It's also a great place to learn how to surf!

Orlando Theme Parks

Start here: What I Wish I Had Known Before Visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios

If you're a thrill-seeker, a fan of fantasy and adventure, or just a good old-fashioned lover of Disney, don't miss the chance to visit one of Orlando's world-class theme parks. People come to the Orlando area just for the parks! Orlando has something for everyone.

Making the Most of a Day in Great Stirrup Cay and Pay $0!


After Your Cruise Disembarks

We arranged all of our own airline travel. You can allow the cruise line to do this, but I often find that there are less than desirable legs of a flight {multiple stops and very early departures}. We had a late afternoon departure after our cruise and were trying to find something to do in the area before we left. 

You can see the above {things to do in the area}, or you can book a resort pass like we did. 

Booking a Day Pass at a Hotel

This was my first time doing this and I have zero regrets! I only wish that I had booked it sooner. You can book a Resort Pass or a day pass to a local hotel. Orlando actually has a fair amount of them. You are essentially booking a hotel room with access to all of the property amenities from the hours of 10 am-4 pm. 

We took an Uber from Port Canaveral after carrying off our own luggage. You are required to exit your room by 8 am so that they can clean and turn over your room for the next guests that will be boarding. 

ProTip: Don't overpack so you can easily navigate the stairs with your own luggage. The elevator lines are horrendous on departure day!
If you need help here are 10 Packing Tips from a Recovered Overpacker

We booked the Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport so that we were at the hotel and didn't need to pay for another transfer. We were simply able to relax, unwind, and enjoy before our flight. If you are planning ahead, book directly through the Hyatt Regency in Orlando and request a day room. You will have access to a clean room, in-room fridge, bathroom, and amenities, as well as full use of the property including the outdoor pool that overlooks the runway. 

If you do not plan ahead {oops!}, I found that the day rooms were full through Hyatt, however, booking through Resort Pass allowed me to book a day-use room. I'm assuming because the Hyatt sets aside some rooms for the Resort Pass bookings. We checked in at 9 am, and while our room wasn't ready {remember, check-in for the day room is actually at 10 am}, we were given a key and the option to sit by the pool or to go to the fitness room.

Since you are in the airport already, there are plenty of dining options available in the terminal. You will also be close to the check-in gates when your flight time is close. 

This was my first time using this day room option, but it won't be my last! It's a great option anytime you have travel that has a very early morning arrival or a late departure and you are looking for something to fill the time. 

Booking a cruise from Port Canaveral ended up being a really easy way to plan an unforgettable vacation experience. Use our experience and tips to create a seamless and enjoyable journey from start to finish! 

Want to read more?

7 First-Time Cruise Tips for Your Best Vacation at Sea
Everything You Need to Know Before You Book a Cruise to Alaska
Splurge or Save on These Cruise Extras
What I Wish I Packed on My Cruise to Alaska
Taking a Cruise or Going to an All-Inclusive Resort: Which is Better?
The Best Excursions on a Cruise to Alaska
Is a Cruise to Alaska a Good Trip for Teens?

disclaimer: this post may have affiliate links. By clicking on them and purchasing through them, I may receive a small commission. These small purchases help me to continue to keep writing content and creating at Rachel Teodoro. Thank you!

No comments

Powered by Blogger.