Cape Canaveral, Florida's Space Coast
On Florida’s Atlantic coastline, halfway between Jacksonville and Miami, lies Cape Canaveral. Bounding the city to the north is Port Canaveral, to the west is the Banana River, to the south is Cocoa Beach and to the east is the Atlantic Ocean.
From early times this treacherous stretch of Florida’s coastline was respected by seamen, who named the headland Cape Canaveral. Due to the dangers to shipping, the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse was constructed in 1843, helping ships to safely navigate around the Cape.
The small farming and fishing township of Artesia grew up just south of the Cape in the 1910s. A decade or so later, a short distance to the south of Artesia, investors developed the area of Avon-by-the-Sea, with streets named after presidents. World War II brought about the establishment of a naval air base at the Cape to operate sea planes, to support local shipping. In the 1940s the US air-force opted for the Cape as a space base, because rockets could be launched over the Atlantic ocean in safety. The incoming flood of people led to a construction boom on the area southwards from the station, and in the 1950s Avon-by-the-Sea and Artesia joined up to form the city of Cape Canaveral.
The space center required a way of bringing in large rocket components by sea, and Port Canaveral was built and dedicated in 1953.
The attractions of central Florida are a huge lure, and during the 1970s Port Canaveral was first used by cruise ships as a port-of-call with easy access to Orlando. During the 1980s cruise terminals 2, 3 and 4 were built, and Premier Cruises (now bankrupt) and Carnival Cruises ships sailed out of at Port Canaveral, departing for multi-day voyages to the Bahamas. During the 1990s Disney cruises started operating cruises from Port Canaveral, utilizing the new specially built terminal 8. Terminals 5 and 10 were also built in this decade.
Today NCL and Royal Caribbean have joined Carnival and Disney in operating cruise vacations from Port Canaveral and more than a million passengers depart on their cruise vacation from Port Canaveral every year.
Port Canaveral Cruise Ship Terminals
Port Canaveral contains eight cruise terminals, but just the 5 newer ones are in regular use for larger cruise ships. These 5 are numbers 5, 6, 8 and 10 on the north side of the port and number 1 on the south side of the port. The 3 older terminals, which are also situated on the south side of the port, consist of terminal 2 which hosts a gambling ship and terminals 3 and 4 which are seldom utilized.
A Side (North) Terminals 5, 6, 8 and 10
Cruise terminals 5, 6, 8 and 10 are positioned on the A or north docks, along Charles M Rowland Drive. These up-to-date terminals possess deep water docks with the ability to handle the largest cruise ships, and each can cope with more than 3000 passengers.
Cruise Terminal 5 is a stylish 2 story building, with a thirty foot high reception area resplendent with tropical vegetation and imaginative water features. Embarking cruisers are processed on the top storey, debarking cruisers on the bottom. The length of the adjoining quay is 970ft.
Cruise Terminal 6, opened in 2012, offers a two-way system to facilitate the simultaneous embark/debark of passengers. The building boasts a two-story atrium, energy-efficient design, fast luggage handling areas and two TEAM cruise ship boarding bridges. The length of the terminal’s quay is 1050ft.
Cruise Terminal 8 was specified by and built for Disney Cruise Line, and is an appealing modern building with an impressive 80 foot high glass tower entrance. Its quay length is 1000ft.
Cruise Terminal 10 offers a 3 layered passenger loading/unloading system, and completely automated baggage processing. Its quay is 1100ft long.
Each cruise terminal building provides a full range of facilities including check-in desks, restrooms, cab rank, vending machines, pay phones and ATMs. Beside each terminal building there’s a dedicated parking lot
B Side (South) Terminals 1,2,3 and 4
Cruise Terminal 1 opened in December 2014. The terminal is designed to accommodate the largest cruise liners afloat. Facilities include 60 check-in desks, security screening, baggage handling, an information point, retail outlets, and a large seating area that can be converted into an entertainments venue. The terminal is within easy walking distance of both the seven storey Exploration Tower and the Cove restaurant/bar/shops area. Next to the terminal stands a 4 level parking garage for 1000 cars.
Cruise terminal buildings 2, 3 and 4 are situated on the B or south west docks, along George King Boulevard.
These terminal buildings featured as part of Port Canaveral's first facilities for cruise ships, and each can handle around 1800 passengers.
A single dock of length 2153 ft is shared by the 3 terminals with the ability to berth two large or three medium-length ships.
Beside each terminal building stands a parking lot.
Cruises From Port Canaveral
The range of cruises from Port Canaveral include the Eastern Caribbean (St Thomas, San Juan and St Maarten), the Western Caribbean (Cozumel, Roatan, Grand Cayman and Belize), or the Bahamas (Freeport and Nassau). Longer cruises are also occasionally on offer, such as repositioning transatlantic cruises.
Things To Do Near The Cruise Port
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center
Space travel is possibly the greatest achievement of modern man. The Kennedy Space Center is the base of NASA’s operations and was the launch pad for the moon-landing Apollo missions. At the Center you can enjoy the Shuttle Launch Experience, go to the LC39 Gantry and the Apollo Center, watch a movie at the IMAX center and learn about what the future holds for space exploration at the Exploration Space show. The Center is about 10 miles northwards from Port Canaveral.
US Astronaut Hall of Fame
The Astronaut Hall of Fame honors American astronauts. Tour a fascinating set of memorabilia including the Science On A Sphere show, space suits, a realistic astronaut training simulator and the Sigma 7 Mercury rocket. The Hall of Fame is about 5 miles west from the Space Center.
Jetty Park is a lovely coastline park which offers a beach, pavilions, picnic areas, camping and a playground. A favorite with both walkers and fishermen is the pier, which gives close-up views of marine traffic departing from/arriving at Port Canaveral, and excellent fishing for common jacks, tarpon and redfish. The long sandy ocean-facing beach has many facilities including year-round lifeguards, easy parking, restrooms and showers. The park is operated by the Port Authority, and is positioned on the south coast of the port main channel.
Cocoa Beach Pier
Originally built in 1962 Cocoa Beach Pier is one of the best-known landmarks on the Space coast. The pier boasts five restaurants, souvenir shops, four bars and occasional live musical entertainment. The beach next to the pier offers all year lifeguards, showers, beach-hire concessions and restrooms. Cocoa Beach is situated around 4 miles southwards from Port Canaveral.
Orlando Amusement Parks
Drive west from the Port on Martin Andersen Beachline Expressway to reach fabulous attractions like Sea World of Florida, Universal Studios, Disney/MGM Studios and Walt Disney World all no more than an hour’s drive away.
Getting To The Cruise Port
North Cruise Terminals
Approach Port Canaveral on Highway 528, cross Merritt Island, and exit at the sign marked A Cruise Terminals joining SR 401 North. Carry on for 1 mile then exit at the sign marked Disney Carnival Royal Caribbean Norwegian.
South Cruise Terminals
Enter into Port Canaveral on Highway 528 and leave at the sign marked B Cruise Terminals. After exit make a left below the bridge onto George King Blvd. Continue for 1 mile. Next follow signage to get to correct terminal.
Orlando International Airport
Orlando International Airport, positioned in the south eastern outskirts of Orlando, is about 45 miles west from Port Canaveral. Taxicab or shuttle bus are the transfer options.
Melbourne International Airport
Melbourne International Airport is approximately half-an-hour’s drive south from Port Canaveral. Travel from the airport is again by taxicab or shuttle.Cruise Port Map
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Canaveral Port Authority
Current Marine Traffic Port Canaveral Marine Traffic
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