Voted Best Transportation Service in Cape Canaveral & Cocoa Beach!
Voted Best Transportation Service in Cape Canaveral & Cocoa Beach!
Voted Best Transportation Service in Cape Canaveral!

10 Reasons to Arrive Early For Your Port Canaveral Cruise

There are many reasons why cruisers love sailing from Port Canaveral. It’s easy to access, it’s modern, and it’s home to some of the world’s best cruise ships that sail the Caribbean. 

However, most people arriving for their Port Canaveral cruise arrive early to take part in the area’s many amenities, attractions, and sub-tropical climate. As you prepare to set sail from Port Canaveral, take a look at some of the top reasons why you should arrive early for your Port Canaveral cruise.

1. Easy Access to Port Canaveral

For those arriving early and taking part in a Stay & Cruise Package, Port Canaveral is just 10 miles from Interstate 95 and provides access to those traveling from the south or from the north. State Road 528, also known as the Beachline Expressway, runs directly from Orlando to Port Canaveral. It also connects to I-4 and the Florida Turnpike, a gateway to Orlando’s theme parks.

International passengers have a choice of airports within easy reach of the cruise terminals. Cruisers can book a shuttle bus or utilize a car rental with cruise parking at nearby parking options. Airports to consider include:

  • Orlando International (MCO) 45 miles west
  • Melbourne Orlando International (MLB) 34 miles south
  • Sanford International Airport (SFB) 61 miles north
  • Daytona International Airport (DAB) 75 miles north

2. Gateway to Space

Did you know that Port Canaveral is only 13 miles from Kennedy Space Center? Make plans to tour the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for an out-of-this-world experience where you’ll be inspired to dive into the past, present, and future of space travel. Get up close to the space shuttle Atlantis, view launch pads, and get a hands-on feel for the story of humans in space including the Apollo Era’s Saturn V rocket. 

Plus, in 2022 there were 57 rocket launches that took place here, and in 2023, there are 80+ launches scheduled. Be sure to check the Kennedy Space Center events calendar to see when the next launch will take place. It could take place while you’re setting sail, or if it launches before or after your cruise vacation, take in the launch at the beach. Jetty Park, Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier, and any public beach in Cape Canaveral are all great viewing venues.

3. Discover Natural Florida

The area surrounding Port Canaveral is one of the most diverse ecosystems in the western hemisphere. From flowing waterways and amazing wildlife to the Canaveral National Seashore, there’s no shortage of nature to explore. 

Take an airboat ride through the St. Johns River where you may see alligators, snakes, and other wildlife. Hop on a Space Coast Eco Tour along the Intracoastal Waterway to see manatees, dolphins, and wading birds. Canaveral National Seashore is the longest stretch of undeveloped Atlantic coastline in Florida and is home to thousands of species of plants and animals, including nesting sea turtles from May 1 through October 31.

4. Take Part in Recreation

There’s a wide variety of activities for visitors to enjoy before or after their cruise. We’ll cover all the beach activities at another point below, so here are a few options close to Port Canaveral:

  • Golf: The Cocoa Beach Country Club is a public facility that welcomes residents and guests to the area alike. Located about 9 miles from Port Canaveral, the course boasts three courses – Dolphin, Lakes, and River – featuring 27 holes and 41-50 sand bunkers per course.
  • Fishing: Cast your line from the shores of Cocoa Beach or rent your gear at the Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier and fish off the pier. Or if you’re up for a bigger adventure, check out a fishing charter from Port Canaveral. Most charters offer full and half-day fishing experiences
  • Rent Bicycles: Head to Cocoa Beach Surf Company and check out their selection of beach cruisers and E-bikes. Rentals start at $10 for four hours. Make sure you ask about locks, baskets, child carriers, and other accessories you might need on your adventure!
  • Aerial Adventures: Test your skills on Cocoa Beach Aerial Adventure’s seven different trails, separated by three levels of difficulty. The all-new ZIPDROP takes you over 40 feet up, climbs over the guard railing, and takes a step off! It’s the ultimate leap of faith and will make for one unforgettable memory.
  • Parasailing: Before you set sail, see one of Florida’s most exquisite shorelines as you soar above the Atlantic Ocean with Cocoa Beach Parasail.

5. Hit Up the Beach

Nearby Cocoa Beach is an authentic beach town, home to small waves and endless activities. The sunny shores are perfect for sunbathing, building sand castles, or playing beach volleyball at locations such as the Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier

For those looking to splash around in the water, there’s a reason why Cocoa Beach is the Small Wave Capital of the World. This is your chance to learn how to surf, or at least try boogie boarding. Don’t have a board? No worries! Places like Cocoa Beach Surf Company have board rentals starting at $15 for four hours. They also offer rentals for wetsuits, beach chairs, and umbrellas, in case you don’t want to travel with your beach gear. 

Lastly, there are four Cocoa Beach access points guarded with lifeguards: Alan Shepard Park, Lori Wilson Park, Minutemen Causeway, and Cocoa Beach Pier.

6. Top Dining with Florida Flavors

The Cove at Port Canaveral is home to some of the best dining on Florida’s Space Coast. Most restaurants there overlook the water where you can see cruise ships departing and fishermen bringing in their fresh catch. While the menus vary from place to place, most menus focus on seafood or feature local cuisine you can’t miss. Restaurants like Grills, Fishlips, and Rusty’s have live music on select nights, helping you set the tone for your upcoming travels.

7. Make Room for Art & Culture

Art galleries, museums, and antique shops are sprinkled throughout the area close to Port Canaveral. Cocoa Village, about 20 minutes away, is home to murals, art galleries, and Historic Cocoa Village Playhouse. Downtown Cocoa Beach is home to the Kelly Slater Statue by Cocoa Beach artist Tasha Drazich. Plus, there are Instagram-worthy murals and an art gallery, Studios of Cocoa Beach, where you can view art and take a workshop

The Museum of Dinosaurs and Ancient Cultures in Cocoa Beach contains two floors of exhibits on dinosaurs and ancient human cultures. Perfect for kids and adults alike. Close to there is the Florida Surf Museum. The museum produces exhibits exploring the history and evolution of surfing and is only $3 per person to visit.

8. Year-Round Events

There are many family-friendly and cultural events that take place throughout the year. Check out the official Space Coast Events page often to see what’s happening during your stay. In the meantime, keep these events that take place every year on your radar.


9. Orlando Attractions

Port Canaveral is just under an hour from Orlando and its many theme park attractions. Many cruisers love to stay beachside, where they can have a slower start to their day before they make their way to Sea World, Universal, or Disney.

10. Hotels Near Port Canaveral with Parking and Shuttles

Most hotels within two miles of Port Canaveral (and beyond!) offer a shuttle service to the port. Whether you book a Stay and Cruise Package or you just need a shuttle service, here’s a look at some hotels offering this service:

Booking your pre-cruise stay on Florida’s Space Coast doesn’t have to be a hassle. Trust our team at Sail Port Canaveral to find the best price and accommodations for you.

CALL US TODAY!  321.783.8655

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