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Freeholdnjjoe

Port Canaveral - Experiences getting to theme parks

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Hi,

 

Given the limited time in port for my itinerary (1pm arrival) and the high cost of tickets I know its not a great value proposition to try and do the theme parks like Disney. With that understood, I’d still like to hear from anyone who either booked the transport as an NCL excursion or rented a car on their own. How quickly were you able to make it to the park? How close to the arrival time at the port did the bus actually depart? Any lessons learned from previous successes or failures at this excursion would be appreciated. 

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I know the area well, if anyone says less than 60 minutes transport each way, I think they are stretching it.,  and I may ne generous saying it can be done in an hour. 

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We (DH, and "kids" 19 and 20) just did this in November, choosing to head to Universal.  I'm sorry that I can't remember the exact timing of it all, but we had a fabulous time and would do it again no question.

 

We used NCL's transportation.  I did buy Express Pass tickets, so we could use the express line once for each ride.  We rode every ride that we wanted in each park, rode the Hogwarts Express, did a quick run-through of some gift shops and had dinner in The Three Broomsticks.  It was rushed, but we loved it! :classic_biggrin:

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I did it November as well.  Took rental car shuttle from the port, rented a car, drove about an hour, had 4.5  hrs in Universal Studio and drove an hour back.  Ubered it from the car rental lot back to the ship (rental car shuttles stop around 5pm, so cab or car service are your only options.  Made it back to the ship with 20 minutes to spare.

 

I would not do it again, to much worry about leaving the park and getting back in time.  I'd take the cruise lines bus if I had to go, since at least you know if you make the bus back you are good and the ship won't depart without you. 

 

I would not recommend it for your first visit to any of the theme parks, you don't get good value in the short time you are there.  If you have annual passes or are junkies and need a fix, then go for it.

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19 minutes ago, Mike_DeA said:

 

I would not recommend it for your first visit to any of the theme parks, you don't get good value in the short time you are there.  If you have annual passes or are junkies and need a fix, then go for it.

 

Wholeheartedly agree with this.  We definitely did it to get our "fix", combining two of our favourite holidays into one!  We knew exactly what we wanted to do and how to go about it.  First time visit...no way. 

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Thanks for the replies, all these tidbits help.  It would not our first time visiting the park and have a pretty good understanding of the how long things take at the park and how frustrating this limited time might be if you didn’t have prior experience visiting. Would be going in with a very targeted itinerary a few rides and not be too disappointed if we didn’t get to all on our short list. Really weighing if you save any time at all by renting a car vs NCL transport and does that time outweigh the risk/stress of getting back to the ship. 

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11 minutes ago, Freeholdnjjoe said:

Thanks for the replies, all these tidbits help.  It would not our first time visiting the park and have a pretty good understanding of the how long things take at the park and how frustrating this limited time might be if you didn’t have prior experience visiting. Would be going in with a very targeted itinerary a few rides and not be too disappointed if we didn’t get to all on our short list. Really weighing if you save any time at all by renting a car vs NCL transport and does that time outweigh the risk/stress of getting back to the ship. 

You will save money if you have more than two people going.  Not sure about time tho.

Edited by Mike_DeA

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We went to Epcot when our Carnival cruise was diverted from Grand Turk because of a hurricane.  Took the ship's excursion.  This was a few years ago.  It was a little over an hour each way.  Told we needed to be absolutely sure that we didn't miss the bus back because it was over $100 for the cab fare back to Port Canaveral.  

We love Disney and it had been quite a few years since we had been there, that's why we chose that destination over others (remember that there is nothing to do in the port area here).  If I wasn't going to be able to get to Disney until 1:00 and had only a few hours to spend there, I definitely would choose something else.  By that time of the day, there will be few, if any, fast passes remaining (those who have reservations can now get them six months - or maybe three months? ahead of time).  You will be spending most of your time waiting in line and likely to not get on more than two or three rides.

When we went, we made a bee line for Soarin (our favorite ride in Epcot) and only had a 15 minute wait because we got there right when the gates opened.  I think we managed to get on about three other rides the entire day.  By afternoon, the wait for almost all rides was well more than hour.  It as a two hour wait for Spaceship Earth (never have seen a line that long for that ride!).

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My husband and I were looking to do this on our upcoming cruise in April, as Universal is the one park we have not been to in Florida.  Even though we have a shore excursion credit which we would use for transportation (making it pretty reasonable), we just couldn't justify the cost of the tickets for the time we would be there.  We even considered doing the express pass they offer, but again, looking at the money we would spend vs the time being there, we have decided to skip it and do an air boat ride instead.

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I did this back in February 2014 with Royal (I think our time there was 1p - 9p or something like that). We did Universal/Island of Adventure. I don't know if we were just lucky or what, but we got to Universal (with the RCL shuttle) in just under an hour and were able to do BOTH parks in about six hours. There were legit zero crowds though, as I believe the week I went was just after winter break for US schools (it was also that winter where the northeast got back to back nor'easters - that cruise home was WILD!). We also got to walk around on CityWalk, eat a quick lunch, walk around Hogwarts, and still got back to the ship a little early. 

 

I truly would recommend using the ships transportation. At least if for some reason there's bad traffic on the way back, you won't have to stress too much since it's the ship's transportation and they'll wait for you. If you rent a car, on the other hand, you'll basically be SOL.

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I actually did this in December after debarking our Epic cruise on Dec 15.

Took a complimentary shuttle to car rental 5 minutes away. Got my rental and drove to our hotel  Aventura Universal Hotel to check in. The drive was about an hour give or take. It was on a Saturday so no traffic. The only bit of traffic was at the tolls where you have to pay anywhere from $1 to $3 and there were about 3 or 4 tolls to pay and go through if I remember correctly. There is also a line at the tolls to pay if you have exact coin change so take coins. spent the night at the hotel after about 9 hours at Universal Orlando and the next day was our flight home. Easy car rental drop off at MCO.  The car rental was a definite cheaper option than private shuttles/uber rides. BUT being that you are there on a port stop, I think I would highly suggest you use NCL transport just for ease of mind.

Edited by Georgie562

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We did the excursion from Port Canaveral last Tuesday when we were on the Norwegian Escape. Our tour time was 1:30. We were told to meet in the Manhattan Room at 1:00. ALL of the tours met in the Manhattan Room at 1. We were about the 5th tour group to leave. We walked down two flights to the gangway, and walked off the ship and across the street to where the buses were parked. There were two buses for Universal. The bus took an hour and a half each way. The "tour guide" seemed like a teenage boy with Asberger's. I thought he was one of the passengers, and that the bus driver was being nice about letting him collect our tickets. He never introduced himself or said much of anything. When he did talk, he would say something we really needed to know, but mumbled into the microphone so softly I could barely hear him, and we were near the front of the bus! Before we got off the bus, he gave everyone on HIS side of the bus a lanyard with a printed card on it, and said we would leave "about 7-ish."  We asked the young man what the lanyards were for. He said they were the name and phone number of the bus company in case we were running late, or had an emergency. (At this point everyone had gotten off the bus.) We said no one on our side of the bus got one. He said that we could always "borrow one from someone and take a picture with your phone so you have the information." We got off the bus at 3:00. It took us about a half hour to walk through CityWalk and to the entrance of the park, go through security and enter. I had already purchased tickets, which were 1 day park-to-park, and more than I would have liked to pay. We only wanted to see the new Harry Potter area, which is all the way on the other side of USF from the entrance. We took pictures, walked around a bit, got a bottle of Gillywater (mistake), and looked at the posted wait for the Gringotts ride. 110 minutes. Yikes, we wouldn't have time. We shopped a little, heard one song by Celestina Warbeck, and got on the Hogwarts Express. It was a one hour wait, and the ride was a really good 5 minute ride. We shopped in Hogsmeade for a bit, then started walking back to the bus. We got back to the bus at 6:30. They left at 7:15, and we ran back on the ship just in time for our dinner and show at the Supper Club at 8:30. When we arrived back at the ship, the "tour guide" muttered something about gratuities, and my only thought was "You've got to be kidding." Needless to say, we will go back to Universal some day in the future when we can spend at least one whole day in the park, and not as a shore excursion from a ship that isn't even supposed to dock until 1 PM. I'm not blaming anyone but myself. I should have realized that we just wouldn't have enough time. The crowd level in the parks was 7 out of 10, and we didn't have quite as much time as I thought we would have. Live and learn. 

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We went to Typhoon Lagoon a few years back. We were cruising on the Carnival Miracle out of NYC. Our group had five adults and two kids then 7 and 5.

 

I took the rental shuttle first thing in the morning and picked up our mini-van. I came back to the port and picked up the rest of the group. This gave them more time to get ready. Off we headed to Disney. We actually arrived a bit before 10:00 am when the waterpark was to open so we stopped at Downtown Disney and visited the big Disney store. 

 

We go into the park at opening and enjoyed ourselves. This was in February and the park was lightly attended. We stayed until 3:00 pm so we had a full five hours. I drove straight back to the ship and dropped everyone off then headed to the rental car return and used their shuttle to go back to the pier. It was very easy.

 

Avoiding having everyone with their stuff use the shuttle made things easier and saved everyone else quite a bit of time. I never felt pressed for time as I had familiarized myself in advance using Google Street View. Im not sure we would have done this for a theme park as the cost is double the waterpark and how many attractions can you do in five hours? We had great weather so the waterpark worked for us.

Edited by Paul Bogle

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If you buy your tickets ahead of time (taking a risk if you don't get there) you can fast pass up to 3 rides up to 60 days ahead.  The lines have become so long at any of the Disney Parks- we were just there in early Feb I would not do it unless you are not going to get back there for along time and just have to see it.  

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