Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
bsammon

Canaveral as Port of Call

Recommended Posts

So, I've been invited on a cruise, and I didn't have any input into the selection.  (I also don't have a customer login for ncl.com)

It's a NCL starting in NYC with a stop in Port Canaveral (continuing on to the Caribbean).

It's hard to find information in this forum about Port Canaveral specifically as a port-of-call -- it seems to get buried in threads about hotels/airport-shuttles/embarkation/disembarkation at Port Canaveral.

I'm specifically interested in places I can go to on the cheap -- walking, bus (is there anything cheaper than taxi/uber?) without booking an excursion.  Also I will probably be looking to get cheap/free wifi/internet access, as I'll be trying to limit my on-board internet costs.

 

Also feel free to post stuff relevant to the thread title, without worrying if I specifically am interested.

 

I'm also mildly curious about why Florida is a port of call.  Is it actually attractive to people as a destination (I guess there's beaches...), or is it more of a practical thing -- a place to refuel, swap out crew, performers?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

it is a port of call because they can offer day trips to Disney or Universal or KSC .....

 

there are past posts about things to do ....

 

this is several years old so verify all links . . .

 

We think there is a lot to do near the Port - even Disneyworld and other theme parks are just an easy hour away by road!

Please look at this map of Port 
Canaveral, Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach for orientation:

https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?m...0.kguiZnGCjDj0 

Step 1:
What is your cruise terminal? If 5, 6, or 10 then you need transport. Either a rental car shuttle or a pre-arranged ride. Cocoa Beach Shuttle is a good starting point for pre-arranged pickups. 888-taxi is available and despite some bad press about prices they are popular and efficient.

If 1, 3 or 4 then you have some activities within walking distance:
1. Jetty Park (FREE) for a beach/suntan. Very scenic area and very nice beach.
http://www.jettyparkbeachandcampground.com/ 
2. Beach bus stop – For $1.25 one-way, the local beach bus will take you to Cocoa Beach (Shepard Park for Ron Jon area) or within walking distance of the famous Cocoa Beach Pier (use Publix Stop). About 30 minutes to these stops.
http://www.ridescat.com/ 
3. The Cove at the Port – All the famous restaurants (Millikens, Rusty’s, Fishlips, Grills) 
http://visitportcanaveral.com/ 
4. The Exploration Tower – A bit expensive ($6.50+tax) but interesting info about the port with games for kids and 360 degree view from the 7th floor. 
http://www.explorationtower.com/ 
5. Helicopter and biplane rides - 
http://www.floridaairtours.com/ the chopper is right there behind terminal 2.

Step 2:
So you want to explore further afield in private and not using a shore excursion? 

Rental Cars:
Unless you just want a simple single visit somewhere in Cape 
Canaveral
 or Cocoa Beach, I think the best option is to rent a car for the day. Start price-shopping with Payless (within walking distance of terminals 3 & 4) but all offer port shuttles. To avoid boring waiting time with kids in tow, I suggest that one adult go early to get the car then come back to pick the family!

Please know some of the popular rental car companies share shuttles and offices. See the map above for locations and pictures of their shuttles for easier identification.

I am working on an 8-hour itinerary around the area for self-drive cruisers! Stay tuned… 

Shuttles:
If you do not want to drive or use the public beach bus, then shuttle/taxi services are available. 888-taxi -
http://cab888.com/ has a port contract with hail privileges whereas others have to pay port entry fees ($5 or more depending on vehicle size, I believe) which add to the costs. So while other companies may offer cheaper per mile or metered rates, it is best to compare them with 888-taxi before booking. They will all be busy so it is best if you call ahead. 

Here is a list of the shuttles I see most often in the area: Cocoa Beach Shuttle - 
http://www.cbshuttle.com, Beach Line -http://www.beachlineshuttle.net, Space Port - http://spaceporttransport.com/ , Hoo Ha taxi – (321) 749 3232, etc.

Expect to pay around $20 for two people for a one-way trip to Ron Jon Surf shop for example. 

Kennedy Space Center:
One of the most popular shore excursions. I always see a line of KSC buses waiting on each ship! So you can expect a crowded day at KSC. There are ways to manage your day in order to avoid lines at the top attractions – I am planning to write it up in a separate note.

A private return shuttle to Kennedy Space Center averages between $80 and $120 roundtrip for 2 people (total) plus 20% tip. If you self-drive, the parking costs are $10. 

Beach:
During winter months and if Port 
Canaveral is the first stop when sailing from NY for example, the beach is what a lot of people want! I totally understand and highly recommend to walk over to Jetty Park. The beach there is wide with some wave action and life guards are on duty. You can rent chairs and umbrellas and some beach toys (beach chair/umbrella rentals for 2 people are about $15 a day). The beach café is pretty good too! 
http://www.jettyparkbeachandcampground.com/

If you want to go to the beach near restaurants/bars, try the Cocoa Beach Pier area - http://www.cocoabeachpier.com/ or further down near Coconuts on the Beach. Cruise ship shore excursions go to Shepard beach (near Ron Jon) so do not go there if you want to avoid your fellow passengers! 

The SCAT public transport is cheap and easy (30 minutes) down to the Pier and Ron Jon areas. There are several areas (and companies) for learning how to surf, paddleboard, etc. I know the kids love the surfing lessons so please consider that but do be aware the water is cold in winter and I recommend you use a surf school that supply wetsuits. 

Activities (Orlando area):
I understand the attraction but it is tough for me to recommend a whirlwind bus or private tour of any of the Orlando theme parks. It is almost impossible to experience the parks in a long day, so a half-day trip is pretty intense! Ride lines will be long, it may be very hot, the transfers take at least an hour each way and it is very expensive for what you can achieve on such a rushed excursion.

It may be best to rent a car and visit just Downtown Disney (a free Disney-like experience but be aware it is mostly restaurants and shops) and perhaps a lesser-known place like Gatorland. I will think more about this and perhaps write a separate note about Orlando options. 

Activities (other than Orlando and Kennedy Space Center):
The best activities around Port 
Canaveral
 are beach or nature-based but there are very good museums too. Manatees, gators, airboats, learn to surf, kayak, hike, etc. are on offer. Airboats are a lot of noisy fun!
Pre-arrangements/bookings are crucial. 

Disclaimer - I do not endorse any of the companies/establishments listed and I have no relationship (personal or business) with them. My list is just a starting point of different activities so please do your own research! However, we’ve had have positive experiences with many of the listings below and are constantly trying new ones! 

a) Sunward Tours - 
http://www.sunwardtours.com They can arrange just about any activity
b) FunDay Tours - 
https://www.facebook.com/funday.tours Work primarily with pre-formed groups such as shore trips but check them out anyway
c) Segway Tours - 
http://spacecoastsegwaytours.com/ will guide you around the port
d) Airboat rides – There are several but most shore excursions go to Midway - 
http://www.airboatridesatmidway.com/ or Lone Cabbage - http://www.twisterairboatrides.com/ . To get away from the crowds, try Grasshopper -http://www.airboatecotours.com/ , Old Fashioned Airboat Rides - http://airboatrides.com or Switchgrass -http://switchgrassoutfitters.com 
e) Kayaking to see manatees and wildlife - Adventure Kayak - 
http://kayakcocoabeach.com/, Fin Expeditions -http://www.finexpeditions.com for Cocoa Beach’s Thousand Islands. Also Calypso - http://calypsokayaking.com at Manatee Cove not far from Kennedy Space Center. Note – from November to March the Manatees prefer warmer water in other areas and may not be seen regularly around Canaveral.
f) Learn to Surf. Cocoa Beach Surf Company - 
http://cocoabeachsurf.com/surf_lessons_camp.html or Ron Jonhttp://www.ronjonsurfschool.com are solid representatives of the surf school companies
g) Air Force Space and Missile History Center – 
http://www.afspacemuseum.org/historycenter/ The history of the launch areas around Canaveral. Very informative.
h) Warbird Museum – 
http://www.vacwarbirds.net/ If you love aviation then this is the place to go. Lovingly maintained by volunteers (mostly ex-armed forces). It is an amazing museum.
i) Police Hall of Fame – 
http://www.aphf.org/museum.html More interesting than most expect. Various exhibits of the history of major crime as well as impressive though very sad memorial. 
j) Astronaut Hall of Fame - 
https://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/t...l-of-fame.aspx is part of the Kennedy Space Center experience but in a different location.
k) Brevard Zoo and Treetop Trek - 
https://brevardzoo.org/ 
l) Shopping - Dinosaur Store and Museum - 
http://dinosaurstore.com/ and Ron Jon Surf Shop -http://www.ronjonsurfshop.com/ Fun for kids old and young!
m) Wildlife Parks - Jungle Adventures – 
http://www.jungleadventures.com - An old-time Florida animal park. Not fancy but friendly and interesting. Larger than Expected. Shore excursions often combine the Jungle and a Midway Airboat ride in the same package. 
n) Boat rides on the Banana River to see wildlife including manatees (not many around during Nov and Apr). Start with Island Boat Lines - 
http://www.islandboatlines.com/ and also Wild Side Tours http://wildsidetours.com/
o) Forever Florida - http://foreverflorida.com a really adventurous safari with swamp buggy rides, ziplines, etc! A bit far unless you have car.
p) Cocoa Beach Skatepark - 
http://cocoabeachskatepark.com/ Certainly unusual for cruisers but a seriously fun and safe skatepark for the cool kids in your family if they packed skate boards! Open at 4pm during school days so plan accordingly so they can skate for 2 hours or so before returning to your ship.
q) Brewery – Florida Beer Company - 
https://www.facebook.com/FloridaBeerCompany
 a very good tour and tasting arrangement! Close to the Port.
r) Sightseeing – Some cruisers prefer more leisurely excursions and most ships offer affordable hourly hop-on, hop-off bus trips to Cocoa Beach and Cocoa Village. Passengers can explore the areas on foot and return to the ship when they want. The beach buses stop between Ron Jon Surf Shop and Shepard Park in Cocoa Beach (for a typical East Coast Florida beach and surf experience). From there they offer constant bus shuttles to the north end of Riverfront Park in Cocoa Village (for a historic downtown experience). You can easily do the same in private using a rental car or taxis/shuttles (watch the costs though). SCAT buses (Route 9 and the 520 connector) will be cheapest but will take much longer. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

hmmmm ... no one jumped on yet to say where I'm wrong ... that's unusual ... but also no one has added info for you so ....

 

I'm specifically interested in places I can go to on the cheap -- walking, bus (is there anything cheaper than taxi/uber?) without booking an excursion.  Also I will probably be looking to get cheap/free wifi/internet access, as I'll be trying to limit my on-board internet costs.

 

here's the bad news: NCL will probably dock at a NORTH terminal, and you can't walk to much of anywhere from a north terminal because they are accessed by a drawbridge closed to foot traffic ..... so to get almost ANYWHERE you need to taxi/uber. UBER to Cocoa Beach Pier will run around $20 (can you ride share?) .... a decent place to hang out and watch the surfers etc.  Jetty Park is nearer but not as 'built up' as the pier. This may be better/worse in you opinion.

 

Free wifi?  Well doesn't just about every McD's have this? I dunno anymore as I have an unlimited data plan and you WILL BE in the US ..... depending on your provider you may be close to a network hotspot .... I am almost ALWAYS covered in the port area with my provider by wifi but if not my data is covered so don't matter (I'm NOT  a high volume user ... kids on the other hand!!!!!)

 

hope it helps ..... Cape Canaveral / Cocoa Beach is 'small town' .... think Cape May NJ ......

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, Capt_BJ said:

Kennedy Space Center:

 

One of the most popular shore excursions. I always see a line of KSC buses waiting on each ship! So you can expect a crowded day at KSC. There are ways to manage your day in order to avoid lines at the top attractions – I am planning to write it up in a separate note.

A private return shuttle to Kennedy Space Center averages between $80 and $120 roundtrip for 2 people (total) plus 20% tip. If you self-drive, the parking costs are $10. 


 

Thanks bsammon for starting this thread, and Capt_BJ for the great information.

We will be visiting Port Canaveral in April as a stop on our Oceania Sirena cruise.

 

Should it be fairly easy for us to do Kennedy Space Center on our own? I can buy discount tickets through work, and will probably use Uber or Lyft from the cruise port.

The excursion through Oceania would be more convenient, but costs $139.00 per person.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/18/2020 at 7:54 PM, bsammon said:

<snip> cheap/free wifi/internet access </snip>

Ask several crew members where they go. It seems the crew is well informed about the places with free wifi.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Capt_BJ I didn't start this thread but really appreciate all your info! I am interested in renting bicycles while at Port Canaveral. Do any companies have bikes at the cruise port? We are coming in on RCCL so we are not across the drawbridge. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

CAPT BJ, 

  We are looking at a port call into PC in October on RCI Empress. Wife wants to do an airboat ride and to see the gators. Of the ones you listed is there a favorite?

2 hours ago, Capt_BJ said:

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

when I want to see gators I can usually just look in the back yard

 

gator.jpg

 

this one is often used by cruise excursions https://www.airboatridesatmidway.com/

 

also well known and been here long time http://www.twisterairboatrides.com/

 

you'll want to rent a car to get to either . . . Midway is about 20 miles from the port (straight line .. lil longer to drive). Twister is 16 straight line ....  Both are on St John's .... Twister is south of Midway.  What you might see at either is similar.

Edited by Capt_BJ

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
52 minutes ago, Capt_BJ said:

when I want to see gators I can usually just look in the back yard

 

gator.jpg

 

this one is often used by cruise excursions https://www.airboatridesatmidway.com/

 

also well known and been here long time http://www.twisterairboatrides.com/

 

you'll want to rent a car to get to either . . . Midway is about 20 miles from the port (straight line .. lil longer to drive). Twister is 16 straight line ....  Both are on St John's .... Twister is south of Midway.  What you might see at either is similar.

Thanks! 😎

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/19/2020 at 7:48 PM, bbqoug said:

...Should it be fairly easy for us to do Kennedy Space Center on our own? I can buy discount tickets through work, and will probably use Uber or Lyft from the cruise port.

The excursion through Oceania would be more convenient, but costs $139.00 per person.

Yes you can.  They also have a taxi stand at the cruise terminal where they can hook you up with a driver to bring you to KSC and then comes back at the time you agree to.  Don't remember the price, but it wasn't bad at all

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
36 minutes ago, geegee1 said:

Yes you can.  They also have a taxi stand at the cruise terminal where they can hook you up with a driver to bring you to KSC and then comes back at the time you agree to.  Don't remember the price, but it wasn't bad at all

Great. 

Thank you for the very helpful information.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...