Radisson Resort Port Canaveral

Radisson Cape Canaveral
Radisson Resort
Radisson Resort (click to enlarge)

Introduction to the Radisson Resort

If you are interested in the Radisson Resort, check rates, view our own maps, pictures and videos, enjoy our own unbiased comments and read Tripadvisor reviews.

Booking.com

Location

One of the closest hotels to Port Canaveral and with limited views of the ships.

Five very good restaurants are within 0.5 miles from the hotel or next door – safe and easy walking. Preacher Bar is an interesting concept – classy yet eccentric with a different kind of menu! Kelsey’s serves popular Italian food. Zachary’s is Greek with a home-style menu. Thai Thai (you have to cross busy A1A) has the best Thai food in the area. Zarrella’s Pizza offers both Brick Oven and Wood Fire pizza as well as other Italian food. There are also McDonalds (MD), Burger King (BK) and Subway (SW) nearby. The Florida Beer Company is THE brewery in the area with tours and a wide selection of beer on tap. Racetrac sells affordable gas/diesel as well as wine, beer and fast food.

You can also rent a car from Hertz next door or take the local bus ($1.50) down to Cocoa Beach Pier and beyond – wait at the SCAT stop.

The mini golf is the cheapest of the three courses in the area but not the most exciting!

Cape Canaveral Hotels
Cape Canaveral Hotels (click to enlarge)

Port Shuttles – Yes

Airport transfers are available if booked via the hotel – operated by Cocoa Beach Shuttle.

Cocoa Beach Shuttle at MCO
Cocoa Beach Shuttle at MCO

Being the busiest, this hotel offers the most frequent transfers to/from the cruise terminals, operated by Cocoa Beach Express (of the same ownership) and starting at 10:30am.

Packages are available for up to 2 people. Extra persons pay $6 per one-way shuttle.

Radisson Port Shuttle
Radisson Resort – Port Shuttle (click to enlarge)

ON-Site Cruise Parking – Yes

Hotel parking included in Park, Shuttle and Cruise packages or $6 per day for other guests. Fenced cruise parking is available in the Park Port Canaveral lot on the south side of the Resort.

Park Port Canaveral 2019
Park Port Canaveral 2019

Restaurants & Bars – Yes

There is the Flamingo’s Restaurant, the inside Flamingo’s Lounge Bar and an outside tiki bar (also serving food).

Flamingo's Bar at Radisson Resort
Flamingo’s Bar at Radisson Resort (click to enlarge)
Flamingo's Breakfast Menu
Flamingo’s Breakfast Menu (click to enlarge)
Radisson Tiki Bar
Radisson Resort Tiki Bar (click to enlarge)
Radisson Resort Entrance
Radisson Resort Entrance (click to enlarge)
Radisson Resort Front View
Radisson Resort Outside View (click to enlarge)

Rooms and Interior

Being an older resort, there are many room types and choosing the best one for your family is not the easiest thing.

ONE-BEDROOM SUITE – with 2 queen beds in the bedroom and a microwave, fridge in the living room. Can sleep 6 with a two rollaway beds ($10 each).

ONE-BEDROOM SUITE SOAKER TUB – with 2 queen beds in the bedroom, a microwave and fridge in the living room and a soaker tub. Can sleep 6 with a two rollaway beds ($10 each).

PETITE GUEST ROOM – with 1 queen bed, microwave, fridge. Can sleep only 2. No rollaways allowed.

STANDARD ROOM – two double beds or one king bed

How about Cruise Ship views?

You have very limited views of the terminals 1, 8 and 10 from the top floors of the north-facing rooms. You will just see the very tops of the ships in the distance.

Radisson Resort Layout
Radisson Resort Layout

Pool Area

The pool is large and inviting and very exciting for children with waterfalls and bridges and interesting rock formations! It is the 2nd-best best hotel pool in the area thanks to the popular tiki bar on the side!

Radisson Pool
Radisson Resort Pool (click to enlarge)
Radisson Resort Pool
Radisson Resort Pool (click to enlarge)

Show Lowest Rates

Booking.com

Hotel Website

Tripadvisor Reviews

Residence Inn Cape Canaveral

Introduction to the Residence Inn

If you are interested in the Residence Inn, check rates, view our own maps, pictures and videos, enjoy our own unbiased comments and read Tripadvisor reviews.

Booking.com

Location

One of the closest hotels to Port Canaveral and with limited views of the ships. Within walking distance (0.9 miles) of The Cove Restaurants at the Port and cruise terminal 1, but walking after dark is discouraged. Perfectly safe during the day and wheel-chair/stroller friendly. Some cruisers walk to the Port in the late afternoon then take a taxi back. The path is marked in green below.

WalkToPort
Walk To Port (click to enlarge)

Five very good restaurants are about 0.5 miles from the hotel – safe and easy walking. Preacher Bar is an interesting concept – classy yet eccentric with a different kind of menu! Kelsey’s serves popular Italian food. Zachary’s is Greek with a home-style menu. Thai Thai (you have to cross busy A1A) has the best Thai food in the area. Zarrella’s Pizza offers both Brick Oven and Wood Fire pizza as well as other Italian food. There are also McDonalds (MD), Burger King (BK) and Subway (SW) nearby. The Florida Beer Company is THE brewery in the area with tours and a wide selection of beer on tap. Racetrac sells affordable gas/diesel as well as wine, beer and fast food.

You can also rent a car from Hertz next door or take the local bus ($1.50) down to Cocoa Beach Pier and beyond – wait at the SCAT stop.

The mini golf is the cheapest of the three courses in the area but not the most exciting!

Cape Canaveral Hotels
Cape Canaveral Hotels (click to enlarge)

Port Shuttles – Yes

Hotel offers shared shuttles to/from the cruise port terminals at 11:15am. $5 pp. This is included for up to the number of persons (max 4) booked on a Park & Cruise Package. The current shuttle partner is Park’NCruise as shown in the picture below.

Airport transportation is not offered – guests can contact Smart-Two for quotes.

Residence Inn Port Shuttle
Residence Inn Port Shuttle (click to enlarge)

ON-Site Cruise Parking – Yes

Hotel parking included in Park & Cruise packages otherwise is $8 per night (you must buy a package in order to park during your cruise).

Cruise parking is at the back of the property away from the rooms. There are no fences or gates, meaning people can walk in off the street to access your vehicle but the area has no history of vehicle vandalism.

Cruise Parking Residence Inn
Cruise Parking Residence Inn (click to enlarge)

Restaurants & Bars – Yes, but…

There is a breakfast area (see images below).

The small outside patio bar offers basic drinks. Ask the bartender for takeout menus from nearby restaurants.

On Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays the hotel offers a Residence Inn Mix with free wine and beer.

Breakfast Area - Residence Inn
Breakfast Area – Residence Inn (click to enlarge)

Rooms and Interior

While not the most exciting hotel, the Residence Inn is popular with families because of its room configurations! All rooms offer a fridge, microwave and coffee maker.

The Two-bedroom Suite rooms (max 6 people) are particularly nice because you get a living area separating two bedrooms each with a king bed as well as 2 bathrooms. The living room has a sofa bed. You can add one rollaway bed for $15 extra per night. There is a TV in each of the 3 rooms.

You can also opt for a One-Bedroom Suite (max 6 people) – a king or two queens in the bedroom and a pull-out queen sofa in the living room. You can add one rollaway bed for $15 extra per night. There is a TV in each of the 2 rooms.

Studio Rooms (max 4 people) feature a king bed and a sofa bed. You can add one rollaway bed for $15 extra per night.

How about Cruise Ship views?

You have very limited views of terminal 1 from the top floors at the front of the building.

Pool Area

The pool is large and inviting but designed for adults and not for children – no waterfalls or slides, etc. Lack of privacy because the pool is surrounded by rooms.

Residence Inn Pool Area
Residence Inn Pool Area (click to enlarge)

Show Lowest Rates

Booking.com

Hotel Website

Tripadvisor Reviews

Country Inn and Suites Port Canaveral – Cape Canaveral

Country Inn and Suites - Cape Canaveral (click to enlarge)

Country Inn and Suites Port Canaveral – Cape Canaveral

Introduction to the Country Inn and Suites Port Canaveral

Here you will find general information about the Country Inn and Suites that is not generally seen on the hotel’s own website.

Check rates, view our own maps, pictures and videos, enjoy our own unbiased comments and read Tripadvisor reviews.

Booking.com

Location

One of the closest hotels to Port Canaveral and with limited views of the ships. Within walking distance (0.9 miles) of The Cove Restaurants at the Port and cruise terminal 1, but walking after dark is discouraged. Perfectly safe during the day and wheel-chair/stroller friendly. Some cruisers walk to the Port in the late afternoon then take a taxi back. The path is marked in green below.

Walk To Port - wheelchair friendly path
Walk To Port – wheelchair friendly path marked in green – 0.9 miles ( (click to enlarge)

Five very good restaurants are about 0.5 miles from the hotel – safe and easy walking. Preacher Bar is an interesting concept – classy yet eccentric with a different kind of menu! Kelsey’s serves popular Italian food. Zachary’s is Greek with a home-style menu. Thai Thai (you have to cross busy A1A) has the best Thai food in the area. Zarrella’s Pizza offers both Brick Oven and Wood Fire pizza as well as other Italian food. There are also McDonalds (MD), Burger King (BK) and Subway (SW) nearby. The Florida Beer Company is THE brewery in the area with tours and a wide selection of beer on tap. Racetrac sells affordable gas/diesel as well as wine, beer and fast food.

You can also rent a car from Hertz next door or take the local bus ($1.50) down to Cocoa Beach Pier and beyond – wait at the SCAT stop.

The mini golf is the cheapest of the three courses in the area but not the most exciting!

Cape Canaveral Hotels
Cape Canaveral Hotels (click to enlarge)

Port Shuttles – Yes!

Hotel has its own shuttle service to the cruise terminals. This is included for up to the number of persons (max 6) booked on a Park & Stay Package. Additional shuttle vouchers cost $5 per person ($10 round-trip).

Last time we looked they had at least 5 shuttle buses on the property so they are efficient with acceptable wait times. Earliest shuttles depart around 10:30am and they run frequently (based on bookings) until all passengers are transferred.

Airport transportation is not offered – guests can contact Smart-Two for quotes.

CountryInn-Shuttle
Country Inn and Suites – Shuttle bus (click to enlarge)

Onsite Cruise Parking – Yes!

Free parking for guests only. Hotel parking included in Park & Stay Packages for up to the duration of the cruise. Otherwise cruise parking cost at least $40 per cruise (maybe more depending on the rate you paid ).

There are no fences or gates, meaning people can walk in off the street to access your vehicle but the area has no history of vehicle vandalism.

Country Inn and Suites Parking
Country Inn and Suites Parking

Restaurants & Bars – No

There is a standard hot breakfast area (see images below)

Rooms and Interior

While not the most exciting hotel, the Country Inn and Suites is popular with families! All rooms offer a fridge, microwave and coffee maker.

The Family Suite rooms are particularly nice because you get a living area and two bedrooms with a queen bed in one and two single beds in the other. The kids room has its own TV so they can watch their own shows.

You can also opt for a One-Bedroom Suite – a king or two queens in the bedroom and a pull-out queen sofa in the living room. Each room has its own TV.

Honeymoon couples can opt for a Whirlpool Suite – king bed with a two-person whirlpool tub!

Standard Rooms feature king or two queen beds

How about Cruise Ship views?

As seen below there are limited views of the cruise terminals from the top floors of the north facing rooms.

Country Inn - Ship Views
Country Inn – Ship Views (that is Terminal 1 and the Exploration Tower) (click to enlarge)
Country Inn and Suites-Interior
Country Inn and Suites-Breakfast Area (click to enlarge)
Country Inn and Suites-Interior
Country Inn and Suites-Breakfast Area (click to enlarge)

Pool Area

The pool large and inviting but designed for adults and not for children -no waterfalls or slides, etc. Lack of privacy because the pool is surrounded by rooms.

Country Inn Pool
Country Inn and Suites – Pool (click to enlarge)

Show Lowest Rates

Booking.com

Hotel Website

Tripadvisor Reviews:

Holiday Inn Club Vacations Cape Canaveral

Holiday Inn Club Vacations
Holiday Inn Club-Beach View
Holiday Inn Club-Beach View (click to enlarge)

Introduction to the Holiday Inn Club – Cape Canaveral Beach Resort

If you are interested in the Holiday Inn Club – Cape Canaveral Beach Resort, check rates, view our own maps, pictures and videos, enjoy our own unbiased comments and read Tripadvisor reviews.

Booking.com

Location

One of the closest hotels to Port Canaveral and with the best views of the ships entering and leaving the Port. It is right across the road from cruise terminal 3.

Within walking distance (1.3 miles) of The Cove Restaurants at the Port and cruise terminal 1, but most guests will take Uber.

Holiday Inn Club Map
Holiday Inn Club Map (click to enlarge)

The hotel has three buildings on its campus – the Main Building (#1), the Signature  Building (#3) and the Beachfront Building (#2) – these are 0.3 miles apart. Luckily there is a hotel trolley to transport guests between the buildings. The oceanfront and signature rooms have easy access to the beach and Jetty Park.

Holiday Inn Club - Shuttle Trolley
Holiday Inn Club – Shuttle Trolley (click to enlarge)

Port Shuttles – No

Uber is suggested. It is a short ride!

On-Site Cruise Parking – No

Hotel parking free during stays.

Restaurants & Bars – Yes

The Cape Grill serves 3 meals daily.

Cape Grill Breakfast Menu
Cape Grill Breakfast Menu

There is a Juice and Java kiosk in the lobby and two bars – inside the Cape Grill and the outside tiki bar next to the pool area.

Holiday Inn Club-Tiki Bar
Holiday Inn Club-Tiki Bar (click to enlarge)

Rooms and Interior

Main building or oceanfront building rooms:

One bedroom villas – fully equipped kitchen, a dining table and separate living area with a pullout sofa sleeper, washer/dryer, free Wi-Fi, a furnished patio/balcony, two queen beds in the bedroom. Up to 6 people.

Two bedroom villas – fully equipped kitchen, a dining table and separate living area with a pullout sofa sleeper, washer/dryer, free Wi-Fi, a furnished patio/balcony, two queen beds in bedroom 1 and a king bed in bedroom 2. Two bathrooms. Up to 8 people.

Two bedroom villas (lockoff) – fully equipped kitchen, a dining table and separate living area with a pullout sofa sleeper in each room, washer/dryer, free Wi-Fi, a furnished patio/balcony, two queen beds in bedroom 1 and a king bed in bedroom 2. Two bathrooms. Up to 10 people.

Studio Rooms offer kitchenettes with a mini fridge, microwave and small sink. A king bed with a pull-out sofa. Up to 4 people.

If you want to look over the pool to keep an eye on your kids, choose rooms 1507A (south-end) thru 1523A (north-end). 1523A and nearby rooms overlook the tiki bar but you can also see the pools.

How about Cruise Ship views?

From the north-facing and oceanfront rooms you have the best views of all the hotels of the ships leaving and entering Port Canaveral.

Holiday Inn Club - Jetty Park Beach View
Holiday Inn Club – Jetty Park Beach View (click to enlarge)

Oceanfront rooms 2501, 2502, 2503, 2504, 2505, 2506, 2507 and especially 2508 offer the best ocean views from the top (5th) floor. In the same building, rooms 2509, 2510, 2511 and 2512 face north towards Jetty Park and the ship channel for the closest ship views.

In the main building, top floor rooms 1529B (west edge), 1529A, 1528A, 1527, 1526, 1525A, 1524A face north towards Jetty Park and the ship channel for the closest ship views.

Holiday Inn Club Beachfront Rooms
Holiday Inn Club Cape Canaveral  – Beachfront Rooms
Holiday Inn Club Canaveral Rooms
Holiday Inn Club Cape Canaveral – Terminal 3 View Rooms
Building 1 Port View Room Layouts
Building 1 Terminal 3 Views – Room Layouts (click to enlarge)

Pool Area

The pool is large and inviting with slides, lazy river floats and a splash area – by far the best pool in the area for children!

Holiday Inn Club Pool
Holiday Inn Club Pool (click to enlarge)
Holiday Inn Club Pool
Holiday Inn Club Pool (click to enlarge)

Show Lowest Rates

Booking.com

Hotel Website

Tripadvisor Reviews:

Homewood Suites Cape Canaveral

Homewood Suites - Cape Canaveral

Homewood Suites Cape Canaveral

Homewood Suites Cape Canaverall
Homewood Suites – Cape Canaveral (click to enlarge)

Introduction to the Homewood Suites

If you are interested in the Homewood Suites, check rates, view our own maps, pictures and videos, enjoy our own unbiased comments and read Tripadvisor reviews.

Booking.com

Location

One of the closest hotels to Port Canaveral. Within walking distance (0.9 miles) of The Cove Restaurants at the Port but walking after dark is discouraged. See green paved trail on map below.

Homewood Suites Walk to Port
Homewood Suites Walk to Port (click to enlarge)

Five very good restaurants are about 0.5 miles from the hotel – safe and easy walking but be careful when crossing A1A. Preacher Bar is an interesting concept – classy yet eccentric with a different kind of menu! Kelsey’s serves popular Italian food. Zachary’s is Greek with a home-style menu. Thai Thai has the best Thai food in the area. Zarrella’s Pizza offers both Brick Oven and Wood Fire pizza as well as other Italian food. There are also McDonalds (MD), Burger King (BK) and Subway (SW) nearby. The Florida Beer Company is THE brewery in the area with tours and a wide selection of beer on tap. Racetrac sells affordable gas/diesel as well as wine, beer and fast food.

You can also rent a car from Hertz or take the local bus ($1.50) down to Cocoa Beach Pier and beyond – wait at the SCAT stop.

The mini golf is the cheapest of the three courses in the area but not the most exciting!

Cape Canaveral Hotels
Cape Canaveral Hotels (click to enlarge)

Port Shuttles – Yes

Included in Park, Stay and Go packages for up to 2 persons. Additional shuttle vouchers cost $10 roundtrip ($5 each way) per person. Departures at 9:45am, 10:30am and 11:15am but flexible to accommodate guest needs.

Homewood Suites Shuttle to Port Canaveral
Homewood Suites Shuttle to Port Canaveral (click to enlarge)

Onsite cruise parking – Yes

Hotel parking included in Park, Stay and Go packages for up to 7 nights. Otherwise $6 a night.

Homewood Suites Parking Lot
Homewood Suites Parking Lot (click to enlarge)

Restaurants and Bars

Complimentary evening (Mon thru Thu) social from 5:30pm to 7:30pm with drinks and snack food. A small and somewhat uninteresting bar at the pool is open during busy times.

Rooms

The Studio Suites and One-bedroom Suites can sleep up to 6 (2 on the queen pull-out sofa, 2 on the queen bed and 2 on the queen bed).

Cruise ship views from the higher floors (6th is best), odd-numbered rooms face the pool and Port area.

Homewood Suites Cape Canaveral
Homewood Suites Cape Canaveral – pool and bar area (click to enlarge)
Homewood Suites Cape Canaveral
Homewood Suites Cape Canaveral – cruise ship views (click to enlarge)
Homewood Suites Cape Canaveral
Homewood Suites Cape Canaveral Cruise Ship Views (click to enlarge)
Homewood Suites Cape Canaveral
Homewood Studio Suite – Cape Canaveral – sleeps 6 (click to enlarge)
Homewood Suites Cape Canaveral
Homewood Suites Cape Canaveral (click to enlarge)
Homewood Suites Cape Canaveral
Homewood Suites Cape Canaveral – pick odd-numbered rooms for cruise ship/pool views. (click to enlarge)

Pool Area

The large pool is attractive with a sloped entry much like a beach! The small tiki bar is a bit disappointing and just a pool area drink station at best.

Homewood4

Homewood3

Homewood2

Homewood1

Show Lowest Rates

Booking.com

Hotel Website

Tripadvisor Reviews

Most Popular Cruise Hotel Groups near Port Canaveral

Many cruise enthusiasts look for cruise hotels near Port Canaveral that are part of a specific hotel group. They do this to either earn frequent stay points or redeem those points for free stays or room upgrades.

Here are the most popular hotel groups and their hotels near Port Canaveral.

For a map of each hotel location, please visit Port Canaveral Area Map.

Radisson Hotels

Country Inn and Suites Port Canaveral

Radisson Resort at the Port

G6 Hospitality

Motel 6

Choice Hotels

Quality Inn and Suites Port Canaveral Area

Econo Lodge Port Canaveral Area

Econo Lodge Cocoa Beach

Quality Inn Kennedy Space Center

Wyndham Hotels

La Quinta Inn and Suites Cocoa Beach Oceanfront

La Quinta Inn Cocoa Beach – Port Canaveral

Days Inn Cocoa Beach Port Canaveral

Days Inn Cocoa Cruiseport West

Ramada Titusville / Kennedy Space Center

Days Inn Titusville Kennedy Space Center

IHG Hotels and Resorts

Holiday Inn Club Vacations Cape Canaveral Beach Resort

Holiday Inn Express and Suites Cocoa Beach

Holiday Inn Express and Suites Cocoa

Holiday Inn Titusville – Kennedy Space Ctr

Accor Hotels

None

Hyatt Hotels

None

Best Western Hotels and Resorts

Best Western Cocoa Beach Hotel and Suites

Best Western Cocoa Inn

Best Western Space Shuttle Inn

Hilton Worldwide

Homewood Suites Cape Canaveral-Cocoa Beach

Hampton Inn Cocoa Beach / Cape Canaveral

Hilton Cocoa Beach Oceanfront

Hampton Inn Titusville / I-95 Kennedy Space Center

Marriott International

Residence Inn Cape Canaveral Cocoa Beach

Four Points by Sheraton Cocoa Beach

Courtyard Cocoa Beach Cape Canaveral

Fairfield Inn and Suites Titusville Kennedy Space Center

TownePlace Suites Titusville Kennedy Space Center

Kennedy Space Center

Atlantis - Kennedy Space Center

A Day Visit to the Kennedy Space Center

The Kennedy Space Center (KSC) is highly recommend for cruisers and/or visitors to the Port Canaveral area! With opening hours between 9am and 6pm (sometimes 7pm or even 8pm) and located only 30 minutes away, it is a perfect shore trip!

DISCLAIMER – This article is for visiting cruisers with limited time at the Kennedy Space Center.  We mean no disrespect when we suggest to skip some exhibits. It is done purely to allow for more time at the most important and unique (in our opinion) displays.

The map below shows the important sights to see. To see the Legend, click on the small window icon at the top left of the map header:

  1. If your ship arrives before 9am and departs after 5pm then you can see most if not all the attractions! Please read our “Itinerary Section” below.
  2. But is it feasible for half-day visits? Let’s take a look:
  • 1pm to 9pm – typical for Norwegian Breakaway & Norwegian Gem
  • noon to 9:30pm – typical for Anthem of the Seas
  • 10:30am to 9pm – typical for Grandeur of the Seas

The first passengers typically depart a ship about 30 minutes to 45 minutes after docking. Those booked on cruise line shore trips may get priority disembark privileges. This means if you dock at 1pm and can hopefully depart the terminal before 2pm, you will reach KSC before 2:30pm – giving you at least 3.5 hours to explore. If you arrive at the Port at noon, enjoy the extra hour at KSC!

On Your Own or Ship Excursion?

There are 3 types of visits:

  • Post Cruise – About 6 hours or less. These are tours to the KSC and back to the airport
  • AM Tours – Your ship arrives early and you will be at KSC at opening time (9am) before departing around 3pm.
  • PM Tours – Your ship arrives around noon and you can visit KSC until closing time (6pm on most days)

Normally we suggest you avoid overpaying for ship excursions but you can actually save time if you do the following:

  • Decide how serious your family is about the Space Program. The Guided Ship Tours will cost a hefty sum for a larger family because it packs a lot in a few hours and include close-up experiences. If you just want to see the basics like the Space Shuttle and moon landing vehicles, book an “Express Tour” instead and save $$$.
  • Your excursion is probably managed by Sunward Tours on behalf of your cruise line.
  • Call your cruise line or Sunward (be persistent and ask for someone who actually knows) and ask if your shore excursion will take you direct from the ship to see the launch pads and Apollo/Saturn V Center. These are often called “VIP” or “Guided Tours”.
    • If YES, this means you will save A LOT OF TIME by bypassing the general entrance area lines. Assuming you are serious about Space, go ahead and BOOK THE EXCURSION! Please know Guided Tours usually include either the Explore or Launch Control Tour that cost $25 per person in addition to the general admission. You may also get priority debarkation, priority entry at some exhibits and an after-hours IMAX showing.
    • If NO, then the tour is unguided (also known as an “Express Tour” – meaning you will be taken by bus to the entrance, then tour on your own and meet a return bus at a given time at the end of the day). Unguided is a bit of a misnomer because your admission ticket includes a 1-hour narrated bus tour around the KSC Complex! Your driver works for the KSC and will tell you a lot about the launch pads and space shuttle and wildlife while driving.

“Express Tours” may cost more than needed and you will save money by booking KSC online and taking Uber – especially of you have a family of 3 or more.

TIP – Should you decide to arrange the KSC visit on your own, forget about renting a car for AM and PM visits because you will just waste time shuttling to the rental office. Use Uber or a taxi. And do your best to be one of the first off the ship!

FOOD TIP – Please know food is expensive. You are not allowed to bring food so to save money it is best to eat a good meal BEFORE leaving your ship!

The Must-see Attractions

Here are the two most interesting attractions with suggested visiting times (if your ship arrives at 1pm). If your ship arrives at noon, then you get an extra hour to add to this timeline (at the end) for other attractions:

  • Kennedy Space Center Bus Tour (included with your ticket) – this attraction requires about 2 to 2.5 hours with buses departing every 15 minutes starting at 10am. The last bus of the day departs the center 2.5 hours before closing (3:30pm for 6pm)! You will spend 45 minutes driving out to the Saturn/Apollo V Center and 15 minutes driving back – meaning you will arrive at the Saturn Center at 4:15pm – giving you 1h15 minutes to explore before returning on the 5:30pm bus back to the visitor center (arriving as the Center is closing).

    Saturn Rocket
    Saturn Rocket (click to enlarge)
  • Space Shuttle Atlantis – this attraction requires at minimum an hour but your kids may not want to leave the complex – it is very kid-friendly with exciting things to do!

Atlantis Introduction
Atlantis Introduction

Do consider that you will arrive with busloads of other passengers (sometimes 10 or more buses from 1 or 2 other ships) thereby increasing the wait times in line for both attractions.

So, can you actually experience both attractions (and nothing else) if your ship arrives at 1pm? Yes, but only if you manage to do the following:

  1. If self-guided, buy KSC tickets online before your cruise
  2. Get off your ship fast and in your taxi/Uber between 1:30pm and 2pm so you can get ahead of the tour buses.
  3. Assume you arrive at the Visitor Center between 2pm and 2:30pm. Pick a fast line through security then scan your ticket!
  4. Rush over to the Bus Tour Departure lines and do your best to get on a bus departing earlier but no later than 3pm. Grab a seat in front and to your left as you enter the bus.
  5. Arrive at the Saturn/Apollo V Center no later than 3:45pm
  6. Depart Saturn/Apollo V Center no later than 4:30pm
  7. Arrive back at the Visitor Center no later than 4:45pm. Rush over to the Space Shuttle Atlantis line nearby.
  8. Exit the Atlantis display just before closure time and catch your ride back to the Port at 6:15pm.

It is DOABLE to experience both attractions but you will see nothing else and you have to watch the clock very closely! This rushed tour is not for everyone and it will be frustrating if the lines are long.

You also have to consider the ages of your children and their interest in space travel. Younger children may find the bus tour rather boring (except for the occasional alligator/pig sightings) and it may be best to focus on the main Visitor Center instead of bus tours.

In addition, many of the displays at the Kennedy Space Center are noisy because rockets are loud. Babies often cry for the duration of the video presentations and displays! Please consider the age of your child and how crying affect the experience for you and others nearby.

Tip from a local – We suggest you skip the Kennedy Space Center Bus Tour if you arrive after 2:30pm. Instead, focus on the Space Shuttle Atlantis and other attractions at a more relaxed pace.

ANOTHER INSIDER TIP – Please know many of the displays have a preamble video presentation to add suspense and enhance the experience. If you are delayed and short on time you can skip the presentations by entering via the gift shops and other doors. But please do not do this for Space Shuttle Atlantis because the presentation part is breathtaking!

Directions and Map of the Complex

KSC is only 18 miles from Port Canaveral – an easy 25 to 30 minute drive and no traffic to worry about!

UberX – $29 +$5 (port pickup fee) = $34 one way. If Uber is not your thing, try Space Port Transport for $50 one way (up to 4 people) or 888-transport (taxi at terminal but ask for a fixed rate, not metered).

Here is our detailed Google map of the Complex and the drive route from the cruise terminals. Please know the greater complex is an active launch area and bus routes may change to accommodate launch schedules. For example, SpaceX is now using launch pad 39A so you may not get to circle it during your tour.

Admission

Tickets are currently set at $57 per adult plus taxes. Various upgrade packages are available.

Those looking for ticket discounts will not have much luck. You can look for coupons in discount booklets found at local gas stations, tourist offices and restaurants but generally you will only save $2.50 to $5 per ticket and you have to read the small print carefully! For example, try SpaceCoastFunGuide.com and print the coupons under Fun Things To Do.

A better discount option is membership in incentive-based programs offered by large companies. Ask your human resources department if your company participate in Tickets At Work for example – see website.

Parking is $10.

The Players at Kennedy Space Center

During your visit to the KSC you will hear about NASA, SpaceX, Boeing, Blue Origin and United Launch Alliance. Their launch sites are shown on the map above.

To understand the differences between these organizations it is most important to know that the future of USA Space Travel is divided into two objectives:

Deep Space Exploration – This is NASA’s world; at the KSC you will learn about deploying more advanced telescopes to better understand the galaxies and landing a human on Mars. Other countries and commercial companies such as SpaceX may have the same aspirations to build settlements on planets such as Mars but for now at least, NASA is leading the way and the KSC is the place to watch the excitement unfold.

Sub-Orbital and Orbital Exploration – Where private corporations compete for contracts to deploy/maintain satellites, to deliver supplies and astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) and to fly tourists into space. Some, like SpaceX, also plan to fly tourists to the moon and back.  At the KSC you will learn about the history of the ISS and the moon flights – the historic missions by NASA that made future commercial flights possible.

Blue Origin

Blue Origin (Jeff Bezos of Amazon) has two space vehicle systems in development.

  • The New Shepard system will take 6 tourists into space and then land the capsule using traditional parachutes. The vehicle will launch in West Texas and therefor it is irrelevant to KSC visitors.
  • New Glenn Orbital Vehicles – will be built at Exploration Park next to the KSC. This facility under construction will also acceptance-test the BE-4 engines (to power both New Glenn and United Launch Alliance Vulcan rockets).  The New Glenn system will orbit the earth and be capable of deploying satellites and delivering cargo and astronauts to the ISS.

At Cape Canaveral, Blue Origin will use Launch Complex 36 (last used in 2005) so you may see a Blue Origin New Glenn launch during a visit to the Space Coast starting in 2020 or so.

United Launch Alliance

United Launch Alliance (ULA) is a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin to launch Government (military, NASA and others) missions from Cape Canaveral. As can be expected, ULA is experiencing intense competition from commercial companies (SpaceX in particular) who are bidding similar services usually at much lower costs but perhaps the Government thinks their top-secret payloads are more secure with ULA. Who knows!

ULA has four space vehicle systems in development.

  • Atlas V – will carry the manned Boeing Starliner Capsule (mid 2019) to the ISS
  • Delta IV
  • Delta II – rarely launch from Cape Canaveral
  • Vulcan Centaur (in development)

At Cape Canaveral, United Launch Alliance uses Launch Complex 41 for Atlas V and Launch Complex 37B for Delta IV so you may see a ULA launch during a visit to the Space Coast!

Boeing

Boeing has several projects in development that are of interest to KSC visitors:

  • It is under contract to help NASA develop its Space Launch System (SLS) – a rocket for flights into deep space (Mars for example).
  • CST-100 Starlight – A capsule for transporting up to 7 astronauts and/or payload to the ISS – one of two official transportation capsules selected by NASA (SpaceX Dragon V2 is the other). It is compatible to launch on top of several vehicles including Atlas V, Delta IV, Falcon 9 and Vulcan.

At Cape Canaveral, Starlight to the ISS will initially ride atop the ULA Atlas V vehicle from Launch Complex 41 starting in mid 2019.

SpaceX

SpaceX has several projects in development that are of interest to KSC visitors:

  • Falcon 9 Launch Vehicle – The current reusable system is flying the Dragon cargo capsule to the ISS. Stage 1 of the vehicle actually returns to Cape Canaveral Landing Zone 1 or barge after each launch!
  • Falcon 9 Heavy Launch Vehicle – The next generation vehicle designed to carry Dragon and Dragon 2 capsules to the ISS or to deep space (Mars).
  • Dragon and Dragon 2 – A capsule for transporting up to 7 astronauts (Dragon 2) and/or payload to the ISS – one of two official transportation capsules selected by NASA (Boeing CST-100 Starlight is the other). It is compatible to launch on top of the Falcon vehicles.

At Cape Canaveral, Dragon is already delivering payload to the ISS from Launch Complex 39A atop Falcon 9 while the Stage 1 vehicle is returning to either Landing Zone 1 (near the lighthouse) or on a barge in the ocean. Launch Complex 40 is being repaired after a Falcon 9 explosion in September 2016.

NASA

We all know about the history of NASA and the KSC is where it all comes alive! You can learn about the early days of space flight, the moon landing missions and the awe-inspiring space shuttle.

But NASA has many projects in current development that are of interest to KSC visitors:

  • International Space Station – NASA astronauts continue to conduct scientific experiments aboard the ISS as they prepare for the Journey To Mars. You can learn more about the ISS in the Atlantis building.
  • Space Telescopes – A full scale replica of the Hubble Space Telescope and a scale model of the new James Webb Space Telescope are on display in the Atlantis building.
  • Mission to Mars – You can see Mars Rover Vehicles and learn about the Mission to Mars in the Journey to Mars building.
  • Space Launch System (SLS) – The next generation rocket for carrying crews and payload into deep space is in development.
  • Orion – A capsule for transporting up to 4 astronauts and/or payload to Mars (and to the ISS if needed) using the SLS launch vehicle.

At Cape Canaveral, NASA’s SLS launch vehicle uses Launch Complex 39B .

Other Space Partners

Occasionally there are launches at Cape Canaveral from relatively unknown companies. These are mostly military related.

One such Launch System is Minotaur IV from Orbital ATK using Launch Complex 46 starting in 2017.

Kennedy Space Center Attractions

The Kennedy Space Center covers a large area because the attractions extend beyond the main Visitor Complex. It is easy to feel a bit overwhelmed and unsure about what to see and do and in which order.

We like to separate the Complex into 7 different experiences:

  1. The IMAX movies – Space-related films on a huge screen shown mostly in 3D
  2. The History of Space Flight – The heroes and vehicles of the early days
  3. The Future of Space Exploration – Deep Space including The Proving Ground and Mars
  4. The International Space Station and Shuttle Flights – Atlantis is the main attraction
  5. The Space Telescopes – Hubble and James Webb
  6. The Moon Landings – Saturn and Apollo
  7. The Launch Areas and Space Operations – Where rockets are being built and the launch/landing pads

TIP: Always pick up a daily schedule of activities at the entrance! 

The 3D IMAX Movies

Shown in two adjacent theaters, these are fabulous visual and sensory 3D experiences of earth from space or life in space. The films are about 40 – 50 minutes long.

The theaters are big and you can almost always get a seat but crowds begin to line up about 15 minutes before show time. There is a pop corn and snack station in the waiting area!

TIP – Take note of the IMAX show times on your daily schedule pamphlet as soon as you enter the KSC and plan your day accordingly.

IMAX Theater
IMAX Theater

The History of Space and Flight

The history of NASA is on display at various locations throughout the KSC Complex. As explained above, while meaning no disrespect to our space heroes, you can skip all the exhibits in this section if you are short on time.

  • The most visual exhibit is the Rocket Garden that is seen as soon as you enter through the ticketing gates. You can walk through the garden or join a 20-minute guided tour (5 times per day as per your daily schedule).

    Rocket Garden Panorama
    Rocket Garden Panorama (click to enlarge)
  • The Heroes & Legends building is immediately to the left of the Space Garden. You line up outside, pick up your 3D glasses and enter a round room for the first of two video presentations. The first presentation is a 5 minute testimonial from various people (famous and not) who talk about their heroes. TIP: Walk to the middle of the room and stand at the center piece while facing ahead and slightly to your right. You then enter a room with 3 levels to watch a 10 minute 3D presentation of the experiences of 4 pioneers such as Jim Lovell who talk about the moments that define their lives in space. This presentation is actually very well done and the special effects are top-notch. TIP: For the most immersive experience walk to the right and stand on the lower (front) section facing the wall.

    Heroes and Legends Building
    Heroes and Legends Building on the left (click to enlarge)

    Heroes and Legends Intro
    Heroes and Legends Intro (stand at the middle circle, but unlike these folks, stand with your back towards the entrance and not facing it)

    Heroes and Legends 3D
    Heroes and Legends 3D (click to enlarge)
  • The Nature & Technology building is across from the Rocket Garden. Here you learn a little about the Merritt Island National Wildlife Reserve that host the growing KSC! It has a small diorama of the fauna and flora of the area and a bit of history of the native people. Honestly, this exhibit appears to be a bit of an afterthought and seems out of place.

    Nature and Technology Diorama
    Nature and Technology Diorama (click to enlarge)
  • The Astronaut Memorial is at the back of the Visitor Complex. It is a solemn place that all should visit to pay respect to our space heroes but it is a bit of a walk out there and since most cruisers are pressed for time, it cannot be a priority. Again, no disrespect meant.

    Astronaut Memorial
    Astronaut Memorial (click to enlarge)
  • The Air Force Space and Missile Museum is not at the KSC Complex but you can visit it on your own or as part of a Cape Canaveral Then & Now Bus Tour. Do this only if you want to revisit the days of Mercury and Gemini and the history of the launch pads!  The museum is near cruise terminal 5 at Port Canaveral and it is easier (but not as interesting) to visit it from that side using Uber or a taxi.

    Air Force Museum
    Air Force Space and Missile Museum

The Future of Space Exploration

The future of Space Exploration is represented by several exhibits across the Complex.

  • Nothing says “future” quite like seeing modern rockets on the Launch Pads! To experience this you have to take a bus tour. We discuss the bus tours below in the Launch Areas section.

    Explore Bus Tour
    Explore Bus Tour (click to enlarge)
  • Mission Status Briefings are given by experts in the Astronaut Encounter Theater and these 20 minute sessions will update you on current NASA space happenings as well as future plans. Afterwards you normally stay in your seat for a 30 minute Astronaut Encounter with a current or retired Astronaut! It is fun to hear from a real person about their space experiences. You can ask questions and take selfies!

    Astronaut Encounter Theater
    Astronaut Encounter Theater
  • Journey To Mars: Explorers Wanted is a 30 minute session with an expert who is trying to recruit future astronauts in a fun and informative presentation! The exhibits surrounding the stage are all about Mars and you learn about the challenges of colonizing the red planet. There are simulators to play with and several interactive displays with buttons to push, levers to pull and knobs to turn! Do not miss the Mars rover displays! Who does not love a 4WD space vehicle!

    Journey To Mars Stage
    Journey To Mars Stage

    Journey To Mars Simulator
    Journey To Mars Simulator to land on Mars

    Curiosity Mars Rover
    Curiosity Mars Rover

The International Space Station and Shuttle Flights

This is a MUST-SEE exhibit at the KSC! While it can be seen in about an hour, it is deserving of at least 2 hours because of all the fun things to do beyond the Space Shuttle!

Without letting the cat of of the bag, we want to tell you that the multi-media build-up to the reveal of the Space shuttle Atlantis is one of the most dramatic and heart-warming events you will ever witness. Yes, it is a very popular exhibit and the line can be long at times but it is well worth the wait.

The building is next to the drop-off area of the tour buses so it makes sense to visit the space shuttle AFTER the free bus tour to the Saturn/Apollo Exhibit.

Atlantis Entrance
Atlantis Entrance (click to enlarge)

The building is home to four different experiences:

  • The Space Shuttle Atlantis and the Shuttle Missions History,
  • The Space Telescopes (discussed in the next section),
  • The International Space Station (ISS) and
  • Very cool simulators and educational stations for kids of all ages including grandpa!

The large Atlantis vehicle is presented on 3 levels so you can photograph it from the side, front, back and below! It is best photographed with a panorama setting on your camera/phone as seen below.

Space Shuttle Atlantis
Space Shuttle Atlantis (click to enlarge)

After you’ve seen the vehicle, you can immerse yourself into the many multi-media exhibits that explain the Missions and how the Space Shuttle was built, mounted on its rockets, delivered to the launch pad, flown into space, docked to the ISS, emptied its cargo bays, and returned to earth. You can even train like an astronaut to perform many of the most important space tasks in various simulators on the ground floor, including a slide to simulate the landing G-forces!

Space Shuttle Simulators
Space Shuttle Simulators (click to enlarge)

Another ground-floor highlight of this visit is the Shuttle Launch Experience – a wild and loud simulator ride into space in a Space Shuttle!  It is simply the best experience at the KSC!

Shuttle Launch Experience
Shuttle Launch Experience (click to enlarge)

Finally, do not miss the International Space Station exhibits. The ISS was the reason why the Space Shuttles were build and it still plays a very important role as NASA prepares for deep space exploration and a Mars landing.

ISS and Space Shuttle
ISS with a docked Space Shuttle (click to enlarge)

As you walk away from the Atlantis, you will notice a small ISS exhibit in the corner on your right. An expert will be on hand to show you a multi-media presentation of the ISS.

ISS Presentation
ISS Presentation (click to enlarge)

A bit further down the hallway on your left, you will notice a scale version of the ISS that is large enough for to crawl through (no shoes please)!

ISS Experience
ISS Experience (click to enlarge)

On the ground floor you can learn more about the ISS such as how the toilets work, where the astronauts sleep and more.

ISS Toilet
ISS Toilet (click to enlarge)

The Space Telescopes

These are not major exhibits at the KSC but we feel it is important to take a look at NASA’s eyes into deep space!

  • The Hubble Space Telescope exhibit is easily missed because it is overshadowed by the presence of Atlantis nearby! As you exit the Atlantis multi-media presentation, look to your right and you will see Hubble hanging from the roof! It is about the size of a school bus! You are looking at a full-size replica of the telescope – known to many only because of its multiple problems since deployment in 1990! After 9 years of tuning and servicing, the Hubble is operational and will be until 2040 if all goes well.

    Hubble Space Telescope
    Hubble Space Telescope (click to enlarge)
  • The successor to the Hubble is in development and could be deployed in 2018. A scale replica of the James Webb Space Telescope (using infrared technology) is on display on the ground floor of the Atlantis building.

    James Webb Telescope
    James Webb Space Telescope (click to enlarge)
  • To learn about the differences between these two telescopes in image quality, richness and reach into the dark universe, attend the Eye on the Universe 3D multimedia show (20 minutes) in the Astronaut Encounter theater. Show times are listed on your schedule and doors open 10 minutes earlier. An expert will lead the presentation that shows images of deep space with special focus on the remote galaxies.

    Eyes on the Universe
    Eyes on the Universe 3D Presentation in the Astronaut Encounter Theater

The Moon Landings – Saturn and Apollo

While the Space Shuttle to the ISS was a modern flying marvel, the achievements of the moon program can never be over-appreciated! Those were the early days of the American space program with very limited computing power and strong competition from the Russians! For many older folks, the first manned mission to land on the moon in 1969 was a defining moment in their lives that they will never forget.

Fortunately, KSC does a marvelous job of capturing the highs and lows of that turbulent yet successful time in NASA’s history. To experience this, you have to board a bus and travel to the Apollo/Saturn V Center – a 45 minute drive that is part of a tour (the tour is discussed below). Together, the tour and Apollo/Saturn Center will take at least 2 hours.

At the Apollo/Saturn V Center you will experience the following:

  • As you walk away from you bus you will enter the first of two multimedia presentations. “We Choose To Go To The Moon” shows the struggles and failures of NASA’s early attempts to be the first in space. The Russian space program were way ahead and video does a great job of capturing the exploding rockets and disappointed faces of those trying to get America into space. Then President Kennedy made his famous speech directing the space program to put a man on the moon and to return him safely back to earth. Finally, things began to fall into place and in 1968 the Apollo 8 was ready to take off on a manned journey to orbit the moon.

    Going to the Moon
    Going to the Moon
  • The presentation then shifts to a different theater – the actual Apollo Firing (Launch Control) Room as it was on December 21, 1968 when Apollo 8 started its countdown from launch pad 39A! In a nail-biting show, anticipation builds as the system checks are completed and the Saturn V rocket with its precious human cargo takes off on its historic journey to the moon! It is simply a magnificent moment when the doors open and you find yourself standing underneath a huge Saturn V vehicle.

    Apollo 8 Firing Room
    Apollo 8 Firing Room (click to enlarge)
  • The exhibit hall is a large rectangular building. The horizontal Atlas V rocket fills the center and you start at the engines then walk towards to the Apollo Spacecraft (the front or top of the rocket). It is best to walk on the far side (the restaurant side) so you can read the displays that explain each important stage of the rocket. There is also a scale model of the rocket so you can see the inside of each stage. Stages 1, 2 and 3 of the rocket will all be jettisoned before the actual moon landing so you can move fast until you reach the restaurant.

    Saturn Rocket
    Saturn Rocket (click to enlarge)
  • When you reach the Moon Rock Cafe, you are at the most interesting modules – the Apollo Spacecraft stage containing the Lunar Module (LM), the Service Module (SM) and the Command Module (CM).

    Apollo Spacecraft
    Apollo Spacecraft (click to enlarge)

    If you look up you can see a real Lunar Module (used until Apollo 14). The Service Module is shown in detail near the very front (top) of the rocket and you can see the Command Module elsewhere on the floor.

    • The Lunar Module landed on the moon and was crashed on the moon after the astronauts returned to the Spacecraft

      Lunar Module
      Lunar Module (click to enlarge)
    • The Service Module propelled the Spacecraft and was jettisoned just before the Command Module’s earth re-entry

      Service Module
      Service Module (click to enlarge)
    • The Command Module is where the astronauts lived during the launch and when they returned to earth

      Command Module atop Saturn V
      Command Module atop Saturn V
  • As you reach the end of the hall, you will see an exhibition that pays Tribute to the Apollo 1 Crew who perished in their Command Module Capsule during a test in 1967. You will learn about the three astronauts and see the photos from that fateful day.

    Apollo 1 Tribute
    Apollo 1 Tribute

    When you exit the exhibit you walk over the service arm that the Apollo 11 crew used to enter their Command Module more than 300 feet above the ground! You will also get a good look at the inside of the CM!

    Apollo 11 Service Arm
    Apollo 11 Service Arm (click to enlarge)
  • The Lunar Theater shows a wonderful 20-minute presentation of the Apollo 11 Lunar Module’s landing on the moon. Called the “Eagle”, the landing was plagued with technical issues but Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin used their piloting skills to overcome every issue! Not to be missed!

    Eagle Landing
    Eagle Landing (click to enlarge)
  • The rest of the displays on the exit side of the building cover more moon landing events. You will see a Moon Rover, actual moon walk space suits,  you can touch a moon rock , see the actual Apollo 14 Command Module Capsule and learn about the different Apollo missions!

    Lunar Rover
    Lunar Rover

    Apollo Space Suits
    Apollo Space Suits

    Touch this Moon Rock
    Touch this Moon Rock

    Command Module Capsule
    Command Module Capsule (click to enlarge)

You exit the hall via the gift shop to catch a bus for the 15 minute drive back to the Visitor Complex.

Bus to Visitor Center
Bus back to the Visitor Center Complex

The Launch Areas and NASA Operations

Our maps shows the active launch pads marked in purple. While the public does not have access to any of these pads, you can get relatively close by taking a bus tour.

Launch Pad 39A with SpaceX Rocket
Launch Pad 39A with a SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket ready to launch (click to enlarge)

There are THREE bus tours to choose from and they all end at the Apollo/Saturn V Center plus Astronaut and Simulation Experiences:

  • (FREE) The Kennedy Space Center Bus Tour is included in your admission and the route is shown in YELLOW on our map
  • The Explore Bus Tour is very similar to the free tour but you stop at 2 locations to get a closer look at the launch pads and you stop near the Assembly Building (but you do not enter it). You can see the tour route if you enable the Explore Tour section in our map above.
  • The Cape Canaveral Early Space Tour takes in the historic launch sites and the Air Force Space and Missile Museum
  • Lunch or Dinner with an Astronaut – listen to an experienced astronaut while eating.
  • Mars Experiences – designed to immerse you in the world of space exploration with a focus on the manned mission to Mars. There are 3 experiences to choose from.
  • Space Walk Experience – learn how to prepare for a space walk!

Are these guided bus tours worth it?

  • First,  the Kennedy Space Center Bus Tour is FREE and included in your ticket so from that point of view it is a MUST-DO!
  • The other three cost $25 per person extra.
  • You will get slightly closer to the launch pad on the paid tours but not by much.
  • The paid tours have a separate VIP line and benches at the bus loading zone at the Visitor Center. This means you do not have to stand in line and you can save time.

    Paid Bus Tour Waiting Area
    Paid Bus Tour Waiting Area
  • The paid tours use guides that offer more in-depth narration of the sights and points of interest along the tour route.
  • The paid tours operate at scheduled times. You pick a time while booking online.

Generally speaking, we suggest that the paid tours are for serious space enthusiasts only unless you just want to skip the lines and pay extra for the Explore Bus Tour!

Port Canaveral Questions

In this post we will answer some of the most frequently asked questions and internet searches about Cruising from Port Canaveral!

Port Canaveral Airport

Port Canaveral near airport?

Which is the Port Canaveral Airport?

Where is Port Canaveral Orlando Airport?

Most cruisers fly to Orlando International Airport (MCO) just under an hour by car from Port Canaveral.

There are often cheaper flights to Melbourne International Airport or  Orlando Sanford International Airport.  Both are about an hour’s drive.

Port Canaveral Location

Where is Port Canaveral?

Is Port Canaveral in Florida?

Is Port Canaveral in Orlando Fl?

What is the Port Canaveral address?

Is Port Canaveral in Orlando?

Where is Port Canaveral Orlando?

Port Canaveral Florida is about an hour’s drive east or Orlando! It is in a different town called Cape Canaveral.

There is no such thing as Port Canaveral Orlando or Port Canaveral Orlando Fl!

If you need directions, simply find Grills Restaurant Cape Canaveral on your GPS or map and proceed in that direction!  Port Canaveral Grills is right next to Terminal 1.

When you get close to the Port, you will notice various road signs directing you to your cruise terminal. At this point you can stop the GPS navigation and just follow the signs.

Port Canaveral Car Rental

Car rental at Port Canaveral Cruise Terminal?

Port Canaveral car rental companies?

Where is the Port Canaveral car rental drop off?

Port Canaveral Fl car rental?

Car rental in Port Canaveral cruise terminal?

Car rental near Port Canaveral Fl?

There are no car rental agencies inside or at the cruise terminals. You have to take a free shuttle van to/from the rental agencies.

All the major car rental agencies have offices within 6 miles of the cruise terminals. For detailed information, please visit: Car Rental at Port Canaveral

Port Canaveral Parking

Port Canaveral cruise parking?

Port Canaveral parking?

Port Canaveral parking Carnival?

Port Canaveral parking coupons?

Port Canaveral parking fees?

Port Canaveral parking for Carnival cruise?

Port Canaveral parking for Disney cruise?

Port Canaveral parking for Royal Caribbean?

Parking near Port Canaveral?

Port Canaveral parking Radisson?

You have many wonderful options for parking at Port Canaveral! Shipside, off-site and nearby hotels!

For information about the parking garages at each cruise terminal, please read: Port Canaveral Cruise Terminals

For information about the off-site parking options and hotels, please read: Port Canaveral Parking

Port Canaveral hotels

Port Canaveral hotels?

Port Canaveral hotels near cruise terminal?

You have many hotels to choose from with some just minutes from the cruise terminals.

Please read: Port Canaveral Hotels

 

 

Walt Disney World and Disney Springs – Cruise Shore Trip

Walt Disney World and Disney Springs – Shore Trip or Pre/Post Cruise Visit

Everything you need to know about visiting Walt Disney World (and Disney Springs) as a shore trip or excursion from Port Canaveral. It is about 65 miles (depending on the attraction) and should take less than 75 minutes from the Port.

Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World (click to enlarge)

Cruisers visit the Disney World area as follows:

  • Pre-cruise Stay
  • Full Day Shore Trip when ship arrives before 8am
  • Half-day Shore Trip when ship arrives around noon
  • Partial-day Post-cruise visit when flight home departs in the late afternoon or evening
  • Post-cruise Stay

 

Driving Directions to Walt Disney World/Disney Springs and back to Orlando Airport

  1. Exit the Port and head West on FL-528. It is a toll road – pay $1.50 + $1.00 = $2.50 (change available).
  2. Take exit for I-417 West towards Disney World. It is a toll road – pay $1.75 + $1.75 = $3.50 (change available).
  3. Take exit 6 toward Epcot/Disney Springs even if going to the Magic Kingdom! (the signs say use exit 3 for Magic Kingdom but we prefer exit 6)
  4. Follow the signs to your attraction of choice. Buena Vista Drive takes you to/from Disney Springs!

Afterwards – Retrace your route to return to Port Canaveral and the Airport. Simply follow the Airport Signs back to I-417 and look for the airport exit after the 2nd toll booth or continue straight for the Port.

UberX costs about $95 +$5 (port pickup fee) = $100 for one-way from the Port to the Disney area.

Port Canaveral to Disney Springs
Port Canaveral to Disney Springs and back to the airport (CLICK FOR A LARGER IMAGE)

Disney Springs Parking

Below is an image of the approach road to Disney Springs as you arrive from the port via toll road 417. The signs are very clear; once on Buena Vista Dr look for either the Orange or Lime parking garage unless you have an over-sized vehicle.

Disney Springs Directions
Disney Springs Directions – Keep right on Buena Vista Dr and find a parking garage. Return back to Buena Vista Dr after your visit and look for 536/417 East (click to enlarge)

There are several parking areas as shown below. Lime Garage is most central and places you closest to the action. As you approach the garage keep to the right because you want to park on Level 2 if you can for the fastest access to the shopping areas.

BUT – Please note it is easier to park in the Orange Garage when drving this route because left turns are not allowed! This means you cannot turn left into Roange or left into Lime. For Orange you have to bear right then turn left onto an overpass and into the garage! For Lime you have to make a u-turn further down the road then turn right into the garage.

TIP – We prefer to park in the open lot (the first lot you see to the left). This makes for a much faster exit after your visit. The garages are often full and very busy and slow upon exit.

If you have an over-sized vehicle, you have to park in the surface lot (Strawberry) which is the first one you will encounter when approaching Disney Springs.

DisneySprings-Parking
Disney Springs Parking (click to enlarge)

The Magic Kingdom Parking

Below is an image of the parking lots at the Magic Kingdom. Upon arrival you will be directed to an available lot – the later you arrive the further away the parking! But no worries, you will hop on a tram to the ticket center and will not have to walk far. As you step off the tram, you have to get in line for the security check and then you line up for the ticket booths! From here you have to decide if you want to ride the Monorail or the Ferry to the Magic Kingdom.

You can see there are two trams. Basically the parking lot is split into two sections – HEROES and VILLIANS. After you parked, make sure you make note of your section and lot (for example, you parked in HEROES – PETER PAN). When you return after a day in the Kingdom you hop on the HEROES tram and get off at the PETER PAN stop. Very easy.

How long does take? From the moment you drive underneath the Magic Kingdom Arch just before the parking pay booth until you step foot inside the Kingdom – plan on at least ONE HOUR.

TIP – The best route back from the Magic Kingdom to Port Canaveral or Orlando Airport is to follow the Airport Sign until you are back on Toll Road 417! If you follow the airport signs you cannot get lost.

Magic Kingdom Parking
Magic Kingdom Parking (click to enlarge)

Disney Springs – The Perfect Starting Point For Exploring WDW Beyond The Parks

Unless you have dinner/resort reservations, it is not possible to park at Disney Resort hotels! So Disney Springs is a great FREE PARKING option from where to explore the Resorts and attractions. However – PLEASE DO NOT PARK AT DISNEY SPRINGS IF YOU ARE VISITING A PARK. It is a very cumbersome way of doing things due to the transportation timetables, it is taboo and it is frowned upon.  If you are visiting a Park, drive up and pay for parking – as simple as that.

Once you parked at Disney Springs, you have many options to choose from! Where to go and what to see!!

First, you have to understand the Disney Transportation system from/to Disney Springs.

  • Taxis and Uber – available and very efficient. The pick up areas are on the edges of Disney Springs as shown on the parking map above.
  • Water Taxis – The most fun way to get around but service is limited to just a few resorts as described below.
  • Disney Buses – The most popular way to get around (when no monorail is available!).
  • Disney Minnie Van – Disneys version of Ridesharing!

Disney Water Taxis

Few things feel “Disney” as much as the boats sailing the waters around WDW! In the midst of all the buzzing and craziness, the boats offer a few moments of quiet bliss!

At Disney Springs, you can use water taxis to get around the shopping areas or you can travel beyond the Springs to 5 beautiful Resorts.

NOTE- these are NOT sightseeing boats. You are expected to ride only from point A to Point B and get off at your stop. During busy hours the captains will ask you to exit the boat if they suspect you are just touring around in a circle! No worries, you can get back on but you have to go to the back of the waiting line on the dock.

Take a look at the map and pictures of the boats below. You will notice there are 3 docks at Disney Springs.

  1. The West Side Dock is home to the RED FLAG boats that circle anti-clockwise as follows: WEST SIDE – THE LANDING – THE MARKETPLACE and straight back to WEST SIDE.  You use this RED FLAG boat to explore Disney Springs. It saves you from walking all the way between the west and east sides of the Springs.
  2. The Landing Dock is home to two different boats: The BLUE FLAG boats that circle to Saratoga Springs Resort (5 minutes) and back. Please note, if you are going to the Treehouse Villas you must change boats at Saratoga Springs.  The GREEN FLAG boats circle to Old Key West Resort (15 minutes) and back.
  3. The Marketplace Dock is home to the YELLOW FLAG boats that circle to PORT ORLEANS (Riverside) Resort (22 minutes) and the PURPLE FLAG boats that circle to the French Quarter Resort.

Disney Springs Boats - Yellow - Blue

Disney Springs Boats – Blue Flag and Yellow Flag (CLICK FOR A LARGER IMAGE)

Disney Springs Boats - Yellow
Disney Springs Boats – Yellow – at Port Orleans Riverside (CLICK FOR A LARGER IMAGE)

Disney Springs Boat Docks
Disney Springs Boat Docks

Disney Springs Marketplace Dock

Disney Springs Marketplace Dock

Disney Springs Landing Dock
Disney Springs Landing Dock

 

Disney Springs West Side Dock
Disney Springs West Side Dock

Disney Buses

The comprehensive Disney bus system can be frustrating at times but the air-conditioned rides are a great relief from the Florida summer heat! WDW is a large place and some rides are well over 30 minutes long so do factor in the wait times, etc. when planning a day from Disney Springs.

The schedules are a bit crazy too because these change during the day based on traffic. Disney expect most visitors will be inside the Parks between 11am and 2pm and they schedule the buses accordingly (more or less). We’ve seen many bloggers and websites trying to publish time tables but those are mostly inaccurate because of the daily changes and “real-time” adjustments by transportation control. In addition, buses lose time due to the many strollers and folks struggling to park mobility scooters securely inside the packed buses.

TIP – The rule of thumb is to give yourself enough time – if you are in a hurry then take taxis or Uber!

In the image below (and on the map above) you can see the bus terminals at Disney Springs. The buses drop off to the left (next to the Lime Garage). To board a bus you walk to the right and follow the signs to the gate for your bus.

Disney Springs-Bus Stops
Disney Springs-Bus Stops (CLICK FOR A LARGER IMAGE)

So how do you know which bus to board? There are signboards posted at the bus stop to the gates. Just pick your resort as shown below!

NOTE- Some resort buses begin early each day (between 9am and 10am) whereas others start later around 11am (Grand Floridian, etc.) Disney is trying to prevent folks from getting to the Parks early when parked at Disney Springs. Please do not park at Disney Springs when going to the Parks. 

Disney Springs Bus Directory
Disney Springs Bus Directory (click to enlarge)

 

Disney Springs Bus Stop
Disney Springs Bus Stop (CLICK FOR A LARGER IMAGE)

Once at a Resort, the bus stops have signs (most have arrival times indicated on electronic boards) to help you find the correct bus back to Disney Springs!

Disney Bus - Schedule
Disney Bus Stops – Estimated Schedule at the Resorts. Bus to Disney Springs arrives in 1 minute, 56 seconds

 

Disney Bus
Disney Bus Stop at Animal Kingdom Resort (CLICK FOR A LARGER IMAGE)

Riding the Monorail!

Few things create magic like riding the monorail at Disney World! It is more than just a transportation system; the ride is a rite of passage!

Monorail at Magic Kingdom
Monorail at Magic Kingdom (click to enlarge)

Please look at the map below to see the routes of the three monorail lines and their stations. Click on the lines or icons for more information:

  1. The Magic Kingdom Express Line (pink color) – counter-clockwise – 4 minutes from TTC to MK (the only two stops)
  2. The Magic Kingdom All-Stations Line (pink color) – clockwise – 5 stops
  3. The EPCOT line (lilac color) – clockwise – 12 minutes from TTC to EPCOT (the only two stops)

 Note: the Magic Kingdom Monorails run on two parallel tracks in opposite directions. Express goes counter-clockwise, all-stops goes clockwise. This is important, for example, if you are at the Contemporary Resort the line to MK will stop 4 times!

 

How do you get from Disney Springs to the Monorails?

  1. Pick which monorail you want to ride first
  2. Take a bus (or Uber) to any resort with a monorail station (shown on the map). If you are too early for a specific resort bus, ride to another resort in the same direction, then change buses to reach the TTC at Magic Kingdom or EPCOT.
  3. After the rides, return to a resort with a monorail station and take a bus back to Disney Springs

 

 

Port Canaveral Beaches – A Guide for Cruisers

Port Canaveral and Cocoa Beach Beaches – A Guide for Cruisers and Visitors

If you are looking for a beach you came to the right place! You have beach all the way from Port Canaveral down to Miami and beyond. Near the Port, we suggest you visit one of four beach areas depending on your interests and budget. While it is tempting to swim anywhere, please consider this tip from us:

TIP – even when the waves do not look that big, the ocean here is deceiving with dangerous rip currents and the (very) rare shark attack. For these reason I suggest you ALWAYS swim near a lifeguard station. You also want restrooms and on-site beach toy rentals! And lifeguards will warn visitors when painful man ‘o war are present (see picture)

big man o' war next to a size 11.5 foot
big man o’ war next to a size 11.5 foot

 

TIP – Upon arrival at Port Canaveral, all cruisers should use their smart phones or tablets to browse to our LIVE Google map. There are no apps to install. Your position will be shown on our map in relation to the beaches mentioned here. With our map you cannot get lost and you do not have to be worried about making your way around the area.

There are four year round lifeguard towers near Port Canaveral as shown on our map:

  • Jetty Park – closest to the cruise ships with a shop/cafe/beach rentals/restrooms. The cafe opening times vary during the year.
  • Cocoa Beach Pier – the busiest beach with everything you need nearby as well as bars, restaurants and shops
  • Alan Shepard Park – popular with cruise ship shore excursions and always busy when the ships are in. Ron Jon surf shop, bars, restaurants, beach rentals and restrooms
  • Lori Wilson Park – fewest people and the furthest away from the port therefor not for everyone. Restrooms and rentals but no restaurants or bars nearby except at the Hilton and International Palms

Getting to the Beaches from the Port, and Back

Your options depend on your cruise terminal.

If you dock at Terminal 1 or Terminal 3:

  • You can walk to Jetty Park Beach. The beach is 1.5 miles from Terminal 1 and 0.5 miles from Terminal 3 and the walk is clearly marked in green on our map. You will walk on a wide side-walk shared with cyclists. It is flat, safe and easy walking.
  • You can take the SCAT bus ($1.50 per person each way) to Cocoa Beach Pier Beach, Alan Shepard Park Beach and Lori Wilson Park Beach. We show you exactly how to use the SCAT bus in another section – Using the SCAT Bus.

Options from any Terminal:

a] Cruise line Shore Excursions to the Beach

  • Travel time – It takes about 15-20 minutes from the Port to Alan Shepard Park or the Sheraton Four Points Hotel from where it is a very short walk to the beach (east) and the famous Ron Jon Surf Shop (south).
  • Frequency – The buses run every 30 minutes or so and the last shuttle is usually 3 hours prior to ship sailing time from both pick up and drop off location.
  • Costs – Average $15 to $19 per adult for the round-trip usually including 15% shopping discount vouchers but this depends on the cruise line.
  • Description – This is a cruise line bus service running continually throughout the day during your cruise ship visit. You will travel to Alan Shepard Park in a large air-conditioned bus or smaller vans.
  • Negatives – While convenient, it can get expensive if you have more than 2 people in your group. UberX will cost between $25 and $35 per car round-trip (maximum 4 adults). Also, you do not get to choose which beach you want to visit – it will be Alan Shepard Park Beach and that’s it. And you will have lines as shown in the pictures below!

NOTE – In 2018 we are seeing most cruise lines drop passengers at the Sheraton Four Points across the street from Ron Jon, instead of Shepard Beach. It may be a better option in Summer because of the heat and lack of shade/shelter at Shepard Beach.

Please also note – there are no bathrooms at the beach if you walk directly east from the Sheraton. The nearest bathrooms are at the hotel or a block or two north at Shepard Beach. 

Here are photos of the cruise line buses at Shepard Beach and vans at the Sheraton Four Points. Note the stop is under cover at the Sheraton and in the open at Shepard Beach:

Carnival buses at Shepard Beach
Carnival buses at Shepard Beach (click to enlarge)

RCL Bus at Shepard Beach
RCL Buses at Shepard Beach (click to enlarge)

Sheraton Beach Shuttle Stop
NCL Sheraton Beach Shuttle Stop (click to enlarge)

Sheraton Beach Shuttle Stop
Sheraton Beach Shuttle Stop (click to enlarge)

b] Uber and Taxi Services

While 888-Transportation taxis will be waiting outside your terminal, those are metered therefor we recommend Uber because traffic can slow you down as you near the Cocoa Beach area. As stated above, expect to pay between $25 and $35 per car round-trip (maximum 4 adults) to Alan Shepard Beach but cheaper to the others. With Uber and Taxis you have flexibility and can choose your beach.

c] Rental Cars

It is wonderful to have your own transportation and the area is extremely easy to navigate. You can explore the beaches mentioned above or venture to others further away from the crowds.

Parking, however, can be a challenge unless you are willing to pay. Rates are shown below for each beach.

Please read our dedicated car rental pages!

d] Bike Rentals

This area is perfect for bike enthusiasts. It is flat with bike lanes and sidewalks everywhere. You can also ride on the beach (weather and tides permitting). Several of the rental companies will deliver your bikes to a predetermined location and arrange for convenient drop-offs. Please read our page Dedicated to Bike Rentals!

Jetty Park Beach

The best beach is Jetty Park because it is near the Port, it is far less commercial, the sand is wide with some wave action and there are life guards on duty. You can also walk out on the long fishing pier for a close-up look at the entrance of Port Canaveral!

However, if you are looking for bars and restaurants and shops, it is best to head further south to Cocoa Beach Pier or Alan Shepard Park.

If you enjoy walking you can easily walk the 3 miles from Jetty Park to Cocoa Beach Pier along the beach (easier at low tide).

Jetty Park Map
Jetty Park Map (click to enlarge)

Jetty Park Beach and Jetty
Jetty Park Beach and Jetty (click to enlarge)

Jetty Park Beach
Jetty Park Beach (click to enlarge)

Jetty Park Beach
Jetty Park Beach (click to enlarge)

Jetty Park Beach
Jetty Park Beach (click to enlarge)

Jetty Park Beach
Jetty Park Beach and life guard station (click to enlarge)

Parking/Entry Costs – $15 per car. Walking and cycling are free

Beach Rentals

Jetty Park Beach Rental Rates
Jetty Park Beach Rental Rates (click to enlarge)

Shops – The campground has a small shop but the gates are often locked. The beach Pavilion Store is open from 7:00am – 7:00pm if you want sodas, chips, etc.

Food/drinks – Fishlips Restaurant is the concessionaire for a good selection of hot meals. Hours are 7:00am – 7:00 pm.

Jetty Park Fishlips Pavilion Menu
Jetty Park Fishlips Pavilion Menu (click to enlarge)

Restrooms – yes with a water fountain

Cocoa Beach Pier Beach

If you want to go to the beach near restaurants or bars where surfers play, then the Cocoa Beach Pier beach area is just what you need! It is always busy but rarely overcrowded. If you want fewer people around you, just walk a few hundred yards to the north or south.

To see real-time beach conditions, here is a webcam of Cocoa Beach Pier:

Cocoa Beach Pier
Cocoa Beach Pier (click to enlarge)

Cocoa Beach Pier 2017
Cocoa Beach Pier (February 2017) – click to enlarge

The pier is fun but you either have to pay $2 to walk beyond the restaurants or buy a drink inside and keep the receipt! When paying you get a $2 discount token to be used when ordering drinks at the tiki bar!

Cocoa Beach Pier and Beach
Cocoa Beach Pier and Beach (click to enlarge)

Rikki Tiki Tavern
Rikki Tiki Tavern (click to enlarge)

Parking/entry Costs – $10 – $20 per car (including the $2 pier entry fee) but free after 4pm. Metered parking is also available.

Beach Rentals – You will find stations on the beach to the south and to the north to rent umbrellas, chairs, boogie boards and surfboards. The stations on the north side are slightly cheaper. Expect to pay $20 – $25 per day for an umbrella and 2 chairs. You can also rent bikes at Trader Ricks and Island Watercraft (on the beach in front of La Quinta Hotel).

Shops – Not a major shopping area (Publix groceries is the major business here) but the Pier has two shops for beach wear.

Food/drinks – Several bars and restaurants either on the pier or two blocks to the west. We recommend you hang out at the Pier.

Restrooms – Yes

Cocoa Beach Pier Beach
Cocoa Beach Pier Beach (click to enlarge)

Beach Rental -North
Beach Rental -North

Alan Shepard Park Beach

Cruise ship shore excursions go to Shepard beach (near Ron Jon) with several restaurants/bars nearby but do not go there if you want to avoid crowds during cruise visits.

NOTE – In 2018 we notice the cruise ships are dropping passengers at the Sheraton Four Points Hotel just a block or two south. As a result Shepard Beach is now less crowded when the ships are in!

Shepard Park Beach
Shepard Park Beach (click to enlarge)

Parking/entry Costs – $15 per car but metered parking is also available.

Beach Rentals – You will find stations on the beach to rent umbrellas, chairs, boogie boards and surfboards. Expect to pay $30 per day for an umbrella and 2 chairs.

Shepard Park Beach Rentals
Shepard Park Beach Rentals (click to enlarge)

Shops – Two blocks away you will find several beach shops including the famous Ron Jon a bit further south.

Food/drinks – Several bars and restaurants with Sandbar being the most popular. There is a 7-Eleven to buy snacks but you can also buy water, sodas and snacks from the vending machines at the beach (credit cards and cash accepted)

Restrooms – Yes

Shepard Park Beach Arrival
Shepard Park Beach Arrival (click to enlarge)

Shepard Beach on Shore Trip Day
Shepard Beach on Shore Trip Day with surf lessons in front (click to enlarge)

Sandbar and CaptJs
Sandbar on the right and and Captain J’s on the left (click to enlarge)

Shepard Park Vending
Shepard Park Vending (click to enlarge)

Lori Wilson Park Beach

To escape the crowds you can travel further south to Lori Wilson Park Beach. It located next to the Hilton Hotel.

Lori Wilson Park Beach
Lori Wilson Park Beach with the Hilton Hotel in the background (click to enlarge)

Parking/entry Costs – free with plenty of parking

Beach Rentals – You will find stations on the beach to rent umbrellas, chairs, boogie boards and surfboards. Expect to pay $20 per day for an umbrella and 2 chairs.

Shops – No

Food/drinks – You can walk to nearby Hilton Hotel or International Palms for restaurants. There is usually a food truck at the park.

Restrooms – Yes

Lori Wilson Park Food and Drink
Lori Wilson Park Food and Drink (click to enlarge)

Lori Wilson Park Rentals
Lori Wilson Park Rentals