General Port Canaveral Orientation and Questions
Video with aerial views of the Cruise Terminals at Port Canaveral
How Busy is Port Canaveral and the Area?
It is a good idea to check for festivals or other events at the Port before hitting the road! Also, the new big ships (Oasis, etc.) have changed the traffic patterns at the Port. When these ships are in, expect major traffic delays around the terminals where they dock between 11am and 12:30pm. Give yourself at least 30 minutes extra to arrive and check in for these big boats!
But rest assured, on many days you will find the opposite – smooth driving with minimum wait as shown in the picture below.
Where will my ship dock at Port Canaveral?
Ship and Terminal Schedule can be downloaded here. Look towards the bottom of the page.
Where is my ship now?
The map below shows the locations of cruise ships around Florida and nearby countries!
Click on the “FILTER” icon and deselect all others to ONLY display cruise ships.
Cruise Ships = GREEN ICONS
On occasion the map does not center on Port Canaveral! When that happens simply scroll around until you see Florida then zoom until you find Port Canaveral!
Port Canaveral Map and Areas for Visitors
In this section we take a pictorial look at Port Canaveral supported by my Google Maps!
Port Canaveral handled almost 5 million cruise passengers in 2015, making it the 3rd busiest cruise port in the world! A few times a year (when 7 ships are in Port) it moves more than 30,000 passengers in single day!
Plans are underway to expand its capabilities to handle larger ships, 8 million passengers by 2020 and an increase in general tourism.
Today the Port is a fun area to visit even when not cruising. The Cove area with its restaurants and fishing charters are particularly popular but there are much more to see and do!
I will cover the following areas of the Port:
- Cruise Terminal A
- Cruise Terminal B
- Sightseeing the North side
- The Exploration Tower
- The Cove
- Sightseeing to the West of the Exploration Tower
- Sightseeing to the East of the Exploration Tower
- Jetty Park – Technically not a part of the Port Complex but it is an important stop in the area
Approaching Port Canaveral
As you approach Port Canaveral from the west or the south, the road signs direct you to Cruise Terminals A and B. Cruise Terminals A is North of the harbor basin (left in the picture above) and Cruise Terminal B is to the South (right in the picture above).
The road signs also have electronic information boards to guide you to your ship!
As you approach the terminals, you will find navigation to be very easy – Piers 10, 8, 6 and 5 are part of the Terminal A complex while piers 1 and 3 are part of Terminal B.
Port Map and Cruise Terminals
The aerial photo above shows the two cruise terminals and respective piers.
In each photo below you can see the ship, the terminal building and the covered and open-air parking lots. It shows how close to the ship you can park and how far you may have to walk.
Cruise Terminal A
The north side of the basin is called Terminal A and it is accessible via the Canaveral Lock Lifting Bridge. Unfortunately the bridge isolates Terminal A from the rest of the Port making it rather boring when compared to Terminal B! It has no restaurants or bars.
Cruise Terminal A is home to 4 cruise terminals and several ships. It also welcomes visiting cruise ships.
Terminal A-5: Mostly used by Carnival
Terminal A-6: Mostly used by Carnival
Terminal A-8: Disney
Terminal A-10: Mostly used by Norwegian
You cannot walk to anything exciting from the Terminal A complex, meaning you have to drive or use taxi services. 888-Transportation is the official transport company with a hailing station at each terminal.
Sightseeing the North Side (near Terminal A)
The main road leads to military areas, cargo terminals and space offices with restricted access. However, the Air Force Space and Missile Museum is just before the security gate and highly recommended especially if you love space and rocket launches!
Basically, it explains the history of famous launch complexes of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. It is very informative and enthusiastically manned by volunteers. There is a small gift shop inside and a picnic area outside.
This area is great for watching rocket launches but traffic heats up!
Cruise Terminal B
Cruise Terminal B is home to 2 cruise terminals and several ships. It also welcomes visiting cruise ships:
Terminal B-1: Royal Caribbean, Norwegian
Terminal B-3: Home to visiting cruise ships
Terminal B-2: Victory Casino Cruises, offering 5-hour cruises twice daily at 11am and 7pm
There are 4 car rental companies operating within walking distance of CT1 and CT3 as shown on the map above. Please read my Car Rental page for more information.
The Exploration Tower
Highly recommended despite the costs! At $6.50 per adult and $3.75 for children under 11, it will empty your wallet but you should visit the Tower at least once!
The highlight is the 360 degree views of Port Canaveral and the town of Cape Canaveral as seen in the title image of this page. Each of the 7 floors has a different theme that is both educational and fun – children love the interactive displays.
1ST FLOOR – GUEST INFORMATION, CAFÉ AND SHOP
Visitors enter the first floor of the new Exploration Tower via a lake skimming promenade to find a friendly information/reception desk, an inviting gift shop and corner café.
2ND FLOOR – PORT ORIGINS AND FRAGILE ENVIRONMENT
This floor is dedicated entirely to interactive exhibits in a 2,750 square-foot space with wonderful views of both the lobby and sculptures of marine life made 100% recycled materials. Discover and learn of the early populations, the first European settlers and the history of the Port. Explore Central Florida’s past and present using a large scale interactive map.
3RD FLOOR – LEISURE AND RECREATION THEATER
Learn about the Port’s vibrant history and the key events that helped transform it into the flourishing harbor that we know today in the 72 seat state-of-the-art theater. This one of a kind movie can only be experienced at the Exploration Tower.
4TH FLOOR – MEETINGS AND EVENTS
The fourth floor is a special level dedicated to private events.
5TH FLOOR – NAVIGATING PORT CANAVERAL
Experience what it’s like to be a Port Canaveral Harbor Pilot and navigate your boat using a simulator through Canaveral Harbor to greet cruise ships.
6TH FLOOR – AIR AND SPACE PORT
This indoor observation level face Kennedy Space Center, the birthplace of America’s space program and a very popular destination for visitors. This exhibit zone celebrates the frontiers of air and space including the view of a rising rocket.
7TH FLOOR – OUTDOOR OBSERVATION DECK
A never before seen panoramic view of not only Port Canaveral and cruise ships but of the Kennedy Space Center, the surrounding beach and river and the spectacular wildlife located in Brevard County.
The Cove is the heartbeat of Port Canaveral; eventually it will grow into a village with a hotel, shops and restaurants. Even now, in its infancy as expansion plans are being debated, the Cove is exciting and vibrant.
It is home to several top restaurants and bars from where you can watch the cruise ships come and go. Live music and fresh seafood are two more reasons to visit!
Cruisers should try to make their way to The Cove for Happy Hour between 4pm and 6pm. Food and drink specials are offered by all the restaurants and you can watch the cruise ships sail away while thinking of your own cruise!
Grills and Millikens have the liveliest outside tiki bars – both rock with dance music on weekends! Grills is very popular – brunch is legendary! Baja is the most rustic and popular with locals. Millikens also has a classy inside bar while Fishlips is best for sport lovers but the 2nd floor outside terrace offers great ship views. Rusty’s has a large outside area (semi-closed making it great on windy days) with a tiki bar and band stand.
Behind the Exploration Tower you can take short inexpensive rides with Florida Air Tours to explore the Port and beach area. All the aerial pictures of this website were snapped from this helicopter!
Sightseeing to the West of Exploration Tower
There are two areas to explore – the Canaveral Lock and the Marina Yards.
If you have a car or a bicycle, it is fun to drive out to Canaveral Lock. During the warmer months you can see manatees and you can watch the lock in action as it connects the Intracoastal Waterway and inland rivers to the ocean. Just follow the road to Rodney Ketcham Park and continue under and beyond the drawbridge to the Lock parking area.
The Marina Yards have two or three marina shops where you can buy nautical items. This is also the area where several outdoor companies have offices – Space Coast Segway Tours are popular with fun and knowledgeable guides. Rodney Ketcham Park (no entrance fee) has benches and restrooms so you can sit and enjoy watching the pleasure boats dock and the cruise ships across the harbor.
Sightseeing to the East of Exploration Tower
The wide sidewalks are great for taking a bicycle ride over the Jetty Park. Unfortunately, there is nothing else to see.
Another area to watch the cruise ships is Freddie Patrick Park (no entrance fee). The new boat-launch area features eight slips, two pavilions, fish-cleaning tables, restrooms, a boat rinse station, paved parking and a grass overflow parking lot.
Jetty Park is one of the most popular recreation spots in Brevard County. It is a fabulous place to watch the cruise ships come and go. If the busy bars/restaurants at the Cove are not for your family, then I highly recommend a visit to Jetty Park between 4 and 6pm when the ships leave!
Besides the 4.5 acre family beach with its designated areas for swimming and surfing (lifeguards on duty year round), one of this park’s best-loved features is the 1,200 foot Malcolm E. McLouth Fishing Pier – open from 5:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., paved, lighted, equipped with fish-cleaning tables with running water and fully accessible to the physically challenged.
Specially designed beach wheelchairs give access both to the beach and pier. A recently renovated and expanded building on the boardwalk houses an air-conditioned refreshment center (Fishlips is the concessionaire) and a bait and tackle shop.
Jetty Park also contains a 210-site campground with options from rustic tent areas to full RV hook-ups. There are 8 cabins available to rent.
For cars from Brevard County, day parking is $5.00. Fees for day parking for cars from outside Brevard County are $15.00. Camping fees range from $20 to $49, depending on the utilities included and the season. If you arrive by taxi/Uber/Lyft there are no fees.
When ships dock at Terminal 3, the Park occasionally opens a pedestrian gate at Freddie Patrick Park allowing easy access to Jetty Park.