Port Canaveral Florida

I'm thinking of a cruise out of Port Canaveral FL next year. What is the transportation like to and from Orlando FL ? We are thinking of a few nights pre-cruise to see the Space Center and maybe Cocoa Beach (I still remember that form "I Dream of Jeannie").

Any tips for transportation, Hotels, things to see and places to eat ?

Tags: U.S.

14 Answers

We actually spent two days in Cocoa Beach. My recall is the shuttle from Orlando to the Port Canaveral area was in the neighborhood of $40pp each way. Then we caught the shuttle from the hotel at $12 one way to the cruiseport. I absolutely loved the entire experience. Then, I am comparing to the Manhattan experience.

Overstated the cost somewhat. We actually paid under $40pp round trip. Check out http://www.123friendlytransportation.com.

We rented a car and spent a few days in Cocoa Beach before the cruise. It's a bit of a drive but we wanted the flexibility of having the car. We brought the same car back to Orlando on our return. Had to call Hertz (I think) directly to avoid being penalized for it being one way rental. It worked out well.

Cocoa Village in Cocoa is a quaint area and it is nice to browse the boutiques. You can take in a play at the Playhouse. Ron Jon's in Cocoa Beach is a great place for logo tees and beach supplies all teens would enjoy. Jetty Park is a nice flat beach to walk and swim close to the port. Exploration Tower right in the port is a neat place to visit for a couple of hours. Learn about the marine animals, surfing, space program and local industries around the port. The Space Center is a must. Plan on a whole day here. Of course, the beach is the big draw here. The Cocoa Beach Pier has just been renovated. I haven't been here since the renovation. Further afield is the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge, an easy drive. See manatees at the Manatee Watch Area. Take a boat ride from Kelly Park or Sunset Grill and see the cruise ships depart or travel through the 1,000 Islands. Take a charter fishing boat out from the port if fishing is your thing. The City of Cocoa a different place from Cocoa Beach has a nice paddle boat with a bar onboard, some sailings offer dinner, too and takes you down the river. Usually you see Dolphins along the way.

Restaurants at the port are fun. Grills is a local hangout with bands playing many nights. Rusty is good as is Fish Lips. Milliken's Reef is a fun place for lunch or dinner. It has its own tiny beach. Bar is busy and fun. Parking is free by the restaurants and the Exploration Tower. Coconuts on the beach in the heart of downtown Cocoa Beach is great especially for lunch. You can dine outside right by the beach. Yen Yen in town is a marvelous restaurant for upscale Chinese food - not your typical Chinese food. I love the Snow White Prawns. Everything is good here. I love this place. Go for Early Bird and get vegetable fried rice, unlimited hot tea and an almond cookie included. The Big Kahuna restaurant near the beach in town is good too as is Florida Fresh Seafood north of the downtown area in a Publix Shopping Center. Ana Capri is a good neighborhood Italian Restaurant between downtown and the Publix Shopping Center. Pizza is good here as is the Stromboli. Prices are good.

Thanks to my fellow Cruiseline.com contributors, I knew I'd get useful suggestions and money saving tips, better then what I got from the cruise line. The cruise line said round trip would be about $ 80.00 each and only on the the first and last days of the cruise and we would be on our own if I added pre or post stay over.

Don't get too exited about the Space Centre. Some years ago, I drove for a couple of hours from Orlando and joined a tour around the centre. The tour lasted about 2 hours and it is suffice to say that I was totally bored with what was being presented.To be driven round in a bus to be shown in the distance where a particular rocket took off from was not my cup of tea. Still, as they say, it takes all sorts.

I think that you do need to have an interest in space and the Space Program to appreciate all the information they throw at you. It is very educational. Where else can you touch a moon rock and meet/lunch with an astronaut? History was made here and you can't see what is shown here anywhere else in the world. On our last visit, we saw an eagle's nest with baby eagles in it and some alligators sunning themselves along the side of the route.

Just walking in the entrance, gives me a sense of pride being an America. Tourists visit from all over the world. I think that the Japanese seem to be the most enthralled by what they see.

The new Atlantis exhibit is great. There is a ride inside called The Shuttle Launch Experience that offers a sense of what it feels like at liftoff. If it were up to my husband, he would spend all his time in the building. Just seeing the huge Atlanis up close with all its bruises and imperfections from its travel through space is impressive. He also loves all the simulators.

The IMAX shows are fun, too. We always try to see the two movies even though we have already seen them each several times. The outdoor Rocket Garden is nice to explore.

Get off the bus at the Apollo/Saturn exhibit and visit the firing room before entering the huge hall. There are plenty of other smaller exhibits around the complex. Before you leave, a visit to the Astronaut Memorial s very moving. My grandson bent down to pick up some wrappers so they wouldn't detract from the serenity of the memorial. One of the boys must have read every signage explaining the exhibits all around the complex. We didn't have time to see the 3-D movie that day but how could we rush him along.

The Astronaut Hall of Fame is preparing to move onsite now. You used to have to travel to visit it although it was included in the admission price. Again, if you are not awed by space exploration and rocket launches, I would suggest you visit a Disney Theme Park or the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge instead or even take a Space Coast River Boat Tour instead.

My two grandsons, though, loved it. They were visiting us from London and it was the one place that they really wanted to see besides Legoland. It was hard to get them out of the huge gift shop. They bought freeze dried Astronaut ice cream and models of the space shuttle.

Gloria, thanks for a good description of the center. I had read that you need a full day to visit it. I am interested in the space program because my dads was an aerospace engineer. He had done some work on the Apollo project's and then into the defense industry.

The reviews of people that took the excursion to the Space center have been good, but they did more then just the 2 hour bus tour.

There is a whole lot more to see and do than the bus tour. But, you learn a lot on the bus and they make it interesting although a lot of information goes right over my head. There is too much to soak in. The stop can be as long or as short as you like. You do really need a full day. Go to the bus tour first as lines get long as the day wears on.

We were part of a group who cruised out of Port Canaveral in August 2015. 5 of us in the group flew into Orlando arriving around the same time & planned to go to Disney World after the end of our cruise. Sharing transportation costs was split among the 5 of us, so we rented a car. (We got a smoking deal through Costco Travel.) Drove the rental car from Orlando to Cocoa Beach the night we arrived, and then drove it from our hotel in Cocoa Beach to the cruise terminal at Port Canaveral the morning of embarkation. Hotel had a discounted parking voucher for parking at the port, so we paid $45 for 4 days instead of the standard $75. After disembarking from our cruise, we had our car and drove back down to Cocoa Beach and hung out there for a couple of hours before heading to Orlando. Going to Disney World the next day, and then driving back to the airport the day after was easy. Renting a car for a week for our group of 5 worked well for us. It was nice to have our own transportation to go where we wanted when we wanted.


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