Port Canaveral: Cruise Central
Port Canaveral stands as one of the biggest and most popular ports in the United States, if not the world. Despite being near the Kennedy Space Center, theme parks Disney and Universal Studios, and Cocoa Beach, Port Canaveral is pretty famous on its own! The port is a naval port and cargo port, but cruises from Port Canaveral Florida are one of the biggest draws to our otherwise small town. As the most popular cruise port in the world, it’s no wonder that four of the world’s best-known cruise lines sail from here. Called the port of Orlando Florida, a hundred thousand people will cruise from the port every month. However, Port Canaveral wasn’t always like this. Where did our cruise history begin? This month, we’re looking at the cruises out of Port Canaveral and the past cruises that the port is known for.
Nearly 60 Years Ago
Cruises began out of Port Canaveral nearly 60 years ago, only 11 years after the port was dedicated. The first ship to visit Port Canaveral was the American ship SS Yarmouth Castle. It traveled between New York, Miami, and the Bahamas. This small ship was part of Yarmouth Cruise Lines. Prior to 1964, the SS Yarmouth Castle was named Evangeline and served as a troop/hospital ship in the Pacific. Following her work int he Pacific, she was purchased and revitalized as a passenger ship.
Unfortunately, the SS Yarmouth Castle would not be using Port Canaveral as a port of call for long. A year after Port Canaveral saw cruise traffic from the SS Yarmouth Castle, it burned on the way to Miami. This tragedy devastated the cruise industry and inspired new safety guidelines for ships. However, Port Canaveral didn’t see much more cruise traffic until the 80s.
The Era of Cruising
In the 1980s, the new port director decided it was time to focus on cruise traffic. Construction converted a warehouse into CT-1 (Cruise Terminal 1). Cruise business was good, and day-cruises were offered out of the port on the first ship to home-port at Port Canaveral. This ship was the SS Scandinavian Sea. Two more cruise terminals were added later in the 80s, Premier Cruise Line began offering multi-day Bahamas cruises. Until it closed down in 2000, Premier Cruise Line actually had its headquarters in Port Canaveral! After the construction of Terminal 5, Carnival brought the first mega-ship to Port Canaveral with the Carnival Fantasy.
Despite failed attempts to cruise out of Port Canaveral, cruise industry has flourished. The problems with previous cruises were mostly a combination of old, bankrupt cruise lines and failed casino ventures. Since the introduction of major cruise lines like Carnival in early 2000s, millions have come to cruise at Port Canaveral every year.
One of the aspects that people don’t know about our port is that Port Canaveral offers day cruises for those who like to test their luck. While all the previous casino cruise ships have not had luck keeping a place in Port Canaveral, Victory Casino has flourished. Ships leave from the cruise terminals at least twice a day, boasting an authentic Las Vegas-style cruise experience. Both locals and visitors love to enjoy a care-free afternoon or evening about one of the Victory Casino ships!
Carnival Cruise Line
One of the big cruises out of Port Canaveral is Carnival cruise line. In 2020, Carnival will also be celebrating it’s 30th year in Port Canaveral. That makes it the longest-lived of the cruise lines sailing from Port Canaveral! As one of the most popular cruise lines, it’s not surprising that they still have big plans for Port Canaveral in the near future. Currently, they have three ships that home-port in Port Canaveral: Carnival Liberty, Carnival Sunshine, and Carnival Magic. In the next two years, the Carnival Breeze and Carnival Elation will also be based from our port. But that isn’t even the biggest news from this Miami-based cruise line!
Like we said before, Carnival Fantasy was the first mega-ship in Port Canaveral. Carnival’s latest mega-ship is also the talk of the town. The revitalization of Cruise Terminal 3 came with exciting news about Carnival’s largest ship ever. In August, it was announced that the ship will be home-porting in Port Canaveral. You can read more about this new ship in one of our other blog posts. Currently, Carnival ships sail out of both CT-5 and CT-6. In 2012, Cruise Terminal 6 was opened and featured several Carnival cruise ships, including Carnival Dream and Carnival Sensation.
Royal Caribbean International
Royal Caribbean International is another Miami-based cruise line. Despite being called “Caribbean,” RCI was originally founded in Norway. All of their ships end in “of the Seas,” which makes it easy to recognize any of their cruise ships. One other reason why they are so recognizable as a cruise line is their Oasis-class ships. These ships are the absolute biggest cruise ships ever. One of the first, Oasis of the Seas, home-ports in Port Canaveral. The third ever to be built, Harmony of the Seas, once sailed out of our port as well. Now, the Royal Caribbean ships to call us home are the Enchantment of the Seas and the Oasis of the Seas. However, in October, we will see more ships coming to Port Canaveral, like Anthem of the Sea. You can spot all of the Royal Caribbean ships pulling into port in CT-1.
Disney Cruise Line
While it is a smaller company in general and boasts fewer ships in their fleet, Disney Cruise Line is still one of the well-recognized cruise lines in Port Canaveral. Disney is an exceptionally popular family cruise company, and many of their cruises offer unique experiences with beloved cartoon characters. Can’t get enough of this theme park? Book a cruise to have dinner with your favorite Disney princess, experience any number of movies in a theatrical display, or take part in a special Star-Wars-themed vacation. The Disney options cater to a specific crowd – but that doesn’t make them any less popular than the other cruises.
There are four ships in the Disney fleet. Three of them are featured in Port Canaveral’s Cruise Terminal: Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy, and Disney Wonder.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Did you know the Norwegian Cruise Line has been around since the 60s? After the formation of the company, one of the founder broke off to create Carnival Cruise Line. Who knew! While many people view these cruise ships as being “fancier” or for a more mature audience, they are definitely a popular and exciting cruise option. One of the big pieces of news with Norwegian lately is the creation of Cuban cruises. After decades of no access to Cuba, cruisers have finally gotten the option to visit Cuba on Norwegian’s luxury cruise ships. Some of these new cruising options are offered through Port Canaveral.
There are almost too many Norwegian ships to list here. However, Port Canaveral only offers a selection of these ships. The Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Sun, and Norwegian Escape are just a few of the Norwegian cruises that you’ll see coming to Port Canaveral. While the Breakaway and Gem aren’t based in Port Canaveral, they still visit our port frequently. You’ll see all the Norwegian ships in CT-10.
Did you know that we had this many ships coming in and out of Port Canaveral? Park N Cruise hopes that you’ve enjoyed this overview of our cruise history and the latest on all the ships (as of 2018). If you haven’t visited our port to sail, no time is better than now. There are so many things around the corner. From Carnival mega-ships to Cuban cruises, we’re always looking for ways to expand our horizons. Why don’t you come on over and check out the best cruise experiences in America?