With mega-ships like Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas and Carnival Cruise Line's Mardi Gras calling Port Canaveral home, it's no wonder that over four million cruise passengers visited here in 2022, making it the world's busiest cruise port.
Unlike Miami or Fort Lauderdale, however, the closest airport isn't just down the road. If you have to fly to Florida for your cruise out of Port Canaveral, it'll likely require a little bit more planning.
There are four airports within 75 miles of Port Canaveral: Melbourne Orlando Airport (MLB), Orlando International Airport (MCO), Orlando Sanford Airport (SFB), and Daytona Beach Airport (DAB).
While Orlando International Airport (MCO) is the largest with the most flight options, it is not the closest.
Here's a guide to the four airports near the Port Canaveral cruise port.
Where is Port Canaveral located?
Port Canaveral is located on the eastern coast of Florida. It's about 45 miles from the Orlando International Airport, making a cruise from Port Canaveral an easy pre- or post-cruise addition to an Orlando theme park vacation.
Similarly, the cruise terminals are located less than five miles from the Cocoa Beach Pier, so your tropical vacation doesn't have to end when you dock. If you can't find any ideal flight times the day your cruise concludes, consider extending your trip by a day and soaking up a little bit more sunshine on the beach.
Before arriving at Port Canaveral, you will want to ensure that you're headed to the right terminal. A terminals (5, 6, 8, and 10) are located off of exit 54A, whereas B terminals (1, 2 and 3) are located off exit 54B.
What are the closest airports to Port Canaveral?
At just a little under 30 miles away, Melbourne Orlando Airport (MLB) is the closest airport to Port Canaveral. The second closest is the Orlando International Airport, which is roughly 45 miles away. Orlando Sanford Airport (SFB) and Daytona Beach Airport (DAB) are the furthest, at about 60 and 70 miles, respectively.
Regardless of whether you're flying out of Melbourne Orlando Airport or Orlando International Airport, you'll want to ensure that you budget at least one hour of travel time from the port to the airport. This does not include extra time to check in and go through security. Orlando Sanford and Daytona Beach can usually be reached in about an hour and fifteen minutes if there isn't a lot of traffic during rush hour.
You should also plan on arriving the day before your cruise is scheduled to leave. Even if you have multiple flight options the morning of your cruise, you don't want to risk falling victim to a lengthy delay or canceled flight. Your ship won't wait for you, and you might arrive after your cruise has set sail!
Most cruise lines also suggest booking your return time no earlier than 12:00pm on the day you get back. When I recently said on Carnival Vista, our ship's disembarkation process was delayed, and the first groups weren't allowed to get off until around 9:00am, meaning that there was no way I could've made the 10:40am flight. I didn't get to the airport until close to 10:30am!
Orlando International Airport (MCO)
Orlando International Airport (MCO) is one of the busiest airports in the country, serving over 24 million passengers per year. To put that into context, Atlanta is ranked as the busiest airport in the country, serving a little over 45 million people per year.
It makes sense when you consider that MCO is the gateway airport for Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and Sea World!
This means that out of all four options, you're likely to encounter the longest wait times at Orlando International Airport. This also means that you'll have the most flight options. If you have a preferred airline or flight time, it's more likely to be accommodated here than at smaller regional airports. Moreover, MCO has a couple of lounge options for those with access including The Club MCO, American Airlines Admirals Club, Delta Sky Club, United Club, and Plaza Premium Lounge.
You can find domestic flights on the following airlines to and from MCO:
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines
- Avelo Airlines
- Delta Airlines
- Frontier Airlines
- Sun Country
Some options for getting from MCO to Port Canaveral include renting a car, booking a shared shuttle, or using a rideshare service like Lyft or Uber.
According to Uber's website, the average route price from MCO to Port Canaveral for UberX is $68 and $90 for UberXL; however, this is subject to change and can be more depending on the time of day and demand.
Shared shuttles can typically be booked for around $20 - $30 per person, per way if booked through a third party like Airport Canaveral or Go Port.
Of course, you can always book transfers directly through your cruise line; however, they tend to be more expensive. Carnival, for instance, advertises their transfers at around $37 per person.
Melbourne Orlando Airport (MLB)
Melbourne Orlando Airport (MLB) is the closest airport to Port Canaveral. Serving less than one million passengers per year, it's considerably smaller than MCO.
There are only five domestic airlines that fly to MLB, including American Airlines, Avelo, Allegiant, Delta Airlines, and Sun Country. The majority of flights come from Charlotte, North Carolina on American Airlines and Atlanta, Georgia on Delta Airlines.
TUI Airways also flies into Melbourne Orlando Airport from the UK.
Even though it's technically closer, the drive time tends to be similar to MCO. Plus, since there are fewer passengers departing from MLB, there aren't as many shared shuttle options. A ride can be secured through Melbourne Airport Express, though.
The best bet for more flexibility is to plan on using a rideshare service from MLB to Port Canaveral and vice versa for around $55 - $70.
Orlando Sanford Airport (SFB)
Located further than MCO, Orlando Sanford Airport (SFB) is a regional airport that might offer you better flight values since it's a little bit larger than Melbourne Orlando Airport. In 2022, they served roughly 2.8 million domestic and international passengers.
The primary airline that flies in and out of SFB is Allegiant, meaning that if you aren't a fan of budget airlines, you will likely want to look elsewhere. For those who do not have a preference, though, you might be able to score a great deal on your flight for your cruise out of Port Canaveral.
Sun Country flies from the Minneapolis–Saint Paul airport, too, albeit more seasonally than Allegiant.
The normal drive time is about an hour, but it can be more depending on traffic. It's important to budget at least 1.5 hours, if not two, for transfer time, so you are not in a hurry and end up missing your flight.
Port Canaveral Quick Shuttle offers a service from SFB to Port Canaveral for $40 per way, or $80 round-trip, per person, whereas Ubers tend to range anywhere from $65 to $90. Of course, these rates are subject to change. If you want the most accurate pricing, you should try and schedule an Uber or Lyft ahead of time through the app.
Daytona Beach Airport (DAB)
Finally, Daytona Beach Airport (DAB) is the further of the four airports on the list. Similarly to Melbourne, the two major airlines that fly in and out of DAB are Delta Airlines and American Airlines, with the primary routes being from Atlanta, Georgia and Charlotte, North Carolina.
Additionally, American Airlines offers seasonal daily nonstop flights from Washington, DC; Philadelphia, PA; and Dallas, TX.
Avelo also flies from New Haven, CT and Wilmington, DE twice weekly.
Daytona Beach Airport is the best option for those who want to enjoy some time on the coast either before or after their cruise. Cocoa Beach, however, is closer to Port Canaveral, and you can enjoy the beach with the convenience of a shared shuttle from the Orlando area.
Since there aren't any shared shuttles from DAB, you'll have to rely on a rideshare service, rental car, or book a private ride. At minimum, an UberX is usually around $100. It's not uncommon, however, for rides to be closer to $150 or $200 for an UberXL.
If I don't want to worry about flying, am I able to drive and park my car on-site?
Yes! Port Canaveral offers on-site parking for those who wish to have their car across the street when they return from their cruise vacation.
As of November 2023, parking costs $17 per day, including the day of arrival and day of departure, for all vehicles and RVs. This means that parking for a 5-night cruise will cost $102 before tax. Cash is not accepted.
There are other third-party lots with cheaper rates, such as Park Port Canaveral and Cruisetime Parking at Port Canaveral.
What cruise lines sail from Port Canaveral?
Most mainstream cruise lines offer sailings from Port Canaveral, including MSC Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Disney Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, and Celebrity Cruises.
Whether you're seeking a quick 3-night escape to The Bahamas onboard Carnival Glory or Utopia of the Seas or want a longer getaway to the Caribbean, there's the perfect itinerary for everyone.
In 2024, the following mainstream ships will sail from Port Canaveral at least once:
- Carnival Cruise Line: Carnival Freedom, Carnival Glory, Carnival Liberty, Carnival Venezia, Carnival Vista, Mardi Gras
- Celebrity Cruises: Celebrity Equinox
- Princess Cruises: Caribbean Princess
- Royal Caribbean: Adventure of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas, Utopia of the Seas, Wonder of the Seas
- Norwegian Cruise Line: Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Jade
- Disney Cruise Line: Disney Magic, Disney Fantasy, Disney Treasure, Disney Wish
- MSC Cruises: MSC Seashore