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About Port Canaveral

The name may be familiar – it’s taken from the island that is home to America’s space-launch operations: Cape Canaveral. Before that multibillion-dollar effort was sited here half a century ago, Merritt Island – Florida’s largest – and the peninsular Cape were home to seabirds, alligators and a handful of fishermen and retirees smart enough to settle in undeveloped Florida. Once the rocket-jockeys and scientists established this as a frontier to space, the two-lane roads sprouted motels, bars and stucco houses. Some of the natural beauty has been preserved in adjacent national parks.
Port Canaveral is the fancy name for the cruise docks on a barrier island on Florida’s Atlantic coast.

Sightseeing:

Port Canaveral’s cruise docks pose a bit of a challenge for passengers who want to do something onshore. The docks offer unbeatable views of the Space Shuttle when it launches or lands about 24km (15 miles) to the north, but there is little within walking distance of the ships. On the other hand, just a taxi ride away are two national parks and two other landmarks; after a tour bus ride of an hour or so, visitors arrive at the main attraction: the Walt Disney World theme parks in Orlando.

Closest to the cruise piers is a unique piece of Florida lore: Cocoa Beach’s Ron Jon Surf Shop, a multi-storey, DayGlo-coloured mix of commerce and history. What surfing is available in Florida tends to be in this area, and Ron Jon’s long ago staked its claim as the surfers’ shack. Slightly farther away is the excellent Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. For a fee, visitors may take bus tours past launch pads of the Mercury and Apollo space missions, walk past rockets and through the Mercury Mission Control Room.

Highlights:

• Kennedy Space Center
• Canaveral National Seashore
• Ron Jon Surf Shop
• Theme parks in Orlando

Tourist information:

Space Coast Office of Tourism
430 Brevard Avenue, Port Canaveral, US
Tel: (+1) 877 572 3224.

Shopping introduction:

Merritt Square Mall, a few minutes by taxi, has more than 110 shops and kiosks.

Restaurants:

Port Canaveral has a vast range of restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets. Fresh seafood, steaks and Caribbean cuisine, including dishes flavoured with tropical fruits such as banana, mango and papaya, are the state’s standard restaurant fare.

When to go:

Summers in Florida begin in early May and last until September, with temperatures often topping 32°C (90°F). Thunderstorms are common. January to March sees significantly cooler – but not cold – air.

Nearest destination:

Cape Canaveral.

Transfer distance:

1.6km (1 mile).

Transfer time:

Under 5 minutes.