Florida Resident Cruise Hacks
Posted on March 6, 2018
Each year millions of cruisers set sail from Florida to locations around the world. If you’re lucky enough to live in the sunshine state, a port is never too far away for you to embark on your dream cruise vacation. Here are a few of our favorite tips and tricks to help you make the most out of being a cruise-lovin’ Floridian.
1. Pick the Right Port
Florida is home to five ports, four on the Atlantic and one on the Gulf Coast. While all of Florida’s ports have a wide selection of cruise lines and itineraries, Port Canaveral has been named the “Best North American Homeport” by the editors and writers of Cruise Critic, a major online cruise publication. This Central Florida port is home to some of the world’s largest and most innovative cruise ships including the Carnival Magic, Norwegian Epic, and Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas. It’s no surprise that Disney Cruise Line’s fleet also homeports on the Space Coast considering it’s close proximity to Orlando attractions. With theme parks, the Kennedy Space Center and beaches nearby, Port Canaveral is sure to have enjoyable activities for cruisers of all ages.
2. Get a Florida Resident Discount
Some cruise lines such as Disney and Royal Caribbean often offer discounted rates for Florida residents. Even if your party includes some non-Floridians, typically only one guest needs to provide a valid proof of a residency for everyone in your room to nab state savings. Before booking, review your cruise line’s residency requirements to make sure you qualify.
3. Embrace the Off-Season
Florida ports are active year-round, even during off-seasons. Scheduling your tropical getaway between popular vacation times can save you the big bucks. Even if you don’t see a significant price drop on every off-season sailing, you can still count on most major cruise lines to promote their own value-added perks. These often include complimentary wi-fi, drink packages, shore excursions, spa packages or even extra onboard credit.
4. Pack a Carry-On
If you’re going to leave your suitcases at the dock and let the crew deliver them to your cabin, you’ll want to make sure to pack a day bag. Your checked luggage may not arrive at your room until hours after the ship has left the port so keep any cruise essentials you need for the afternoon easily at hand. Stuff your sunscreen, swimsuit and a towel in your carry-on to make the most of embarkation day instead of waiting on your suitcase.
5. Don’t Park at the Port
Parking at the cruise terminal can cost you a pretty penny- upwards of $136 for a 7-day cruise. That seems a little steep for a place to just park your car. Instead of parking directly at the port, you may want to consider using an off-site parking lot to cut your costs. However, be sure to watch out for hidden fees including booking fees, taxes and even holiday or weekend price surges when searching for your off-site lot. If you are cruising out of Port Canaveral, Go Port Canaveral offers an option where you don’t need to worry about pay-per-day rates or hidden fees. Their Cruise Parking Package includes cruise parking and transportation to your terminal for a one-time fee per person.
6. BYO Beverages
Cruise lines are generally sticklers about bringing hard liquor onboard, but most will let you pack a bottle or two of wine or champagne in your carry-on. However, if you decide to enjoy your bottle in the dining room, keep in mind that you may be subject to a corkage fee. Some cruise lines also allow you to bring a limited quantity of sparkling water, sodas, juice or milk onboard.
Be sure to check your cruise line’s beverage policy for more information:
7. Extend Your Vacation
Expert cruisers generally arrive a day or two before embarkation to avoid any travel mishaps and explore the surrounding port city. Especially in Port Canaveral, there’s no shortage of things to do; Cruisers can visit the theme parks in Orlando, explore the Kennedy Space Center or soak up the sun on Cocoa Beach – just to name a few. If you’re cruising out of Port Canaveral, Go Port Canaveral offers packages including everything you need to extend your vacation and get to your cruise on time. Their Snooze Park Cruise Package which includes a hotel stay, cruise transfers and cruise parking is the most recommended option for Florida residents driving in.