Cruise Delays Expected at Port Canaveral for Historic Moon Launch

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Cruise guests at Port Canaveral on Monday, August 29, 2022 should be prepared for traffic delays as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) attempts the Artemis 1 launch from Launch Complex 39B at the Kennedy Space Center north of the port.

With a two-hour morning launch window opening at 8:33 a.m., heavy traffic and congestion could impact both cruise guests debarking vessels as well as those arriving to set sail.

Five Ships in Port on Launch Day

Five cruise ships are scheduled to be docked at Port Canaveral on the historic launch day: Royal Caribbean International’s Mariner of the Seas and Independence of the Seas; Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Freedom and Carnival Liberty; and Disney Cruise Line’s newest vessel, Disney Wish.

Together, these ships have a guest capacity of more than 18,200 passengers. When accounting for both debarking guests at the end of their cruise as well as arriving passengers ready to set sail, there may be 36,000 or more passengers moving to and from Port Canaveral at the time of the launch.

At the same time, local authorities are expecting 100,000-200,000 visitors or more in the area in anticipation of the Artemis 1 launch.

Port Canaveral
Image Courtesy: Port Canaveral

This will dramatically complicate traffic conditions near Port Canaveral, particularly on main artery roads and bridges where launch views can be extraordinary. Some roads may be closed, parking could be limited, and pedestrian traffic can further clog roadways and cause delays.

This can be troublesome for travelers who need to reach Port Canaveral for specific boarding time appointments, or for guests debarking cruises who may need to reach Orlando International Airport on time for flights home.

Port Canaveral strongly recommends extra travel time for the launch day: “Cruise guests, vendors, and employees heading to the Port for any ship sailings that day should plan for extra driving time with higher-than-normal traffic volumes expected on all roadways in and around Port Canaveral.”

Even guests who may have arrived near Port Canaveral a day or two before their cruise should note that local traffic will be heavy and can cause delays between hotels and the cruise port.

Traffic Advisory Map for Port Canaveral
Traffic Advisory Map for Port Canaveral (Image Courtesy: Port Canaveral)

All cruise parking facilities will be open to cruise guests only, but other traffic in the region can cause delays. Brevard County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) deputies will be strategically positioned to monitor traffic, control key intersections, and enforce parking.

Port Canaveral CEO Capt. John Murray stated to Cruise Hive, “We’ve worked with state and local law enforcement agencies and are coordinating with our cruise partners to ensure our focus remains on safety and security for all Port users.”

“Bottom line, this launch day will be very busy with a much higher volume of traffic on the roads in and around Port Canaveral. Best advice to anyone planning to be at Port Canaveral that day, please allow extra time.”

Artemis 1 Launch

This first uncrewed Artemis program launch is highly significant for the U.S. space program and the launch facilities at Cape Canaveral.

“This region’s history is deeply rooted in the space industry, and every launch provides a level of excitement. But, this launch – perhaps more than others in recent times – is one of those events that has generated tremendous public interest,” said Murray.

Artemis 1 (Photo Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)
Artemis 1 (Photo Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

The beginning of a new program intended to return astronauts to the moon, Artemis 1 is the first use of the Space Launch System (SLS), the most powerful rocket ever built. While this first mission does not have any crew members aboard, the Orion capsule will still be sent to lunar orbit and return to earth for splashdown, much as the Apollo capsules did in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Best View Aboard Cruise Ships

Guests debarking any of the five ships in port on launch day could have some of the very best views for this historic occasion.

Port Canaveral Cruise Parking
Photo Credit: Solarisys / Shutterstock

If guests’ travel plans permit – bearing in mind any extra time needed to leave the port area to reach local airports – a leisurely breakfast on Monday morning followed by a stroll on the open decks looking north of Port Canaveral could yield outstanding views of the launch.

The launch window opens at 8:33 a.m. and there is a two-hour time frame for a successful launch. If the launch preparations are pushed to the latter part of that window, however, cruise passengers will need to debark their ships to make way for the next sailings’ passengers.

Because the launch window closes at 10:33 a.m. and cannot be delayed further, Monday’s Artemis 1 launch will have no impact on any of the ships leaving Port Canaveral as they begin their next cruises, and there is no risk of a cruise ship inadvertently scrubbing the launch or interfering with launch operations in any way.

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