Central Florida’s Port Canaveral, already the world’s busiest cruise port in terms of passenger traffic, marked a milestone in 2023 by welcoming a record 6.8 million cruise guests, an astounding increase of more than 2 million arrivals versus the year before. Arrivals and record-breaking revenues were detailed at a “State of Port” event held at the facility on November 8, 2023.
Busiest Cruise Port Earns Record Revenues
A review of Port Canaveral’s cruise operations in fiscal year 2023 shows a major spike in cruise arrivals, to 6.8 million, up from just over 4 million in 2022. In 2023, 13 cruise ships home-ported at Port Canaveral, and the port welcomed 906 ship calls.
Port officials also revealed key statistics and revenue data during a port review, which was open to the public and held in Terminal 1, including two more record-breaking numbers — $191 million in operating revenue, up from $127 million in 2022, and $158 million in revenue from cruise operations.
The numbers show the port’s popularity continues to grow, with virtually all of the major cruise lines home-porting ships either on a year-round or seasonal basis.
Port Canaveral is known for its proximity to the museums and facilities of NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), located nearby the port, as well as the theme parks in Orlando, roughly an hour away.
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Port Canaveral has a huge economic impact, both locally and statewide, contributing more than $6 billion to the state economy. The port is responsible for providing some 42,000 jobs and more than $2 billion in annual wages. Its state and local tax contribution reaches nearly $190 million annually.
“This Port is an economic powerhouse in the state of Florida. Central Florida benefits immensely from our operations, with numerous jobs created, businesses thriving, and increased tourism. We play a crucial role in supporting Florida’s tourism industry,” said John Murray, CEO of Port Canaveral.
The presence of major cruise lines and several mega-ships helps to boost the numbers at Port Canaveral.
Royal Caribbean has three ships based at Port Canaveral, the 5,448-guest Wonder of the Seas, the 5,400-guest Allure of the Seas, and the 3,100-guest Mariner of the Seas. Starting in November 2023, a fourth ship will be based at the port, the 3,100-guest Adventure of the Seas.
Carnival Cruise Line homeports the 5,200-guest Mardi Gras, the 2,974-guest Carnival Freedom, and the 2,974-guest Carnival Liberty at Port Canaveral. The 4,000-guest Carnival Vista will join the group in November 2023.
Disney Cruise Line homeports Disney Wish and Disney Fantasy, both with capacity for 2,500 guests, at Port Canaveral, and Norwegian Cruise Line will base two ships there for seasonal sailings in winter 2023-24, the Norwegian Escape and Norwegian Epic, both accommodating 4,200 guests.
MSC Cruises also will base a ship year-round at Port Canaveral beginning in November 2023, the 4,500-guest MSC Seashore.
Port Canaveral’s cruise arrivals in 2022 made the facility the world’s busiest based on cruise arrivals, ousting PortMiami from the title.
Port Expects More Record-Breaking Data in 2024
Port Canaveral in 2024 expects to break records again, with 7.3 million cruise passengers from 13 ships that will homeport, plus 913 ship calls.
The port’s capital projects budget includes $78 million in infrastructure upgrades to deal with rising passenger numbers.
In June 2023, Port Canaveral disclosed future plans to build a new cruise terminal, estimated to cost around $175 million. The port has not revealed details, and has not yet indicated which cruise line or cruise lines may be involved in the development.
The port’s cargo operations also were robust in fiscal year 2023. The port overview shows that the facility handled nearly 7 million tons of goods, including lumber, petroleum products, and general product.