Renting a car in Port Canaveral can be a smart move, whether you’re cruising from the area or visiting the port on a layover.
As one of the busiest cruise ports in the United States — and a popular stopover for cruises departing from the East Coast — the area surrounding the port has a lot to offer. From beaches to theme parks to museums and more, there’s an incredible amount of things to do.
The only problem ? Getting around the area. Unlike many ports located in the heart of a city, there is not much within walking distance of where ships dock. Meanwhile, the drive to Orlando takes approximately 45-60 minutes. Even nearby beaches will have to be reached by car for most people visiting the port.
Fortunately, there are a number of car rental options when visiting Port Canaveral, Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach. Here’s what you need to know…
Note: This article contains affiliate links to KAYAK. We earn a commission for clicks on their website at no cost to you.
Why rent a car in Cape Canaveral?
You have a number of options for getting around the port area and even Orlando. Uber, Lyft, taxis, and independent shuttles can all get you there and back for a reasonable price. So why even bother with a rental? There are several reasons to consider…
Cost savings: Depending on your itinerary, renting a car can save you money. For example, say you’re in the area and want to Uber from the port to nearby Kennedy Space Center, then somewhere near the beach for lunch, and then back to the ship. Individual ride costs can quickly add up. If the rental rate is low enough, you’ll likely save money on travel.
Convenience: There’s also something to be said for the convenience of not having to wait on a ride or having to wait on the schedule for a shuttle service. While things like Uber, Lyft, and taxis are quite convenient, you have to wait for a ride, which can vary depending on availability. If your time is valuable, you can’t beat your own car.
Freedom: The freedom that having your own car can provide goes hand in hand with the convenience. For example, cruise shuttles only go point to point like airport to cruise port. Want to take a break? Shame.
But with a rental car, you can go where you want, when you want. So if you want to walk into a restaurant and change your mind along the way, that’s okay. See a store you want to stop? Having a rental means you can do it.
What car rental companies are available in Port Canaveral?
Although the Port Canaveral/Cape Canaveral area is not that big in terms of population, it is huge when it comes to tourism. This means you have plenty of options when it comes to a rental company. Most major car rental companies have a branch nearby.
All of the following companies have offices in the region:
How do I get to/from the car rental agency and the ship?
First, the good news is that there are several rental agencies located at the port, including big names like Enterprise, National, and Alamo. The only problem is that even with a berth in port, it can still be a considerable distance given the size of the port and the number of terminals. A walk from Cruise Terminal 6 to Enterprise/National/Alamo is approximately two miles.
Fortunately, with the rental agencies that welcome cruise passengers, they offer round-trip shuttles between the agency and the cruise ships. So you can arrive on a boat, go to the rental agency, and then pick up your car. Also, you can rent a car and return it to the agency and then drive to your cruise.
For example, a call to Enterprise told us that the shuttle to the rental location from the cruise terminals runs approximately every 25 minutes.
When you leave your ship, simply follow the area signs to catch a shuttle to the rental location.
Can I make a one-way rental to/from Orlando, Miami or another city?
Yes. Suppose you land in Orlando and want to rent a car to go to Port Canaveral. In this case, you can hire a ride, drive where you want to go, and then drive to the rental agency closest to the port to drop you off before you leave for your cruise.
On the other hand, if you end your cruise in Port Canaveral but then want to explore Orlando and all it has to do, you can pick up a charter at the port and drop it off in Orlando when you’re done.
This makes renting much more convenient when you don’t have to drop the car off at the same location.
How much does it cost to rent a car in Port Canaveral?
As you’d expect, rental prices can vary widely, depending on a number of factors. This includes car type, rental duration, rental days and season.
Generally, though, we’ve found rates around $60-80 per day for a car rental in the Orlando and Cape Canaveral area. That’s about the cost of a one-way Uber/Lyft fare from Orlando airport to Port Canaveral, or less than the cost of a shuttle bus ride for two between the airport and the port cruising.
In other words, it’s not bad value at all given the freedom and convenience of having your own rental car.
Where can I search for car rentals?
There is no shortage of places to search for a car rental. A number of websites may offer a full list of your available options or you can book directly with the rental company.
One of our favorites for research is KAYAK.com. As a travel search engine, KAYAK searches all available agencies based on your dates. You can then sort everything by price, vehicle size, etc. We found this to be the easiest way to quickly search through all the options.
You can search using the box below:
If you are a Costco member, you can also search for a car via CostcoTravel.com. Although most people don’t think of the retailer when it comes to travel, they have solid deals, along with a well-known reputation for exceptional customer service. Plus, we found their pricing to meet or beat what’s found elsewhere, with some perks like upgrades offered.
You can also search directly with the rental agency. We’ve included links to each earlier in this article.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is there to see within driving distance of the port?
The Cape Canaveral region is a tourist hotspot. Of course, you have Orlando about 45-60 minutes away, which offers Disney, Universal Studios, and tons of other touristy things to do and see. Orlando Airport is also a departure (or arrival) point for many trips to the region.
Closer to the harbor you will find the Kennedy Space Center and Cocoa Beach, which is a quintessential beach town with a pier, restaurants, souvenir shops and tourist activities. If you are lucky enough to time your trip with a rocket launch, they can be easily seen from the port area.
Can I rent a car just for the day?
Some voyages will arrive and dock at Port Canaveral as a port of call instead of a departure port. In that case, you might wonder if you could rent a car to navigate during the day.
You absolutely can. There is no rule that says you have to rent a car overnight. It’s good to pick up a car in the morning and return it in the afternoon before returning to the ship.
For more on cruising from Port Canaveral, see our guide here.