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Port Canaveral might break one-day cruise passenger records on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve

Last updated on December 20, 2022

On December 31st, the number of cruises at Port Canaveral will increase to six, and 57,000 passengers will be getting on or off the ships – a number greater than the population of Titusville, Brevard County’s third most populous city.

This influx of passengers has raised concerns about traffic congestion and parking near the port. On December 24th, five cruise ships are expected to arrive, allowing for a total of 52,000 passenger movements.

Both days, two of the world’s largest ships – Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas and Carnival’s Mardi Gras – will be present.

At the December meeting of Port Canaveral’s commissioners, John Murray, the Chief Executive Officer, announced that the Wonder of the Seas would be sailing with more than 6,800 passengers on Dec. 24. This constitutes the highest number of passengers for a cruise to have departed from the port.

Murray expressed his concerns of congestion at the port due to the amount of passengers, as the port has seen a record of 40,000 passengers in 2019 and was expecting 42,000 passengers on Dec. 17, 41,000 passengers on Dec. 19, and 50,000 passengers on Dec. 23.

Murray stated that the port handled an impressive 145,000 cruise passenger movements during Thanksgiving week, the most it had ever seen in a single week. It is expected that this record was broken the following week, with 150,000 passenger movements, and that it will be surpassed again this week with 157,000.

To accommodate the influx in traffic, extra off-duty Brevard County sheriff’s deputies have been deployed for traffic management and the port’s Maritime Center office building will be used for overflow cruise passenger parking.

What is more, it appears that more and more cruise passengers are now choosing to drive to the port instead of flying into Orlando or Melbourne, and taking a shuttle, Uber, Lyft, or taxi. Murray stated that the traffic congestion problem is compounded by cruise lines not always sticking to the staggered boarding times they provide passengers. This lack of discipline, he said, “creates a problem”.

As an example, the Wonder of the Seas arrived at Port Canaveral a day late due to its detour to let off a passenger with a medical emergency, and the MSC Meraviglia arrived hours late due to the search for a passenger who went overboard.


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As a result, the boardings of the following cruises were delayed, requiring passengers to be shuttled between cruise terminals.

Murray said that they are doing their best to manage it, in order to avoid traffic backups along State Road 528, which is already going to be a busy day for travel during the Christmas/New Year’s period.

With ships expected to be operating at or near capacity during the Christmas/New Year’s period, it is vital for the state of Florida to proceed in adding lanes to State Road 528, as well as replacing the State Road 401 drawbridge with a bridge that doesn’t require it to open to allow boats to pass underneath, thus temporarily halting vehicle traffic on the bridge.

This will not only benefit the port, but the entire Brevard County area, as it will bring a lot more people to the region and a lot of economic value to the community.


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Robert Stuart, senior government affairs adviser for GrayRobinson, emphasized this point, stating that “it is a regional project at its very core, and critical to the future of the state of Florida.”

This is the Port Canaveral ship lineup for Christmas Eve, along with their double-occupancy capacity and their full capacity:
– Carnival Mardi Gras (5,282, 6,465).
– Disney Fantasy (2,500, 4,000).
– Norwegian Escape (4,266, Norwegian does not list a full capacity for this ship).
– Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas (3,344, 4,000).
– Royal Caribbean Wonder of the Seas (5,734, 7,084).

This is the Port Canaveral ship lineup for New Year’s Eve, along with their double-occupancy capacity and their full capacity:
– Carnival Magic (3,690, 4,724).
– Carnival Mardi Gras (5,282, 6,465).
– Disney Fantasy (2,500, 4,000).
– Norwegian Escape (4,266, Norwegian does not list a full capacity for this ship).
– Royal Caribbean Jewel of the Seas (2,191, 2,702).
– Royal Caribbean Wonder of the Seas (5,734, 7,084).

Michael Lynch
Author: Michael Lynch

Raised on the Space Coast, I want to keep North Brevard informed of what's happening. Send Tips / Story Ideas to TitusvilleMedia@gmail.com

One Comment

  1. Michael Spivey Michael Spivey December 24, 2022

    Great! Should help discipline there.

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