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Carnival Mardi Gras: Tips for Cruising from Port Canaveral

Carnival Mardi Gras sailing in the open sea

Sailing on the Carnival Mardi Gras? Every day is a celebration aboard! Considered one of Carnival Cruise Line’s largest ships to date and a proud member of their XL Class, the Mardi Gras sports an entirely new layout and is consciously powered by liquefied natural gas. You’ll find touches of New Orleans throughout the ship, especially in eateries like Emeril’s Bistro 1396 as well as The Brass Magnolia and Fortune Teller bars. She is also home to the first-ever roller coaster at sea – Bolt. If you have plans of cruising from Port Canaveral on the Mardi Gras, we have all the travel tips you need to make your vacation seamless before setting sail.

Table of Contents

Tip #1: Save Money on Cruise Parking

Tip #2: Fly Into the Orlando Airport (MCO)

Tip #3: Arrive a Day Before Your Carnival Mardi Gras Cruise

Tip #4: Book Pre-Arranged Cruise Transfers

Tip #5: Stay in a Hotel Near the Airport

Tip #6: Choose an Afternoon Return Flight

Tip #7: Disembark From Carnival Mardi Gras Early

Drone shot of the Go Port Plaza with free Carnival Mardi Gras parking for cruising from Port Canaveral

Tip #1: Save Money on Cruise Parking

Parking directly at Port Canaveral can be ridiculously expensive, especially for week-long cruises, so it’s no secret that parking off site is a popular money-saving alternative. But with extra fees and hidden costs while booking, the savings are usually never as great as they initially seem. Luckily, Go Port’s FREE Cruise Parking package for Carnival Mardi Gras cruisers is different. When you book with Go Port, parking for your cruise is included with just the purchase of transfers to and from your ship – making it the absolute lowest price in the Port Canaveral area with the best service to match. Plus, the money you save can instead be used at sea!

Panoramic view of terminal A , Parking building A and partial view of Air Traffic Control Tower at Orlando Airport (MCO)

Tip #2: Fly Into the Orlando Airport (MCO)

When booking a flight for your Carnival Mardi Gras cruise, it’s highly recommended to fly into the Orlando Airport (MCO) for numerous reasons. Even though this airport is located about 45 miles from the cruise terminals, it has the shortest travel time compared to other local airports due to its direct highway access. The Orlando Airport also offers cruisers the most variety in flights, as well as better hotel selections nearby, and more economical transportation options.

Bonus Tip: When flying in the same day as your cruise, be sure to pick a flight that lands before 11:30 AM to ensure you have enough time to get to the port.

Zoomed out view of Home2 Suites Orlando Airport Hotel gray building

Tip #3: Arrive a Day Before Your Carnival Mardi Gras Cruise

Flying in:

With unexpected travel delays being so common, a simple flight issue or heavy traffic can put you at risk of missing your cruise when flying in on embarkation day. Flying in the day before setting sail can give you added peace of mind and a more stress-free vacation experience. That’s why Go Port’s Fly Snooze Cruise packages are so popular among Port Canaveral cruisers. You can choose from various brand-name hotel options, such as Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt, La Quinta, and Best Western –  with airport transportation and cruise transfers included in the package.

If you opt to fly into the Sanford Airport to utilize Allegiant Airlines’ flight savings or prefer the close proximity of the Melbourne Airport featuring Delta and American Airlines, you’ll be pleased to know that Go Port also offers select Fly Snooze Cruise packages for cruisers flying into these airports as well.

Driving in:

Arriving the day before your Carnival Mardi Gras cruise when driving in gives you additional time to relax and explore the exciting attractions Florida has to offer. No matter where you are driving from, Go Port has a variety of Snooze Park Cruise packages en route to the port that include hotel accommodations as well as cruise parking and ship transfers from Go Port’s Parking Plaza. You can choose to stay in the Orlando area, Melbourne area, or even near the port! 

White coach bus parked, pre-arranged cruise transfer with door open waiting for guests

Tip #4: Book Pre-Arranged Cruise Transfers

When flying in for your Port Canaveral cruise, don’t wait until the last minute to figure out transportation for your Carnival Mardi Gras cruise. Counting on ride-share services, taxis, or rental cars can be both pricey and unpredictable. On top of that, luggage space is limited with these options – typically leaving only enough room to accommodate a couple travelers and their belongings. Instead, use the most reliable and convenient way to travel between the Orlando Airport and Port Canaveral by booking pre-arranged shuttle transfers. With a company like Go Port, you can purchase the same transportation as your cruise line for just $29.99 per person, compared to Carnival’s rate of $35.99. Plus, there is plenty of room for your suitcases, bags, strollers, and other mobility devices, with luggage assistance at your service to take care of it all. If you already booked a hotel stay, you can also reserve cruise transfers from select hotels near the Orlando Airport to Port Canaveral here

Interior shot of two queen beds room in a hotel near the Orlando Airport

Tip #5: Stay in a Hotel Near the Airport

Staying at a hotel near the Orlando Airport after flying in is the best option when cruising from Port Canaveral on the Carnival Mardi Gras. When you land, there’s no better feeling than relaxing in your room just minutes after a long flight. Saving the trip to the port for the morning of your cruise also allows you to avoid paying a premium to be near the terminals – meaning you can book a nicer hotel at a lower cost. Additionally, late flight arrivals have the convenience of Orlando restaurants being open late and plenty of shops close by to pick up any last-minute essentials.

blue aircraft on runway preparing for departure from the Orlando Airport (MCO)

Tip #6: Choose an Afternoon Return Flight

The Carnival Mardi Gras starts disembarking around 7:00 AM and the process typically lasts until 10:00 AM. Once you exit the ship and depart your cruise terminal, the ride back to the airport takes about an hour, depending on traffic. The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority recommends arriving three hours before your scheduled departure. This means you’ll want to book your return flight in the afternoon to ensure you have enough time to disembark, get to the airport, and make it to your gate.

Aerial view of the Carnival Mardi Gras disembark at terminal 3, cruising from Port Canaveral

Tip #7: Disembark From Carnival Mardi Gras Early

Disembarking early is key for a smooth departure from Port Canaveral. Carnival offers a Carry Off disembarkation option that allows cruisers to bring their own luggage off the ship in order to avoid long lines while exiting and beat heavy traffic when leaving the port. To debark from the Carnival Mardi Gras early, you will keep all your luggage inside your stateroom instead of placing it outside your cabin on the last evening of your cruise. The next morning, Carry Off guests will be called by muster station within the first hour after clearing customs to get off the ship first. Note that on your last full day aboard, you must cash out any casino ships or slips and complete your Customs Declaration. Guests are also encouraged to watch “debarkation talk” on channel 14 of their stateroom TV, where detailed instructions are provided.

These Carnival Mardi Gras travel tips for cruising from Port Canaveral are brought to you by Go Port — a one-stop shop for Port Canaveral cruisers, making travel arrangements ashore simpler than ever before. By partnering exclusively with brand-name hotels and reliable transportation providers, Go Port takes the guesswork out of booking hotel, transportation, and parking packages to complement your cruise. For any questions or booking inquiries please contact info@goport.com with your travel request. 

Aerial view of the Carnival Mardi Gras in the open sea with message on the right: "Become a member of Go Port's Carnival Mardi Gras Facebook Group to connect with fellow cruisers, ask questions, and share ship news! Join Now"

Don’t forget to join our Carnival Mardi Gras Facebook group to connect with fellow cruisers, ask questions, and share ship news! Become a member here.

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