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Florida Resident Cruise Hacks: 2023 Insider’s Guide

Living in the Sunshine State has its undeniable perks, and one of the most best is the proximity to some of the world’s most popular cruise ports. If you’re a Florida resident, you’re in a prime position to embark on unforgettable cruise adventures without straying far from home. Welcome to our guide on “Florida Resident Cruise Hacks: Making the Most of Your Local Advantage.” We’ll give you tips and tricks to make the most of your next voyage. Your next adventure begins here- let’s cruise the Florida way!

Table of Contents

  1. The Florida Resident Advantage
  2. Pick the Right Port
  3. Timing Your Cruise
  4. Pack a Carry-On
  5. Don’t Park at the Port
  6. BYO Beverages
  7. Extend Your Vacation

1. The Florida Resident Advantage

Happy family of four with map on the beach

 One of the best advantages of being a Florida resident is the access to exclusive deals and discounts. Some cruise lines such as Disney and Royal Caribbean often have a special Florida Resident Cruise Discount. Even if your party includes some non-Floridians, typically only one guest needs to provide a valid proof of a residency for everyone in your room to take advantage of the savings. Before booking, review your cruise line’s residency requirements to make sure you qualify for these special offers.

2. Pick the Right PortHappy beach couple vacation getaway. Young people in bikini and swimwear running holding hands together having fun on tropical beach paradise. Perfect blue ocean water and white sand.


Florida is home to five ports, four on the Atlantic and one on the Gulf Coast. While all of Florida’s ports have a wide selection of cruise lines and itineraries, one port stands out above the rest: Port Canaveral.

Port Canaveral is the #1 port in the world, beating Port Miami for the first time in modern cruising history. It is convenient, charming, and offers a variety of cruise options. This makes it an excellent choice for your next vacation. Situated on the stunning Atlantic coast puts this port just a short drive from major Florida cities, making it accessible for residents across the state.

This Central Florida port is home to some of the world’s largest and most innovative cruise ships including the Carnival Magic, Norwegian Epic, and Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas. Royal Caribbean’s new Utopia of the Seas, dubbed “The World’s Biggest Weekend,” will also be making its home port in Port Canaveral in the summer of 2024.

It’s no surprise that Disney Cruise Line’s fleet also homeports on the Space Coast considering it’s close proximity to Orlando attractions. With theme parks, the Kennedy Space Center and beaches nearby, Port Canaveral is sure to have enjoyable activities for cruisers of all ages.

3. Timing Your Cruise

Sexy bikini body woman playful on paradise tropical beach having fun playing splashing water in freedom with open arms. Beautiful fit body girl on luxury travel vacation.

Timing is everything when it comes to planning a cruise and it’s not just about choosing the right season. Understanding when to book and when to set sail can really help you find some great cruise discounts.

Off-Peak Seasons: Florida ports are active year-round, even during off-seasons. Scheduling your tropical getaway between popular vacation times can save you the big bucks on cruise travel. Even if you don’t see a significant price drop on every off-season sailing, you can still count on most major cruise lines to promote their own value-added perks. These often include complimentary wi-fi, drink packages, shore excursions, spa packages or even extra onboard credit.

Last-Minute Deals: Flexibility can pay off when hunting for Florida resident cruise deals. Keep an eye out for last-minute offers that cruise lines sometimes release to fill remaining cruise cabins. If you’re looking to save money, setting sail on a whim can lead to remarkable savings.

4. Pack a Carry-On

Packed suitcase, beach chair and accessories at sea shore. Vacation concept

In case you plan to leave your luggage at the pier for the staff to bring them to your room, it’s essential to pack a bag for the day. Your checked luggage may not arrive at your room until hours after the ship has left the port so keep any cruise essentials you need for the afternoon easily at hand. Stuff your sunscreen, swimsuit and a towel in your carry-on to make the most of embarkation day instead of waiting on your suitcase.

5. Don’t Park at the Port

car pic

Parking at the cruise terminal can cost you a pretty penny- upwards of $136 for a 7-day cruise. That seems a little steep for a place to just park your car. Instead of parking directly at the port, it’s a good idea to consider using an off-site parking lot to cut your costs. However, be sure to watch out for hidden fees including booking fees, taxes and even holiday or weekend price surges when searching for your off-site lot.

If you’re cruising out of Port Canaveral on the Carnival Mardi Gras, you’ll be able to take advantage of the best parking deal in the area! Go Port offers a parking package where you don’t need to worry about pay-per-day rates or hidden fees. 

6. BYO Beverages

chilled colorful beverages in ice box. summer party ** Note: Shallow depth of field

Cruise companies are typically strict about carrying hard spirits onboard, but they usually allow you to bring a couple of bottles of wine or champagne in your hand luggage. However, be aware that if you choose to consume your bottle in the dining area, you might be charged a corkage fee. Some cruise lines also allow you to bring a limited quantity of sparkling water, sodas, juice or milk onboard.

Be sure to check your cruise line’s beverage policy for more information:

7. Extend Your Vacation

Family on beach vacation

Expert cruisers generally arrive a day or two before embarkation to avoid any travel mishaps and explore the surrounding port city. Especially in Port Canaveral, there’s no shortage of things to do. Cruisers can visit the theme parks in Orlando, explore the Kennedy Space Center or soak up the sun on Cocoa Beach – just to name a few. If you’re cruising out of Port Canaveral, Go Port offers packages including everything you need to extend your vacation and get to your cruise on time. Their Snooze Park Cruise Package which includes a hotel stay, cruise transfers and cruise parking exclusively for Carnival Mardi Gras is the most recommended option for Florida residents driving in.


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