The second busiest cruise port in the world after Miami, welcomed more than 4,5 million passengers in 2017. The port is very modern, with excellent facilities and a tourist destination itself. There are 5 cruise terminals – Cruise Terminal 1, 5, 6, 8 and 10. There is planned construction of a new Cruise Terminal 3, along with an elevated parking facility for 1800 vehicles, scheduled to be completed in 2020.
Facilities at the Cruise Terminals include parking, check-in desks, public restrooms, seating space, etc. There is free WiFi at Terminals 1 and 6. There is a plethora of restaurants and bars at The Cove – a lovely area at the port itself (about 12 minutes walking distance from Cruise Terminal 1), along with a car-rental desk, shops, live music and other attractions. Here are also the Exploration Tower, Parker Brothers Concepts, Victory Casino Cruises and Wyland Galleries. Jetty Park is a recreational area with a beach, marina and campsites, minutes away by car and the famous Cocoa Beach is 7 miles away, less than 20 min drive away.
The port is 45 miles (72km) away from Orlando International Airport, 43 minutes by car. There aren’t any public transportation options available, unfortunately. The closest train stations are about 25min driving distance away. The easiest way to get to the Airport, or to Disneyland would be to hire a car, or a pre-arranged transfer.
The local currency is the American dollar (USD). All major credit cards are accepted everywhere. There are plenty of ATMs and exchanging money is easy, however the rates at home in UK seem to be better than in the States, so do some research prior to travelling. You can exchange cash at one of the few money exchange shops at Orlando downtown and some of the malls. Make sure you check the market rate and ask if there would be any commission charges and fees. Although the prices of goods and services may seem low, bear in mind that tax is normally added at the till and it’s 6.5% in Orlando. If you use your cards to draw cash from an ATM, make sure you have notified your bank you would be spending time abroad and you are aware of any transaction fees. More and more banks and financial companies now tend to offer cards with no additional fees when using abroad, so it might pay off for you to check if you can get such card before travelling.
Opening hours and bank holidays. Opening times are quite generous in Orlando. The malls anb shops would be open 9 am to 6 pm. Some of them would close as late as 10pm, and there are a few grocery stores that are open 24/7. The parks and attractions are open 9 am to 9 or 10pm. Some of them are open for ‘extra hours’ and some of them would close at 4pm on Sunday. The banks and post offices would be open 9 am until 5 pm, and some of them are open until midday Saturday as well. Most of the outlets would be open at national holidays as well. The best thing to do would be to check particularly at the websites of the attractions you are looking to visit for their exact opening hours, as they could vary significantly, especially if your time is limited. Check the dates of national and state holidays as well, before you travel, because if open, the attractions may be very busy, or they might be closed.
Tipping culture is the same as everywhere else in USA. As a general rule, you should tip any service staff. Many of them are paid low hourly rates and rely heavily on tips. Between 15 and 20% of the bill at a restaurant is considered normal but beware that some establishments include it in your bill, especially for larger groups. Hotel staff should also be tipped about a dollar per bag for the bellboy and about 2 USD per day for the housekeeper. Taxi drivers and spa saloon staff expects between 10% and 20% of the bill, if the service has been exceptional, feel free to leave more. Bartenders expect about a dollar per drink, more if the place is more upscale, and tour guides anything from 15 to 20%, depending on the length and the size of the group.
The local time in Orlando is GMT-4 hours and the dialling code is +1 407.
Things To Do
There is hardly anyone that doesn’t know about the largest privately operating theme park in the world – Disneyland Florida. Separated into four sections – Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park plus two waterparks, it attracts millions of visitors each year and is amongst the 10 most visited attractions in the world. There are 27 hotels, 300 dining outlets and 40 rides at each park, all maintained by 60,000 people-personnel. There is so much to see and do here, you can easily spend weeks here and there will still be sites to discover. Experience the Tower of Terror, get thrilled at Summit Plummet, take the Journey to Pandora, the World of Avatar or cool off at Blizzard Beach.
The Kennedy Space Centre is the second favourite attraction in Orlando, welcoming more than 1.5 million of visitors each year. Watch and experience a rocket launch, meet an astronaut or train to become one, see the Saturn 5 rocket - one of the three space-flown shuttles on display, go through the Heroes & Legends Hall of Fame.
The Universal Orlando Resort is our next suggestion. A tourist destination itself, it contains three incredible theme parks – Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal’s Volcano Bay water park. Enter the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, encounter mischievous Minions, satisfy your need for speed at Fast & Furious – Supercharged, come face to face with King Kong, flee from raptors in Jurassic Park.
See Orlando like never before at ICON Orlando – a giant observation wheel. At 400 feet height it’s the tallest one on the East Coast of North America. You can see all attractions in Orlando, including Downtown and on a clear day you can see up to the East Coast and Cape Canaveral. The capsules, all LED lit and equipped with Bose audio system take up to 15 people and are a quirky and festive way to celebrate a special occasion.
There is an abundance of activities, sites and entertainment to be experienced by people of all ages. We have tried to summarise them below, but there is more to explore, especially if this isn’t your first visit.
If you are a culture, art and history buff, head over to the Orlando Museum of Art, where on display are more than 2400 pieces of art, including Contemporary Art, American Art from the 18th century to 1945, Art of the Ancient Americas and African Art. Visit Orlando Science Centre where science, education, fun and knowledge are all under one roof. See a show at Dr Phillips Centre for the Performing Arts – anything from ballet to comedy, performed by the best international, national and local artists. At Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art admire the world’s most comprehensive collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany including jewellery, pottery, paintings, art glass, glass lamps and windows, along with American art pottery, late 19th – and 20th century American paintings, graphics and decorative art. Visit Orlando’s sweetest attraction, the World of Chocolate Museum to learn more about chocolate – from the cocoa plant to the bar, see some attractive chocolate sculptures and try some of the finest chocolates from around the world.
If you would like to take some time off from the hustle and bustle of all the theme parks and other attractions, head over to one of the relaxing, lush public parks and gardens in Orlando – Forever Florida Park, Kissimmee Park, Harry P Leu gardens, Silver Springs State Park, Winter Park. Interact with some native Floridian and other exotic animals and birds at Discovery Cove. See alligators – the signature animal of Florida - in their natural habitat at Circle B Bar Reserve. Watch the giant gentle manatees at Blue Spring State Park. At Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge spot one of the 50 species of waterfowls, shorebirds, songbirds and raptors. See some more wildlife and enjoy a relaxing walk at Tibet-Butler Nature reserve.
All Cruises and Flight details are subject to availability and price variation. Final package price is available upon payment of deposit and confirming your ATOL & ABTA protected cruise holiday