If you’re one of the lucky folks to be cruising from Port Canaveral this weekend, there’s good news and bad news.
First, this Saturday (September 3), NASA is scheduled to attempt a launch of its Artemis 1 rocket. While any launch is a sight, this one is especially historic as it’s the first launch of the Artemis mission, which aims to send astronauts back to the moon in the coming years. The launch will not be manned, but instead will send a capsule into lunar orbit and return it to Earth.
The launch was planned for earlier this week but was scrubbed. It’s now planned again for liftoff window between 2:17-4:17 p.m. on Saturday.
Given the location of Port Canaveral — literally across the channel from the Kennedy Space Center — passengers aboard the cruise ships will have a spectacular view of the launch if it goes as planned.
The top deck of a cruise ship is one of the best spots possible for viewing, so consider yourself lucky.
The bad news? You’ll still have to get to the area, along with about 400,000 other people.
According to an article on Space.com, officials planned for about 100,000-200,000 people to flock to the area to see the attempted launch earlier this week. Now that the date has moved to Saturday, the middle of Labor Day weekend, and when multiple ships are in port.
Now, projections are for 200,000-400,000 people to descend on the area to watch the launch. In other words, there will be traffic.
“Cruise guests, vendors and employees heading to the Port for any ship sailings that day should plan for extra driving time with higher-than-normal traffic volumes expected on all roadways in and around Port Canaveral,” an update says on the Port Canaveral website.
The good news is that if you are driving in for a cruise, then you don’t have to worry about parking like people there to watch the launch. The port says that parking at the terminals is reserved only for cruise guests, so you’ll have a spot. “All cruise terminal parking garages and surface lots are reserved for cruise passengers’ parking only,” according to Port Canaveral.
However, it may take a little more time than usual to actually get there on cruise day. If you are shuttling in, then it’s a good idea to contact your shuttle provider and see if they plan to leave a little earlier in order to beat the traffic.
If you are driving in, then you may want to add extra time to get to the port. The launch window starts at a time when many passengers have already boarded, so traffic into the port may not be as bad once you arrive. However, getting there still might be more of a challenge.
You can read more about the Port Canaveral traffic plan for the launch and cruise ships here.