Port Canaveral Offers Insight Into Its Cruise Parking

Parking is big business at Port Canaveral, bringing in approximately 18% of the port’s total revenue, for a total of $19.77 million for the most recent fiscal year.

That figure comes courtesy of a recent port commissioners meeting, reported last week in Florida Today. The meeting discussed how to meet cruiser demand for parking spaces, maximize revenues, and increase efficiency in moving cruisers through the port facility.

Port Canaveral Chief Executive Officer John Murray told port commissioners last week that “When I got here [in February 2016],… we had very, very little knowledge and science and understanding of our parking operations. But we’ve got a pretty good handle on it right now, and by keeping up with that going forward, we’ll be able to make smarter decisions. Having the science to back our decisions is really important.”

That knowledge about what makes the port parking tick led to some interesting insights.

Parking for new terminal will be larger to handle demand

One of the things the port officials have learned, Murray said, is the importance of offering ample parking spaces to meet the needs of cruises. Officials recognize the 1,000-space parking garage adjacent to Cruise Terminal 1, built in 2014, should have offered an additional 200 to 300 spaces to handle the parking demand. As a result, the port’s Cruise Terminal 3, now under construction, will have an 1,800-space parking garage.

Payment options to make parking easier

In addition to more parking, the port is also looking at options to improve efficiency. For instance, it is considering accepting payments through Florida’s SunPass electronic toll collection system. Passengers’ port parking fees would be deducted from their SunPass.
And while many independent parking lots in the area offer the opportunity to pay online in advance, the port said for them it was an “administrative nightmare.” Prepaid parking is not likely in the future.

Interesting insights into parking

According to the report from Florida Today, there were a number of other interesting notes from the meeting.

– Craig Thaxton, the port’s senior director of operational excellence and process improvement, told the commissioners at the meeting that Port Canaveral’s $17-a-day rate for cruise parking is competitive with other ports, while adding: “I don’t think a parking rate is going to determine whether or not somebody is going to go on a cruise.” For comparison, Miami currently charges $22 a day to park at its port.

– Port officials also learned that shorter cruises are more lucrative in terms of parking fees. People arriving for three-to-five-day cruises are more likely to use the parking facility, while passengers on longer cruises are more likely to arrive in the city by plane.

– Last year, the port’s net parking revenue averaged $33,272 for every cruise departing from Port Canaveral. As we’ve written here previously, the main advantage to cruisers in using official port parking is convenience because of the proximity to ships. Parking fees tend to be significantly lower at parking lots further from the terminal, with most of these lots including free shuttle service in their rates.

– While many people do drive and park at the port, reports from the presentation stated that only one car parks at the port per every 10 passengers on the ship. So a 4,000 passenger cruise should would expect about 400 cars parking. How do other passengers get to the port? Many use other parking lots, stay at Port Canaveral hotels with cruise parking, or use alternate transportation like Uber and Lyft.

– In fact, Uber and Lyft have become wildly popular to get to the port. The number of trips has risen from about 1,450 trips each month in 2016-17 to 3,500 a month in 2018-19. That’s more than 100 trips per day.

You can read more at FloridaToday.com.

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