Park and Cruise — Is it really worth it?

While taking a cruise out of your home port is always a great idea…. it’s not always that easy.

Recently, I caught a cruise out of Miami, Florida so we will use that as our case study.  Living in Jacksonville, Florida it was about a five hour road trip down to Miami.  We left Jacksonville around 7:00 pm and arrived at the La Quinta hotel Airport East at exactly midnight (**TIP** Miami traffic can be a real pain in the butt, travel at night through Miami if you feel comfortable).
As with everything, park and cruising has its advantages and disadvantages.
Perks of Park and Cruise:
  • Get there a day early
  • Eat breakfast at the hotel
  • Not rushed
  • Avoid port parkings fees
  • Shuttle service to the ship
  • Get to sleep in
Disadvantages of Park and Cruise:
  •  Leaving your car in an unsecured lot
  • Having to take a cab back to your hotel (varies per location)
  • Usually an open lot, while most ports offer parking garages
Cost Comparison:
Parking at the Port of Miami: $20 per day x 3 day = $60.00
Hotel with Free Parking (up to 7 nights) 89.00 + tax = $100.83 + $15 cab and tip back to hotel* = $115.83
As you can see after taking out the parking and cab, the hotel cost me roughly $55. Checking decent hotels in Miami and that close to the port, it wasn’t a bad idea. What it all boils down to is if they extra $55 is worth an night stay prior to your cruise.  I am a very last minute person and I will pay the extra $ to not be rushed.
I hope this was helpful to you in deciding which route to take when going on a cruise that’s not in your own backyard.
* most park and cruise hotel packages make you get your own transportation back to hotel. Prices and participation may vary and all that other legal stuff!

3 Responses

  1. Doug…

    This is a great post. Parking.

    Marty and I recently sailed from our hometown of Jacksonville, Florida. Fortunately, my in-laws were able to drop us off at the cruise port and then pick us up.

    The lot in Jacksonville is open so your car is exposed to the elements, but at Port Canaveral which is about 2 hrs south of us in Jax, they have a covered garage which is good for security and will save your ride from the harmful UV rays of the Florida sun!

    I personally would choose parking at the cruise port instead of at a hotel or motel near the port because you have to battle other cruisers on the shuttle back and forth.

    That’s just me.

    For more tips, reviews and great info be sure to go to

    Scott Lara

  2. Doug,

    I recently went on a cruise out of Canavaral and the parking for Carnival IS NOT covered, but is secured by 24 hour security. The parking for RCL and NCL is covered and secured. Just wanted to make the distinction. Also we were on the Verandha deck and treated like royalty. I had a great time.


  3. Doug,

    The calculations work a lot better for a 5 day or 7 day cruise with costs being $100 or $140 respectively. The 5 day means a cheap hotel night and the 7 day means a free hotel night with $25 OBC!

    Not to mention the added relaxation of being in the port a day early, so I won’t mention it 🙂


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