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Port Canaveral, Florida Recommendations

Radisson Resort at the Port Pool Area

Port Canaveral is one of our favorite places to cruise from for several reasons.  The port area and the cruise terminal are easy to navigate.  That’s good news especially for the folks who are driving to the port and parking their car there during the cruise.

Radisson Resort at the Port is our favorite place to stay when cruising from Port Canaveral.  (We prefer a beachfront hotel when we are actually visiting Cocoa Beach.)  We love the pool area, a fabulous Tiki bar, and easy transportation to the ship.  We can’t wait to hang out with cruising friends at the Tiki Bar in the pool area the night before the cruise

Here are some interesting restaurants we’ve enjoyed in the Port Canaveral area:

Rusty’s Seafood & Oyster Bar:  Roger especially enjoyed this place, because he loves oysters on the half shell.   We enjoyed a fabulous group meal on the open-air deck of this restaurant, with fun live entertainment that had us all swaying our hips, even in our chairs!

Roberto’s Little Havana:  This restaurant is just a little more than a diner, but I love trying new kinds of food, and this was my first taste of Cuban entrees, which I love.  Good food, good service, so this might be a place you want to try!

Durango’s Steakhouse:  Some friends picked this place to meet up with us, against our objection that you don’t eat steak on a coast.  To our surprise, this was among the best steaks we’ve ever eaten, and we ate their twice during our week-long visit.  Highly recommend this place for steaks!

Florida’s Seafood Bar & Grill:  This restaurant is the furthest away from our hotel, but I wanted to throw it into the list, because we enjoyed a fabulous seafood meal here.

Rusty's Seafood Menuhere one evening.

While you’re out on the road headed to or from your restaurant, I highly recommend a stop in Ron Jon’s Surf Shop.  We aren’t big shoppers, but we really enjoy visiting these stores, and we never leave empty-handed.  The most comfortable beach sandals I’ve ever worn came from here!

We visited Cocoa Beach the first time after taking our kids on a whirlwind visit to the four Disney Parks, Universal Studio and Sea World in Orlando.  We had scheduled three days in Cocoa Beach for beach time before flying home.  As we pulled into our hotel, two long limos pulled out of the parking lot, and we commented that someone “important” must be staying there.

Later that night, our son, who was only 17 at the time, slipped out of our room for a little time to himself downstairs, and returned saying that we could get a free drink in the bar if we said we’d seen Tommy Lee Jones or Clint Eastwood at the hotel.  Apparently that’s who the limos were for!

The next morning, Roger and Rachel headed down to the beach early, while Eric and I were relaxing a little longer in the room.  As they rounded the corner from the elevator, they ran into Clint Eastwood who was just coming in from an early swim.  (Yes, their bodies collided.)  Roger was shocked, Rachel didn’t know who he was, so they just moved on, but Roger said Clint was in great shape for an older guy.  We later found out they were filming Space Cowboys at that time, a movie that still makes us smile.

If you have time, you may want to add on some extra days before and/or after our cruise in the Port Canaveral, Cocoa Beach, Orlando area, because there’s so much to see and do there.

A TransAtlantic Cruise For You?

Lee in Gijon, Spain

Many of you have shared your interest in a TransAtlantic cruise with me, but some of you have held back from booking one so far for various reasons. When Lee booked their second TransAtlantic cruise recently, I asked if he could share why they love these cruises with my guests.  Here’s my friend and guest blogger, Lee  Whitman, with his thought about TransAtlantic cruising:

Mike and I took our first cruise in 2005 and caught the bug…hard!  We’ve been on two dozen cruises now, and our friends seem to think that we’ve lost our minds. We even started our own cruise blog, Cruise Notebook, and it’s amazing to us that over 100,000 people have viewed our pictures.   We just love the fact that we pack once, visit many exotic places, have a variety of experiences onboard, and meet all kinds of people.

We have found that as our cruising experience has grown, the types of cruises we look for have changed.  At first, it seemed that we wanted to cruise as often as possible.  That meant shorter cruises and, invariably, Caribbean destinations.  After a while, we wanted longer cruises and new ports.  While it’s definitely a first world problem, we were getting tired of the same ports over and over, so we branched out and took a Mediterranean cruise.

Our sailing on Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas from Barcelona to Venice and back was not only utterly fantastic but also utterly exhausting.  We came home needing a vacation from our vacation.  This made us wonder, is there a way to sail to Europe and not arrive home exhausted?  The solution, it seemed, was a TransAtlantic cruise.

A TA (Transatlantic) cruise seemed to be a sailing many experienced cruisers really loved, but we had always shied away from because we were afraid we’d get bored.  That’s a running joke in our house now because we were anything but bored!  Even though we’re very active people who want to try everything, we found lots of things to fill our days shipboard without arriving home pooped.  Many of our friends were horrified at the idea of being at sea that long “with nothing to do” but thatwas not our experience.  We participated in wine tastings, receptions, speaker series, afternoon teas, backstage tours, and all manner of diversions.  Also, we found that we enjoyed the evenings a lot more without thinking we had to get up early the next day.  A TA allowed us to see a few European ports (France and Spain, in our case) while having a long period of relaxation afterward.  Also, because we chose a westbound TA, we had six 25 hour days and arrived home with no jetlag.

Here are my tips for having a great TA cruise:

  • Book early or book late.  Booking early will mean you get the room of your choice.  Those great cabins with extra space on their balconies go fast.

    Mike & Lee in Paris

    Repositioning cruises are really popular now, and they have their loyal fans who will grab the best cabins very early in the sales cycle.  On the other hand, if you have flexibility in your planning, we’ve seen TAs on large ships go for $599 per person, but those prices only arrive very close to the sail date (about six weeks beforehand) for a brief sale.

  • Choose the ship, then the itinerary. A Caribbean or European itinerary might be chosen because of the ports, but it’s important to choose the ship well on a TA. After all, it will be your home for two weeks; you will want to choose a ship that offers all the comforts you think you will want.  We love Celebrity’s Solstice Class for this, especially the Aqua Class staterooms.  Even after 13 days, there were many areas of the ship we had hoped to spend time in that we hadn’t visited yet.  It had a Gelato bar, a Panini cafe, a coffee shop, a thermal relaxation room, and four specialty restaurants (including a private one where those booked in Aqua Class could dine every night, included in their cruise fare).
  • Spend a few days in your embarkation city.  You’ll get over the jetlag and have a more in-depth experience of one of the ports.

We met Lee and Mike at a dinner before we all boarded the pre-inaugural cruise of Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas.   We became fast friends, sharing our love of good food, fine wine, and fun travels, especially cruising, so I encourage you to visit their cruise blog, Cruise Notebook.  Thanks, Lee, and if any of you are ready to book your next vacation, give me a call!

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