When it comes to breath-taking entertainment that doesn’t break the bank, visitors to the Space Coast would be hard-pressed to find a better deal than ‘ship-watching’ at Jetty Park in Port Canaveral.
Jetty Park amenities
Few places offer as many things to do in such a small, compact area as Jetty Park. Those that associate the park with crowds clamoring to get a prime viewing spot for a shuttle launch are now discovering all the amenities that were there all along. Some of the conveniences that make Jetty Park perfect for either an afternoon or a vacation are:
- A clean, sandy beach with lifeguards
- Calm waters that make it easy to skim board, play catch and Frisbee
- Flat water that the smallest child can play in safely
- A 1,200 foot long fishing pier and tackle shop
- 150 dog-friendly camp sites for everything from tents to RV’s
- A picnic area with pavilions, picnic tables and grills
- A small store that sells charcoal, ice, drinks and food to grill
- A large playground for children
- Walkways where manatees, sea turtles, and pelicans can be seen
- A handicap-accessible boardwalk area
- Volleyball set-up
One of the more popular activities at Jetty Park is watching the cruise ships enter and leave Port Canaveral. The entrance is narrow and the ships are so close it is difficult to see the top decks without craning your neck. Fitting the ship in a camera viewfinder is next to impossible. But those problems seem minor when compared with the thrill of being so close that a conversation between viewer and cruise passenger is quite common. Viewers can be heard asking passengers what their destination is and then wishing them a safe trip. This writer happened to be present one evening when a young man on a balcony of the ship spotted an attractive young lady on shore and asked her for her phone number – repeatedly! He didn’t get the number but the crowd did reward his perseverance with a round of applause.
For those readers who would like to experience the majesty of a cruise ship as it drifts by, close enough that it seems possible to be able to reach out and touch it, this writer offers the following schedule. More information is available online with the various cruise lines, but this is meant to be an abbreviated schedule to make ‘ship-watching’ easy to plan for.
- Monday departure – 4:30 p.m.
- Monday arrivals – 6:00 and 7:00 a.m.
- Thursday departures – 4:00 p.m.
- Friday departure – 3:45 and 4:30 p.m.
- Saturday departures – 3:45 and 4:00 p.m.
- Saturday arrivals – 7:00, 7:30 and 8:00 a.m.
- Sunday departures – 3:45, 4:00, and 4:30 p.m.
- Sunday arrivals – 7:00 and 7:30 a.m.
With the exception of the Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas, other cruise lines take a vacation for the first three weeks of July so the above schedule does not apply then. It should also be noted that taking pictures can be difficult to resist, but the time of day and the position of the sun should be taken into consideration when planning a ‘ship-watching’ excursion. Submarine sightings have also been reported in the channel but they are considered as a bonus. Attempting to photograph submarines is generally not successful!
The slide show included features Jetty Park and some cruise ships passing through the channel. The attached video shows the new Disney ship, Fantasy, as it leaves on it’s Maiden Voyage in March, 2012. Hopefully, they will entice readers to take advantage of a real Space Coast gem: Jetty Park at Port Canaveral. One day parking at Jetty Park is $5 for locals but a pass good for a year is only $50. It’s the best entertainment value out there!