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Port Canaveral car rental - strategy and times


bonoriffic
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When dropping a rental car off before a cruise, is there a time that is to early, or a time that is way too busy? For example, is there a time shuttles start running to the pier, and showing up much before that would just involve a lot of waiting?

How about getting off the boat, is it chaos trying to get to the rental car company? I was thinking going sooner than later would be better, but how early do the shuttles start? We are going to Avis which is a bit further than the others.

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Just except that it is chaos and will take longer than you want to and longer than it should.

I am an over planner and insist on it being as simple as possible.  I rented with Budget. Your result may vary.

I rented at MCO airport ….next morning dropped wife and child at the ship...dropped car at Budget on the main drag in Cocoa by myself. when shuttle pulled up I jumped in the front seat with no bags at all. met up with family. I didn't want to drag around people and luggage.  UGH!

returning ...did the opposite...went solo to get rental car ...Budget shuttle pulls up to specific location.... hopped in front seat. Drop off...I was first one out and beat everyone to the line at counter. got car got fam. easy breezy.

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We dropped off our car to Budget at 9:00am; there were a few people in line.  Shuttle came bringing cruisers getting off and told us it was to early to go to the port, but he took us and another family with our luggage.  Dropped luggage at porters and had to wait inline for the terminal to open at 9:45.

After returning, I think we were thru customs and waiting on the rental car shuttle by 9:00; once we arrived at Budget there were maybe 4-5 families picking up cars.  The line was not bad either dropping off or picking up, the wait was longer at the airport. 

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We used Avis at Port Canaveral.  We were the only ones there dropping our car off at around 9 am.  The shuttle pulled into the parking lot as we were turning in the keys.  The person at the desk told us we could take that shuttle.  The driver of the shuttle tried to leave without us when we had to go back to the car to get the mileage.  He was extraordinarily rude and argued with us and the desk person.  He said that he was only running the shuttle one way-to bring people from the port to the agency and that he would not start taking people to the port until 10:30.  With the intervention of the desk person, we got on that shuttle and were at the port by 9:30 and on the ship by 10:15.  It worked out fine, but it was not the most pleasant way to begin a vacation.

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On 10/8/2019 at 11:44 AM, bonoriffic said:

When dropping a rental car off before a cruise, is there a time that is to early, or a time that is way too busy? For example, is there a time shuttles start running to the pier, and showing up much before that would just involve a lot of waiting?

How about getting off the boat, is it chaos trying to get to the rental car company? I was thinking going sooner than later would be better, but how early do the shuttles start? We are going to Avis which is a bit further than the others.

Great question @bonoriffic - I was wondering the same thing.

On 10/8/2019 at 2:38 PM, DandA said:

We dropped off our car to Budget at 9:00am; there were a few people in line.  Shuttle came bringing cruisers getting off and told us it was to early to go to the port, but he took us and another family with our luggage.  Dropped luggage at porters and had to wait inline for the terminal to open at 9:45.

After returning, I think we were thru customs and waiting on the rental car shuttle by 9:00; once we arrived at Budget there were maybe 4-5 families picking up cars.  The line was not bad either dropping off or picking up, the wait was longer at the airport. 

Glad it worked out for you!

On 10/8/2019 at 2:54 PM, Fairlynew said:

We used Avis at Port Canaveral.  We were the only ones there dropping our car off at around 9 am.  The shuttle pulled into the parking lot as we were turning in the keys.  The person at the desk told us we could take that shuttle.  The driver of the shuttle tried to leave without us when we had to go back to the car to get the mileage.  He was extraordinarily rude and argued with us and the desk person.  He said that he was only running the shuttle one way-to bring people from the port to the agency and that he would not start taking people to the port until 10:30.  With the intervention of the desk person, we got on that shuttle and were at the port by 9:30 and on the ship by 10:15.  It worked out fine, but it was not the most pleasant way to begin a vacation.

What an awful experience with the driver.  I'm glad the desk clerk was able to intervene. 

I read elsewhere that the rental car agencies/shuttle drivers may have restrictions on how early you can use their shuttles.

I would prefer to get to the terminal early and just wait if needed. 

 

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The terminal is a bit chaotic in the early morning, this was our first cruise and really wasn't watching the clock closely.  We dropped the luggage to the porters sometime between 8:30-9:00 and many were still getting off the ship.  I made two passes thru only because I missed seeing the porters the first time.  After dropping the rental off, we arrived back at the terminal and there were maybe 50-100 people in line waiting for them to open the terminal doors.  Once they opened things went quickly and we had to wait for boarding to begin around 11:00.

I understand there can be some congestion/confusion early but it doesn't make any sense to run empty shuttles back to the port.  I'm doing Port Canaveral again in February and planning on dropping luggage off first and returning the rental at 9:30 and getting to the port shortly after.

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We rented AVIS at Tampa and dropped off at Avis on the Sunday morning around 11:30. We were on the shuttle within minutes and on the boat by 12pm. Coming back, we got off the boat around 7:25am, shuttle was waiting and we were on the road by 8am. 

Worked well for us. I had planned to drop off the family and luggage before the car being dropped off but my wife said we have plenty of time and it wasn't an issue. Harmony was the only sailing on Sundays so curious how efficient they are when there are 4 ships etc...

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  • 3 months later...
On 10/8/2019 at 12:50 PM, Flacruiser99 said:

I use Hertz and never had a problem.

Our rental car is from Hertz.  I called the Astronaut Blvd location to familiarize myself with things, and was firmly told that the port does not allow any entry until 10:30 AM.  I'm obviously anxious to get on the ship ...lol

Any tips?

Thank you!

 

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5 hours ago, AshleyDillo said:

Ignore ? show up when you like.  They may not open the doors to the inside until 10am or so, but you will be able to line up outside until they do.

? They actually won't allow us on their shuttle until 10:30 am.  I could take an Uber, but I'm trying to keep my hard earned $$$ ?

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4 hours ago, raahc said:

? They actually won't allow us on their shuttle until 10:30 am.  I could take an Uber, but I'm trying to keep my hard earned $$$ ?

I dropped my luggage off around 9 and returned the car, the shuttle driver said we were to early but we jumped on along with another family and he took us to the terminal.  They hadn't opened the doors yet but there was already a line forming so we got inline and they opened the doors about 9:45.  Maybe 15 minutes thru security and checking in then we sat in the terminal until boarding began, we were onboard with drink in hand by 11:15.

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15 hours ago, DandA said:

I dropped my luggage off around 9 and returned the car, the shuttle driver said we were to early but we jumped on along with another family and he took us to the terminal.  They hadn't opened the doors yet but there was already a line forming so we got inline and they opened the doors about 9:45.  Maybe 15 minutes thru security and checking in then we sat in the terminal until boarding began, we were onboard with drink in hand by 11:15.

That's fantastic!  What rental car agency did you use?

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22 hours ago, raahc said:

That's fantastic!  What rental car agency did you use?

I used Budget car rental, picked it up at MCO and dropped it off in Cocoa Beach, did the reverse when we returned. 

If you drop your bags before returning the car, when you enter the garage/terminal area there will be cars picking up passengers, there are people directing traffic tell them you are dropping off luggage and they will put you in the correct lane.  Look for the luggage carts and the porters will help you unload and take your bags.  If you are traveling with family you can drop them off at this time.  There is a public restroom outside of the terminal doors if they need to use them.

When we returned I used a porter to help me with the bags and get thru customs (best $20 tip I ever spent), he took us to where the rental car shuttles pick up and left us and our luggage there.  Had a short wait till the next Budget shuttle arrived.

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10 hours ago, DandA said:

I used Budget car rental, picked it up at MCO and dropped it off in Cocoa Beach, did the reverse when we returned. 

If you drop your bags before returning the car, when you enter the garage/terminal area there will be cars picking up passengers, there are people directing traffic tell them you are dropping off luggage and they will put you in the correct lane.  Look for the luggage carts and the porters will help you unload and take your bags.  If you are traveling with family you can drop them off at this time.  There is a public restroom outside of the terminal doors if they need to use them.

When we returned I used a porter to help me with the bags and get thru customs (best $20 tip I ever spent), he took us to where the rental car shuttles pick up and left us and our luggage there.  Had a short wait till the next Budget shuttle arrived.

Thanks for explaining things.  It's a bit stressful since it will be our first time at this port.  I was wondering where the closest washroom would be, just in case.  I always heard good things about Budget.  We got a good deal and went with Hertz.

When we disembark, I think we may be early.  It's a bit difficult to time our departure to meet our shuttle driver ... just never know with the lineups, etc.  I don't think there is a waiting area?  I heard we are just out on the curb, waiting.  There is no where to sit, or washrooms?  

 

 

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38 minutes ago, raahc said:

Thanks for explaining things.  It's a bit stressful since it will be our first time at this port.  I was wondering where the closest washroom would be, just in case.  I always heard good things about Budget.  We got a good deal and went with Hertz.

When we disembark, I think we may be early.  It's a bit difficult to time our departure to meet our shuttle driver ... just never know with the lineups, etc.  I don't think there is a waiting area?  I heard we are just out on the curb, waiting.  There is no where to sit, or washrooms?  

 

 

I've only sailed out of Port Canaveral once, we weren't in a hurry to get off but I think we left the ship around 8:30 am.  I grabbed a porter in the baggage claim area and he put our luggage on a cart and escorted us thru customs and to the pickup location for the rental shuttles.  There is a parking garage in front of terminal 1, the ground floor level is where the rental shuttles are as well as private vehicles picking up passengers.  If you are facing the terminal there is a restroom building to your right, we didn't notice any places to sit but there may have been some benches.

The last day, they will leave luggage tags in your room, I have been told that if the time doesn't work for you you can request different tags from guest services.  I have been told that you need to get off the ship in what ever order you are given as that is when your luggage is taken to baggage claim.  Most everyone will be off the ship by 9:30, hope that helps you in scheduling your ride.

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15 hours ago, DandA said:

I've only sailed out of Port Canaveral once, we weren't in a hurry to get off but I think we left the ship around 8:30 am.  I grabbed a porter in the baggage claim area and he put our luggage on a cart and escorted us thru customs and to the pickup location for the rental shuttles.  There is a parking garage in front of terminal 1, the ground floor level is where the rental shuttles are as well as private vehicles picking up passengers.  If you are facing the terminal there is a restroom building to your right, we didn't notice any places to sit but there may have been some benches.

The last day, they will leave luggage tags in your room, I have been told that if the time doesn't work for you you can request different tags from guest services.  I have been told that you need to get off the ship in what ever order you are given as that is when your luggage is taken to baggage claim.  Most everyone will be off the ship by 9:30, hope that helps you in scheduling your ride.

Thank you for all the extra info!  I guess I'm a planner, or over-planner ...lol.  

We're trying the self-departure this time, so we'll be keeping our luggage and taking it off ourselves.  

I should have clarified about the shuttle driver, it's not a rental car shuttle, but a shuttle we pre-arranged and paid for to pick us up at the port and take us to MCO.

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9 hours ago, raahc said:

Thank you for all the extra info!  I guess I'm a planner, or over-planner ...lol.  

We're trying the self-departure this time, so we'll be keeping our luggage and taking it off ourselves.  

I should have clarified about the shuttle driver, it's not a rental car shuttle, but a shuttle we pre-arranged and paid for to pick us up at the port and take us to MCO.

Your welcome, I too over plan, always make a plan then have a backup. :)  Enjoy your cruise.

If you are doing self-departure, they will tell you what time to start lining up (never done this); from what I heard they will start letting people off by 7:30.  It shouldn't take you more than 30 minutes to get thru customs and be outside waiting on your ride.  Hopefully someone that has done self-departure at Port Canaveral can chime in with their experience

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10 hours ago, DandA said:

Your welcome, I too over plan, always make a plan then have a backup. :)  Enjoy your cruise.

If you are doing self-departure, they will tell you what time to start lining up (never done this); from what I heard they will start letting people off by 7:30.  It shouldn't take you more than 30 minutes to get thru customs and be outside waiting on your ride.  Hopefully someone that has done self-departure at Port Canaveral can chime in with their experience

Thanks so much.  Our shuttle pick up is 9:45 am, so we may be outside standing around for quite some time, unless we stay on the ship and leave around 8:30 am.  I will check with the ship and ask them as well.

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