6 cruise ships dock at Port Canaveral

Four are based here, two on port-of-call stops

PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. – It was more than a little crowded at Port Canaveral on Sunday.

Local 6 News partner Florida Today reports an unprecedented six cruise ships were at the port -- four that are based here and two that are making port-of-call stops.

"It's just a sign of things to come," Port Canaveral Chief Executive Officer John Walsh said, as Port Canaveral battles to overtake the Port of Miami as the world's No. 1 cruise port.

The port's first six-ship day is a symbolic milestone in that quest.

There will be more six-ship days later this year at Port Canaveral and some seven-ship days as early as 2017, based on projected schedules, Walsh said.

More cruise passengers in town translates into more businesses for hotels, restaurants, retailers and attractions.

"It's just fantastic," says Space Coast Office of Tourism Executive Director Eric Garvey. "Our area just continues to elevate in profile."

Additionally, the sail-outs of the ships Sunday afternoon and evening will be a spectacle for patrons of the restaurants and bars along the port's Cove area, who will get a bonus of watching the ships head out the channel.

"We'll be slammed," predicts Michael Schwarz, general manager of Fishlips Waterfront Bar & Grill at the Cove. "We get a great crowd" to watch the cruise ships sailing out of the port.

Schwarz said crowds show up around 3 p.m., in anticipation of the ship departures starting around 4 p.m., and he expects his 500-seat restaurant/bar to be full.

Huge Quantum of the Seas arrives at Port Canaveral

Walsh said there will be 26,000 cruise "passenger movements" at Port Canaveral on Sunday. That is the total of passengers arriving at the end of their cruises on the four Port Canaveral-based ships, new passengers getting on those ships and passengers visiting the area on a cruise making a port-of-call stop. That's about 5,000 more than the combined population of Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach.

"The growth is sort of refreshing," Walsh said.

One drawback from the day: Traffic may be heavy on State Roads A1A and 528 on Sunday, with all the cruise passengers coming to and leaving the port.

"It will be hectic," Walsh said. "I think A1A and 528 will start to see some push."