Port Canaveral, one of Florida's biggest economic engines, running short on space as key players keep growing

Port Canaveral is running out of space. Cruise, cargo, and space operations are growing rapidly, and the port can only fit so much into 1,100 acres. 

In 70 years, Port Canaveral’s gone from a small slice of the Space Coast to an economic engine. 

Port Canaveral shattered several records in 2023, in newly released data at the annual State of the Port ceremony on Wednesday. The CEO says, they hosted 6.8 million cruisers, and profits topped $191 million.

"We are running out of space," said Port CEO, John Murray. 

They're getting so big that something might need to go. Leaders are struggling to fit in cruise ships, cargo ships, and space operations which all play a crucial part in the port’s overall economic impact. 

"We have to manage our growth with defined resources and by defined resources," Murray added. "That’s the biggest challenge for us. We are a very small port, and trying to get bigger is not easy for us." 

Port Canaveral helps with rocket recovery and bringing boosters back to shore, but the private space industry is getting busier.

"There could be as many as 10 more launch service providers with maritime assets," the CEO said. 

New businesses might need to find another option. Moving forward, the port CEO says they have to maximize every inch of the port for thousands of new parking spaces, a new cruise terminal, and more room for cargo ships. 

"Last year, we were pressed for parking here," Murray said. "We had all the employees parked on a dirt lot." 

Everyone wants a piece of the world’s busiest cruise port and figuring out how to share the space won’t be easy.  

"I don’t think it’s fair to prioritize one versus other," Murray said. "We’re here to generate economic value for the community and the state of Florida, and you do that by having all of these businesses operating."

At the end of the year, a new study will come out from FDOT looking at new options the space industry can use besides Port Canaveral.