PORT CANAVERAL — In the first 40 minutes of its visit here Tuesday, about 2,000 guests poured over the gangplanks of the Norwegian Breakaway, headed to tours of the area's attractions.
Buses wait outside the ship to take would-be explorers to places such as Kennedy Space Center, Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando.
The ship, which debuted in May and is based in New York City, was making its first call at Port Canaveral. Its new winter itinerary has ship sailing from New York to the Bahamas. It will make a stop in Brevard County each week, with as many as 4,028 tourists on board.
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That's not counting the ship's 1,500 crew, who port officials say spend an average of $300 each when they disembark the ship for shopping or leisure time. There also is the economic impact of the supplies the ship will order from local vendors, whose trucks line up at Port Canaveral's dock as food and other wares are loaded onto the massive ocean liner.
"Every time one of these ships pull in, it's a windfall for the local economy," said Michael Meekins, senior director of cruise port operations at Port Canaveral. "We're very grateful every time they're here."
The Breakaway has the traditional at-sea amenities: tax-free shopping, buffets and a casino. But like many new-model ships, there's a lot more: A total of 29 dining options, Broadway-style shows and a pool desk that includes what the company is calling the "largest aqua park at sea."
A ropes course offers a walk-the-plank challenge that extends over 10 feet beyond the side of the ship. Passengers secured by a harness look down 180 feet to the surface of the ocean below.
"Every day and night of the cruise there is something going on, three or four different options that people have. That really puts us miles ahead," said Evans Hoyt, captain of the 146,000-ton ship.
Some of its guests find no need to leave — not exactly an ideal situation for a port community like Brevard County.
Dolores Dunn was on her first cruise this week and praised the food and the entertainment options. The 68-year-old Brooklyn woman seemed pretty comfortable in her poolside lounge chair as the ship docked at Port Canaveral.
"I love Broadway shows, so we saw two shows already," Dunn said. "It's very entertaining. You don't even have to get off the boat."
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