A cruiseline shuttle is the most convient and safest way. You may also wish to look into renting a car one-way and dropping it off at the port. Only do this if you are adventurous and understand the risk if you are delayed the ship will not wait for you.
A good cruise travel agent can set you up with one of the many that run between MCO and Port Canaveral. The good ones will meet you and take your luggage to the bus. Smaller ones (vans) offer a more personal trip, including stopping at a 7/11 for soft drinks to smuggle aboard. They have done this before. If you have surfing teenagers, go early enough for a stop at Ron Jons in Coco Beach. They will soil themselves.
The Beeline Expressway runs from WDW, by MCO smack into the cruise terminals. You won't be the only one making the trip that day.
Try www.portcanaveral.org. Great site with maps and good info. www.orlandoairports.net/goaa/ops/shuttle.htm lists all the available shuttles with websites and 800 numbers if you want to do it yourself. For peace of mind would recommend knowing how you are going to do it before arriving MCO, but there will be plenty of transportation waiting if you want to wing it.
Thanks for all the info. I find that booking your own air does mean you have to find transport but can also save quite a few dollars. cruise lines usually charge about 300 to cruise and fly and I can get air into orlando from bwi for 108 right now but usually less than 150 so we can both fly for the price of one. I saw mears transport has a shuttle to port canaveral for 15 each way so thats one to think about. I am cruising with my mother and they live in florida so bus transport is provided for the cruise but only if I fly into gainesville the night before and have them pick us up. Think I will pass on that long bus ride and fly directly into orlando....But we arent sailing until Dec so I have plenty of time to research.
Booking your own air can save you some money but on the downside if your cruise is cancelled you are on your own. This happened recently on a cruise out of Miami and those that bought air to Miami themselves were stuck as they bought non-refundable tickets. Just keep this in mind.
The Orlando - Port Canaveral trip is about forty five minutes. Buses are nose to tail so there is plenty available. The three cruise lines now sailing from there have a clockwork schedule, sort of a waterborne shuttle, so the odds of the cruise being changes are tiny. The undependable link is the airlines. If the cruise line does book your surface transportation they will hold the ship until midnight waiting for you to show up. Why sail at 5:00? Overtime. Doesn't take very long to get around the Bahamas and eastern Carib.
Was talking to my TA and asked about this. She sez - - If the cruise line books the air they will provide the transfers. The line is responsible for you from the time you board the flight and will actually hold the ship as long as possible if things get delayed. If the ship's schedule is changed, they will make the air changes with no penalty to you. If you book air transportation yourself, all bets are off. However, if you go to the surface transportation desk at MCO, you will find plenty of shuttles, from busses to vans to cars available going to the cruise terminals. She wouldn't get into trying book with one of companies on the website but did recommend getting a schedule for peace of mind.
If you lived in my neighborhood the terminal would be an easy two hour drive.