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Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades) Cruise Port

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Port of Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades): An Overview

The "middle city" of Florida's Gold Coast, Fort Lauderdale sits between Miami to the south and Palm Beach to the north. The city blends in nicely with its metropolitan neighbors, and elements of Miami's chic vibe and the affluent nature of Palm Beach are recognizable here. But Fort Lauderdale is a destination in and of itself. Operating one of the busiest cruise ports in North America -- more more ...
The "middle city" of Florida's Gold Coast, Fort Lauderdale sits between Miami to the south and Palm Beach to the north. The city blends in nicely with its metropolitan neighbors, and elements of Miami's chic vibe and the affluent nature of Palm Beach are recognizable here. But Fort Lauderdale is a destination in and of itself. Operating one of the busiest cruise ports in North America -- more than three million people pass through each year -- has helped to define Fort Lauderdale as a robust tourism spot in the United States.

Fort Lauderdale started out as a swampy outpost with a fort, built to protect against the Seminole Indians. The swamps were transformed in the late 1800's into a series of canals by scooping them out parallel to each other and creating long peninsulas in between them. This undertaking resulted in the city's more than 300 miles of navigable waterways (twice that of Venice) -- hence the nickname "Venice of America." The abundance of waterways that wind up and down the coast have made Fort Lauderdale a boating hot spot, with 42,000 registered yachts holding forth.

The community gained fame and some measure of disrepute when it was featured in the 1960's movie "Where the Boys Are," causing legions of college-aged boys (and, not coincidentally, girls) to descend for raucous spring break holidays. For decades, Fort Lauderdale was synonymous with spring break -- and the giddy wildness that accompanies this rite of passage -- until an effort by city leaders in the 1980's went into effect, in earnest, to tone it all down. Indeed, these days the fastest-growing market for Fort Lauderdale is actually the trendy high spenders that may once have gone south -- or north. Among new area hotels are the Ritz-Carlton, the Trump International Hotel and Tower, and the W Fort Lauderdale.

Since shedding its "rowdy, college spring break" reputation, the city has grown into a more genteel community that's family- and boater-oriented. Beyond the canals, and the Intracoastal Waterway that runs through the city, a major development has been the redefining of Fort Lauderdale itself. Downtown -- especially around the hub of Las Olas Boulevard, with its cafes, galleries and boutiques -- feels almost as Miami Beach as, well, Miami Beach.

Greater Fort Lauderdale's 23-mile beachfront has also received a major overhaul, with lush landscaping and vivacious lighting complementing the expansive stretches of sand. In fact, since 1999, the beaches of greater Fort Lauderdale have earned "Blue Wave Beach" certification from the Clean Beaches Council, a designation awarded to the nation's cleanest and safest beaches.

Beyond surf, sand and Fort Lauderdale's role as cruise embarkation central, there are enough activities to entice travelers to spend a few days there before or after a voyage. less

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Hanging Around

Cruise ships share Port Everglades with all of the port's commercial shipping traffic. It's an enormous and heavily guarded complex. Cruise terminals are located at the complex's Midport and Northport sections; several signs throughout the port will point you in the right direction. From the entrance at 17th Street, the Northport terminals can be accessed on foot in about 10 minutes, but with heavy bags, that isn't ideal. There are no snacking or shopping facilities, but most of the terminals do have vending machines.

At berth 18, a new, $75 million terminal was recently built to accommodate Royal Caribbean's Oasis-class ships, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas. This expanded terminal has designated 16,500 square feet of space to handle baggage for the passengers of these 220,000-ton ships. The terminal itself was designed with maritime influences -- 90 ticket counters will be constructed to resemble the bow of a ship, and the floor will be inlaid with a 3,000-square-foot epoxy and bronze art design of the earth. Other features relatively unique to Port Everglades' terminals include a kids' play area and free Wi-Fi.

Don't Miss

Fort Lauderdale's beaches are among the nicest urban sand stretches in Florida. In the central area, between the Intracoastal Waterway and the ocean, there are numerous casual eateries, bars, T-shirt and souvenir shops and even stores that sell essentials. As you go farther north, the nicer hotels offer more elegant restaurants -- most with oceanview seating.

Las Olas Boulevard (particularly the stretch between 6th and 11th Avenues, near downtown) is, as we've mentioned, a lively destination for shopping, dining and people-watching. During the day, you can hop a boat for a tour of the intracoastal canals that wind through this picturesque section of Fort Lauderdale, or stroll along the Riverwalk (U.S. 1, south of Broward Boulevard), a 1.5-mile stretch of boardwalk along the New River that links many of the city's historic and cultural landmarks.

At night, festive diners spill out of sidewalk cafes, and romance-seekers ride in horse-drawn surrey carriages.

At Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino (901 South Federal Highway, Hallandale, FL; 954-454-7000), you'll find a gamers' paradise. Live thoroughbred racing happens at the height of cruise season, from January until April, and there are also Vegas-style slots, no-limit poker, dining and entertainment -- all under one roof. This is a great spot for night owls; you can play here until 3 a.m. during the week and 5 a.m. on the weekends.

For a peaceful beach experience, head for the Hugh Taylor Birch State Park (3109 E. Sunrise Blvd.). Canoes are available for rent, and guided Segway tours are offered. This 180-acre barrier island is also a great place to in-line skate or bicycle along the scenic circular road or hike the trails at this 180-acre barrier island.

An easy "time stands still" getaway involves a visit to nearby Delray Beach. (You'll need to rent a car.) The heart of the community -- shops, boutiques, art galleries and fashionable restaurants -- runs from the ocean along Atlantic Avenue. Definitely check out Old School Square, which has a number of restored 1920's buildings.

For an authentically exotic and serene experience, drive to the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens (Morikami Park Road in Delray Beach). It's America's only museum devoted exclusively to Japanese culture, but even better is the beautiful Japanese garden, which includes everything from fish-filled ponds and Zen gardens to pathways that wind in and out of pine woodlands.

The Jungle Queen Riverboat (954-462-5596) has been a Fort Lauderdale institution for more than 60 years; it offers daytime sightseeing trips up the New River and evening dinner cruises with famed barbecued ribs and shrimp. All cruises include a stop at the Jungle Queen Indian Village. Day cruises (twice a day) last three hours. Dinner cruises leave at 7 p.m., last four hours and include an all-you-can-eat repast.

Sawgrass Mills (12801 West Sunrise Blvd, Sunrise, FL; 954-846-2350) is a huge outdoor outlet mall, about 20 minutes west of the port, and houses more than 350 designer shops like Burberry, Calvin Klein, Coach, Kenneth Cole and many more at uber-discounted prices.

There's also the more mainstream Galleria Mall (2414 East Sunrise Blvd, Fort Lauderdale; 954-564-1015), Broward county's largest upscale shopping center, which is about 10 minutes north of port, just minutes from the beach and which offers name-brand stores like Macy's, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, as well as restaurants and refuge from the sun.

Go early to the Festival Flea Market Mall (2900 West Sample Road, Pompano Beach, FL; near the Florida Turnpike; 954-979-4555), where more than 800 vendors are featured, along with complimentary valet parking. Weekends are busiest, but the mall is open daily, from 9:30 a.m. You can browse stalls with antiques, new electronics and designer clothing; there's a farmer's market on weekends and also an international food court.

If you've rented a car, take a drive north along Interstate 95 to Palm Beach, about 50 minutes away. There, you'll find unrivaled shopping and the world's priciest boutiques and designers lining Worth Avenue, also known as the Rodeo Drive of Florida.

There are more than 40 golf courses in the area. Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa (501 Diplomat Parkway, Hallandale, FL; 594- 457-2082) is the only five-star course in south Florida. The 6,728-yard, par-72 course has been around since the 1950's, but was recently redesigned by Joe Lee. Rental equipment includes Callaway clubs, carts with Prolink GPS systems and FootJoy rental shoes.

No time for a full 18 holes? Not enough money for a country-club outing? No worries. Eco Golf Club (1451 Taft Street, Hollywood, FL; 954-922-8755) is the way to go. This little nine-hole course not far from the port has great greens, really reasonable rates and a full-service restaurant for breakfast or lunch.

Located just a few minutes away from the port, the 7,280-yard Club at Emerald Hills (4100 N. Hills Dr. Hollywood, FL; 954-962-7888) was designed by Bruce Devlin and Robert Von Hagge and has been rated one of the best places to play by Golf Digest for the past eight years. Challenging and demanding, with water on 12 holes, the course is also spike-less, so plan accordingly.

Getting Around

To the Pier:
Cruise lines typically provide shuttle services between Port Everglades and the two airports that serve Fort Lauderdale (Miami and Fort Lauderdale), but you must sign up -- and pay for them -- in advance. Check with your cruise line for more specifics. If you're flying into Miami, the airport provides taxi and shuttle transportation to Port Everglades. Shuttles are about $30 per person, and taxis run about $75 for up to five people.

Another good option, whether you're traveling to or from the cruise port, is SAS Transport Service. Rides cost as little as $15 per person between the port and airport, but there's a minimum of three people. If services are only for two, you'll just end up paying for the price of three ($45).

As well, some hotels offer shuttle service to and from Port Everglades. Check with your hotel to see what's available. Comfort Inn and Ramada Inn are among those that provide free transportation to the cruise terminal.

Parking, for those who drive to port, is available at Port Everglades for $15 per day.

Several of the major car rental agencies -- Hertz (800-654-3131), Avis (800-831-2847), Budget (800-527-0770) and Thrifty (800-847-4389) -- operate out of Fort Lauderdale's airport, and Sixt (888-747-7498) has a location at Port Everglades. Free shuttle service is offered from the cruise terminal to the rental agency on days when ships are in port.

If you want to arrange private transportation to or from your ship, USA Transportation (800-872-1130) provides luxury ground transportation in South Florida and is equipped with a fleet of executive sedans, SUV's, limousines, vans and mini-buses.

Once in Fort Lauderdale:
Water Taxis, which ply Fort Lauderdale's canals, are a great way to see the best of Fort Lauderdale while getting around town. With 11 stops near many of the area's hotels, water taxis drop visitors off at popular shopping and dining sections -- including Las Olas Boulevard -- and beaches. Plus, guides give a history of the storied and once-celebrity-occupied mansions along the way. An all-day pass is $13, and taxis operate from 10 a.m. until midnight.

The Sun Trolley is a unique and inexpensive method of transportation in Fort Lauderdale -- when you see the trolley coming, just wave, and they'll pick you up! Three routes, which cover Las Olas Boulevard, the beaches, downtown and the convention center area, are available for $1 per boarding. Schedules can be found online (linked above).

Beaches

Best Beach for Action: Fort Lauderdale Beach bustles with activity. Lined with waterfront hotels and an array of restaurants with oceanfront patios, this beach is where you'll go to see and be seen.

Best Low-Key Beach: Compared to other beaches in the area, Lauderdale By-The-Sea, located just north of Fort Lauderdale beach and south of Pompano Beach, is a nice, quiet hideaway. Though still close to hotels and beachfront dining venues, it's less frenetic and makes a great place to spend a lazy afternoon. Plus, conditions for snorkeling and diving are ideal there -- in fact, a reef is within swimming distance.

Best Beach for Watching Cruise Ships Go By: If you're in town for a pre- or post-cruise stay, go to John U. Lloyd State Park's beach on the corner of the inlet. The mangrove-lined waterway is a great place to be active or just relax. There, you can rent canoes, kayaks, paddleboats, sailboats, pontoon boats, gazebos, barbecue grills and volleyballs.

Best Beach with Small-Town Charm: Dania Beach, just south of the cruise port in Dania, is one of the area's best-kept secrets. Warm sands, shady palms and a quaint fishing pier characterize this calm beach, and with just a little legwork, you'll discover a historic arts and antiques district, ice cream parlors, pubs and seafood restaurants, all encompassed in a small beach town with big character.

Best Beach for a Half-Day Visit: Hollywood Beach with its famous two-and-a-half-mile "Broadwalk" -- an asphalt strip along the beach that is filled with street performers, couples walking hand-in-hand and families with young children meandering along in the sunshine -- was featured in the film "Marley and Me." It's the perfect setting for an ideal day at the beach. Get involved in sports of all sorts (bike-riding, roller-skating, kayaking and beach volleyball), or simply soak up the sun -- loungers and cabanas are available for rent. Shops and restaurants are close by, too. There's something for everyone at this popular Florida beach.

Lunching

On Las Olas Boulevard:
Mangos (904 E. Las Olas Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale; 954-523-5001): Take the opportunity to enjoy some people-watching during your pre- or post-cruise shopping on trendy Las Olas Boulevard. You'll find reasonable prices and inside (air-conditioned) or outside (sidewalk) dining; the restaurant serves everything from seafood to steak.

La Bonne Crepe (815 E. Las Olas Blvd., Ft Lauderdale; 954-761-1515): This charming French provincial country restaurant offers alfresco dining on its terrace, situated on enchanting Las Olas Boulevard. Watch the town come alive while dining on an assortment of cheese-, chicken- or seafood-filled crepes. Plus, this quaint restaurant has been recommended many times over as a "don't miss" for breakfast. It serves up waffles, French toast, eggs and -- of course -- crepes, so you can't go wrong.

Johnny V (625 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; 954-761-7920): Johnny Vinczencz is Fort Lauderdale's celebrity chef du jour. The popular restaurant is expensive, but the decor is chic. His signature "Floribbean-style" menu is compelling, with ingredients like mango chutney, roasted corn sauce and barbecue demi-glace flavoring plates.

The Floridian (1410 E. Las Olas Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale; 954-463-4041): Open 24/7, this Las Olas landmark is renowned for its breakfasts, but it has great burgers too, plus meatloaf and other "American diner" favorites. Besides, you can order breakfast at any time of the day or night, so if you suddenly develop an urge for an omelet, head on over. This 60-ish old gal has held her own as Las Olas has become trendier and trendier; some of the waitstaff has been there since it opened.

Yolo (333 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; 954-523-1000): Find your Zen at Fort Lauderdale's newest contemporary restaurant located downtown. Yolo, which stands for "you only live once," is an energetic place with a simple menu. Items range from Yucatan dolphin tacos and veggie burgers to prime rib. At night, the place transforms into a hip spot to clink cocktails and toast your vacation, and the outdoor fire pit makes for a nice place to sit and chat.

Close to Port:
15th St. Fisheries (1900 S.E. 15th Street, Fort Lauderdale; 954-763-2777): Located on the Intracoastal Waterway, with glorious views, this fish-'n'-chowder house offers both casual dining downstairs and more formal meals upstairs. The 31-year-old landmark serves up fresh fish, stone crab claws and other seafood delights.

Bimini Boatyard Bar & Grill (1555 Southeast 17th St., Fort Lauderdale; 954-525-7400): Fresh seafood -- like mahi mahi, local Pompano fish, swordfish and more -- prepared on a wood-fired grill is the specialty here. If you want a taste of true Caribbean cuisine before boarding your ship, this is a great option, since it's practically across the street from the cruise port.

On the Beach:
Istanbul On the Beach (707 N. Broadwalk, Hollywood Beach; 954-921-1263): What fun to sit right on Hollywood Beach's Broadwalk, watching the skaters, mimes and kids having fun, with a yummy kebab in hand. This is cheap, casual beachfront dining at its finest. Plus, following Turkish and Mediterranean influences, the fare is light, featuring choices that range from cucumber, tomato and feta salad to baba ganoush and hummus.

H2O Cafe (101 South Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard Fort Lauderdale; 954-414-1024): This breezy, modern cafe serves mostly Italian cuisine and supplements its menu with Cuban- and Asian-inspired dishes. Situated just off of Fort Lauderdale Beach, H2O Cafe offers outdoor dining with beautiful views of the ocean, and it's also a great place to watch passersby. Priced in the mid-range, everything -- from hot and cold antipasti, salads, sandwiches and pastas to chicken, seafood and steak -- is available here.

Casablanca Cafe (3049 Alhambra St., Fort Lauderdale; 954-764-3500): This brilliantly restored Mediterranean-style home that dates back to the 1920's, has been voted Fort Lauderdale's most romantic restaurant. The menu is comprised of meals from Spain, Italy, France and even Africa, and live jazz/contemporary music fills the air Wednesday through Saturday nights. After dining, take a romantic stroll on the beach -- this restaurant is located on the peninsula between the ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway.

Where You're Docked

Fort Lauderdale Cruise Port Address:

1850 Eller Dr., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316

Port Everglades is located 10 minutes by cab or shuttle from the Fort Lauderdale Airport and about 10 minutes from downtown.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

U.S. dollars are used there, and ATM's are readily available.

Language

English is primarily spoken in Fort Lauderdale, but you will likely encounter some Spanish-speaking natives during your visit.

Best Souvenir

Souvenirs in Fort Lauderdale range from cheesy T-shirts and trinkets to high-end baubles like jewelry and designer clothing.

For More Information

On the Web: www.sunny.org
Cruise Critic Message Boards: United States
The Independent Traveler: Florida Exchange

--Updated by Kim Kazell, Assistant Editor

--Photos appear courtesy of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.
We normally travel in Aqua Class because we like the Blu restaurant. We took a suite for the first time on the transAtlantic portion to try the new restaurant. However, we found that the service in the suites dining room needs to be improved. We ... Read more
Service very good; food good; music around pool too loud and without a stop all day. Shows in main night club very poor. No scenery except animated; no live music; small cast with almost no choreography; very short, about 30 minutes. I felt ... Read more
Fantastic Cruise Valley Boy
05/15
This was my 9th cruise, 7th with Royal and my daughters 20th with Royal. I can't praise the crew of the Independence enough, we had a great week. Our cruise director, Jamie Fentiman was the best cd that I have seen, he really entertained us as did ... Read more
My husband was hesitant to go on a Transatlantic cruise on this size ship, worrying about crowds. Our only other cruise experience was on ships with less than 900 passengers. We were pleasantly surprised in many ways and had a fabulous time! People ... Read more
Great trip! Bonbon65
05/15
This was my first cruise alone and I had a great time and would do it again! There was some illness on the ship but I did not get it. The staff worked diligently all the time to make sure that all areas of the ship where disinfected. ... Read more
Mixed Bag annnun
05/15
I had a very good experience on most of the ship. However, Guest Services needs to be thoroughly overhalled and managed better. Long lines are typical on the first and last days, therefore an increase in staff is necessary for those times to keep ... Read more
Sailed the Allure of the Seas transatlantic 12 night cruise from Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades) to Barcelona. The trip was relaxing and the weather was beautiful. The crew on The Allure was a fun yet professional group. With long sea days, ... Read more
Read 14 Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades) Cruise Reviews

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