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Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades) (Photo:pisaphotography/Shutterstock)
4.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

By Amber Nolan
Cruise Critic Contributor

Port of Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)

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 nicely with its metropolitan neighbors, and elements of Miami's chic vibe and the affluent nature of Palm Beach are recognizable. But Fort Lauderdale is a destination itself. Operating one of the busiest cruise ports in North America -- more than three million people pass through each year -- helps define Fort Lauderdale as a robust tourism spot.

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 1800s into a series of canals by scooping out parallel waterways and creating long peninsulas between them. This created more than 300 miles of navigable waterways (twice that of Venice) -- hence the city's nickname "Venice of America." The abundance of waterways that wind up and down the coast make Fort Lauderdale a boating hot spot, with 42,000 registered yachts.

The community gained fame and a measure of disrepute when it was featured in the 1960s movie "Where the Boys Are," causing legions of college-aged boys (and, not coincidentally, girls) to descend for raucous spring breaks. 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 1980s went into effect, in earnest, to tone it down. These days, the fastest-growing market for Fort Lauderdale is the trendy high spenders who at one time might have gone south -- or north. Area hotels include Ritz-Carlton, Trump International Hotel and Tower and 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, major development projects have been redefining Fort Lauderdale. Downtown -- especially around the hub of Las Olas Boulevard, with its cafes, galleries and boutiques - gives off a Miami Beach vibe.

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.

About Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)


Port Everglades offers tons of cruise choice close to major airports and hotel chains


Constant construction in the area sometimes leads to serious traffic jams

Bottom Line

The port is a perfect jumping-off point for family vacations or getaways on a wide variety of ships

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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. One of the cruise port's entrances is on the 17th Street Causeway, the yachting hub of Fort Lauderdale with several restaurants and hotels.

Editor's note: Port Everglades offers an app with maps, parking, a guide on where the ships are docked and more helpful information.

Good to Know

Cab drivers in Fort Lauderdale are notorious for claiming the credit card machines don't work (they prefer cash) -- after you've taken the ride. Ask whether the driver takes cards before hopping in and confirm that the machine is fully functional.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

ATMs are readily available to get your U.S. dollars.


English is primarily spoken in Fort Lauderdale, but you probably will encounter Spanish-speaking residents.


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

Best Cocktail

Margaritas and pina coladas can be found just about everywhere.