Established as a deep water port in 1927, Port Everglades has become one of Florida's busiest cruise ports with more than 5,300 cruise ships setting sail from it year-round and on a seasonal basis as well as visiting it as a port of call (although Port Everglades is definitely more of a turnaround port, an embarkation/disembarkation facility, than a port of call).
More than three million people go through Port Everglades each year and the port boasts two really big feathers on its cap: It is home to the world's two largest cruise ships, Royal Caribbean's 220,000-ton, 5,400-passenger Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas. A new, $75 million, 16,500-square-foot terminal was built at the port to accommodate these two giants when Oasis of the Seas was launched in 2009.
The seaport, sometimes called "the world's best cruise port," extends for 2,190 acres and is located on the southeastern coast of Florida, within the cities of Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood and Dania Beach and unincorporated Broward County. It is about 23 miles north of Miami, 48 miles south of West Palm Beach.
Port Everglades is a huge favorite with cruise passengers, not only because of its location, convenient to the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, but also because of the warm "send-off" local residents give cruise ships as they sail the port channel on their way to the Atlantic. Residents of the condos lining the port channel blow whistles, ring bells, wave and display banners in salute to each passing ship. The panoramic view of area beaches and the Fort Lauderdale skyline that passengers enjoy from their departing ships does not hurt either, as well as the plethora of nearby attractions that passengers can take in if they have a day or days pre- or post-cruise.
Nearby Attractions: Fort Lauderdale's 23 miles of beaches beckon cruise passengers, as do the boutiques, restaurants and galleries of fashionable Las Olas Boulevard -- both ideal to while a few hours away before or after a voyage since they are minutes away from the cruise ship piers. Other attractions include the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale, with an excellent permanent collection and visiting exhibitions at One, East Las Olas Boulevard -- the museum is a part of Fort Lauderdale's Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment District. Also part of the district is the Broward Center for the Performing Arts -- a must for theater lovers who have an evening to spend in Fort Lauderdale.Art lovers may also wish to check out the Third Avenue Art District with many artists' studios in downtown Fort Lauderdale just north of Broward Boulevard, along Andrews Avenue and on and surrounding Third Avenue. Water taxis are a fun and inexpensive way to get around the "Venice of America" (as Fort Lauderdale is often called due to its many canals and waterways). The water taxis stop at the Las Olas shopping district and the beaches, among other points of interest (an all-day pass runs $20 for adults, $12 for youth and tickets may be purchased on board; Visit www.watertaxi.com). Another great way to explore is to "wave and ride" the Sun Trolley (you wave, they stop). The trolley also goes to the beach and Las Olas, among other key points in Fort Lauderdale (50 cent per ride or $2 all-day, visit www.suntrolley.com).
Excursions Sold Onboard Ships: Most cruise ships offer a shore excursion post-cruise for passengers who are booked on flights after 4 p.m. These tours usually feature an Everglades Airboat ride and Alligator Show.Nearby Hotels: There is no shortage of hotels in various price categories convenient to Port Everglades so the chances are very good that your favorite chain has a property in the vicinity. Popular lodgings that are moments away from the port include the Hyatt Regency Pier 66, at 2301 Southeast 17th Street, with the Pier Top Lounge, a slowly revolving lounge on the 17th floor affording views of Fort Lauderdale, the Intracoastal Waterway, Port Everglades and the beach (visit www.hyatt.com) and the Embassy Suites -- Fort Lauderdale, 1100 Southeast 17th Street (visit www.embassysuites.com).Good Restaurants For Lunch: La Bonne Crepe is one of several great eateries on Las Olas (815 East Las Olas Boulevard, www.labonnecrepe.com). It has an alfresco terrace and delightful crepes. The waterfront Bimini Boatyard Bar & Grill (1555 Southeast 17th Street, www.biminiboatyard.com) is a good choice for fresh seafood.
Cruise Lines That Sail From Port Everglades: Ships that you will be able to see, or sail on, at Port Everglades include those from Carnival, Celebrity, Costa, Crystal, Cunard, Holland America, MSC, Oceania, Princess, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn and Silversea.
Transportation/Parking At The Port: It takes approximately 10 minutes to get from the Fort Lauderdale airport to the port by cab and taxis are plentiful (fare runs about $75). Cruise lines generally provide free bus transportation from the airport to the pier on embarkation/disembarkation days if you purchased your air tickets through them, and for a fee if you purchased your air independently. Fort Lauderdale Shuttle offers transportation from the Fort Lauderdale airport or nearby hotels to the port (per person fare depends on the number of people in your party: for two people, it is $22 per person). This company also offers an excursion that can be taken either the day before the cruise or post-cruise (for people with flights after 4 p.m. or those staying on in the Fort Lauderdale area for a day or longer after the voyage). The three-hour tour includes an Everglades airboat ride and alligator show. Call 866-FUN-RIDE (386-7433).
Parking facilities are available at the port for passengers who drive in. There are two parking garages within Port Everglades: the Northport and Midport and the Midport Surface Lot between terminals 18 and 19. Daily fee is $15; $19 for oversized vehicles.
Additional Information: Visit www.broward.org/port and for specific deals for cruisers, log on to www.sunny.org/cruisechic.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times