Port Everglades, Ft Lauderdale’s Port, is home to the most cruise ships in the world. From this east coast Florida city, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Celebrity, Disney, Princess, and more arrive and depart almost daily. As many as six or seven huge cruise ships in Ft Lauderdale at a time is not unusual, and it certainly impacts the city making the Port Everglade cruise terminal, airport and traffic very busy.
Arrive in Fort Lauderdale the day prior to your cruise. This is sage advice, since airlines can be delayed for a litany of reasons, and you can “miss the boat” if you are late for any reason (well, maybe if you are the Captain, but that’s about the only excuse). Ships departing Ft Lauderdale leave midday to late afternoon cruising to the Caribbean, the Bahamas, Central and South America. Even transcontinental cruises make their port in Ft Lauderdale from Portugal, Spain and Italy, and the U.K.
Explore Fort Lauderdale’s intra-coastal waterway to see the finest yacht clubs and mega yachts in the world. In fact Ft Lauderdale is also hailed as the yachting capital of the world, in addition to being the biggest cruise ship hub. If there is a downside to all these big ship activity, its that Fort Lauderdale was once a much smaller quaint beach community than say Miami. Now Fort Lauderdale has all the hustle and bustle of a big Florida city with as many as 40,000 cruise ship passengers passing through daily.
The Fort Lauderdale Hilton Marina is a to luxury hotel, a huge waterfront property, with a beautiful outdoor pool, and G Bar with a view of some fantastic yachts. You are a short walk to Walgreens – for anything you forgot to pack for the ship, for wine and beer, and there are several nearby restaurants and bars, we like Bimini Boat Yard..
LOVE PORT EVERGLADES CRUISE PORT
The Hilton Marina Tower is the best location, on the tenth floor with panoramic views of the waterways and the many mega yachts from a very lofty space. These luxury Hilton Tower rooms for Honors and VIP guests are not for those who fear heights, it a long way down from your open balcony.
Ft Lauderdale also hosts a Hyatt, W Hotel, Westin, and the name brand chains, Holiday Inn, Marriott, Fairfield, Sheraton, Starwood, Days Inn, you name it. All these hotels get very busy because of the one night cruise ships guests, who fill the lobby with luggage on arrival and departure days.
Lago Mar is old world Florida, Ft Lauderdale’s most elegant beach resort, away from the busier beach strip, with a wonderful private location at the quieter southern beach tip. From your beach chair or balcony suite, you can see the cruise ships come and go out the breakwater. Lago Mar has old world Florida charm, but with an elegant modern spa, fitness room and several beautiful pools. A light roster of activities and entertainment give the otherwise reserved resort a warm tropical vibe. We love the reggae music by the pool bar on sunny breezy afternoons.
Ride the water taxi around the beautiful waterways, $27 for all day – off and on as many times as you like. Fort Lauderdale is nicknamed the Venice of Florida for its miles of magnificent waterways. The water taxi will take you to Riverwalk, Ft Lauderdale’s waterfront entertainment venue with shops, dining and evening jazz, and to famous Las Olas Boulevard, for more in town shopping and dinner. The water taxi is a great way to see the beautiful inter coastal estates shaded in big palm trees and the yachts tied to docks. With over 100 marinas in Ft Lauderdale, gawking at grand yachts, over 42,000 boats, is a past time in and of itself.
The beach is best attraction in Fort Lauderdale, a 23 mile stretch of soft sand with views out to sea and cruise ships lumbering along the horizon. Ft Lauderdale beach can be calm, or breaking with big waves depending upon the season. Walking the long beach stretch takes you along the luxury beachfront hotels, many of which have bars, and beach chairs and toys for rent.
Ft Lauderdale has 4,000 fun bars and restaurants, many on the water. Bahia Cabana is cool local joint overlooking the harbor, enjoy a pitcher of beer at a casual picnic table while browsing the pricey boats across the channel. Try the crab cakes and conch fritters, and stay for the evening live entertainment.
Fort Lauderdale is no longer the quiet beach community it once was. 17th Street Causeway is now three lanes each way, and the airport is undergoing a $50 billion expansion to accommodate big international flights carrying cruise ship passengers. Still, it is the yachting and cruise ship capital of the US, and its beautiful.