Claiming to be the world's second busiest cruise ship terminal, Port Everglades in Florida continues to expand.
Its near neighbour, Miami is the world's topy cruise ship terminal, but with the expansion in progress and the excellent air and road connections which serve Port Everglades, the gap between the two ports is narrowing.
By Dag Pike
Whilst Miami has better air connections for passengers arriving on international flights, Port Everglades is well served by domestic flights arriving at nearby Fort Lauderdale Airport.
This busy airport is increasing its international connections and is located less than one mile away from the cruise ship terminal allowing quick and reliable transfers between plane and ship.
For passengers arriving by car, there is adequate parking space at the ship terminals and extra car parking is part of the expansion plans.
Easy access certainly makes Port Everglades attractive, but perhaps the greatest incentive is the reputation which Fort Lauderdale has as a relatively safe, up-market city compared with the reputation of Miami.
Cruise ship passengers tend to be sensitive about security and the good reputation of Fort Lauderdale on this score is attracting more passengers.
The harbour at Port Everglades is divided into three sections. Northport, close to downtown Fort Lauderdale and the superyacht marinas, is home to several cruise ship terminals and also the Convention Centre. Three terminals here are dedicated to cruise ships and are served by a 2500 space car parking facility (See the Holland America Statendam moored at one of the cruise terminal).
The main cruise terminal area is in Midport where there are six cruise ship terminals served by a 1000 space car park. Southport is dedicated to cargo handling, and expansion at Midport will see more of the cargo facilities moving to this area.
A major reconstruction programme is underway to convert Terminal 18 in Midport into a facility capable of handling the new generation of super cruise ships now under construction.
This new terminal will have 73,000 sq. ft. of space with an additional 34,000 sq. ft. available for expansion. Additional car parking facilities are being constructed to serve both this new terminal and the existing Midport terminals.
The cruise ships
Currently there are 33 cruise ships using the terminals at Port Everglades.
These are operated by 13 cruise lines including some of the most famous names in the business such as Cunard, Holland America, Celebrity Cruises and Princess Cruises.
This year saw seven new ships operating from the port including the 77,000 ton Sun Princess and the 70,000 ton Century (see picture).
1996 will see Celebrity Cruises adding the 70,000 ton Galaxy to its Port Everglades fleet and Holland America Line will be introducing the 55,500 ton Veendam.
Princess Cruises will be making a big commitment to the port in 1997 when they bring in two new ships. At the end of 1995 Princess introduced the 77,000 ton Sun Princess (see picture) and a sister ship, the Dawn Princess will make its debut in 1997. However, the star of the Princess show will be the 104,000 ton Grand Princess which will have a passenger capacity of 2600.
Sun Princess is currently the largest cruise ship using the port and Terminal No.2 has been undergoing a $3.5 million upgrade to enable it to handle larger passenger numbers. Princess Cruises is also developing a new office facility in anticipation of the fleet expansion.
The cruises from Port Everglades
Much of the cruise traffic at Port Everglades has been seasonal with the season starting in October and running for about half the year with cruises mainly to the Caribbean. For the remainder of the year some of the cruise ships would move up to Alaska or engage in longer distance cruising.
Now the pattern is starting to change with more emphasis on two or three day cruises. "Cruises to Nowhere" are also becoming more popular so that the utilisation of the cruise terminal berths is better. A number of one day cruises are also being operated from Port Everglades, these cruises mainly being outside territorial limits for gambling.
One of the most popular cruise terminals
Port Everglades has the water depth in the entrance channels to handle the largest cruise ships and the distance to the cruise terminal is probably the shortest of any port. Add to this the excellent climate, the good connection facilities and the quality of the surrounding city, and it is easy to see why the port has become one of the most popular cruise terminals in the world.
Other Florida Activities
When journeying to Florida, be sure to checkin to the many great locations the state has to offer. Whether it's apart of a service such as BookIt.com Orlando vacation packages, or on a cruise, the sunny state has a lot to offer to the seasoned traveler, sailor and tourist alike.