Fort Lauderdale Review for Cruise Ship Passengers
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Port Everglades, Ft Lauderdale’s Port, is home to the most cruise
ships in the world. From this east coast Florida city,
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. See our
Photo Gallery of Fort Lauderdale's Hilton, the IntraCoastal and Port
Cruise ships encourage passengers to arrive in their port of embarkation
a day prior to their sailing date. This is sage advice, since airlines
can be delayed for a litany of reasons, and they don’t “hold the boat”
for you 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.
Besides, a day in Fort Lauderdale
is a delight, the beautiful beach, and the intra-coastal waterway reveals some of 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.
Flying into Ft Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport, FLL, grab a
cab or shuttle to a hotel near both the beach and the Port Everglade
cruise ship terminal. It’s just 3 miles from Ft Lauderdale airport,
without traffic it takes less than ten minutes, to the cruise ship
terminal and many of the hotels on the waterfront.
Fort Lauderdale Hilton Marina is a good choice, its a huge waterfront
property, a short ($20) cab ride from FLL airport, and a similar short
ride to the cruise ship terminal of Port Everglade on your cruise day.
There’s a beautiful outdoor pool, and outdoor G Bar with a view of some
fantastic yachts. Our first room in the East Villa building had a great view
of the intercoastal, that was soon blocked by a 5 story magnificent
yacht called Cake Walk docked in front of our balcony – so there goes
our view, but the brilliant blue hulled 280’ yacht was not hard to look
at ( a week’s charter aboard Cake Walk costs $854,000). This room at the
Hilton was just over $200
for the night. You are a
short walk to Walgreens - for anything you forgot to pack for the ship,
or to brign a bottle of wine aboard, and there are several nearby
restaurants and bars.
The Hilton Marina has several buildings, the Tower on a top floor is the
best location, where we stayed on our cruise ship return night - a
significant upgrade. The tenth floor Hilton Marina Hotel room has a panoramic
view of the waterways and the many mega yachts from a very lofty space.
These top floor Hilton Tower rooms for Honors and VIP guests are not for
those who fear heights, it a long way down from your open balcony. You
can walk to Bimini Boat Yard for a casual waterfront dinner, or Bravo
Italian also just a block away but not waterfront. The Hilton also
offers a small fitness facilities and a spa, provide everything you need
before your cruise. They do charge for wifi for your facebook
post and email check before or after your cruise, unless you are a Hilton
Honors member - then its included.
Ft Lauderdale also hosts a Hyatt, W Hotel, Westin
the big players, 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, that tend to fill the lobby on arrival and departure days.
Lago Mar is a different vibe, Ft
Lauderdale’s oldest and most elegant beach resorts
, set beyond
busier beach strip, with a wonderful private resort 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 is old world
Florida charm, but with an elegant modern spa, fitness room and several
beautiful pools, and play areas for kids. A light roster of organized
activities and entertainment give the otherwise reserved resort a warm
tropical vibe. Reggae music by the pool bar on our sunny breezy
afternoon here was a welcome bonus.
A great way to spend the day in Ft Lauderdale is to grab the water taxi
to shuttle you around the beautiful waterways, $27 is good for all day
boat rides, off and on as many times as you like. Fort Lauderdale is
nicknamed the Venice of Florida because there are so many miles of
magnificent waterways. The water taxi will take you to Riverwalk, Ft
Lauderdale’s waterfront entertainment venue with shops and dining and
evening jazz. Or ride the boat to town for shopping on famous Las Olas Boulevard, and
dinner. Ft Lauderdale has 4,000 restaurants. The inner waterway canals
are extensive, so the water taxi is a great way to see the waterfront,
beautiful inter coastal estates, yachts and the palm trees. You can
get off the boat and back on at numerous cool spots, or just cruise
around the marinas and yacht clubs. There are over 100 marinas in
Ft Lauderdale, so gawking at the grand yachts, over 42,000 boats, is a
past time in and of itself.
the best attraction in Fort Lauderdale is the beach, a long (23 mile)
stretch of soft sand and a view out to sea and of arriving and departing
cruise ships lumbering along the horizon. The beach at Ft Lauderdale can
be calm, or breaking with big waves depending upon the season
and any weather out to sea. Walking the long beach stretch is a great
diversion, it will take you along the beachfront hotels, many of which
have bars, and beach chairs and toys for rent.
Ft Lauderdale has some really fun bars and restaurants on the water.
Bahia Cabana is cool local joint overlooking the harbor, enjoy a pitcher
of beer while browsing the pricey boats across the channel. The
Cabana is super casual, like its sounds. Picture a dock deck with picnic tables
and bar, an open air shack serving delicious crab cakes and conch
fritters. Bahia Cabana gets going at night, often with 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 more international
flights of cruise ship passengers. Still, it is the yachting and cruise
ship capital of the US.
Photos of Fort
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All Stories by Heather Burke
All Photography by Greg Burke