Why go to 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
The port is a perfect jumping-off point for family vacations or getaways on a wide variety of ships
Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades) Cruise Port Facilities?
Cruise ships share Port Everglades with all of the port's commercial shipping traffic. It's an enormous and heavily guarded complex. Cruise terminals are located at the complex's Midport and Northport sections; several signs throughout the port point you in the right direction.
From the entrance at 17th Street, the Northport terminals can be accessed on foot in about 10 minutes, but with heavy bags, that isn't ideal. The port facility offers no snacking or shopping facilities, but most of the terminals contain vending machines. All nine of the cruise terminals offer free Wi-Fi access.
At berth 18, a $75 million terminal was built to accommodate Royal Caribbean's Oasis-class ships. This expanded terminal has designated 16,500 square feet of space to handle baggage for the passengers of these 220,000-ton ships. The terminal was designed with maritime influences -- 90 ticket counters were constructed to resemble the bow of a ship, and the floor is inlaid with a 3,000-square-foot epoxy and bronze art design of the earth. the terminal also includes a kids' play area and free Wi-Fi.
Cruise terminal four was redesigned in January 2015 to make it faster for cruise lines to process passengers by adding 50 check-in counters, 172 additional parking spaces and rearranging passenger drop-off zones to less congested areas. It is also the first terminal in Port Everglades to be LEED certified for reaching energy-efficient standards.
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.
To the Pier:
By Shuttle: Cruise lines typically provide shuttle service between Port Everglades and the two airports that serve Fort Lauderdale (Miami and Fort Lauderdale), but you must sign up -- and pay for them -- in advance. Check with your cruise line for its transfer program. If you're flying into Miami, the airport provides taxi and shuttle transportation to Port Everglades. Shuttles are about $37 per person, and taxis run about $77 for up to five people.
Another good option, whether you're traveling to or from the cruise port, is shared shuttles like SAS Transport Service (954-600-0240; $15 per person), Go Airport Shuttle (1-844-787-1670; $12.65 including gratuity) or Port Everglades Shuttle Service (954-822-8106; $11 with a two-person minimum).
Some hotels offer shuttle service to and from Port Everglades. Check with your hotel to see what's available. Comfort Inn, Courtyard by Marriott and Holiday Inn Express and Suites are among those that provide free transportation to the cruise terminal.
By Bus: A public bus (No. 40) stops in front of the 17th Street entrance, just north of the Convention Center and goes to the beaches or downtown. Fares are $1.75 per ride. The Sun Trolley also stops there on the "Beach Link" for a $1 charge.
Parking, for those who drive to port, is available at Port Everglades for $15 per day and can be paid by cash or credit card.
By Rental Car: Several of the major car rental agencies -- Hertz (800-654-3131), Avis (800-352-7900), Budget (800-218-7992) and Thrifty (800-847-4389) -- operate out of Fort Lauderdale's airport, and Sixt (888-747-7498) has a location at Port Everglades. Free shuttle service is offered from the cruise terminal to the rental agency on days when ships are in port.
By Car Service: If you want to arrange private transportation to or from your ship, USA Transportation (800-872-1130) provides luxury ground transportation in South Florida and is equipped with a fleet of executive sedans, SUVs, limousines, vans and mini-buses.
In Fort Lauderdale:
By Water Taxi: The water taxis that ply Fort Lauderdale's canals, are a great way to see the best of Fort Lauderdale while getting around town. With 19 stops near many of the area's hotels, water taxis drop visitors off at popular shopping and dining sections -- including Las Olas Boulevard -- and beaches. Plus, guides give a history of the storied mansions along the way. An all-day pass is $26, and taxis operate from 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and run every 15 to 30 minutes during peak periods.
By Trolley: The Sun Trolley (954-761-3543) is a unique and inexpensive method of transportation in Fort Lauderdale -- when you see the trolley coming, just wave, and it will pick you up! Six routes, which cover Las Olas Boulevard, the beaches, downtown, airport and the convention center (cruise port) area, are available for $1 per boarding.
By Pedicab: Pedicabs (human-powered bicycle taxis) are widely available for transportation between the beaches, downtown and Las Olas Boulevard. (Ocean View Rickshaw; 954-561-2808)
English is primarily spoken in Fort Lauderdale, but you probably will encounter Spanish-speaking residents.
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.