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Port Everglades

Port Everglades
1850 Eller Drive
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33316
Phone: (954) 371-7678

Greater Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades, magnet for gleaming cruises ships and comfortable passenger terminals, touts big logistical advantages. Fort Lauderdale / Hollywood International Airport is just across U.S. 1 / Federal Highway from the cruise port, making it possible for passengers to practically step from plane to ship. Literally, the typical airport / seaport link takes less than 10 minutes. Nearby Southport shopping center makes it easy to pick up last-minute items before sailing. Port Everglades boasts the deepest harbor in Florida, and one of the nation’s shortest, straightest entrance channels for quick ocean access. The 1.2-nautical-mile distance between sea buoy and main turning basin is navigable in a half-hour, a key reason more than 5,400 ships call at Port Everglades annually, bolstering a "world's premier cruise port" reputation.

Despite status as a tourism juggernaut, early settlers first envisioned Port Everglades for shipping farm produce. Port development efforts centered on a shallow lake separated from the ocean by a sand ridge. In 1911, the same year of Fort Lauderdale’s official incorporation, the Florida Board of Trade pushed for a deepwater port for shipping north and west while a Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) survey showed Lake Mabel as prime for a rail / harbor operation to enhance trade with Cuba.

By the 1920s, Hollywood was coming into existence and Fort Lauderdale had 3,000 residents among Broward County’s populace of 30,000. Area movers and shakers including Hollywood’s Joseph Young believed a deep harbor with ready ocean access guaranteed prosperity. In 1925, Young began harbor development, at one point importing 35 lumberjacks from Vermont to clear mangrove jungle. With the nation in economic crisis by the following year, Young -- by then Hollywood mayor -- sought harbor bond referenda support from Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale. Each city overwhelmingly approved sale of $2 million in improvement bonds, with jubilant backers parading by torch light to Young’s home. The 1926 hurricane, killing 243 people and causing major damage ($1.5 billion in today’s dollars), slowed progress. But in 1927, state legislators officially established the deep water Bay Mabel Harbor. On Feb. 22, 1928, with schools and businesses closed, nearly all of Broward gathered for a harbor dedication. In what was promoted as the "Wedding of the Waters," President Calvin Coolidge was to press a button at the White House detonating explosives to remove a rock barrier. But nothing happened when (and if) he pressed the button. The barrier was then otherwise removed, and by close of 1928, some $100,000 of cotton products had passed through the port to Cuba, deeper into the Caribbean and Latin America. Fort Lauderdale’s first airport was dedicated in 1929, just as the port project was officially deemed "completed."

In the 1920s, flour, feed, fertilizer, sugar, and produce were the commodities of promise, and in 1930, several women’s clubs ran a contest to choose "Port Everglades" to represent the “gateway to the rich agricultural area embraced in the four million acres at the port’s very back door."

Few, if anyone, could foresee tourism allure, much less the then non-existent leisure cruise industry. On Dec. 21, 2003, Port Everglades set a world record, hosting nearly 45,000 passengers – enough to fill 300 Boeing 737s. The same day, the Port also hosted a record 15 cruise ships in a single day, valued at a combined total of nearly $3.5 billion.

Sailings from Port Everglades now run the gamut from world cruises and extended transatlantic / transcanal adventures to traditional seven-night Caribbean vacations, day-trips to the Bahamas and six-hour cruises to nowhere. Increasingly, Port Everglades cruise passengers opt for pre- or post-cruise extensions to enhance ocean-going holidays with land-based fun.

Getting There:

Despite its name, Port Everglades is not a part of the Everglades wetland ecosystem. It lies within Fort Lauderdale, Dania Beach, Hollywood, and unincorporated Broward County, about 25 miles north of Miami and 48 miles south of West Palm Beach. There’s talk of creating a people-mover linking Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Until then, taxis, buses and shuttles await at baggage claims. Port Everglades has Northport, Midport and Southport. All cruise terminals and parking garages are in Northport (Cruise Terminals #1, 2 and 4) and Midport (Cruise Terminals #18, 19, 21, 22 / 24, 25 and 26). Northport and Midport parking garages accept cash or credit cards and are well-lit, covered facilities with security. From I-95, access the port via I-595 or take the State Road 84 exit east, continuing into the port. From U.S. 1, turn east onto the 17th Street Causeway and enter the port by turning right (south) before crossing the bridge.

For pre- and post-cruise adventure, here’s a sampling of hotel, dining and attraction options near Port Everglades:

Dining Options:

Bahia Cabana
The Bahia Cabana Waterfront Restaurant and Patio Bar is just across A1A from Fort Lauderdale Beach, overlooking the Bahia Mar Yacht Basin, home to novelist John D. MacDonald’s fictional Travis Magee and his Busted Flush, a 52-footer forever associated with Slip F-18. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served from a menu including grouper sandwiches, burgers, salads and low carb entrees. Rum runners and pina coladas flow here, and a hot tub awaits for further relaxation. 3003 Harbor Drive, Fort Lauderdale. (954) 524-1555

Southport Raw Bar
Sandwiched behind the Southport shopping center near Port Everglades, Southport Raw Bar (bumper sticker motto: Eat Fish, Live Longer; Eat Oysters, Love Longer; Eat Clams, Last Longer) is a favored ultra-casual gathering spot among locals yearning for oysters on the half shell, shrimp platters and other seafood, along with chowders, burgers, and more. Eat inside or out back next to the free dock slips. 1536 Cordova Road, Fort Lauderdale. (954) 523-4752



Billie Swamp Safari
Airboat and swamp buggy rides, walking safaris, and Indian history star in Greater Fort Lauderdale’s far western reaches, providing close-ups of the Seminoles’ 2,200-acre Big Cypress Reservation. Daily tours head into reservation wetlands, hardwood hammocks, and areas with alligators, bison, deer, ostrich, wild hogs, and rare birds. Motorized swamp buggies provide elevated views, while fast-moving airboats supply more thrills. Big Cypress Reservation. (954) 983-6101

Fort Lauderdale Beach
With 23 miles of sun-drenched shoreline, Greater Fort Lauderdale’s beaches are peppered with hotels, restaurants and other attractions. Birch State Park, Bonnet House and the famed Jungle Queen are near Fort Lauderdale’s “Where The Boys Are” beach promenade. Hollywood Beach has bicycling, jogging and strolling on a 2.5 mile Broadwalk. Between Dania Beach and Hollywood is John U. Lloyd Beach State Recreation Area, ideal for monitoring Port Everglades ship traffic. 6503 North Ocean Drive. (954) 923-2833

Water Taxi / Water Bus
For a great overview, Fort Lauderdale’s extensive “Venice of America” waterway network provides splashy, scenic alternative access to waterfront attractions, hotels, restaurants and bars. Water Taxi / Water Bus, ideal for reaching Las Olas Boulevard or the downtown Arts and Entertainment District’s Riverwalk, offers one-way fares or passes by the day, week and longer. 651 Seabreeze Boulevard (A1A), at Radisson Bahia Mar Beach Resort. (954) 467-6677

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For more on where to stay, what to see, where to dine, and what to do, visit:

Port of Call Guide CruiseGuide Cruise Ship News by CruiseGuide Guide to Port of Key West Guide to Port of Miami Guide to Port of Palm Beach Guide to Port of Tampa Guide to Port Canaveral Guide to JAXPORT Fort Lauderdale Lodging
EventGuide Fort Lauderdale DiningGuide Fort Lauderdale AttractionGuide Fort Lauderdale NightGuide Fort Lauderdale

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