People have been flocking to Fort Lauderdale, Florida for decades.  The miles and miles of beautiful beaches, the trendy restaurants, and the incredible recreational waterways have always been a big draw for tourists.

The city is also the perfect place to kick off your Caribbean cruise getaway.  More than three million people pass through Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale every year, heading for the Bahamas, Mexico, Central America and every corner of the Caribbean.

The port is actually a man made harbor, between Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood, Florida, created back in 1928 when engineers blasted through the barrier separating freshwater Lake Mabel and the Atlantic Ocean.  Now, Port Everglades sits on the Intracoastal Waterway, conveniently just minutes away from downtown.

Get on Board in South Florida

Florida is the most popular place in the world for cruise passengers.  With several large and busy ports around the state, it’s a top draw for both American and international visitors.  Port Everglades is one of the busiest in the United States, competing with Miami and Port Canaveral.  In March 2010, it broke its own world record by processing more than 52,000 passengers in just one day.

The best feature of the port is its convenient location.  Port Everglades boasts the closest airport/seaport connection in the world, with the Fort Lauderdale International Airport, and the city’s downtown, less than two miles away. There’s also easy access from three major interstates, and plenty of accessible long-term parking.  It also provides convenient access for ships, with just a half-hour’s sailing time out to sea.

Fourteen cruise lines sail in and out of Port Everglades, with nearly 2,000 cruises a year to chose from.  In November 2009, Port Everglades opened the largest cruise terminal in the world, Cruise Terminal 18.  It was finished on time to launch Royal Caribbean’s 5,400-passenger Oasis of the Seas.  The terminal may be massive, but it’s welcoming and beautifully designed to get passengers processed and ready to board within 15 minutes.

But there is no need to rush.  Consider adding a day or two onto your trip because there’s plenty to see and do around Fort Lauderdale.  The city is known as the “Venice of America”, and one of the best ways to experience that is to take a river cruise through the inland waterways, checking out historic sites and multi-million dollar homes.

Or book an airboat tour, and discover one of the most interesting natural areas in the United States.  The port is named after the nearby Everglades, which cover most of South Florida and are home to tropical birds, alligators, snakes and even the rare Florida panther.

From the arts and entertainment of Hollywood Beach and the Downtown Riverwalk, to the world famous golf courses or thoroughbred racing at Gulfstream Park, there is plenty to keep you busy after your cruise ends.  Or just kick back and relax on the miles and miles and miles of beautiful beaches!

So why not take advantage of the convenient location, easy access and incredible sights, and kick off your cruise in sunny Fort Lauderdale?

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