Simply by virtue of being in Florida, the state at the center of the American cruise industry, the Port of Fort Lauderdale (also called Port Everglades) is a hub for cruising. Forty-two cruise ships run by eight major cruise lines have a presence in Fort Lauderdale, and if you are planning any sort of Caribbean cruise, there is a fairly good chance you’ll leave from the Fort Lauderdale Port. Indeed, if you are planning any cruise that could benefit from a departure point on the southeast coast of Florida, you could find yourself in Fort Lauderdale. Given the city’s central importance to cruise vacationers, we thought it would be helpful to explain what you can see and do in the port city of Fort Lauderdale. You’ll likely have some time to kill before or after you cruise, so you may as well spend that time seeing the sights of Fort Lauderdale.
Carnival Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruise Line, Cunard Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Seabourn, and Silversea Cruises all sail from the Port of Fort Lauderdale. The two biggest cruise lines in the world, Carnival and Royal Caribbean, both operate out of the port, but so do small luxury cruise lines like Seabourn and Silversea. There is also one small ferry company – the Balearia Bahamas Express – that sails from Fort Lauderdale to the Bahamas. While cruises from Fort Lauderdale tend to go to the Caribbean or destinations in this region of the globe (e.g., the Bahamas), these places are by no means the only ones reachable by a cruise from this coastal city. Lots of cruises from Fort Lauderdale are transatlantic, for instance, and many others go further south than the Caribbean to South America. In fact, you can technically get to most parts of the world from Fort Lauderdale since two cruise lines (Cunard and Holland America) offer world cruises that depart from Fort Lauderdale’s port. So, to reiterate, the Port of Fort Lauderdale is a major cruise hub that hundreds of thousands of passengers will pass through each year. If you are one of them, here is what to see and do.
Even if you don’t want to make any effort to see the sights of Fort Lauderdale, you’ll likely still enjoy your time there, as it is a highly regarded vacation destination in and of itself. (In this way it is like Charleston or Boston, and not like, say, Bayonne.) Fort Lauderdale offers 23 miles of beaches that look into blue and green waters filled with sea life. There also several canals in the city, which is why Fort Lauderdale is sometimes called the “Venice of America.” There is also great shopping and dining along one of the city’s most famous streets, Las Olas Boulevard. Basically, Fort Lauderdale is a classic place for sun and relaxation. People are less inclined to check out local monuments when a beach is nearby, and perhaps you’re content to spend your time in Fort Lauderdale lying on the sand.
If you do want to spend time off the beach, though, there are a few notable attractions in the city. On the coast is the Bonnet House Museum and Gardens, a 35-acre waterfront estate. Bonnet House is beautifully decorated on the inside, and the grounds on which it sits are covered in small ponds and gardens. Near the center of town, a couple of miles from the shoreline, is the Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale. Although there is no main sight to see and some complain that it is boring, it’s at the very least a nice place to take a walk and look at the boats passing by under the bridges. It is also right near Las Olas Boulevard, so the two could be visited at the same time. For those interested in the wildlife of southern Florida, the Fern Forest Nature Park, in which there are hundreds of species of plants (and over 30 species of fern), is a nice place to visit that isn’t far from the center of Fort Lauderdale, and if you want to get out even more, you might consider visiting the Sawgrass Recreation Park, where you can take an airboat tour through the Florida Everglades.
While certainly not a major city, Fort Lauderdale has plenty to offer a cruise vacationer with a free day or two, either before or after a cruise. There are a few things to see and do, and even if you aren’t inclined to put forward much effort to see what Fort Lauderdale has to offer, you can always just hang out on the beach.
*Photo Credit: Xanxz / CC-BY-SA-3.0