Missed flights, snarled traffic – nothing makes a vacation more stressful than your travel plans going awry, especially when it means missing the cruise you’ve been looking forward to forever.
So when planning a trip from Port Everglades Cruise Terminal, avoid any potential heartache by arriving a day early in Fort Lauderdale and staying an extra day after your cruise. Here’s what to add to your itinerary while you’re in town.
Stay in Style
To make the most of your pre- or post-cruise stay, lodge in a hotel where you can rely on Uber or Lyft, water taxis, or shuttle service, such as the Embassy Suites by Hilton or the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina.
At both hotels, you can watch the yachts and ships sail through the Intracoastal Waterway on their way to open water. If you need to stock up on essentials for your cruise, you’ll also be within walking distance of the Publix grocery store, where you can pick up any toiletries you may have forgotten, along with familiar snacks for picky kids. Also nearby is International Market & Fine Wine, where you can grab a few treats to savor on the balcony of your cruise ship cabin. And while you’re in the area, head to nearby locals’ haunt Laspadas Original Hoagies – its slogan, the “Best Damn Hoagies in Town,” is no lie.
For some upscale shopping before your cruise, book the Bahia Mar Fort Lauderdale Beach, which is just a water taxi ride away from retail haven Las Olas Boulevard. Located right next to Bluefoot Pirate Adventures and overlooking a 250-slip marina that houses mega-yachts, Bahia Mar offers a “cruise and stay” package that includes breakfast for two and transport to Port Everglades (though make sure you pre-arrange it in advance with the hotel concierge).
Primp Before Departure
Last-minute preparations never seem to leave time for personal needs, so make sure you squeeze in a mani-pedi or other spa treatment before you set sail. Stellar options include Spa Q in the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort, the Conrad Spa at the luxury all-suite Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach, and the Diplomat Spa at The Diplomat Beach Resort Hollywood.
Play for the Day
Ideal for everybody from honeymooners to families, the Everglades is the main natural attraction in the region. Take an adventurous airboat ride at Sawgrass Recreation Park, just one of the many ways to view parts of this amazing national park.
The region is proud of its protected nesting sea turtles. Several organizations, including the all-volunteer Sea Turtle Oversight Protection program, offer nightly Turtle Treks during the summer nesting season. The Museum of Discovery and Science also provides eco-tours to observe nesting and hatching loggerheads.
If pre-cruise time is precious, make a stop at Flamingo Gardens for a quick stroll through the fragrant botanical gardens and the wildlife sanctuary. Similarly, Butterfly World, in Coconut Creek’s Tradewinds Park, offers a couple of hours’ distraction with gorgeous landscaping, an extensive aviary, and 20,000 butterflies.
Catch Some Culture
Venture to Hollywood, an eclectic enclave for creative types, to get your fix of visual arts and music. You can stroll through the Downtown Hollywood Mural Project – or take a guided tour – to view street art painted by the likes of Jessy Nite, Kenny Scharf, and Tatiana Suarez.
ArtsPark at Young Circle has a regular schedule of live music and other entertainment, including food trucks and family movie nights. Also located on Young Circle, Hollywood Hot Glass gives visitors the opportunity to meet artists and take classes (walk-ins are welcome, but keep in mind that glass pieces take 12 hours to cool).
Sit, Sip, and Savor
Wander up and down Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard, where cool cafes and lounges like Rock Bar Fort Lauderdale and Spazio Italian Restaurant & Wine Lounge abound. Many also offer live music, DJs, and other entertainment, and are well-suited to pre- or post-cruise groups of all ages and sizes.
If beer’s your thing, several of the stops on Fort Lauderdale’s Ale Trail are sure to quench your thirst. You’ll find craft beer – 650 of them, in fact – at Riverside Market and Cafe and you can browse selections from The Brass Tap via its app before you venture forth.
Southport Raw Bar, perched just off 17th Street Causeway, offers inexpensive seafood served on the half shell. And if you’re feeling more international, you can mix it up with ceviche at The Chimney House, a pan-Latin restaurant in a restored 1924 home. Or the stylish global tapas locale One Door East offers up sushi and other Asian-inspired fare.
The best thing? Many of the area’s restaurants and bars feature outdoor terraces, meaning you can enjoy some sunshine with your meal and libations.