Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale's cruise port (nowhere near the Everglades, but happily near the beach and less than 2 miles from the airport), is among the world's largest, busiest ports. It's also the straightest, deepest port in the southeastern United States, meaning you'll be out to sea in no time flat once your ship sets sail. At a cost of $75 million, Cruise Terminal 18 has been tripled in size to accommodate Royal Caribbean's Oasis-class ships, the 5,400-passenger Oasis of the Seas and sister Allure of the Seas. The terminal's mega-size (240,000 square feet) accommodates both arriving and departing passengers and their luggage, simultaneously going through processing procedures. The port is south of downtown Fort Lauderdale, spread out over a huge area extending into Dania Beach, Hollywood, and a patch of unincorporated Broward County. A few words of caution: schedule plenty of time to navigate the short distance from the airport, your hotel, or wherever else you might be staying, especially if you like to be among the first to embark for your sailing. Increased security (sometimes you'll be asked for a driver's license and/or other identification, and on occasion for boarding documentation upon entering the port, other times not) combined with increased traffic, larger parking facilities, construction projects, roadway improvements, and other obstacles mean the old days of popping over to Port Everglades and running up a gangplank in the blink of an eye are history.
If you are driving, there are two entrances to the port. One is from 17th Street, west of the 17th Street Causeway Bridge, turning south at the traffic light onto Eisenhower Boulevard. Or to get to the main entrance, take either State Road 84, running east–west, to the intersection of Federal Highway and cross into the port, or take Interstate 595 east straight into the Port (Interstate 595 becomes Eller Drive once inside the Port). Interstate 595 runs east–west with connections to the Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport, U.S. 1 (Federal Highway), Interstate 95, State Road 7 (U.S. 441), Florida's Turnpike, Sawgrass Expressway, and Interstate 75.
Port Everglades (1850 Eller Dr., Fort Lauderdale, FL, 33316. 954/523–3404. www.porteverglades.net.)