Monday, December 3, 2007

Cruises: Port Everglades Snaps Up New Royal Caribbean Ships

Have you tried to get a decent rate in a Fort Lauderdale hotel recently? The sky-high prices appear to reflect the popularity of Port Everglades as a cruise embarkation port and it's about to get even more crowded.

The Sun Sentinel reports that Royal Caribbean has agreed to homeport both of its two new mega-size Genesis-class cruise ships at Port Everglades year-round, ending months of competition for the business between the Broward County port and the Port of Miami.

Royal Caribbean's base of operations in South Florida has long been the Port of Miami--the line is even heaquartered there--but the new agreement creates a major, long-term partnership with Port Everglades by guaranteeing 17 million passengers over the next decade. While Miami and Port Canaveral currently out-rank it, Fort Lauderdale officials say the Royal Caribbean deal will make Port Everglades the largest cruise port in the world. Each Genesis-class ship will carry up to 6,400 passengers and 2,000 crews members on weekly Caribbean cruises, which are expected to begin sailing from Port Everglades in mid-2009.

One of Port Everglade's aging terminals will be renovated at a cost of $37.4 million to accommodate the new ships. Local taxpayers won't be footing the bill, though. According to the Sun-Sentinel, cruisers will bear the cost through a $5.70 surcharge imposed by Royal Caribbean on passengers. That's in addition to the $9.95 user charge each passenger pays. It appears that Floridians have taken a page from the state of Alaska's playbook on charging cruisers to "use" their state.

A Royal Caribbean spokesman said the cruise line chose Port Everglades over Miami because it offered "a little bit more in terms of servicing passengers and the development of the port." Cruise Diva has an opinion on that and will share it shortly.

Photo Above: Port Everglades on a Late Saturday Afternoon

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