Yesterday was a really big day for which officials at Port Everglades have spent months preparing. It marked a crucial test of Cruise Terminal 18 as the 225,282 ton Oasis of the Seas boarded guests for an overnight sailing. Today, more guests will arrive for a scheduled two-night preview cruise. By the time Cruise Terminal 18 greets Oasis' first revenue passengers on Dec 1st and those who've booked the the inaugural cruise departing Dec 5th, the embarkation/disembarkation process should be running like a well-oiled machine.
Oasis of the Seas' sister-ship Allure of the Seas will also homeport at Port Everglades when launched, so to accommodate this class of revolutionary cruise ships, the Port invested approximately $75 million to build Cruise Terminal 18. The terminal is mega-sized to handle the mega-ships' more than 5,400 cruise passengers and their luggage. In addition, it was designed so that arriving and departing passengers can simultaneously proceed through processing procedures.
While Royal Caribbean has already used Cruise Terminal 18 with other ships to tweak the state-of-the-art systems, Port Everglades has been busy making sure the entire embarkation process is as seamless as possible for arriving (and departing) passengers. That means an updated taxi queue system and a speedier process for turning around taxis, which now use a separate entrance to the port. Buses will also enter through a designated gate, freeing up the entry security check points for private vehicles and improving traffic flow. Upon arrival, passengers driving to port will find an expanded 1,010 space parking lot (the fee is presently $15/day).
Purpose built for 15-minute "curb-to-ship" service, Cruise Terminal 18 is, by necessity, a vast facility and at 240,000 square feet (5.5 acres), it's more than three times larger than it was just 22 months prior to opening. Yet, it's not intimidating and most passengers should find it easy to navigate, not to mention comfortable. There's even an inviting children's play area just in case you have a short wait to board your ship.
Cruise Diva recently visited Cruise Terminal 18 and will share a fully illustrated arrival-to-embarkation photo tour on CruiseDiva.com in the coming days.