FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – At Port Everglades, excitement in the air as the port opens its brand new $120 million dollar terminal.
It is the second new terminal in Fort Lauderdale in less than 10 years.
Terminal 25 opened to serve Celebrity Cruise lines and their brand new Celebrity Edge, which arrived in port Monday as well. The ship features the latest wow factor at sea called the magic carpet.
While hard to describe it is essentially a restaurant space slash elevator that moves up and down the outside of the ship.
Just 10 days ago Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of Seas, the world’s largest ship, arrived at a brand new terminal in Port Miami with quite the fanfare. And South Florida is not done. One more brand new ship is due in Fort Lauderdale in a couple of weeks.
“It’s an example of the literally dozens of ships that are under construction that are going to be joining the cruise fleet over the next five years,” Deputy Port director Glenn Wiltshire said Monday.
Wiltshire has seen Port Everglades cruise traffic skyrocket. In 2008 they saw 2.6 million passengers. This year they will hit 3.7 million.
“The impact isn’t just at the port. It’s in the entire region. Those cruise passengers come in. They stay at hotels. They eat our restaurants. They visit museums. So it’s really a great economic impact to the entire region,” Wiltshire said.
The port has gotten so busy, the giant new Edge had to be moved Monday night, so a cargo ship could squeeze by.
Port Everglades serves as a cruise port, cargo port, and fuel port.
With so much traffic, they have had to get creative. In season, they can see 40 different ships going through the port.
By their estimation, they may see upwards of 7 million passengers per year over the next 20 years.
According to the trade industry association, the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association, there is no sign things are going to slow down.
-Some 50 ships are on order to be delivered by 2025
-The industry has invested more than of $51 billion
-Cruise demand is up more than 20 % in the last five years.
-Cruising has become the fastest-growing category in the leisure travel market.
“The entire world is seeing the value of cruising as a vacation. And as the cruise ships get bigger, as the cruise ships have a lot more amenities on them, people are more interested in taking a cruise as opposed to going on a regular vacation,” Wiltshire said.
It is not just the cruise ships that are being upgraded.
The industry is changing just about everything about cruising in hopes of attractive and retaining new customers. Cruising once was a way to disconnect.
Now competition is on among all the major brands to offer the fastest internet at sea. Food offerings now include a variety of restaurants and upgraded food quality.
Cramped cabins are still around but more and more there are options to add bedrooms, suites, living rooms, even jacuzzis.
The industry has also added new destinations, while companies have purchased entire islands. The concept is they can continue the luxury tropical experience from ship to shore.
According to industry surveys, just 3% of US residents have cruised. It represents an untapped market that these new offerings are meant to entice.
Those same industry surveys indicate that 92% of first time cruisers will cruise again.