Friday, October 29, 2004

FUN IN JACKSONVILLE: As the First Coast’s Jaxport raises its passenger cruising profile, Carnival Cruise Lines touts new one-night pre- and post-cruise hotel packages at the Adam's Mark Jacksonville Hotel, tied to new year-round "Fun Ship" cruises. Starting in January, the one-nighters can be combined with four- and five-day cruise departures aboard the 1,486-passenger Celebration. Four-day sailings call at Freeport and Nassau, while five-day voyages feature Key West and Nassau. As northeast Florida’s largest hotel, the Adam's Mark has 996 rooms, four restaurants and bars, plus a full-service rooftop health club and a pool overlooking the St. Johns River. The hotel, in the heart of downtown, is near attractions, including Jacksonville Landing, Florida Theatre, Alltell Stadium, golf courses, shopping and beaches. One-night hotel stays start at $53 per person, double. For details, call 1-800-CARNIVAL.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

PORT EVERGLADES GEARS UP: Greater Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades is ramping up with more than $80 million worth of upgrades to keep pace with the ever-expanding cruise industry. Since cruise ships are getting bigger, so must port facilities, says Port Everglades Director Ken Krauter. Port Everglades -- already one of the world’s biggest home ports -- hosted more than four million passengers in fiscal year 2004, ending Sept. 30, 2004. Last December, the port set a world record, handling 41,800 passengers and 15 cruise ships in a single day. For a new generation of mega-ships, cruise passenger terminals are getting makeovers to handle more people and baggage and parking is being expanded for domestic drive market traffic. Security is also tightening with some $44.8 million in infrastructure improvements. For completion next summer at $2.5 million, Passenger Terminal 2’s baggage hall is growing from 25,000- to 50,000 square feet. For 2006/2007 with a $4 million price tag, Passenger Terminal 4’s baggage hall will expand by 50,000 square feet to create a 76,000 square-foot baggage hall and waiting area. Passenger Terminal 21, renovated and expanded in 2001, gets a second $1.75 million stretch to enlarge its 19,000 square foot baggage hall to 34,000 square feet by 2006. Port Everglades will construct its 12th full-time cruise terminal with reconfiguration of Terminal 27 for megaships, with completion set for 2007/2008 at an estimated $16.4 million. Almost finished at a cost of $3.6 million are more ramps for safer, faster flow to the Northport Garage, serving Terminals 1, 2 and 4 and the Convention Center. Port officials project continued strong growth, thanks to Port expansion, more low-fare carriers at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, and popularity of Greater Fort Lauderdale as a visitor destination. Nearly 50 cruise ships and 20 cruise lines call at Port Everglades. Check out Metroguide.com’s cruise port guide at www.portofcallguide.com