Friday, August 20, 2004

PORT’S-A-POPPIN: Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades, where nearly 50 cruise ships from 20 lines call, is posting record cruise passenger growth for 2004. Just nine months into the current fiscal year, numbers eclipsed 2003’s passenger total, and just one month later, the South Florida cruise port powered past its all-time annual high mark, set in 2002. By 2004’s end, the port expects another first -- topping the four million annual passenger milestone. Bullish stats reflect unabating appeal, according to port honchos, who project continued strong growth, thanks to Fort Lauderdale’s popularity as a destination, facility development, and rapid growth of nearby Fort Lauderdale / Hollywood International Airport. The cruise passenger surge has been fueled by addition of a third daily cruise line, St. Tropez Casino Cruises, as well as significant growth from the port’s other major lines, introducing larger ships such as the 3,100-passenger Caribbean Princess, the 2,620-passenger Queen Mary 2, the 2,114-passenger Costa Mediterranea, the 1,848-passenger Oosterdam and the 1,586-passenger MSC Lirica, among others. Passenger counts also rose with last November’s relocation of several ships from the Port of Miami during the Free Trade Area of the Americas event downtown.

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