Ahoy! Big changes coming to Port Everglades, including Disney cruises next year

It's just one of the major developments taking place at the port, which was recently awarded a more than $19 million grant by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Dock workers use ropes to tie the Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of The Seas to its berthing spot at Port Everglades on June 10, 2021.

Dock workers use ropes to tie the Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of The Seas to its berthing spot at Port Everglades on June 10, 2021. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Mouse is coming to Fort Lauderdale: If all goes according to plan, Disney Cruise Line will start berthing at Port Everglades as a home port in November of next year. 

That’s just one of the major developments taking place at the port, which was recently awarded a more than $19 million grant by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The grant was awarded under the Port Infrastructure Development Program to modernize cargo docks and improve operations. 

“It is significant that the federal government recognizes that Port Everglades is undergoing vital and unprecedented growth to support international trade in Florida,” Broward County Mayor Michael Udine said. It’s the port’s first big federal infrastructure grant in recent history. Most of the money will go toward replacement of about 1,650 linear feet of bulkheads, also known as a sea wall, at Berths 16, 17 and 18. 

Sea walls are expensive, costing about $20,000 per foot. But they’re important for environmental safety and holding infrastructure in place, Port spokesperson Ellen Kennedy said. 

Importantly, with COVID subsiding, cruising is back. Port officials are working with Disney to update and customize Cruise Terminal Four. When complete, it’ll be Disney’s latest home port in Florida, after Cape Canaveral and Miami. The renovation project will cost about $35 million, with the Disney Dream to be the first ship. “I’m sure this new terminal will reflect the magical Disney experience for travelers,” Udine said.

Added Port Everglades CEO Jonathan Daniels: “Our seaport construction staff has been working closely with teams of imagineers and other creative groups to brainstorm designs and ideas to maximize guest flow and efficiency.” By adding Port Everglades as a home port, Disney will have a dedicated terminal in market with close highway access and a large and fast-growing airport, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. 

Port Everglades upping its game for cargo ships 

Another major and ongoing project is the installation of new and large “Super Post-Panamax” container cranes to load and unload cargo ships. The port recently installed three large cranes that cost $14 million each. Each crane can handle containers stacked eight high from the ship’s deck and reach 22 across. Now the port is in the process of installing another three similar cranes because there are more and larger cargo ships.

The South Point Turning Notch is another big, ongoing project. This will lengthen the cargo area from 900 feet to 2,400 feet and  allow some of the world’s largest ships to dock and load and unload cargo. The extension is finished but there is still some work to be done on the dock. 

“We have had several record months and that is due to the new ocean carrier service, the Mediterranean Shipping Company. The company is bringing various products from India, Turkey, Greece and the Far East. We can dock more ships than in the past. We are getting goods to market faster and more efficiently,” Kennedy said. That project costs $471 million and will be complete by the end of 2023.

There’s also the Slip 1 project. This involves widening the slip for larger tanker ships. It modernizes all the equipment on the dock at Slip 1, a petroleum berth. When it’s done, operations will be more efficient to accommodate larger tanker vessels. This will be a $150 million project, paid for by private industry. The first phase will be complete by the end of 2023. 

David Volz has been a reporter for numerous community news publications throughout South Florida over the past two decades, as well as the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Miami Herald and South Florida Business Journal. He covers local government, schools, sports, culture, faith groups and workplaces.

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