Exploring Florida’s Cruise Ports

 

Main Street in Weston, FL
Main Street in Weston, FL, a posh enclave just outside Fort Lauderdale, is known for its shopping.

 

The best luxury cruise lines all boast top-of-the-line amenities, making embarking a can’t-wait affair and disembarking disconcerting. But we have a few tempting suggestions for your VIP clients either pre- or post-cruise in Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

Luxury cruisers departing from Fort Lauderdale will most likely be sailing Crystal Cruises, Cunard Line, Seabourn or Silversea Cruises. Those in Fort Lauderdale for a short stint can’t go wrong with Las Olas Boulevard, the city’s main shopping, dining and cultural artery. We believe it is always best to start at the beginning, which means, in this case, One Las Olas Boulevard. It happens to be home to the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale. The boulevard also has a long list of boutique galleries, perfect for an afternoon of perusing.
Looking for a bite? We suggest Le Café de Paris for clients seeking French classics alfresco. The restaurant is set in a two-story house and has three indoor dining areas in addition to its popular outdoor patio. Le Café de Paris boasts both a prix-fix menu as well as dining à la carte.

For a more intimate and elegant experience, we recommend Teal Bistro Americana. The restaurant is dinner-only during the week and serves lunch on Saturdays and Sundays. The menu ranges from light fare, such as cumin-dusted diver scallops, to heartier dishes like grilled baby lamb chops served with goat cheese-stuffed tomatoes and Dijon mash (yum!). There is also an extensive wine list.

Las Olas, locally known as “style mile,” is great for a little retail therapy. A shoppers’ paradise, it houses several boutique clothing stores, gourmet food shops and is a haven for jewelry connoisseurs. Blue Island is the spot for Fort Lauderdale chic (think everything from evening gowns to leather jackets and must-have handbags). 

Can’t say no to chocolate? (Don’t worry, neither can we!) Galleo Belgian Chocolates is a must. Truffles are the specialty at this Las Olas gem, whether it’s dark, milk, white or even sugar-free chocolate. Note: Afraid your purchases won’t last long? Galleo offers home delivery to ensure you won’t eat them all before you return to the cruise ship.  

Tip: Travelers can arrange limo transfers to and from the port via JLT Tours (www.jlttours.com; 786-326-9879); ask for Natalie Polansky.

Just about 45 minutes away, the Port of Miami is no doubt a prime entry point into some of this city’s hottest attractions; Crystal Cruises, Oceania Cruises and Holland America, among others, make regular departures out of Miami. Cruisers will have a host of options at their fingertips when exploring the Magic City.

First and foremost—dining. We can say that Joe’s Stone Crab tops the charts for fresh and local seafood. During peak crab season (October through May), prepare to feast on the freshest selections, with a dusting of melted butter or dollop of mustard sauce. Don’t forget the key lime pie! Note: Long waits are expected, but the food is well worth it.

SKYBAR’s Redroom
SKYBAR’s Redroom at the Shore Club.

For a taste of the outdoors, in a romantic setting, we hear Wish at The Hotel of South Beach delivers. Diners can sit in the indoor dining room, which has an exotic and cozy feel, but we recommend the outdoor patio, which is tucked away in a private garden. The food is classic bistro with ritzy flare (we hear the black truffle mac-and-cheese is to die for!). If you are traveling on the weekends, reservations are a must.

We love that the New York City staple, Shake Shack, has officially opened in Miami. Head over to Lincoln Road for a taste of NYC’s favorite burger. Note: Shake Shack Miami is open on weekends until 1 a.m. to satisfy late-night cravings.

We also suggest making time to take in a bit of Miami’s Art Deco history. The cruise port is near Miami’s Art Deco Center, which encompasses over 800 historical buildings from the 1920s and 1930s. Visitors can take guided tours through the district. We hear Ocean Drive is the place to start for a 10-block stretch of pastel-colored highlights.

A popular excursion for cruisers is a trip to Parrot Jungle Island, a $47 million park spread over 19 acres. What makes it a “jungle?” Think 3,000 exotic animals, 500 plant species, jungle trails and more. Consider arranging tours for your VIP clients to Parrot Jungle Island or to any other attractions in the area. Reservations can be made via the Port of Miami at 305-371-7678. Also ask about golfing, deep-sea fishing or shopping sprees.

You can’t be expected to take on Miami without the proper attire. Head over to the chic Bal Harbour Shops where you can shop for the hottest couture (think Prada, Ferragamo and Chanel).

Cruisers in town over night won’t want to miss out on Miami’s steamy night scene. Head down to South Beach’s hotels, where the late night bar scene oozes luxury. We love the sensual feel at the both modern and eclectic Skybar, whose Redroom and Redroom Garden are dripping with deep crimson tones. We’re also big fans of B.E.D., where the key is to dine first (try the Chilean Seabass) and stick around for the late-night action.

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The Bow Lounge will provide the closest access to water level via the foredeck and will be a great spot to sight wildlife and take in the views.