Today, Broward County Commissioners unanimously approved Port Everglades request to begin formal discussions with Disney Cruise Line for a terminal and berthing agreement at the county’s cruise port. During today’s meeting, it was revealed Disney Cruise Line is looking for a new South Florida home and when the opportunity for them arose at the port for their own, dedicated cruise terminal, Mickey’s ears pop-up and began an exploratory process to see if the Fort Lauderdale cruise port is right for a future second year round homeport. Port Everglades during informal discussions with Disney has talked about 1 year round vessel sailing 5/5/4-night cruises with future additional seasonal ship deployments. In addition to the ports proximity to the Fort Lauderdale airport, the terminal that will be considered is in a prime spot by a 1818 spot parking garage, and the Broward County Convention Center and Headquarters Hotel.
In late April, Disney Cruise Line made a formal request to enter into negotiations with Port Everglades about a long-term berthing agreement with the intention of sailing year-round a ship capable of carrying approximately 3,500 passengers. Jose Fernandez, Vice President Port Strategy, Development & Operations for Disney Cruise Line sent a formal request letter to Port Everglades on April 26, 2021 to initiate discussions for Cruise Terminal 4 and accompanying berth.
Some background, on February 9, 2021, the Broward County Commissioners approved an amendment to Port Everglades Passenger Cruise Terminal and Berth User Agreement between Broward County and Carnival Corporation. That amendment removed passenger cruise ship Berth 4 and its associated passenger cruise terminal facility from the list of Carnival Corporation’s designated preferential berths. The release of Berth 4 and its associated passenger cruise terminal facility allowed the Port Everglades to market the terminal to pursue further customer diversification within the Port’s cruise business sector.
Disney Cruise Line is primarily homeported year-round at Port Canaveral and has been operating seasonally at PortMiami since 2012 with one cruise ship and an annual minimum guarantee of 150,000 passenger movements. Disney ships have only called at Port Everglades in the past due to storm diversions from their primary homeports.
As previously mentioned, Disney’ seasonal service at PortMiami is under a long-term Preferential Berth Agreement expiring in April 2024, the agreement includes the plan for Disney to add a year-round service beginning in the 2022/2023 cruise season which is when the Disney Dream begins sailings starting June 2022. Separately, Disney entered into a Memorandum of Understanding in 2018 with PortMiami to negotiate for the construction of a new cruise terminal, with a modification in 2020 that would incorporate Disney into a separate shared cruise terminal and berth facility being developed at PortMiami for MSC Cruises.
On April 26, 2021, Port Everglades staff received a request from Disney to negotiate for the use of Cruise Terminal 4 and its adjacent Berth 4 to move its South Florida operation to Port Everglades, starting with one year-round ship capable of carrying approximately 3,500 passengers.
Adding a major cruise line, such as Disney, to the Port’s cruise business sector will replace and potentially exceed the reduction in Carnival Corporation’s annual guaranteed billable passenger movements included in their amendment, and further diversify the lines within the Port’s cruise portfolio.
The waiver of the competitive selection requirements and authorization to conduct negotiations with Disney Cruise Line will allow Port Everglades staff to negotiate terms and conditions to relocate and expand Disney’s operations in Broward County. The economic impact to Broward County will be in job creation, job retention, the generation of personal income and state and local taxes from both the cruise line’s operations as well as the spending of cruise passengers traveling to the area for their cruise.
The next step in the process is for Port Everglades begin formal discussions with Disney Cruise Line which if the discussions progress, this new agreement negotiated with Disney will be brought back to the Broward County Commissioners for approval.
Time will tell if Disney Cruise Line is considering leaving PortMiami permanently as the Port Everglades agenda item language above suggests, or if this is a long term plan for when the Disney Wish’s sister ships go into service. With Disney’s previous discussions for a new terminal and then a shared usage agreement at the new MSC terminal ending, and today’s news from the Royal Caribbean Blog that Royal Caribbean is now the primary third-party cruise line for the shared usage agreement at the new MSC Terminal at PortMiami it is leaning towards Disney leaving PortMiami for good if the cruise line and Port Everglades reach an agreement. It was mentioned, there are clauses within Disney’s agreement with Miami to leave early.
Port Everglades Cruiseport is roughly 30 miles north of PortMiami in Fort Lauderdale and provides easy access to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL). Port Everglades Cruise Terminal 4 is located at 1800 SE 20th Street, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316 with secured parking in the Heron Parking Garage, vending machines, free Wi-Fi, and 50 check-in stations.
Presently, the 2-floor 140,000 sq. ft. terminal features nearly a 20,000 sq. ft. passenger waiting area, with the ability to simultaneously embark and debark via the terminal’s two passenger loading bridges. The terminal received a $24 million renovation with upgrades designed for greater efficiency and guest convenience in 2015.
The terminal also features three public art installations: Glass sculpture Coral Glow Persian Sconce Wall by Dale Chihuly, Mosaic tile mural Pelican Path by Xavier Cortada, and Wind responsive sculptures Songs of the Everglades by Jonathan Russell and Saori Ide.
We will continue to monitor this story as it evolves.