Disney Cruise Line Finalizes 15-year Terminal and Berthing Agreement with Broward County’s Port Everglades

At the end of October 2021, a 15-year Marine Terminal and Berth User Agreement agreement between Disney Cruise Line and Broward County was finalized which will allow Disney to conduct multi-day passenger cruise from Port Everglades’ Cruise Terminal 4 as soon as October 2023, but no later than May 1, 2024. At the end of the 15-year term in 2038, Disney Cruise Line may extend the agreement up to 3 additional 5-year terms.

Disney Cruise Line’s South Florida homeport relocation plans began publicly in February 2021, when the cruise line informed PortMiami was considering a “competing port” for a new long-term berthing agreement in South Florida after the two parties previously had an agreement in place to for shared usage of the new MSC terminal project in Miami. In May 2021, Port Everglades was revealed as the “competing port” when Broward County granted approval to the port to begin formal discussions with Disney. Then, On June 15, 2021, the Broward County Commissioners unanimously approved a motion to authorize the Broward County Administrator to execute a Marine Terminal and Berth User Agreement between Broward County and Disney Cruise Line. 

Following the board approval in June, a public records request was filed with Broward County to view the Marine Terminal and Berth User Agreement. The two parties spent most of the summer working out the agreement, as it was not finalized until October 28, 2021. This week, we received a copy of the 92-page Marine Terminal and Berth User Agreement between Disney Cruise Line and Broward County Florida.

According to the agreement, Disney plans to conduct multi-day cruise passenger services from Port Everglades as early as October 2023. The agreement provides Disney with exclusive (7-days a week, year round) use of Cruise Terminal 4 and Berth No. 4. Beginning March 1, 2025, a second passenger cruise ship berth and its adjoining cruise passenger terminal facilities shall be assigned by the Port Everglades Department to Disney Cruise Line for 3- and 4-night itineraries operating on a Monday/Friday rotation. The second berth/terminal will be determined based on the schedule availability based on the port’s other preferential agreements with other cruise lines.

Stemming from prior commission meetings, Disney Cruise Line was planning to homeport a vessel year round vessel sailing 5/5/4-night cruises with future additional seasonal ship deployments. The language in the agreement references the Magic Class (Disney Magic and Disney Wonder) and Dream Class (Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy) with a generalization to each class based on specifications equivalent to those vessels. That being said, there is language to include the three new vessel on order beginning with the Disney Wish under the Dream Class grouping as the new ships are similar in size and passenger/crew capacity.

Disney Cruise Line is initially guaranteeing Broward County a minimum of 400,000 passengers, before increasing the minimum guarantee to 750,000 passengers in Fiscal Year 3 through the duration of the initial and potentially extended agreement.

Fiscal YearPassenger (minimum guarantee)

If Disney Cruise Line exceeds annual billable passenger movements the county will issue a volume incentive payment.

Before Disney Cruise Line sails from Port Everglades, marine infrastructure and terminal improvements will occur. On the marine side at Berth No. 4, there will be an installation of new bollards and upgrading of certain existing bollards, as well as installation of new fenders and upgrading of certain existing fenders, necessary to accommodate the berthing demands for all Disney Vessels, including, without limitation, the Magic Class and Dream Class Vessels, and the three new Disney Vessels to be delivered through 2025.

As for the improvements to Cruise Terminal 4, the renovations will consist of interior and exterior modifications in order to meet Disney Cruise Line’s operating standards and meet Disney’s guest experience standards for a 4,000 passenger vessel. Some examples of the changes at the terminal include the incorporation of Disney theming and familiar design elements and colors. While still early in the process, the following are some of the renovation plans documented in the agreement:

Embarkation Area 

  • Installation ofDisney validation stations at entry ofCruise Terminal 4, including providing necessary power and data infrastructure under the existing flooring to support validation stations.
  • Repositioning of X-Ray scanners and guest walk thru scanners, including providing necessary power and data infrastructure under the existing flooring to support Security operations. 
  • Removal of existing Check-In counters and walls to create more open space for guest waiting area.
  • Creation/Construction of additional office space hidden from guest view with new walls to keep administrative areas “backstage”. Office space will include cast member break room, IT room, restroom, administrative offices for day of and full-time cast members and changing room for cast members.
  • Creation/Construction of Assisted Check-In area to support embarkation operations.
  • Installation of mobile device charging stations in guest waiting area.
  • Installation of digital monitors for displaying critical information and providing entertainment to guests waiting to board.
  • Installation of new audio system to support guest communications and experience in
    waiting area.
  • The digital monitors will be supported by a new audio system. There will also be 1,000
    seats for guest to utilize. Signage will be visible in all areas for the purposes of way finding. In order to support these new spaces, the existing check-in stations will be removed, and that space will revert to open floor space.
  • Creation/Construction of new permanent walls to seal off crew and vendor security screening and entry.
  • lncorporation/lnstallation of Disney intellectual property throughout 1st Floor of Cruise Terminal 4 embarkation area.
  • Incorporation/Installation ofDisney Vacation Club desk/kiosk.
  • CCTV network.
  • Telecommunication and bandwidth upgrades (i.e. phone, cellular and WiF connectivity).

Debarkation Area

  • Luggage hall area will be enhanced with incorporation/installation of Disney intellectual property.
  • Installation of 35 luggage tables to support debarkation operations and provide greater luggage laydown space. 
  • Creation/Construction of new office space for port agents, as well as crew mail storage space. 
  • Expansion of existing luggage sorting and scanning capabilities.
  • CCTV network.

Interior / 2nd Floor

  • Installation ofDisney gangway stations at entry of the gangway area. 
  • Creation/Construction of concierge lounge.

The substantial completion date is listed as October 15, 2023 with final completion date penciled in for November 30, 2023. It is estimated, the marine infrastructure improvements for Berth No. 4 will cost approximately $2,000,000, and the terminal improvements to Cruise Terminal 4 will cost approximately $12,000,000. Both estimates are the high end cap. Disney will share the costs associated with the design and construction for both the marine and terminal side of the project splitting down the middle at 50% with the county.

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. 

What are your thoughts on Disney Cruise Line’s plans for Port Everglades?

8 Replies to “Disney Cruise Line Finalizes 15-year Terminal and Berthing Agreement with Broward County’s Port Everglades”

  1. Sam

    This is good news, perhaps there will be a itinerary release for the Disney Wonder filling in it’s big gap next year?

  2. ljmiii

    Obviously DCL believes their ships and the 5/5/4 cruises are enough of a draw that people won’t mind sailing out of Ft. Lauderdale. They are probably right…to us MIA is more convenient than FLL and Miami an infinitely more interesting place to stay before or after than Ft. Lauderdale…but if the sailing fits our schedule we’ll adapt.

  3. Frank

    I guess everyone thinks differently. We live in Florida and drive to the ports. Ft. Lauderdale is closer and a far easier drive (traffic gets infinitely worse as you approach the Broward/Dade county line and down into Miami). So we’d much prefer to cruise from there v. Miami.

  4. Jim

    FLL has embarrassing transportation in and out and a substantially undersized airport. Staying at WDW before a cruise and getting a port transfer directly from our hotel makes the entire embarkation process far better.

  5. Brett Bailey

    Miami has always been the cruise capital even when I lived there some 50 odd years ago. A lot bigger now of course but it has some draw backs as mentioned with the amount of traffic. So having DCL berth at Port Everglades has a lot of promise. Knowing DCL, they will make sure it looks as good ,if not better, then Port Canaverals terminal. What we are more interested in now, after reading about the new port, is all the details of getting to there. Flying into FLL or MIA or MCO?? Will they shuttle you from MIA or MCO even? Where to stay at or near FLL for those of us from the West Coast who need to arrive the day before? I have no doubt in my mind DCL will figure it out, this agreement is/was the biggest step to work out first.

    1. Kevin King

      I am sure they will partner with a couple of hotels, much like they do in other locations like New Orleans. We cruised out of New Orleans last Feb. and they had a couple of choices and we booked all our transportation through DCL also. I believe there is a new hotel being built right at the port/convention center. Us New Englander’s typically fly in a day early also, especially in winter!

  6. Chris M.

    I suspect the DCL choice of Port Everglades has much to do with it being the only east-coast Florida port where they could get an exclusive lease lease on a terminal (so they can decorate the way they want and not have to fight with other cruise lines in terms of scheduling). Also, it is perhaps one of the best choices in terms of viable itineraries that could be operated there (very similar to Miami in that regard) and ease of getting passengers to and from there.

    Miami airport certainly is great for long distance flights (especially to Europe and South America) so passengers from there are likely still going to need to fly to/from Miami. But for domestic travelers from the USA and Canada (the DCL bread and butter, I would think) FLL has better and cheaper flight options. In fact, the last time I cruises out of Miami on DCL I flew into and out of FLL because it was cheaper to fly there and get independent ground transportation between there and Port Miami than it was to fly into Miami and get local transfers.

    Miami is the volume leader for number of cruise passengers served each year, but I don’t think it is the quality leader. One thing about Port Everglades is that it attracts more seasonal cruise lines (compared with Miami and Port Canaveral) that focus on October – April cruises. Those companies move there ships elsewhere in summer (mostly Europe or Alaska, but sometimes New England/Canada) so that pushes down the annual passenger totals for Port Everglades vs the more year round ports of Miami and Port Canaveral.

    In Miami, New Orleans, Galveston, New York, San Diego, Vancouver, Dover, Barcelona, etc. Disney has to share port facilities with other cruise lines. I notice they do install some Disney theming for turn around days, but then they have to take it down before the next ship comes in (from a competing line) then put it back up for the next Disney ship. If they have their own facility, they can just leave things in place and also customize things as they want. Even in Port Canaveral where DCL has their own terminal, it sounds like they were able to get a 50% lease on a second terminal but not a full-time lease. So they are constrained there. In Miami, DCL was going to have to share with some other line.

    Port Everglades is conveniently located closer to FLL airport than Port Miami is to Miami airport, and far closer than Port Canaveral is to Orlando (granted the somewhat nearby WDW resort is a big difference there). Also, the sail away time/distance from Port Everglades to open ocean is faster than Miami or Port Canaveral, which might help a little.

    Plus, a few years ago I think Carnival spend significant amounts of money fixing up terminal 4 at Port Everglades, but then cut their facility from their lease in 2020 to save cash. DCL is now taking advantage of that (although clearly wants to spend more money on improvements and customization). If they would have stayed with Miami, they seemingly would have had to pay more to participate in a new terminal.

    Heck, Port Everglades even charges less for onsite parking than either Port Canaveral or Port Miami, so there’s a win right there! (As of today, Miami says parking is $22 normally or $25 per night in the Royal Caribbean run garage, Port Canaveral is $17 per calendar day (not per 24 hour period) so they charge for length of cruise + 1 day vs just length of cruise, while Port Everglades is $15 per 24 hour period. So for a 4 night cruise, Miami is at least $88 and maybe $100, Port Canaveral is $85 accounting for the extra “day,” and Port Everglades would be $60. A small price compared with the cruise, but still a nice difference.)


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