If you're going to hold a convention in sunny South Florida in the middle of March, you can be damn sure that I am going to go exploring to find out what the beach is like.
Welcome to Fort Lauderdale, home to the annual "all things cruising" convention known as Seatrade. I snuck away from the stuffy confines of the convention center to get outside for a day of play. I took a leisurely run from my hotel down to Fort Lauderdale Beach. I say leisurely because that is all I could muster. This New Jersey guy -- visiting the Florida heat and humidity -- will need a few days to get properly acclimated.
One word about this beach area: Awesome!
The Blue Wave-certified beach (a system that rates the cleanliness and environmental quality) was just coming to life around 9 a.m. when I finished my two-mile run down State Road A1A to the ocean. The sands are clean, in almost pristine condition, and I immediately shed my shirt and MP3 player and GPS watch to jump into the clear and cool waters.
Runners, bikers and walkers will love that the main oceanfront road, as Seabreeze Boulevard becomes North Atlantic Boulevard, is wide and smooth.
Along the four-mile stretch of sand, I discovered several items to entice the fitness-seeking traveler. After running to the beach and jumping in for a swim, how about shooting some hoops on the basketball courts? Right next to this is an outdoor fitness space, complete with pullup bars and plenty of other pieces of equipment that allow you to get a complete body-weight workout.
I saw people enjoying paddleboarding on the calm morning waters. The beach features a lot of gorgeous trees that cast comfy shade over picnic areas, as well as at least one playground space for kids. It seems to be a family-friendly beach. Signs are posted stating that there is no alcohol allowed. But I'd bet that you can bring in a small cooler, be discreet, don't get out of control and be sure to pick up after yourself and no one will mind if you have a few cold ones during your stay. Lifeguards are on duty. (Regulars at this beach? Let us know how strict this rule is please.)
The beach is free and open to the public, but parking is metered on the street. I have visited South Beach in Miami several times, and it's also very nice, with a great running path and outdoors fitness equipment. But I really like the feel of Fort Lauderdale Beach much more. It's more laid back. No creepiness at all compared with the attention-starved vibe that some South Beach regulars throw off. The people in Fort Lauderdale don't need your attention; they just need their quiet and blissful beach time, thank you very much.
No wonder Fort Lauderdale has been a fast-rising beach destination. I was glad to get to finally check it out.
From the hive of competing cruise-related news and flash and glitz, I was able to sift through the news releases to find a few items of interest to you.
Well, I find them intriguing at least, so I'm going to go ahead and tell you about them. Got it?
Here is what's new at Seatrade that's good for adventurous travelers who seek to venture beyond the sun decks and buffet lines. The right kind of cruise traveler can find time for food, sun and active fun. Just sayin'!
Celebrity Cruises announced that it is acquiring two more vessels to expand its offerings in the Galapagos Islands. Celebrity Cruises acquired tour operator Ocean Adventures and its two ships, MV Eclipse and MC Athala II. Eclipse holds up to 48 passengers, and Athala II, a catamaran, holds 16.
Celebrity already operates its Celebrity Xpedition 100-passenger yacht in the Galapagos. The smaller ships expand the itineraries that Celebrity can offer in the pristine island region. The ships can venture to Puerto Villamil, Darwin Bay, Black Turtle Cove, Chinese Hat Islet and Wall of Tears. MV Eclipse and MC Athala II will continue with Ocean Adventure voyages until a drydock in January 2017. After the refresh, they will sail as part of the Celebrity Cruises fleet with signature elements from the line. Celebrity will have to rename at least Eclipse; the line already has another ship with that moniker. No word yet on the new name.
Crystal Cruises has plans to build a second expedition yacht, Crystal Endeavor, which will be the sister ship to Crystal Esprit. Crystal says Endeavor will be the world's largest megayacht when it debuts in August 2018. The vessel will be the first purpose-built polar class expedition yacht. Sounds great. I'm not sure what that means. I know that I've been told it will be 600 feet long and feature an incredible number of fitness-based activities you can enjoy during your voyages.
The 200-passenger ship will carry two seven-person submersible subs and have 270-degree panoramic views for whale watching or spotting other wildlife in the exotic destinations it will sail. Yes, there will be a spa, Jacuzzi and a gym. It also will have two helicopters for flightseeing excursions, eight Zodiac boats, jet skis, wave runners, kayaks, fishing gear, paddleboards, snorkel and dive equipment, underwater scooter and an ATV. That ship will pack a lot of toys for your vacation.
MSC Cruises announced a partnership with Chef Roy Yamaguchi, who helped popularize Hawaiian-inspired cuisine and founded dozens of Roy's restaurants. Yamaguchi will create a pan-Asian eatery that will offer a range of flavors in a teppan style. The cover-charge eatery will offer healthy fare on the new MSC Seaside, which will debut in December 2017 and sail voyages from Miami.
Thanks for reading.
Travel fit! Travel happy! Travel often!