Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida has completed an extensive survey of more than 7,000 cruise guests, stretching across a four-month period and covering both peak and non-peak cruising days.
Multiple cruise lines were included in the survey, and the results show great enthusiasm for cruising and for what travelers are looking for not only in a cruise, but also what they want from the homeport.
Port Everglades Conducts Cruise Guest Survey
From December 2022 through March 2023, Port Everglades – the third busiest passenger cruise port in the world – conducted detailed surveys with post-cruise guests, both during peak travel periods as well as off-peak periods to ensure a thorough sampling of guest experiences and preferences.
A total of 7,186 guests completed the survey, with participants from Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Silversea, and Viking Cruises.
Some travelers using the Baleária Caribbean ferry service, which runs between Fort Lauderdale and both Grand Bahama Island and Bimini, also participated in the survey. In total, guests from 25 different vessels were surveyed.
“We really want to know how we can improve the guest experience, and also how the port impacts the economic well-being of Broward County,” said Jonathan Daniels, Port Everglades CEO and Port Director.
Daniels noted that the survey’s timing might have some impact on responses, since late 2022 and into 2023 was still in the post-pandemic recovery period for cruise travel, but now the port anticipates three million travelers for the fiscal year, compared to the 1.9 million that had been forecast.
“We can confidently say ‘Cruising is Back’ and your opinion matters,” Daniels said.
A similar survey was conducted in 2015, but only included responses from 1,800 travelers and was only conducted over an 8-day period during the spring break season. Still, some comparison of the numbers does indicate interesting growth in the cruise industry and changes in traveler dynamics.
The extensive survey, conducted by Moffatt & Nichol and Dickey Consulting Services (DCS), revealed some interesting key findings about passenger demographics as well as port choices and travel plans.
Surveyed passengers ranged in age from under 18 to over 75, with the highest percentage (18%) being age 55-64. Of the respondents, 22% were first-time cruisers and 36% used a travel agent to book their cruise. Most travelers (45%) were traveling in parties of 2, while 30% were in groups of 3-4 and 20% were traveling in larger groups of 5-20 passengers.
Of domestic (US resident) travelers surveyed, 53% live in the southeastern US, which is higher than the 38% reported in 2015. This indicates more travelers prefer a cruise port close to home, and that cruises may be growing in popularity as a preferred vacation option. Of those surveyed, 56% had sailed from Port Everglades in the past, indicating a majority of travelers as return visitors.
Fewer guests, however, are arriving to the cruise port in the days preceding their voyage. In the recent survey, 34% of respondents stayed in a hotel for at least one night pre-cruises, while in 2015, 51% enjoyed hotel stays before setting sail.
This may indicate the greater availability now of shorter cruise itineraries, which are more appealing to local travelers more likely to drive to the port.
To reach the port, while 26% of travelers drove their own vehicle, 35% used taxis or ride share services and just 4% used cruise line transfers.
How Does Port Everglades Rate?
A number of survey questions directly addressed facilities at Port Everglades. An astonishing 94% of travelers rated the port as Excellent or Good for “Ease of Sailing” while 93% rated the overall facilities as Excellent or Good. Regarding cleanliness, 93% likewise rated the port as Excellent or Good.
A number of open-ended questions allowed guests to make specific comments about the port facilities, particularly where improvements would be welcome. Improving the comfort and quantity of seating, better amenities, and better Wi-Fi were all listed as items guests would appreciate. Signage at the terminal was also noted as confusing or unclear.
Parking, traffic efficiency, and luggage assistance were also noted as needing improvement.
Part of the data the survey collected is with respect to the local economy, hotel preferences, and visitor spending.
In contributing to the local economy, the average passenger surveyed reported spending $288 on lodging, $134 on food and beverages, and $450 in other expenses such as tours, entertainment, transportation, and souvenirs for each day they spent visiting South Florida.
Overall, Port Everglades supports 2,575 direct local jobs and contributes $786 million to Broward County and the surrounding regional economic community.
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