The largst cruise terminal in the world to serve the two largest and most revolutionary cruise ships in the world officially opened at Port Everglades on Friday, November 6, one week prior to the arrival of Royal Caribbean International's 5,400-passenger Oasis of the Seas.
"We finished building Cruise Terminal 18 on time and under budget, which is a demonstration of government at its best," said Port Everglades Director Phil Allen. Port Everglades, located within the cities of Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, and Dania Beach, Florida, is governed by the Broward County Board of County Commissioners. "There may be bigger terminals that service two ships at the same time, but Terminal 18 was constructed specifically to handle one Oasis-class ship at a time."
At 240,000 square feet (5.5 acres), Cruise Terminal 18 is more than three times larger than it was just 22 months prior to opening when Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCL) reached an agreement with Broward County to homeport both of the new Oasis-class of ships at Port Everglades. The second Oasis-class ship, Allure of the Seas, is scheduled to arrive at Port Everglades in late 2010.
"We are very appreciative of the efforts of Director Phil Allen and his team at Port Everglades to create a state-of-the-art facility that will provide a seamless experience for our guests," said President and CEO of Royal Caribbean International Adam Goldstein. "Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas will present an unprecedented vacation to guests and Terminal 18 is an integral part of delivering that offering."
Bigger Is Faster
Despite its size, Cruise Terminal 18 was designed to allow guests to check-in and be ready to board the ship in just 15 minutes.
Typically, cruise guests who arrive early have to wait outside the terminal until U.S. Customs and Border Protection has completed disembarking guests from the previous sailing. Since embarkation and debarkation take place in two separate parts of Cruise Terminal 18, early arrivals can be processed for embarkation simultaneously with debark. The goal is that once the ship is cleared for embarkation, the transition for guests to go from curbside to the ship can be completed in 15 minutes.
The terminal area for debarking guests is 102,000 square feet on two levels, while the arrival hall for embarking guests is in the new section of Cruise Terminal 18 and encompasses 138,000 square feet on two levels.
Cruise Terminal 18 is actually two buildings combined with a 16,500-square-foot baggage screening area in the center that will serve both embarking and debarking side of the facility. The terminal was designed so that embarking passengers who arrive early can begin the boarding process and relax upstairs while guests from the prior cruise collect their luggage and proceed through Customs. Once U.S. Customs and Border Protection clears the ship for boarding, waiting guests can proceed onto the ship.
Inside the embarkation area, guests will be guided through the boarding process by following more than 157 flat-panel television screens that advise guests where to proceed according to cabin number and what documents to have ready. The embarkation area has 90 check-in counters, more than any cruise terminal worldwide.
Upon their return to Port Everglades, guests will find their luggage separated by their cabin numbers as opposed to the typical color-coded process. More than 70 digital screens in the almost two-acre baggage hall display cabins numbers that guide guests to where their luggage is waiting. U.S. Customs and Border Protection has a state-of-the-art surveillance and screening area inside the terminal, and 22 processing counters.
While You Wait
Although the goal is to move guests quickly through the terminal so they can begin their cruise vacation, those who arrive early will be able to relax on the upper level of the terminal with seating available to accommodate up to 3,000 passengers.
Once there, they can recharge electrical devices and stay connected through free wireless Internet access.
Children will be able to have fun even before boarding with a colorful playground area inside the terminal. The playground is ADA compliant and can accommodate 75 children from toddlers to pre-teens. Activities include a two-level slide, Moonwalk, Twist N' Tangle, Cave Crawl, Roller Squeezes, punching bags and more. There is a special foam-covered section for toddlers with activity panels and giant foam toys to roll with and hug.
To effectively service the largest cruise ships in the world, Port Everglades has installed two new flexible, custom-designed switch-back Mobile Elevating Gangways and a Fixed Walkway (attached to the building) at Cruise Terminal 18 built by FMT of Sweden.
The gangways' main features are the flexibility for servicing the varying elevation heights and horizontal locations of cruise ship doors and cruise terminal entrance locations along the fixed walkway as well as safer handling, speed, and operation through computer-controlled equipment. They are computer-controlled and will automatically follow ship movements if affected by tidal, wind and wave fluctuations. The gangways are connected to the Port's data network through modems for remote online maintenance and have operational reliability with two independent power sources.
To enhance passenger comfort, these new gangways have walls of tempered safety glass, providing a more open environment with daylight and better orientation for embarking and disembarking passengers. The gangways have been built in compliance with the new South Florida codes, which require higher wind resistance, stronger construction, and greater operational stability in windy conditions. The new portion of the terminal is designed to handle above hurricane force winds at 150 miles per hour.
On the Move
Terminal 18 is located in the center of Port Everglades directly on the Port's main thoroughfare. It is separated from other cruise terminals so that vehicular traffic to and from the terminal is isolated and can move smoothly. An intermodal transportation center will have separate entrances and traffic routes for buses, trucks, taxis and cars so that vehicles can move smoothly and swiftly to pick up and drop off guests and provisions. Sixteen buses can park simultaneously, which is more than double the bus spaces at any of the cruise terminals at Port Everglades. In addition, there are more than 1,000 parking spaces within walking distance of the terminal.
An Oasis of Light and Color
Shades of green with blue accents represent the sea and sky on the exterior of Cruise Terminal 18, while the interior is bathed in natural light from a 4,000-square-foot skylight in the center and a massive window at the entranceway. The skylight is made up of opaque panels that are designed to allow diffused natural light into the main open area. The natural lighting from the skylight reduces the amount of artificial light needed for electrical lighting. And, because the panels are opaque, the same amount of natural lighting brightens up the terminal whether conditions outside are sunny or cloudy.
Art Meant to be Traveled
Renowned international artist Michele Oka Doner was selected through Broward County's Public Art & Design Program to create a work of art on the center floor of the new terminal entitled "Forces of Nature." According to the artist, beautiful deep green and blue terrazzo matrices in an approximately 3,000-square-foot area contain a lively narrative. The composition in the floor consists of two arenas of focus. In the wider section of the footprint, an eight-foot diameter globe in cast bronze is depicted in a spinning manner. The globe is energized with crisscrossed longitudinal and latitudinal lines. Enhancing the movement are great sweeps of iridescent mother-of-pearl simulating the trade winds that circle the Earth. The mother-of-pearl aggregates vary in color - white to pink and silver, scale and proportion, adding a kind of cosmic delight. In the narrower portion of the floor, ocean currents pick up the sense of motion begun by the spinning globe, carried by the winds, and resulting in a wave-like pattern. Consecutive wavy lines, executed in exquisite aggregate, delineate a new region, approximately 25 feet in dimension. This area contains the seedbed of approximately 200 units depicted in cast bronze. The forms are drawn from actual seeds from the multitude that are known to drift far and wide in the currents. The seeds vary in scale from 6-20 inches and reveal textures, patterns, and shapes of exceptional variety. The composition in its entirety is buoyant and dramatic, a work of art that speaks of travel by wind, currents, and ultimately boarding the ship.
Oasis of the Seas is expected to generate $6.2 million in revenue for Port Everglades in the coming year, which is derived from marine services and passenger fees. Total economic impact from the 292,000 passengers that sail on the Oasis of the Seas this year is expected to top $266 million and generate nearly $9 million in state and local taxes.
An economic impact study conducted by Martin and Associates as part of the Port Everglades Master/Vision Plan, projects that by 2012, the fifth-year of the 10-year agreement between Broward County and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCL) to homeport the Oasis-class and other RCL brand ships at Port Everglades, an estimated 8,012 jobs will be supported. These jobs are anticipated to generate $356.5 million in personal income and $32.8 million in state and local taxes.
In addition, the study anticipated that more than 1,414 new construction jobs were created as a result of the Cruise Terminal 18 expansion.
About the Construction
Building Cruise Terminal 18 took 62,572,500 pounds of concrete, the weight of 782 18-wheeler trucks; 33.3 miles of conduit; and 153 miles of wire, which would stretch from Fort Lauderdale to Key West.
In February 2009, construction workers hoisted into place one of the world's largest tilt wall sections - a 324,000-pound concrete section that serves as the main entrance for Cruise Terminal 18. The 45-foot wide and 57.6-foot tall wall section, which is shaped like a louver to provide an overhang for guests and natural lighting inside the building, was lifted from its mold by two cranes moving in unison - slowly and carefully. Florida-based Tilt-Con Corporation constructed the wall section, which is estimated to be the second heaviest tilt wall section in the world.
The Broward County Public Works Department's Seaport Engineering and Construction Division spearheaded the Cruise Terminal 18 construction project. The project was laid out, planned, scheduled and successfully implemented by this Division beginning in September 2007. The general managing contractor was Hewitt-Kier Construction Inc. and the architect was Bermello Ajamil & Partners, Inc. Additional sub-consultant work was completed by Hammond & Associates, Inc., Lakdas/Yohalem Engineering, Inc. and Cordova Rodriguez & Associates, Inc.
The cost of the expanded Cruise Terminal 18 was estimated at $75 million, although the final cost is expected to be lower. The expense will be covered primarily through an increase in the number of passengers that Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. guarantees will sail to and from Port Everglades over a 10-year period, with the guaranteed number of passengers increasing five-fold within the first five years of the agreement with Port Everglades. This guarantee includes passengers sailing from Port Everglades on all of RCL brand ships including Celebrity and Azamara. As part of this agreement, RCL will reimburse Port Everglades for 89 percent of the cost of the expansion.
About Oasis of the Seas and Royal Caribbean
Oasis of the Seas is the largest and most revolutionary cruise ship in the world. An architectural marvel at sea, it spans 16 decks, encompasses 225,282 gross registered tons, carries 5,400 guests at double occupancy, and features 2,700 staterooms. Oasis of the Seas is the first ship to tout the cruise line's new neighborhood concept of seven distinct themed areas, which includes Central Park, Boardwalk, the Royal Promenade, the Pool and Sports Zone, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center, Entertainment Place and Youth Zone. For more information, visit Royal Caribbean's website.
Royal Caribbean International is a global cruise brand with 21 ships currently in service and one under construction. The line also offers unique cruise tour land packages in Alaska, Canada, Dubai, Europe, and Australia and New Zealand. For additional information or to make reservations, call your travel agent, visit Royal Caribbean's website or call (800) ROYAL-CARIBBEAN. Travel professionals should call (800) 327-2056.
About Port Everglades
As one of South Florida's leading economic powerhouses, Port Everglades is the gateway for international trade and cruise vacations. Already one of the three busiest cruise ports worldwide, Port Everglades is also one of Florida's leading container ports. And, Port Everglades is South Florida's main seaport for receiving petroleum products including gasoline, jet fuel and alternative fuels. The Port Everglades Department is a self-supporting Enterprise Fund of Broward County government with operating revenues of approximately $117 million in Fiscal Year 2008 (October 1, 2007 through September 30, 2008). It does not rely on local tax dollars for operations. The total value of economic activity at Port Everglades is nearly $18 billion annually. Approximately 185,000 Florida jobs are impacted by the Port, including almost 11,000 people who work for companies that provide direct services to Port Everglades.
More information on Port Everglades, a service of the Broward County Board of County Commissioners, is available by e-mailing PortEverglades@broward.org or by calling 954-523-3404.