Load up on beachfront luxury in Fort Lauderdale

Who doesn't love visiting Florida? Clear skies, toasty beaches, an unruffled sea-breeze floating in off the ocean. What more could you ask for? The cruise port of Fort Lauderdale has something for everyone. ... sportfishing, sights to see and pier-side dining.

Pack and go: There's nothing complicated about flying to Fort Lauderdale – even the car rentals are easy. At Firefly Car Rental (, a discount business of Hertz, you will find rates as low as $80 a week. There are a few caveats: Firefly is an offsite hub – you will have two shuttle transfers from the Fort Lauderdale airport, and one of the stops has you baking in the direct sunlight. And know that while its Plate Pass program allows you to glide down south Florida’s toll roads, you will be charged $4.95 a day for the service – as well as the cost of the tolls.

Pre-cruise hotel: You will be struck by the modern design and art deco furnishings of the luxurious il Lugano boutique hotel ( and its breathtaking views of the Intracoastal Waterway. The suites are outfitted with near-complete kitchens. The only thing the bathrooms aren’t equipped with are garden-style bathtubs. The ocean is a three-block walk. Be sure to drop by their contemporary on-site Italian restaurant, Osteria, for their signature appetizer: fresh-pulled mozzarella.

And leave your auto here. They will even securely park your car for the duration of your cruise.

Post-cruise hotel: The lavish Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa, a little south in Hollywood, Fla., has long been favored by celebrities. After a stay here ( you’ll understand the phrase “the lap of luxury.” But resorts of such a grand of scale do cast large shadows: Get to the beach and pool early because the afternoon sun will quickly become eclipsed by the resort itself.

Drop in at their 14,000-square-foot Heavenly Spa for a Signature Massage, a blend of Swedish and deep-tissue treatments.

Swim with da fishes: For any outdoor enthusiast, snorkeling off the coast of Fort Lauderdale is a one-of-a-kind experience. The guided snorkeling tour by Sea Experience ( is perfect for beginners and anyone else who craves a great adventure. Round-trip transportation and all equipment are provided.

Water taxis: Get to resorts, shops and waterfront parks the trouble-free and practical way: by water taxi ( On Fort Lauderdale’s inland waters you will be ferried past the mansions of the “haves and the have-mores” and be awestruck by an endless array of docked yachts – most larger than the average house.

Chic Gone Wild: There is no better place here to discover designer labels and the hottest trends than Las Olas Boulevard (, in the heart of downtown Fort Lauderdale. Fashionistas stroll brick alleyways lined with quaint shops and popular restaurants. On occasion, the Las Olas shopping district’s streets will be cordoned off for wickedly fun festivals, like Wine and Dine samplings, and even toss in a fashion show.