Preview: Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show 2014
You should go to the Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show! Even if you don't own a boat, or may not want a boat, this show is an excellent excuse to visit Ft. Lauderdale. The show appeals to sailors as well as motorboat enthusiasts. Like to fish? You'll see a large assortment of fishing vessels.
I've attended the show the past three years and I am always amazed at how entertaining it can be. This year is the 55th Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show, and it will once again be held in the heart of Ft. Lauderdale just steps from the beach along the intercoastal waterway. The show is so large it's spread over acres of water and it also utilizes the nearby convention center. This year's show takes place October 30-November 3, 2014. Thursday October 30 is the preview day and I highly recommend spending a extra few bucks to go on this day. The crowds are usually smaller.
Ft. Lauderdale's boat show is the largest in the world and it features manufacturers from around the world. You'll see more boats here than at most shows. What's also great is that this show appeals to everyone. From boaters looking at buying a small ski boat to a multi-million dollar mega yacht. Don't like boating? No problem. You'll find displays from major RV manufacturers, pretty much every high end car brand (in the market for an Aston Martin?), and many others. You'll find booth after booth of nautical supplies, marine electronics and even booths selling vacation condos.
A few Tips
If you attend the show make sure you wear comfortable shoes. You'll walk several miles over the course of a day. Also, wear boat friendly shoes that you can easily slip on and off. Most displays, with the exception of the large yachts, will allow you to board the boats, but most will require you to remove your shoes. The docks are often wet, so shoes without socks is a good idea.
Decide in advance which boat makers you'd like to visit. This way you can best plan your route around the docks. Boat dealers want you to see their newest models, but don't monopolize the sales representatives time if you're just browsing. Many manufacturers will have representatives at the show and they like to hear feedback from current owners and potential customers. (Boat show organizers have developed a smart phone app that gives you a detailed map and guide. I highly recommend you downoad and use this app.)
Grab lunch early. There are some great food options at the show, but come lunch time the lines are long. You may also have trouble finding a place to sit. If you can, grab food early. Also, make sure you drink plenty of water. It's hot and humid and you don't want to get dehydrated.
Where To Stay
I like to stay on Ft. Lauderdale beach when I'm in Ft. Lauderdale. My first pick is the Hilton Ft. Lauderdale Beach Resort. I've stayed here probably a dozen times. I also like the W Ft. Lauderdale Beach and the Ritz Carlton. There are also several budget friendly options nearby. Most of these hotels are walking distance to the show which means no hassle parking and you don't have to wait for a shuttle bus. (Here's our review of the Hilton Ft. Lauderdale Beach Resort)
Ft. Lauderdale beach is just a few minutes by cab from Ft. Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport. Flight options are plentiful and often well priced.
Unless you're in the market, and have a large bank account, don't plan on boarding the mega yachts at the show. You can walk past them and see some of the most incredible yachts in the world, but most of them are behind the velvet ropes controlled by a yacht broker. Don't fret, there are still plenty of cool boats to see. If you are in the market to build your dream yacht, nearly every major yacht maker is at the show. You'll also find all of the major yacht brokers ready to find you the perfect vessel.
Boats Worth Checking Out
You may be familiar with Sea Ray, Regal, Cruisers and Bayliner, but there are dozens of boat brands. Here are a few I'd recommend checking out:
This year SeaRay will be launching two new Luxury Class yachts the 580 and 580 Fly. They are the last of four boats in the L-Class line launched last winter at the Miami Boat show. I also highly recommend the Fairline display. Their Targa and Squadron lines are excellent. I especially like the Squadron 48 and Targa 50GT.
In the electronics tent you can get hands on with the latest radar, chartplotters and Flir cameras. If you like LED lighting you'll find everything from cabin lighting to underwater lights. If you like boating there's a plethora of displays you'll find interesting.
Buy your tickets online in advance and you'll save a few bucks. You can find the latest prcies on the show's website.
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