LGBT+ Cruise Passengers Boost Business for Greater Fort Lauderdale’s Travel Industry

Port Everglades (Courtesy of Broward County's Port Everglades)Greater Fort Lauderdale is preparing to set a new record in February 2023, with four, back-to-back, sold-out LGBT+ cruises welcoming more than 11,500 visitors to the destination.

The economic impact of the four cruises from hotel room nights alone is estimated to be at least $8 million according to Visit Lauderdale, the official destination marketing organization for Greater Fort Lauderdale. Visitors will arrive here from around the world, with most booking local hotel reservations on both ends of their cruise itinerary for enjoying local restaurants, attractions and shopping while they are here.

“With demand for travel to LGBT+ friendly destinations at an all-time high, our reputation for welcoming ‘everyone under the sun’ has delivered a record-breaking booking of four consecutive LGBT+ cruises of this magnitude,” says Richard Gray, Visit Lauderdale’s senior vice president of inclusion & accessibility.

Greater Fort Lauderdale is Florida’s LGBT+ capital and one of the most progressive destinations in the United States. TravelPulse recently named Greater Fort Lauderdale one of the top 4 places for LGBT+ travelers post-COVID.

In October 2022, Visit Lauderdale unveiled its vibrant, new brand campaign “Everyone Under the Sun,” highlighting Greater Fort Lauderdale’s authentic welcoming vibe and its inclusive community. The destination’s commitment to inclusion is evident in the ads, starring locals of all ethnicities, disabilities and members of the area’s LGBT+ community.

Gray worked with LGBT+ cruise operators Atlantis, VACAYA and Olivia for the past year and promoted the four sailings on In addition, he arranged discounted hotel packages with area hoteliers, such as the Courtyard Fort Lauderdale Downtown and helped facilitate special marketing initiatives with VACAYA and Olivia.

Atlantis’ voyage on Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas (February 4-12, 2023) is the largest gay cruise ever, with 5,400 passengers. VACAYA’s cruise package on Celebrity Reflections (February 12-19, 2023) will host 2,300 travelers and Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam will host two cruises for LGBT+ tour operator, Olivia, which is celebrating 50 years of specialized travel packages for lesbians. The cruises (February 19-26, 2023 and February 23-March 5, 2023) will carry a total of 3,800 passengers.

Luxury cruises are big business for Greater Fort Lauderdale, with Port Everglades ranked third among the busiest cruise homeports worldwide.

“Beyond our appreciation for the major economic boost to our economy, we want LGBT+ travelers to know they are truly welcome in our community,” Gray says.

About Greater Fort Lauderdale

Greater Fort Lauderdale boasts an average year-round temperature of 77˚F and has 3,000+ hours of annual sunshine and is known as the Venice of America and Yachting Capital of the World. Explore 4,000+ eateries, 300+ miles of navigable waterways, eight distinct beaches, a thriving arts and culture scene, craft breweries, rooftop bars, diving, fishing and other outdoor adventures, world class shopping and boats, yachts and superyachts moored at the area’s many marinas – all conveniently located in the center of South Florida. Made up of 31 municipalities, the destination boasts more than 37,000 lodging accommodations at a variety of hotels, luxury spa resorts and boutique properties, reflecting a cosmopolitan vibe. Upon arrival at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL), it is just five minutes to the beach, Port Everglades, the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center and downtown.

About Visit Lauderdale
Visit Lauderdale is the official destination marketing organization for Greater Fort Lauderdale and serves as the tourism department for Broward County, Florida. Visit Lauderdale promotes the area’s 31 municipalities to a global audience of leisure and business travelers as the ideal place for Everyone Under the Sun in recognition of the area’s diverse and welcoming vibe, and books conventions into the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center and area hotels and resorts.