Attending the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show can be overwhelming unless you have a plan. With six sites, more than 1,200 exhibitors and miles of docks, you need to be prepared so you can get the most value and enjoyment out of the show. Check out Steve Water’s ultimate guide to the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show below to help you navigate through the events!
When to go: The first thing you need to determine is which day or days to go. The show always opens on a Thursday, which is known as Prime Time Preview. If you want to be among the first several thousand people to see the show, then you’ll pay the prime time price of $36 per ticket.
If being first isn’t an issue, but you are looking to make a major purchase, then a two-day ticket for $38 is your best bet. Good for any two of the next four days of the show, it allows you to comparison shop for a boat, engine, electronics, safety gear, jewelry, artwork or clothing, then come back after you’ve had time to process everything and make a final decision.
Thursday is often quite busy at the show, but Saturday and Sunday are traditionally the busiest days. Monday is the least crowded day and some exhibitors offer reduced prices on their goods just so they don’t have to pack them up and lug them back home.
What to wear: Speaking of clothing, you want to dress comfortably for the show. On a hot and sunny day at the outdoor venues, you’ll want lightweight clothing, a hat and sunscreen — you’d be surprised how scorched you can get walking along the docks. If you’re staying in the air-conditioned Broward County Convention Center, you don’t have to worry about that.
You also want to wear comfortable shoes because you might be doing a lot of walking. If you plan on going on boats, you’ll want shoes that are easy to take off and put back on because most exhibitors will not let you wear shoes — even boat shoes — on their boats. If you’re wearing socks, make sure they’re clean and don’t have holes.
Ticket savings: It’s best to buy your boat show tickets in advance. By getting them online at showmanagement.com, you won’t have to wait in line to buy them at the show, plus you’ll save $2 per purchase (so an adult ticket is $18 instead of $20 and the two-day ticket is $36). Click on the IGFA School of Sportfishing seminars on the boat show website for an even bigger discount.
Park and cruise: Getting to the show can be easy or maddening. The basic rule of thumb is to park as far away from the Bahia Mar Yachting Center, which is the heart of the show, as you can. State Road A1A by Bahia Mar is usually jammed with cars and so is Southeast 17th Street Causeway near the convention center, which has a parking garage that fills up early in the day.
The best options are to park off-site at War Memorial Park or in downtown Fort Lauderdale and take one of the free shuttle buses to the show. The buses start running at 9 a.m., an hour before the show opens each day, and continue until an hour after the show closes each day.
The most enjoyable way to get to the show is by parking in one of the city or private lots or garages at the Las Olas Riverfront and taking the free riverboat to Bahia Mar. The riverboat captains often provide an entertaining and informative narrative of the route’s history and homes.
Get connected: Once you’re at the show, you can map out the exhibitors you want to see with the show program. Or, if you have an iPhone or Android smart phone, you can download the free MyBoatShow app.
The app lets you search for boats by name, specifications and size, as well as search for exhibitors, manufacturers and product categories. The app also has maps of the show, seminar information, restroom locations and show transportation schedules. You can even use it to buy boat show tickets.
Make sure to come see us this week! Our dock slip and space information may be found below.
Sessa Marine: G Dock, slips 727-729
Midnight Express: Space #1008-1011
Source: www.articles.sun-sentinel.com; Steve Waters; October 20, 2012.