Tightly docked, port to starboard, the gleaming yachts are nearly all in place, as staff busily stocks the booths with divine swag, and spirits run high. The VIP venues are in perfect order, and the hotels are filling fast. The 56th Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show is about open the doors, welcoming even more than last year’s 100,000 guests.

New this year, the VIP package is proving essential, tying all the necessities into one convenient pass embracing a concierge, valet parking, show access, hospitality areas, gourmet food service, and premium cocktails. The Windward Club, inside the International Swimming Hall of Fame, stands as a great venue with a view enhanced by posh settings for a limited number of guests. Next year, the VIP pass will have even more power, adding travel and entertainment options to further indulge this luxurious, convenient way to see the show.

Topping most of the must-see lists for yachts on display are Lürssen’s 75-meter Northern Star. We’ve mentioned her in a previous post, but as the largest yacht in the show, with exceptional features, she deserves an encore. An Espen Øino design sporting an ice-classed hull and spectacular master suite, Northern Star is equipped with redundant systems that allow for remarkable range and true independence at sea. Northern Star is docked at Sybass, Slips 3-4 at the Bahia Mar Hall of Fame Las Olas Marina.

Lurssen Northern Star

Lurssen MY/Northern Star

Icon Yachts’ 62-meter Meridian shows off a luxe interior by Christiano Gatto, richly deserving of this Redman Whitely Dixon design docked at the Sails Marina Slip 3. The layout is geared specifically toward entertaining a crowd, with spacious salons and adjoining outdoor areas.

The 59-meter Oceanco Helios boasts heated marble floors in the master bath, a nicely equipped gym, a drop down projection system for movie screening, spacious salon and dining areas, and an oversize beach club, illustrating great versatility and accommodation in her size class. Add to that her beautiful exterior lines and a dramatic dark blue hull, and she becomes a contender viewable at the Sails Marina, Slip 2.

Oceanco MY/Helios

Oceanco MY/Helios

Should you wish to see any of the yachts covered in The Best of Yachting show previews, or simply need more information on one that’s caught your eye, contact Steve Johnson at The Best of Yachting.

While at the show, you’ll want to wander just a bit for some of the city’s great seafood and atmosphere. For a reliably delicious meal, great service, and a magnificent seafood menu, Truluck’s Seafood, Steak and Crab House wins consistent praise, along with 3030 Ocean. The Wild Sea Oyster Bar & Grille in the Riverside Hotel on Las Olas win honorable mention. More casual bites can be found at Coconuts Waterside Grill, close to the show, and Mangos, or YOLO, on Las Olas. Want a good cocktail, with a nice mix of surf and turf on the menu, some local scenery and stylish setting? Head to Shooter’s on the canal at NE 32nd.

Truluck’s Seafood, Steak and Crab House

Truluck’s Seafood, Steak and Crab House

If you aren’t doing the VIP pass, it may prove brilliant to sign up for the valet parking online at the boat show website. Secure passes for your wheels each day of the show and know there will be a spot waiting for you. Otherwise, be prepared for a hunt involving luck and patience.

Lastly, enjoy the show. From the gorgeous yachts along the docks and the convention center exhibits, to the fishing, freediving, and sport seminars, and relaxing rides on the water taxi or brief popspotting for celebrities from the floating cocktail lounges, this is a show dedicated to the good life. Make the most of it.

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