Oct 25, 2023 - News

Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show opens today

A man in a suit in front of a yacht

The broker in his element. Image courtesy of Nicholas Cardoza.

The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show kicks off today, with about 100,00 attendees expected through Sunday.

What's happening: Nicholas Cardoza, who starred in the Paramount+ show "Hot Yachts," has tips for tackling the big event.

Why it matters: Fort Lauderdale is considered the yachting capital of the world.

  • Organizers estimate Florida companies made $709.7 million in sales at the 2021 edition of the show, which is now in its 64th year.

The big picture: There will be about 1,300 boats on display, plus nautical gadgets, fishing clinics and seminars.

What they're saying: Boat shopping online is possible, but "there's something to be said for seeing, feeling, touching and even smelling the boats in person," Cardoza tells Axios. "Believe it or not, 'old boat smell' is a concern."

Driving the news: It's an incredible time to purchase a boat at a steep discount due to economic headwinds, Cardoza says.

  • Owners who paid inflated prices during the peak of the pandemic boating boom could be ready to unload them.
  • "It can cost more than $50,000 to display a boat at the show, so these sellers are usually very motivated," the broker says.

Zoom in: At part of the show called the AquaZone, check out gizmos popular with billionaires and young superyacht owners: submarines, submersibles and electric surfboards.

Yes, but: While you can walk the docks and be invited onto smaller boats, "there's no chance of getting on the superyachts for sale, especially the most expensive one, the 63.8m Atomic, which is listed for $63 million, unless you're with a broker," Cardoza says.

Zoom out: Beyond the showgrounds, the hottest party is for the 25th anniversary of the International SeaKeepers Society ocean conservation charity. However, it's sold out.

  • Other parties will abound at private waterfront villas.
  • Eat at Coconuts, popular with the yachting crowd, or along Las Olas Boulevard.

If you go: Attend today — VIP Preview Day — "if you're an actual buyer who wants the first-mover advantage and the best deals," Cardoza says.

  • Tickets start at $42 for adults.
  • Get around via complimentary water shuttle or water taxi.

Of note: Wear slip-ons. "Most dealers will ask you to remove your shoes before boarding a new boat," Cardoza says.


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