Fort Lauderdale Winterfest Boat Parade is Saturday

There will be dancing and singing, outrageous costumes and thousands of flashing Christmas lights as South Florida’s holiday revelers take to the waterways this weekend in three popular boat parades.

The largest display of waterborne whimsy will be offered Saturday by the Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade, in which more than 100 boats, ranging from 20-footers to a 179-foot corporate mega-yacht, will cruise in stately procession through Fort Lauderdale. There will be a pre-show with kayaks and paddle boarders.

The Winterfest Boat Parade will begin at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in downtown Fort Lauderdale on a 12-mile route down the New River and up the Intracoastal Waterway to Lake Santa Barbara in Pompano Beach. The theme: Fairy Tales Afloat.

“You’ll see a lot of princesses and three little pigs, we’ve got a boat that’s Tangled,” said Winterfest president and CEO Lisa Scott-Founds. “Every year it gets better, the decorations get better, the technology gets better — the LED lighting creates such a crisp display.”

The grand marshal of the 44th annual event will be Nick Catton

a rapper, actor and philanthropist. “He’s also just a really nice person,” said Scott-Founds. “With the boat parade we need a grand marshal who is entertaining. Last year [grand marshal] Flo Rida sang the entire way. The crowds appreciate that connection with a celebrity.”

But Cannon won’t be the only famous face. Captain Lee, the star of Bravo’s “Below Deck” reality TV show, will be Captain Hook aboard one of the highlighted ships which will have a “Peter Pan” theme.

“Every boat parade should have a captain and he’s a real one,” Scott-Founds said.

Source: Sun Sentinel

Carnival Cruises Get The OK To Visit Cuba

Cruise giant Carnival Corporation is preparing to set sail for Cuba.

The company said Tuesday that U.S. officials had granted approval for the Miami-based firm to send ships to the island, which the U.S. placed under economic embargo more than half a century ago.

But the cruises won’t bring sun-hungry vacationers to lounge on Cuba’s beaches. Carnival will organize the trips under its Fathom brand, which aims to foster social good by transporting travelers to other countries for volunteering, educational purposes or cultural exchanges.

Carnival expects Cuba trips to begin in 2016, once the venture gets the green light from Cuban authorities. Prices start at $2,990 per person with a $600 deposit.

Claire West, a spokeswoman for Carnival, told The Huffington Post that the company has already begun meeting with Cuban officials.

“There’s definitely a niche market of people that would like to be able to essentially have volunteer tourism on steroids,” Stewart Chiron, CEO of the Miami-based cruise industry, told HuffPost by phone. “A lot of people want to be able to do more but they don’t want to live in tents and they don’t want to eat horrible food.”

Carnival launched Fathom, its 10th brand, last month with slightly-cheaper trips to the Dominican Republic. The company has commissioned the Adonia — a 5.5-star, 30,000-ton ship that can carry roughly 710 passengers — to sail travelers southward into the Caribbean.

“This isn’t just another ship,” Chiron said. “It’s not for people who are just looking to go and have a good time. If you want to go to the beach and just relax, this is not for those types of people.”

Fifty-eight percent Florida residents surveyed by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute said they supported a direct ferry or cruise ship service between U.S. ports and Cuba, according to the newly-released poll.

“We know there’s a strong demand from travelers who want to immerse themselves in Cuban culture, so this is a historic opportunity for us to enable more people to experience Cuban society,” Arnold Donald, Carnival’s president stated.