Port Everglades experienced a third quarter of growth in cruise passengers over the same time period last year, which officials believe is a positive sign of economic recovery in South Florida.

The number of cruise passengers increased by 2.4 percent during the third quarter of the fiscal year, April through June 2011, compared to the same period last year, and by 12.8 percent for the first nine months of its fiscal year ending June 30, 2011, with 3,461,886 cruise passengers embarking and debarking through the Port compared to 3,069,523 passengers last year.

"These trends show the resilience of the nation's cruise market and the importance of the cruise industry to South Florida," says Port Everglades Director Phil Allen. "In a tough economy, cruising offers guests affordable vacationing options. Interestingly, some of the highest ship occupancy rates are on those ships that sail year-round from Port Everglades."

Three large cruise ships are now sailing year-round at Port Everglades, including Royal Caribbean International's 5,400-passenger Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, and Carnival Cruise Line's 3,000 passenger Carnival Freedom.