Skip to Main Content Skip to Search Skip to Contact Form

An Insider's Guide to the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show

Discover tips on how to make the most of your time shopping for your new boat or yacht and to have a great experience at the greatest boat show on the seven seas!

Whether you're coming to the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show to bring home the boat of your dreams or make a vacation out of visiting a sunny destination, it is a great place to check out next year’s boat models, ogle the latest electronics and shop for gear. If you’re in the market for a new boat or yacht, it also can mean a real opportunity for savings. The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show covers a lot of acreage with a bewildering array of products on display, so it’s important to formulate a plan in advance in order to save your feet – and your wallet – when you get there.

The first step is to analyze your boating habits and dreams, and decide what sort of vessel fits your on-water lifestyle best. Experienced boaters know you’re not just shopping for a new boat – you’re also shopping for a dealer. At the show, you won’t be able to see the dealership’s brick and mortar behind that shiny new boat on display.

The after-purchase support is every bit, if not more important than the actual purchase,” said Paul Cummings, MarineMax Regional President. “The buyer should know that the support will be there for any need that should arise. Does the dealer offer educational classes? Do they provide road and emergency service? Who will train me in how to best use and maintain my new investment? Are there any planned activities like owner getaways to enhance my boating lifestyle?

  • people stepping on board a large boat at night at an outdoor boat show

    Tip 1: Be A VIP

    The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show offers a “Prime Time Preview” the first day of the show on Wednesday. You will have to pay a little more for your admission ticket, but the chance to see the show with smaller crowds and shorter wait times to get aboard the boats on your list will be worth the up charge.
  • Tip 2: Chart Your Course

    Scouting the booth or slip numbers for your target brands and the dealers you plan to visit in advance can save you hours of wandering the aisles or docks at the show. Access the map for the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show here and find out more about what will be on display from the manufacturers MarineMax represents here. Spend a few minutes over a cup of coffee reviewing the locations you want to visit on the map so you’ll have an efficient route to follow through the show. You can also set an appointment with your MarineMax sales consultant to make the most of your time and receive his or her help navigating the show and seeing the models you'd like to tour. 
  • people taking off their shoes boarding a boat

    Tip 3: Dress For Recess

    This time of year at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, it's likely to be warm and a chance of rain showers. Wear comfortable clothes that breathe and will give you the freedom to climb over gunwales, through hatches and into engine compartments. Shoes that are not only comfortable for all the walking you'll be doing but also are easy to take on and off are a must. Most dealers ask you to remove your shoes before boarding a new boat in order to avoid scuff marks; wearing slip-ons instead of shoes that tie will save you time in the long run. We recommend having an umbrella handy in case it's needed.
  • people walking up a set of stairs to look at boats at an indoor boat show

    Tip 4: Quality Control

    Board a boat you’re considering buying, take your time and inspect the quality of its construction. Open hatches to see if they are finished inside as well as out. Make sure you can easily reach each engine’s service ports. Get off the boat and sight along the hull sides to look for imperfections in the fiberglass.
  • people walking along the dock at an outdoor boat show

    Tip 5: Take The Helm

    Your top-choice boat may look terrific fluffed and buffed for the show, but how is it going to feel to actually drive it? Sit or stand at the helm and visualize taking it out on the water. How are the sightlines forward, aft and to each side? It’s also a good idea to lie down in the berths to be sure they fit your frame. You might even take a pretend shower in the head.
  • indoor boat show

    Tip 6: Read The Fine Print

    Some boat builders and dealers advertise boat show specials and incentives at their displays. If a great deal or discount is being offered for your dream boat, you may save a few bucks if you buy it before the show ends. Boat show demo boats typically are equipped with upgraded power and every conceivable option, however. Before you sign on the dotted line, be sure that “what you see is what you get.”

    You want to make sure everything’s included in the purchase price: Coast Guard gear, full tank of fuel and maintenance," continues Cummings. “These things could come as a surprise expense later if the shopper doesn’t ask these questions early on.

  • purple lights on at night during an outdoor boat show with several people

    Tip 7: Relax And Enjoy

    Don’t forget, boat shows are designed to be fun, with a festive atmosphere, food and drink, and lots of eye candy. A day at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show beats a day at the office anytime.
  • Ready for the Boat Show?

    Now that you know how to maximize your time at a boat show, put your skills to the test and join us at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show! Now is your chance to step aboard boats and yachts of all shapes and sizes including several new models. Talk with the experts and other boaters about all the exciting features and innovations. Share your boating stories and adventures. With one place to come for everything boating, you'll find the boat of your dreams - to turn your days and weekend into vacations of a lifetime! 
Contact Us

Contact Us

MarineMax will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing. Please let us know all the ways we can contact you:
Boston Whaler boat in the water by sandbar with people and dog around

Find Your Perfect Boat Today

Start your search for the boat that has it all for your lifestyle! Explore premium new, used, and brokerage boats.
Search Boats
MarineMax Lifestyles

The Boating Lifestyles Blog

Browse hundreds of articles on customer stories, tips, trends, gear, amazing boating locations and more found in our Blog.
Explore Boating Articles
boats on the water at a getaway

Find an Event

All this fun is exhausting – NOT! We love creating entertaining and exciting customer events. Each is designed to make boating the most remarkable leisure activity in your life.
Find an Event