Arduino Mega 2560 with multiple serial connections

I'm interested in several expansion boards/shields for the Mega 2560. But all of them require a serial connection. From the Arduino pages I read that the Arduino hardware has built-in support for serial communication on pins 0 and 1. The Mega 2560 should have 3 more serial connections.

Does the Mega 2560 provide 4 independent serial connections? If possible, I'd like to avoid SoftSerial.

Yes, it does. You can have up to four of them, provided that each board doesn’t use I/O used by any of the other shields.

Serial is on pins 0 and 1 Serial1 is on pins 18 and 19 Serial2 is on pins 16 and 17 Serial3 is on pins 14 and 15

It's that simple.

Thanks for the clarification. This helps a lot.