I am a Priceline advocate. I have always booked a good hotel at a very reasonable price using them. The ONLY time I didn't was the very first time I used it and really had no idea what I was doing. I bid about the same amount as the website price for the room. After that I "learned" how to bid.
In Miami or Fort Lauderdale I have never paid more than $100 for a hotel near the ports. I have used Priceline a lot in the last ten years for hotels all over the world. The $85/night in Hong Kong, at the Sheraton, was wonderful because the going rate was almost $400. It allowed us to enjoy four days of pre-cruise fun.
I almost always fly in early for a cruise. If it is Miami or FLL I will just come in the day before and not do too much. Other port areas, especially outside the U.S., I will fly in a few days before to explore the embarkation city.