From reviews and message boards I have gathered that the Sheraton in Miami offers advance check-in to Carnival guests so you can avoid long lines. Do any other hotels offer this service? I have also heard that you don' t need to be a guest at the Sheraton to use this, is this true?
Also, do any of the hotels in the port area offer a competitive long-term parking fee or shuttle service to the port?
No you don't have to stay at the Sheraton to do the pre check-in. Just call the morning of your cruise to make sure they are holding it. They don't hold it every day, just when enough people booked the hotel thru Carnival. I think that it saved us at least an hour in line as the line to check in at the port was out to the metal detectors when we arrived at about 11:15am.
There is no cheap parking in Miami. Parking at the Hyatt (where we stayed) and at the Sheraton are at least $15/day. Parking at the pier is $10.