This research was a little harder than most, but this is what I found. The Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites on Bruce B. Downs has free parking. I do not see anything about a shuttle, but you could call and ask. I checked over 12 motels, Hotels, and all charged to park. I hope this helps.
I work in Downtown Tampa, I can see the cruise ships from my office (actually my co-workers office, lucky him). There is no free parking in any of the Downtown hotels, although a few are in walking distance to the ships. Also, no free parking anywhere in Downtown Tampa. My suggestion is to pay the parking garage fee and park across from the ship.
There are a few hotels in the downtown/channelside area that would probably be ideal although I dont know the price per night. The Mariott Tampa Waterside-Marina, Embassy Suites Downtown and Hyatt Regency are very close to the terminal. I know Embassy runs a shuttle to the terminal. If they allow you to park at their property for the duration of your cruise, the price may be offset the $12 a day longterm parking fee at the parking garage by the terminal.
You might try the hotels in the "West Shore" area. This is a good area, not too far from the port, (probably 3 or 4 miles) and with restaurants, and shopping very close by. The only hotel I'm aware of personally, is "Spring Hill Suites" by Marriott. My company uses this place and it's well liked. Phone is 813-739-2841. You might call, check the rates, check if they offer a shuttle, and parking for your vehicle. If they don't offer what you want, they may suggest other hotels in the area. (there are lots of them)
Good luck, and welcome to our beautiful city!
My first cruise was out of Tampa. And, I was booked at the Tampa Airport Marriott. At that time they had the cruise shuttle busses leaving from that hotel as well.
I was very surprised. When the skycap offered to help me. I thought he would take me to a shuttle. but we just went down an elevator and on a tram. The Hotel is in the Airport concorse. It was great. Right outside the hote were some nice places to eat... TGI Fridays...Starbucks... and much more also all the airport shops. And, the hotel was comfortable.
I would stay there again!
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