I just wrote thi article a couple months ago:
Fort Lauderdale Hotels for Cruisers
By Paul Motter
January 1, 2010
Pre-cruise hotel recommendations for cruisers leaving from Fort Lauderdale Port Everglades
Fort Lauderdale is one of the most exciting cruise ports in the world. It was the choice of home port by Royal Caribbean for the brand new Oasis of the Seas, for example, because the facilities are extremely convenient for cruise lines and passengers alike. The port is no more than ten minutes from the airport by taxi and the cab fare is under $15.
One drawback, however, is that Fort Lauderdale is located fairly deep in southern Florida. If you live on the East coast you can generally find a same-day flight that will get you to the port early enough to catch your ship, but if you live on the West Coast, then travel time and also the change in time zones work against you. It isn't just that the flight time is at least five to six hours even with a non-stop flight; it is that the time zone difference also robs you of additional time. When you land in Florida from California you must set you watch ahead three full hours.
For a ship scheduled to sail at 5:00 p.m. I would never schedule a flight to arrive any later than 1:00 pm, especially if it involves changing planes as most flights do these days. For West coast dwellers that means your flight has to leave by 5:00 a.m. Add in the cab ride and time to get through security and you are looking at leaving home at 2:00 in the morning - and you are still risking missing the ship.
Bottom line, if you have live near the West Coast life is much easier if you book a in Fort Lauderdale for the night before you board the ship.
Where to Stay in Fort Lauderdale?
After years of dealing with this issue, and listening to advice from our many readers in CruiseMates, the general consensus is that the bigger hotels on 17th Street in Fort Lauderdale offer the most in fun.
My favorite is the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina at 1881 SE 17th St. This hotel has been the location of many pre-cruise CruiseMates get-togethers over the years because of its great view of the harbor and it outstanding gathering places around a pool with plenty of seating and an outdoor bar.
But the best thing about the Hilton Marina is the view. If you are a cruise lover - and isn't that why you are reading this - then there is no better way to start your cruise vacation than with a room in the Hilton tower overlooking the cruise terminal. From this vantage point you can see every ship that is docked when you arrive and you can watch them all sail away once they are loaded up with passengers.
The next morning, if you wake up early enough you can watch you own ship coming into port from far away at sea. You watch it enter the inlet and maneuver into place at the pier. You then can take your time making coffee in your room while you pack - check out time is not until noon. When you are ready to go to your ship you can catch a shuttle bus that only charges $6 per person. You are so close to the pier that you will arrive at your ship in less than 10 minutes at the most.
The Hilton offers Internet in your room for about $12 for 24-hours. There is a gym, room service, a swimming pool and a business center in case you need to print out any documents. The best thing about, however, is that the excitement of your cruise vacation begins the moment you arrive because you get to watch the port facilities in action, with ships sailing out and in, people waving and horns blasting. It is everything that makes cruising fun and you are not even on the ship yet.
There are restaurants in the hotel, including a simple grill by the pool I recommend, or room service. There is a gourmet Chinese restaurant in the facility called China Grill. In truth, I found it over-priced for Chinese food with my plate of four short ribs priced at over $40. The menu is confusing, telling you there are two prices, one for a single serving and one for sharing as you can see here
. What they don't tell you is that the price for a single serving is the bigger portion at the higher price. When I got my bill for $40 plus tax for one plate of food I was shocked. I thought that was a bit deceptive to say the least.
This is the hotel I stayed at when I sailed on Oasis of the Seas the first time. The pictures of the ship I was able to take from the balcony were spectacular. Here is a sampling:
click on pictures below for larger images:
First view of Oasis of the Seas from my Hilton balcony Telephoto View of Oasis from Hilton Balcony
The Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina is at 1881 SE 17th St. Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33316. The toll-free phone number is 888-554-2131. Here is the Web site: Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina
More Practical Hotel Options
Looking for another alternative in Fort Lauderdale that may not be as palatial or exciting, but offers you all the convenience you need at an attractive price. I stayed at the Rodeway Inn on West State Road 84. Here is the Web site: Port Everglades Cruise Port Hotel - Rodeway Inn & Suites Fort Lauderdale, Cruise Port Hotel Free Shuttle Service Port Everglades
This hotel is not as new or spectacular as the Hilton. It is more of a motel, to be honest, but the advantages are robust. Each room comes with free wireless Internet access. There is no charge to use it anywhere in the premises.
The main advantage is that you get a free transfer from the airport to the hotel, and free transfer to the port facilities the next day. This will save you about $30 in taxi fees over getting the 17th street hotels from the airport. For your return [COLOR=blue !important][COLOR=blue !important]trip[/COLOR][/COLOR]
to the airport you can even take the shuttle back to the hotel and then catch a ride to the airport, all free. Of course that would take some time and a taxi to the airport from the cruise terminal is cheap, but sometimes you have nothing but time until you plane leaves anyway.
You also get a nice full breakfast in the morning with hard boiled eggs, waffles, cereal, yogurt and hot coffee. The same restaurant serves dinner at night with a reasonably priced menu of regular American food.
This Rodeway Inn was priced at $79 on Priceline, but you have to book it as far in advance as possible. The bargain rooms sell out quickly and regular rooms are priced at $139.
Hilton Beach Hotel-Ft. Lauderdale
Reader Don P. wrote into us to say: Your 01/2010 article about hotels in Ft. Lauderdale was good. I stayed at the Marina Hilton the first night after a flight from the west coast. I paid for a harbor-port view and got it, it was FANTASTIC. I stayed another 4 days after the cruise at the Hilton Beach Hotel-Ft. Lauderdale. For about the same price as the Marina Hilton this hotel far better and only about 10 min further. It is the nicest Hilton I have seen in years for the price. It is a condo owner hotel so every room is a suite. It is spectacular! It across the street from the new W [COLOR=blue !important][COLOR=blue !important]Resort[/COLOR][/COLOR]
. I highly recommend you check it out!