Hi Everyone -
Just returned from Explorer of the Seas. I flew down the night before I sailed and stayed at a great hotel - the Miami Intercontinental Hotel at Bayside.
I booked the hotel from their website (there are two in Miami - the other at the airport) for a rate of $109/night. This included either a free upgrade, 50% off the second night or a free breakfast for 2.
It did not include transfers which I paid $11.00 for supershuttle from the airport and $5 to the pier.
This hotel is truly beauiful. Four star hotel! The rooms were decorated in "Miami Art Deco", my room overlooked the cruiseships - I had an excellent view on 12th floor. Half the rooms appear to have a view. Staff was excellent. Rooms were wonderful - large marble bathroom, large room, etc.
The pool area (on 5th floor I believe) is very beautiful with a nice jogging trail near it and a pool side restaurant that over looks the cruiseships and the bay. The pictures of the hotel on their website do not do this hotel justice.
Friday night we took a short 5 minute walk down a nice path to Bayside shops/restaurants. Felt very safe walking from hotel to Bayside. We went shopping and ate at the Bubba Gump's restaurant. Bayside had some great holiday decorations, holiday events, singers, etc. . going on that night.
On Saturday - we took advantage of the free breakfast. We chose the gorgeous buffet (top notch) which was priced at $18/per person. This was comped for us. They also have regular items to order from the menu. THey had fresh squeezed orange juice, and everything else a great buffet has. Definitely not the same buffet you would find at Embassy Suites (another hotel I love) or any of the other hotels I have stayed at.
I had never heard of this hotel until my TA mentioned it. She was surprised at the rate I received. I have no way of comparing this to the Hyatt or Marriott that many cruisers stay at but I can say this was a wonderful hotel and I will be back the next time I sail from Miami.