We've had good luck for pre- and post-cruise hotel rooms through Priceline. Check out Bidding for Travel to find out info on successful (and unsuccessful) bids people have made.
Our favorite hotel was the Marriott Marina. It was a bargain at $55 a night. It's a 3* in the downtown zone. We've also stayed at a couple of the hotels near the airport. We bid on that zone when we can't get anything in the downtown or beach zones.
We stayed at the Elysium (a gay place) after last year's cruise. It's really a place we needed longer to enjoy it. We had an early morning flight, for instance, and left at 6:30 in the morning--before anyone was up.
I have also stayed at the Elysium following a cruise out of Fort Lauderdale and highly recommend this gay hotel. However I concur that you really need more than a one day stay to appreciate this resort. I stayed there for three days and it was just as enjoyable as the cruise. It is gay owned and friendly. There is a good internet site for this place. All rooms have cooking facilities and two nice pools. Very friendly clients. Reasonable prices.
We arrived in Ft Lauderdale on Dec 10 also, only to find our hotel we booked online was closed for remodeling. We went from hotel to hotel, only to find everything was full.
Luckily, I remembered this post, and called the Elysium at about 7pm. They had two rooms left, that our group quickly snapped up. Very friendly owners and front desk staff made us feel like family. Gorgeous grounds, with two pools and a large hot tub. Extra-friendly guests as well. We went out for dinner and bar-hopping, and returned to the Elysium and enjoyed the hot tub and meeting the various guests.
My only wish is that we had more than one night there.
I plan on returning to the Elysium in April for several days prior to my next cruise.
Huge rooms, big kitchens, free videos of all kinds, great breakfast you can eat poolside. Also, you can enjoy the grounds the entire day after you check out of your room. Walking distance to gay beach, and a very short drive to all the bars.