We are going to be staying at the Tampa Marriott Waterside, we booked this thru Carnival as this is our first cruise. I'm sure there would be and are cheaper hotels but we even get a rental car for a day so when the cost is divided it's not so bad. On the day of the cruise we will take the car back to the car rental and they will take us to the pier. There is a Marriott right at the airport and I'm sure you can find a few others. Good Luck and Happy sailing..
I found good rates and free shuttle service from the airport and to the cruise port at the Howard Johnson. The # is 1-813-875-8818 also you can go on the Howard Johnson web page and get more information. We just wanted to find somewhere that had the shuttle service and still had good rates. Did not want to pay a lot for a room when we were on our way to cruise hope this helps.
there are just loads of hotels in tampa. Are you looking for proximity to the ship (the port is in a semi-industrial area without pretty scenery) or are you looking for staying on the beach which is further away from the port but much prettier. The beach (gulf of mexico) is about 45 minutes from the cruise ship dock.