Veteran cruisers know that it’s best to arrive a day or two before your sailing. This strategy offers some key benefits. First, you ensure that you’ll have flexibility built into your schedule in case you experience any problems with your airline or flights (and we all know this happens far too often).
Plus, you get time to explore the port city, which is essential if you are traveling across the country to interesting destinations like Seattle, Orlando or Miami, for examples.
So, you can start your cruise in style and make your arrival to the port city hassle-free when you book a pre-cruise night or two in a great hotel. You can sightsee, adjust to the new time zone and eliminate any worries about missing your ship.
Check out our top hotels at the most-popular cruise ports in the United States. We’ve picked these for their mix of cruiser-friendly deals, pricing and proximity to some of the best attractions in each destination.
Embassy Suites Miami International Airport
This property is just minutes from the airport and within a 10-minute drive to downtown Miami and the Miami Marlins baseball stadium and other attractions, such as the Miami Seaquarium and numerous restaurants and shopping options. It’s a 20-minute drive to South Beach.
The hotel offers a complimentary 24-hour shuttle to the airport and destinations within three miles (the port is just about three miles away). Guests also get a free cooked-to-order breakfast and complimentary snacks and beverages at the nightly cocktail hour. Every room is a two-room suite.
Hampton Inn Fort Lauderdale Airport
Sailing out of Fort Lauderdale gives you access to the city’s great beaches, bars and restaurants.
This hotel features a free 24-hour shuttle service to and from the Fort Lauderdale Airport, and a chartered shuttle service ($8) to the Port Everglades cruise port.
Nearby activities include boat tours and other water sports like scuba diving and snorkeling at reefs and sunken ships. You can also visit Riverwalk, the entertainment complex that connects the historic and arts and science districts with paths of lush, tropical gardens. Shopping and dining are available along Las Olas Boulevard and the near beaches just 15 minutes away.
Hotel amenities include a swimming pool, free hot breakfast, free Wi-Fi and a fitness center.
DoubleTree Cocoa Beach Oceanfront
Yes, Florida is home to three of the busiest cruise ports. Port Canaveral is located about 45 minutes from Orlando, home to more than a dozen theme parks, including a vast array of Disney attractions.
This hotel puts you at the beach just five miles from the cruise port and located on the Florida Space Coast, so you can visit Kennedy Space Center.
It’s also within easy drives to any of the top attractions around Orlando, like Disney World.
The hotel offers “Park, Stay and Go” cruise deals if you drive to stay at the hotel. It also offers shuttle services for the short ride to the port.
Aside from a swimming pool, fitness center, the beachfront property also includes most rooms with Atlantic Ocean views, private balconies, microwaves, refrigerators and complimentary Wi-Fi.
Seattle Marriott Waterfront
The cruise piers are located right along a busy and scenic waterfront packed with attractions, restaurants and other points of interest. You also have dozens of great hotel options within walking distance of your cruise ship.
We’ve chosen Seattle Marriott Waterfront because it is located right across the street from the Bell Street Cruise Terminal and less than a mile from Smith Cove Terminal. The hotel also offers a great indoor/outdoor swimming pool, fitness center and on-site restaurant. The location is key, though, as you are within walking distance of the waterfront, Pike Place Market, Seattle Aquarium, Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle Great Wheel and many other top city attractions.
Holiday Inn Resort Galveston
Galveston is a lively and historic cruise port on the Gulf of Mexico that serves cruise lines like Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean and Disney Cruise Line on Caribbean itineraries.
Cruising from Galveston gives you the chance to spend some time in Houston when you fly in to that city’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport or Houston Hobby Airport, which are located about an hour away from the cruise port.
Once in Galveston, though, there is plenty to explore, and the beachfront Holiday Inn Resort Galveston is located within an easy distance to your ship and several top attractions. The hotel is a five-minute drive (or 35-minute stroll along the seawall) to Historic Pleasure Pier with its amusement rides, restaurants and shops in a vintage carnival atmosphere. The Schlitterbahn water amusement wonderland is three miles away, and you can also quickly reach The Strand Historic District and Moody Mansion.
Galveston is a popular drive-to port for cruisers living throughout the state and region, and this hotel offers an attractive package of free parking during your cruise, plus a complimentary shuttle service to your ship. The property also features a large pool, fitness center, spa and restaurant where kids 12 and younger eat free.
John Roberts is a freelance writer and operator of InTheLoopTravel.com. He writes about cruising and active travel, highlighting how people can connect with the world and other cultures through rewarding travel experiences.