Finding a hotel for your pre-cruise stay can be confusing depending on the port you’ll be sailing out of. More popular ports will naturally have more options, whereas smaller, less popular cruise ports may have a very limited number of hotels offering cruise packages, and even much higher prices for them.
What you may not know is that it is possible to find the perfect hotel for your night before, even if they don’t necessarily offer a special package. All you have to do is know what you want, and do a little research!
When I’m shopping for a hotel before my cruise I always go to that hotel’s official website and put my dates in to see the rates. I click on “packages” if there are any. Many times I find that the “Park and Stay” package is more affordable than the “Cruise Package”. Why you may ask? The park and stay package usually offers parking for seven nights with no additional charge, whereas the cruise pkg usually offers parking for seven nights along with a shuttle for one, maybe two, to the cruise port the next morning. I personally use Uber or Lyft to get to the port the morning of the cruise because I want to arrive early, and from my many past experiences I have found that shuttles usually don’t start until 10am, maybe later.
If you opt for a cruise package that includes a shuttle to the port make sure to check the details! Many packages only give you one “free” ride, meaning if there are four people in your room then you’ll have to pay the surcharge for each additional person, which is usually anywhere from $10-20. Some cruise pkgs even charge each person for the ride, which doesn’t seem right as the hotel is selling it as a pre-cruise package, yet all you are really getting is the ability to leave your car at the hotel while you’re cruising.
Because many people fly in for their cruise vacation they are just looking for a hotel what includes a transfer to and from the airport to the hotel, and to the port in the morning. It is quite common to find these types of cruise packages, and this is where you’ll have to be extra careful if you’re not needing that type of situation. Like I mentioned above, if you’re traveling with a family of four, driving your own car, and plan to take an Uber to the port, then you don’t want to pay extra for a cruise package that may not even include parking while you’re gone, a shuttle for everyone in your party, and a shuttle to and from the airport. You want the right package for you, and for the best deal!
Do it on your own! Sometimes you’ll be able to arrange a hotel stay, parking for your car at the hotel, and a ride to the port and back for much, much less than a package! Last year I found a hotel I liked near the airport in Miami. Their website did not advertise any pre-cruise packages, so I planned on driving myself to the port and paying for parking there. The hotel stay was $180.00. Parking at the cruise port would have been $154.00 ($22 per day x 7 days). That comes to a total of $334.00. When I checked in I asked if I could leave my car there while I was on the cruise and was told that I could, and parking was $5 a day. Five dollars a day!! Needless to say I left my car there, took a Lyft to the port for my week long cruise, then took a lyft back to the hotel to pick up my car after the cruise was over, all for $255.00. I saved $80 and you know what that means…more money to spend on my cruise!
The bottom line is this: Do your research and find the package that best suits your needs. Compare prices on doing it on your own. How much is parking at the hotel if you don’t get the pre-cruise package? How much is the shuttle to the port offered by the hotel? How much would an Uber or Lyft be to and from the port? If the package includes breakfast, but that makes it higher in cost than doing it on your own, do you need breakfast or can you wait and eat when you get on the ship?
There are many factors that go into planning and booking a pre-cruise stay, it’s not just cut and dry. If you want to save money and have the most relaxing vacation possible, do your research, plan ahead, and make sure to call the hotel directly to inquire about parking your car while you’re gone, they may offer you a super price that could save you from having to get a special package. Remember, make sure to look at the park and stay options too, and have fun!