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Thanks to new vaccine policies, enhanced cleaning practices, and tools like this, cruises are back! If your next one departs from Florida and you’re not within driving distance of the port, you’re going to want to arrive in town a night or two early just to make sure you don’t miss the boat (literally) due to things like flight delays, weather complications or other unexpected factors. Trust us, the ship will not wait for you! Thanks to Caribbean itineraries, Florida is home to four popular cruise ports: Fort Lauderdale, Port Canaveral (Orlando), Miami, and Tampa. Here are our suggestions on where to stay before you departure, based on factors like price, proximity, amenities, and ratings.

RELATED: 5 Caribbean cruise myths—debunked!

Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale)

Hilton Fort Lauderdale

Thanks to miles of beautiful beaches and emerging culinary hotspots, Fort Lauderdale is an ideal port city. Head to Las Olas Boulevard for shopping and dining, visit the quirky historic Bonnet House, or get a dose of retro fun at the Mai Kai Tiki bar or B Ocean Resort’s mermaid show. Here are two well-appointed hotels to stay in before your cruise from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale.

The top-rated Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina boasts renovated public spaces and 589 spacious guest rooms with a selection of suites and connecting rooms for families traveling together. The resort also features a marina, a restaurant, a lobby coffee shop, and large outdoor pool. There is also a 24-hour fitness center, lounge with bar, and a poolside bar offering food service. The resort is less than 15 minutes from the airport and less than one mile from the cruise port. It also offers shuttle service that will you take you right to port for a nominal fee. Another option would be to take a ride share.

Embassy Suites – Ft. Lauderdale/17th Street brand is a favorite among experienced cruise travelers, and this location offers outstanding value. All the rooms are suites and include a pull-out sofa in the living room, ideal for families. The hotel features a restaurant, an outdoor pool, a bar/lounge, 24-hour fitness center, and free cooked-to-order breakfast each morning. During select evenings, guests can also enjoy a complimentary reception with snacks and beverages. Port Everglades is just three miles away.

Port Canaveral (Orlando)

Radisson Resort at the Port

Florida’s Port Canaveral, the world’s second-busiest cruise port, is about 70 miles from Orlando International Airport and on Florida’s Atlantic side. Many guests opt to stay in the town of Cocoa Beach where they can enjoy Space Coast activities like the Kennedy Space Center, plus great beaches and all kinds of family-friendly accommodations.

The suite-style Homewood Suites by Hilton Cape Canaveral-Cocoa Beach offers space to relax and is about one mile from the cruise terminals. If you’ve rented a car from Orlando, there is self-parking available for $6 a day. Rooms are adjoining rooms and include free W-Fi. The hotel offers a complimentary evening social Monday through Thursday. Homewood Suites offers shuttles to the port three times each day. The cost is $6 per person each way. Other reasons to book here include free hot breakfast, a zero-entry pool complete with tiki bar, grills, and a sports court. There are also several stores nearby to purchase last-minute items to bring aboard.

The highly rated Radisson Resort at the Port, with self-parking available for $10 per day, is just one mile to the cruise port and round-trip shuttle service is available. The hotel also offers free WiFi, in-room refrigerators and microwaves, an outdoor pool with waterfall, a bar and grill, and Flamingo’s Restaurant.

Port Miami

KImpton EPIC Hotel

One of the hippest and best beach destinations in the U.S., many cruise vacationers book a trip to Miami with the intention of arriving early or extending their cruise trip. Miami offers amazing cultural attractions like Wynwood Walls, culinary delights including knockout Cuban food along Calle Oche, and the amazing architecture and nightlife of South Beach.

What’s good about booking a Hilton property is that there aren’t any surprises; guests are accustomed to value and good service and the well-rated Hilton Miami Downtown property nicely measures up! The hotel is less than 2 miles to Port Miami, with perks for families including adjoining rooms, an outdoor pool terrace and bar on the 7th floor with stunning sunset and skyline views, fitness center, lobby bar, Brisa Bistro restaurant (serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily), and more. There is a shuttle to the port for a fee.

The Kimpton EPIC Hotel is such a fantastic property, you’ll want to arrive a few days early to take in all in. Just two miles away (about a 7-minute drive) from Port Miami, this upscale property just underwent a complete transformation. The hotel’s guest rooms and suites, lobby, and pool area have been fully reimagined with Miami-inspired elements. Highlights include a rooftop pool and deck, restaurants like rooftop hangout Area 31 and Zuma, and a full-service spa.This is an ideal choice for discerning travelers who want a highly rated hotel with upscale amenities.

Port Tampa Bay

JW Marriott Water Street

Located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Tampa offers a port that services cruises headed toward the Western Caribbean. Tampa is only about 30 minutes from the gorgeous waters of St Pete Beach, and Gulf breezes are a great choice for a pre- or post-cruise stay.

A highly rated hotel in the area, JW Tampa Marriott Water Street is a wonderful property overlooking the marina and is less than a mile from the cruise port. The hotel offers several room categories including adjoining rooms, perfect for multi-generational families. Guests can also take advantage of onsite restaurants, a spacious pool with lounge and bar, and a full-service spa so you can start your vacation right away! This hotel offers so many amenities, you don’t even need a car.

A top-rated and affordable hotel with free parking, the Best Western Tampa offers a central location and is just four miles from Port Tampa Bay. All rooms include free WiFi, plus microwaves and refrigerators. Families will appreciate the outdoor pool, gym, and free continental breakfast buffet. In the evening, take a short stroll to a restaurant and browse local shops.

Erica Lamberg

Erica Lamberg

Erica Lamberg

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