Something not too expensive- near a beach would be great. I don't know Miami that well so its hard for me to say what area we would like to be in. I quess we could rent a car and drive around. What areas are closest to the port?
The downtown area is closest to the port, and while it's good for about a day (you can tour the marina and then Bayside Mall is fun), it's not a real "happening" place. It is easy to get from there to other places, but do be aware the hotels all charge for parking.
South Beach of course is *the* hip place, but not necessarily the most kid-friendly for 2 full days. There is the beach and the activity, but it is everything (good and bad) you've ever heard about Miami. The beautiful people are there, and the not-so-beautiful as well.
You could go just a bit farther north to some areas between Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, or down to the Keys. Neat way to spend a couple days.
We would like to see South Beach . I was thinking of staying on Key Biscayne but it appears there are only two hotels on the island and both are about $200 a night. We would like to be on the beach and have a pool so maybe we will just have to suck it up and pay that. I would prefer not to if possible. It doesn't have to be a palace just not a dump.
South Beach is not that kid friendly. The Wyndham on Biscayne Boulevard near downtown is pretty reasonable and it is next to a bus station that has buses that can get you to South Beach in about 10 minutes for about a dollar.
Do a little research at betterbiding.com. Then check either priceline or hotwire for a hotel. I have just booked two nights downtown Miami @ The Sheraton Biscayne Bay for $126.95 taxes and all included ... not a bad rate for two nights considering the book price on the hotel from their web site is more than that per night..
The Howard Johnson's Downtown (Portside) has free shuttle service TO the cruise pier, but I don't think they will pick you up, it might be worth a call. NOW, for all you priceliners...I have never had the guts to go through with it, did you find that the hotels had the amenities you needed? How specific can I get if I want a Miami hotel WITH free cruise pier service? Or, is it worth it to pay a taxi just to get a great room at an awesome price? I am looking at next March, what's too soon to book the room? I have not got the air travel done yet, I always do that myself closer to the trip, but the cruise is sure booked!!
The savings definitely make up for a lack of port shuttle. When you can get a 3* property with the quality of the Hyatt, Sheraton, etc. often for less than $45, a $8 taxi ride is NO hardship whatsoever!
You can only specify zone and quality level on Priceline, no amenities. Check out the list of reported hotels over on <http://www.biddingfun.com> to see if the hotels are acceptable to you. I have a feeling you'll find they are.
If you're hesitant still, and want to know exactly what property you're getting, try Hotwire instead. The identified Hotwire hotels are also shown on that page
I generally recommend starting to bid as soon as you're certain of your dates. The rooms are non-refundable. So once you feel comfortable, you can start. The Miami properties tend to be less expensive the closer to your arrival, but it's often worth an extra $10ish to feel secure that you have the room.
Cool, thank you for the advice and websites! I will go check that out right now, and I am sure I will find something great. I do love a bargain, and isn't it funny how a 5k family cruise doesn't bother me, but paying too much for a smoky, stuffy, saggy-mattress room does!! Non-refundability doesn't really bother me much, should something so dire as to cause me to cancel my cruise occur, I am quite certain I will not even remember that darn hotel!! Thanks again!!
...off to the Voyager...duh, if I could do arithmetic, I would be able to say how many days, hours, minutes till March 21, 2004...but...my calculator's busticated!!!