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Cruising out of Miami next March
Old 12-05-2014, 08:13 PM   #1
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Cruising out of Miami next March

... and we'd like to fly down and back earlier and later so we can save something on airfare and put the money into a few days in Florida.

So, we want to rent a car. Ideally, we'd pick up the rental at the Miami airport and drop it off at the cruise port. But, it turns out that the cruise port doesn't have any rental car outlets. I've seen some references to shuttles to downtown rental car locations. There are other options like returning the car to the airport than finding other transportation to the cruise.

It seems that somebody else here has already solved this.

Any suggestions?

(I could also use a hotel recommendation.)
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Old 12-05-2014, 09:16 PM   #2
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We dropped off our rental at the airport and they had a free shuttle to the cruise port. Don't remember which rental company we used. Check out the Cruise Critic forums and I'm sure you can get the latest information.
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Old 12-05-2014, 10:04 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by SteveNU View Post
We dropped off our rental at the airport and they had a free shuttle to the cruise port. Don't remember which rental company we used. Check out the Cruise Critic forums and I'm sure you can get the latest information.
Yep, I would pick up and drop off the car at the airport, then find a way to get to the port. It's quite a way, so I would be surprised to get it for free. If you want to find out the most you could possibly pay, check the price for airporf transfers sold by the cruise line.
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Old 12-05-2014, 10:59 PM   #4
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We are doing a cruise too in late March (15 day cruise through the Canal) and we are going down about a week early to see the Keys. Our plan is to rent a car at the airport, and return it the night before our cruise. Then get a ride from the airport to our hotel and from the hotel to the cruise ship the next day.
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My Random Thoughts on Transport in Miami
Old 12-06-2014, 10:42 AM   #5
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My Random Thoughts on Transport in Miami

Here are some of my random thoughts about this; I hope some of it is helpful:
  • I am a beach bum; so, I always stay at hotels which are on the beach (ideally) or a block from the beach at most. Parking is usually exorbitant at these properties in the Miami area; so, I minimize the number of days I have a rental car.
  • Taxi transport from the MIA airport to the cruise port among other places was a flat rate around $20 when I was last there; not a bad value in my mind. Current rates and useful links: Miami International Airport :: Shuttles & Taxi Information :: Miami-Dade County
  • I believe Lyft and Uber are both operating in the area now. So, transport around town should be fairly cheap and convenient without a car (plus, no parking issues). This is my transportation plan for my next visit to the area. (I do not know if they will pick-up at MIA or the cruise port.)
  • Off airport car rentals are generally much cheaper. definitely worth the extra hassle factor for me if you are going to be keeping the car for a few days.
  • If I am arriving MIA late or flying out early, I generally stay in one of the Doral area hotels with free airport shuttle and breakfast buffet for one night rather than bucking up for an extra, pricier, night on the beach.
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Old 12-06-2014, 10:58 AM   #6
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I always choose taxis to/from cruise ports now for the convenience and it is usually cost effective compared to shuttles. For a longer haul like Orlando to Port Canaveral we sometimes hire a town car to drive us and pick us up. I'll be using a car service from London to Southampton this coming summer for a cruise.

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Old 12-06-2014, 11:16 AM   #7
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I always sing the praises of Hotwire, since I think it's the best way to get outstanding values. With Hotwire, you pre-pay for the hotel, but don't know the hotel's name before you pay.

HOWEVER - you do know:
-the approximate area it's in (their map that defines each area is pretty clear, and the areas can be very small, so you know pretty well where you'll end up)
-the quality level in # of stars
-ALL of the amenities (like free parking or airport shuttle or free breakfast)
-the approximate "regular price"
-the "recommendation" % of previous people from hotwire that have stayed at the property (usually a 'recommendation' of 75% or higher is a good sign)

Your dates will impact the price, but using Thursday March 18-Saturday March 20 as the stay dates, I can get the following deals at 30%-50%+ off:

$136/night South Beach/Ocean Drive South, 2 1/2 stars, recommended by 70% of Hotwire people, FREE breakfast, near beach ("near beach" is defined by "easy walking distance")

$145/night Downtown Miami, 3 stars, recommended by 75% of Hotwire people

$153/night Bay Harbor Islands/North Bay Village, 3 stars, recommended by 75% of Hotwire people, FREE parking, FREE breakfast, Airport shuttle

$165/nigh Downtown Miami, 3 stars, rated 4 out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor. It's a boutique hotel (meaning it's not a chain). They also charge $9.99/day "resort fee"

$171/night South Beach/Collins area, 3 stars, recommended by 75% of Hotwire people. FREE breakfast, "near beach", boutique hotel.

Bay Harbor Islands/North Bay Village, 3 1/2 stars, recommended by 80% of Hotwire people, FREE breakfast, boutique hotel.


All rates are BEFORE taxes.

2 1/2 stars = similar to Clarion, Best Western, Hampton Inn

3 stars = similar to Holiday Inn, Radisson, Doubletree, Hilton, Embassy Suites

3 1/2 stars = similar to Crowne Plaza, Sheraton, Hilton, Double Tree (yes, those 2 appear again, just depends on specific hotel property)

Many hotels in Hotwire are chains. If it's an independent, stand-alone hotel, it'll usually be called a "boutique" hotel in the "amenity" listing. Some boutiques inflate their star rating by 1/2 or 1 star, while others are reasonably accurate. I typically pay closer attention to what others have rated boutique hotels for this reason, but as long as it's recommended by 75% or better by previous Hotwire stays, I'll give it a chance if the price is right...but if another chain is the same price in the same area, I'll usually go with a "non-boutique" hotel.

Airport shuttle MAY be something you pay for, but usually it's free. You'll have to verify with the hotel after you pay for it. It's kind of a gamble, but it's a risk I'm willing to take. Also, the "free breakfast" could vary - it could be some cereal with hard boiled eggs, or it could be really nice with hot eggs, sausage, etc. Typically 3 stars and higher will give you a really nice hot breakfast, while the 2 1/2 stars and 2 stars are a roll of the dice (some 2 and 2 1/2 star properties give you a nice hot breakfast too)
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Old 12-08-2014, 08:48 AM   #8
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Thanks for all the insights. I feel better about the notion that I can make something work that's not outrageously expensive.
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