I'm looking for recommendations for night before departure accommodations when leaving from port Miami but flying into Ft Lauderdale.
Disney Cruise Line offiically recommends:
The Marriott Stanton South Beach is located on the oceanfront of
Miami's South Beach. The hotel is located 11 miles from Miami
International Airport and 25 miles from Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood
International Airport. The Port of Miami is approximately 5.5 miles, a
15 minute travel time from the hotel.
The Conrad Miami hotel is located in the heart of Miami's financial
business district. It is approximately 9 miles from Miami International
Airport, which is just a 15 minute drive with no traffic. The Port of
Miami is approximately 1.8 miles away and a 7 minute drive.
I haven't personally stayed at either of these, Miami was actually the only cruise I've ever NOT arrived the day before!
A different hotel, Comfort Inn and Suites is recommended by mousesavers.com. It is $300/ night less than Disney options and offers free transport from airport and to port. Are there any issues with booking a hotel on your own and not through DCL?
You just have to book knowing that you are responsible for that booking. I'd double check on the transportation options b/c some have a shuttle that runs only at certain times, so make sure it's going to be a time that will work for you to get to the port. Keep in mind they don't even open the doors to get into the port till 10:30. They are firm on that. So if you arrive before then, you'll be standing at the gates...which is perfectly fine, just no reason to get up at 7am and rush there
There are a ton of hotels in Cocoa Beach that are right by the Port, they all have different amenities, some offer free breakfast, some don't, etc.
If you're using private transfers from the airport to your hotel and from the port to the airport and want to stay at the Country Inns and Suites, you might want to check rates through Happy Limo, they have a bit of a discount when you book transportation through Happy Limo and reserve a room at Country Inns and Suites.
I would stay in downtown Miami and take a cab to the port. On my cruise from Miami, I stayed at the Four Seasons, which was lovely. There are lots of options downtown.
What are the factors in your decision? Price? Shuttles? Hotel amenities?
I don't put a lot of weight into Disney's recommendations in a city the size of Miami. When I cruised DCL out of New York, I booked the closest Hilton to the port on my own and was fine.
I've put clients in the Holiday Inn Port of Miami. It's directly across the road from Bayside Marketplace and therefore about a 5 minute taxi to the ship. You might want to check that one out.
I used this Holiday Inn too. Nice rates, clean, good hotel and trip to port is quick.