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Should you use a park and cruise hotel package instead of parking at the cruise port?

In:
22 Jun 2022
By: 
Matt Hochberg

If you are driving to your cruise ship with your own vehicle, does it make more sense to book a "park and cruise" hotel package, where parking at the hotel is included with your hotel stay.

Hotel parking lot

One of my best pieces of cruise ship advice is to always come into your cruise departure city at least one day ahead of time to guard against travel delays. By flying or driving in a day early, you can assure yourself that any cancellations, blown tires, or re-routes don't impact your ability to make the cruise ship.

Many hotels offer an option where if you stay one night, you can book a park and cruise package that bundles your hotel room with a parking spot for up to a week. But do these packages save you money, and does it make sense to go with them?

I compared a handful of hotels in Port Canaveral, Miami, and Cape Liberty to see how lucrative these stay deals are, and what the pros and cons are for a park & cruise package.

Hotel analysis

Hotel in Cocoa Beach

I picked three random hotels from each of the three cities to compare how the parking packages stacked up against the parking rate at the cruise terminal.

For each room, I picked a king size bed that was refundable rate for two adults staying Sep 24 – Sun, Sep 25, 2022.

All prices are pre-tax and fees from the hotel and/or from the parking facility.

Port Canaveral, Florida

Radisson hotel in Cape Canaveral

3-night cruise

HotelHotel RatePark/Stay RateDifference3-night cruise Port ParkingParking Savings
Hampton Inn Cocoa Beach/Cape Canaveral1642215751-6
Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Port Canaveral, FL2453106551-14
Best Western Cocoa Beach Hotel & Suites219.95243.95245127

7-night cruise

HotelHotel RatePark/Stay RateDifferencePort ParkingParking Savings
Hampton Inn Cocoa Beach/Cape Canaveral1642215711962
Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Port Canaveral, FL2453106511954
Best Western Cocoa Beach Hotel & Suites219.95243.952411995

Miami

Partial view of colorful boat in Bayside Marketplace area

3-night cruise

HotelHotel RatePark/Stay RateDifference3-night cruise Port ParkingParking Savings
DoubleTree Biscayne Bay252294427533
Hilton Miami Downtown191245547521
Holiday Inn Miami-International Airport143.4621975.5475-0.54

DoubleTree by Hilton Grand Hotel Biscayne Bay Hotel Review | Royal Caribbean Blog

7-night cruise

HotelHotel RatePark/Stay RateDifferencePort ParkingParking Savings
DoubleTree Biscayne Bay25229442175133
Hilton Miami Downtown19124554175121
Holiday Inn Miami-International Airport143.4621975.5417599.46

Cape Liberty/Newark

Newark airport

3-night cruise

HotelHotel RatePark/Stay RateDifference3-night cruise Port ParkingParking Savings
Courtyard Newark Liberty International Airport169229607515
SpringHill Suites by Marriott Newark Liberty International Airport16929913075-55
Residence Inn Newark Elizabeth259309507525

7-night cruise

HotelHotel RatePark/Stay RateDifferencePort ParkingParking Savings
Courtyard Newark Liberty International Airport16922960175115
SpringHill Suites by Marriott Newark Liberty International Airport16929913017545
Residence Inn Newark Elizabeth25930950175125

X-factor: Shuttles

Hotel shuttle van

Beyond the dollars and sense of parking at a hotel or cruise port, you have to account for getting to the cruise terminal.

Some of the hotels specified a parking shuttle would be provided.  At least one hotel actually charged you differently if you needed a ride to the cruise terminal or not.

You'll need to check with the hotel if a shuttle is provided to the cruise terminal, and if there's any extra cost for the shuttle.

Westgate Cocoa Beach Resort Hotel Review | Royal Caribbean Blog

The other issue with a hotel shuttle is they run on a limited schedule. Depending on the hotel, the frequency in which they offer shuttle service can vary greatly. Plus, you may have to wait for a shuttle depending on how many other guests are there to get a ride too.

In this age of covid, another consideration is having to cram into a shuttle with other guests and your risk tolerance for possibly being exposed to covid in the shuttle. Theoretically everyone going to the terminal has taken a negative covid test already, but you never know with how easy covid is transmitted and the long incubation periods these days.

Convenience of parking at the cruise terminal

The best reason to park at the cruise terminal instead of a hotel is the convenience factor.

When you park at the cruise terminal, you can walk from your vehicle to the front door of the terminal without much fuss. Then, when the cruise is over, you can take your luggage right to your car and immediately depart. No shuttles required.

The convenience of having your car and being able to forgo waiting for shuttle service back to a hotel can make a world of difference depending on how many other people are trying to do the same thing, and traffic conditions.

Are other hotels cheaper?

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Miami Airport East Hotel Review | Royal Caribbean Blog

When you limit yourself to hotels that offer a parking option during your cruise, could you save money by staying at a different hotel that has a lower rate and equally as good, but without a parking package?

In each of these cities, there are multitudes of hotels you can choose from, and without a doubt, there are deals to be found.

When considering the cost of a parking park & cruise hotel, you not only have to look at the cost of a parking package versus the cruise terminal, but also how much money you may (or may not) save by staying at a less expensive hotel.

Should you book a park stay and cruise package?

Hotel with shuttle

Ultimately, the decision may boil down to personal preferences on how important it is to save a little bit of money.

If you are taking a short 3 or 4 night cruise, the savings offered by a park and stay package quite negligible, and in some cases a bad value.

The real cost savings with park and stay packages come with 7-night cruises, where you can save over $100 in total. 

If your cruise is longer than 7 nights, check with the hotel. Many of the hotels in this list only allowed for parking for 7 or 8 nights, and then would charge a daily fee beyond that.

In the end, you need to weigh the cost savings versus the convenience of parking at the cruise terminal. Depending on the hotel, there are a wide range of cost savings with a park and stay.

Don't blindly assume a parking package will save you money compared to parking at the terminal, and even if it does, you need to ponder if the money saved is worth your time.