Best Pre-Cruise Stay Option: Airbnb or Hotel? (Honest pros and cons)


Should your family consider staying at an Airbnb instead of a hotel for a night before your next cruise?

One of my top tips for anyone going on a cruise is to fly at least a day before their cruise to protect against a travel delay affecting their ability to build their cruise ship.

Once you decide to get to your port of embarkation a day early, you will need a place to stay. Like most people, I immediately started looking for hotels to book.

When traveling with my wife only, hotel rooms work extremely well for their value and the space provided. But when we travel with children, finding the right hotel room can be a challenge if you want enough space for everyone.

For my Odyssey of the Seas cruise from Port Everglades to Fort Lauderdale, Florida this week, I couldn’t find a ton of great options at a good price for my family of four.

There were definitely plenty of hotels that offered a traditional hotel room experience with 2 beds and a single bathroom, but with the age of my kids, sharing a hotel room (and bathroom) becomes more problematic than in the past.

I also didn’t find a wide variety of suite options in hotels, and the ones I did find weren’t cheap. South Florida hotel prices vary widely, but I could see a hotel suite costing easily over $300 per night, especially when you include resort fees and taxes.

Alternative to Airbnb

I love booking vacation rentals through Airbnb or VRBO for longer stays because of the amenities and space you can get. But I had never thought of it just for one night.

At first I wasn’t even sure there would be one night options as I assumed the people listing their homes would all want longer stays from their guests.

So when I first started browsing Airbnb, I was surprised at how many good, reasonably priced choices there were in the greater Fort Lauderdale area.

Browsing through the listings, I found a lot of choices. What attracted me to the Airbnb option was that we could find a place that had plenty of space for us and the kids, as well as extra amenities. We could have a swimming pool to enjoy only our family, washing machines so as not to start the cruise with dirty clothes and perfect beds.

Of course, an Airbnb has some downsides, such as fees added to the cost, and there’s no long-term parking option.

I also freely admit that I enjoy a more enjoyable hotel stay, so the added amenities of an Airbnb really appeal to me. I’m sure there are plenty of other people who would be fine with a hotel room for just one night, especially if you’re arriving late.

Airbnb Benefits:

  • Wide variety of different types of stays
  • Feels more like home
  • More space and rooms than a hotel room
  • Additional amenities such as a swimming pool, lounge, games room, etc.
  • Convenient laundry option

Disadvantages of Airbnb:

  • Additional costs
  • No long term parking options
  • No shuttle to/from airport or cruise port

Since I didn’t want to sleep in the same room as my kids, would like an extra bathroom so I don’t compete with the kids, and love the idea of ​​having a private pool to enjoy, I found Airbnb a compelling option.

Our Airbnb choice

After looking at all the options, we decided to book a 2 bedroom, 2 bath unit in Fort Lauderdale that had a private heated pool and right on a stream.

There was also outdoor seating, a gas grill, and foosball.

It is located north of Port Everglades, and without traffic is 24 minutes (15 miles).

The Airbnb was listed for $351 per night, but with fees and taxes it jumped to a total of $533.89. I knew the fees assessed by Airbnb wouldn’t be cheap, but this was a bit of an eye opener for me, which is probably why a longer stay makes more sense with Airbnb so you can maximize the value of your stay .

The house is just what we needed for one night, with plenty of living space and two bedrooms and two full bathrooms.

Loved having the living room with plenty of seating so we could relax much more than in a hotel room.

The pool was great, but a cold front had passed through the state the night before, so it was a bit chilly to swim in. Nevertheless, it was so nice outside that we spent time on the water enjoying the view.

Is an Airbnb worth it?

Does it make sense to book an Airbnb for just one night the next time we take the family on a cruise?

There are many choices with hotels or home rental, so it is difficult to choose one or the other exclusively.

I like the extra space that a house provides, as well as the extra amenities that can enhance the stay beyond anything a hotel can offer (private pool, lounge, garden, etc.).

However, the additional fees charged by Airbnb make finding a deal very difficult. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where an Airbnb would be cheaper unless we drastically reduce our housing needs. For me, part of the appeal of an Airbnb is finding a fun place to stay, not just a bed and a bathroom.

In places like South Florida where there are so many hotel choices, the variety of rooms and prices will likely make this the main place we look for a room. When you add kids or multi-gens to the equation, Airbnbs starts to look more appealing.

I am happy with our Airbnb choice for a pre-cruise stay. It may not have been the cheapest deal, but the extra living space and perks you can only get with a home rental made it a nice change of pace for our family.

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