Savvy cruisers know that extra cushion of time they get coming to the embarkation port city the day before sailing is the way to go. Often, the difference in price for airfare flying in the day before sailing as opposed to the day of sailing can pay for a hotel room. Continuing our ongoing series on pre or post-cruise hotel stays we stopped in Fort Lauderdale on the way to a sailing aboard Carnival Cruise Line‘s 2,642-passenger Carnival Destiny.
The ship was to set sail from the Port of Miami but we had stayed at the Marina under different ownership before and wanted to see how the Hilton touch affected the experience. We were not disappointed and found the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina to be a good choice for a pre-cruise hotel stay, even if sailing not from Port Everglades, literally just down the street, but from the Port of Miami, about a half-hour’s drive away.
While no major property improvements have been made, the Hilton influence was surely felt from the time we arrived and throughout our stay. A personal note of welcome from the hotel’s General Manager along with some delicious, boxed chocolates started things off nicely. The well-appointed Junior Suite we enjoyed featured a panoramic view of the port with a wrap-around balcony, much like the aft corner stateroom we had booked on Carnival Destiny. Add in a Kurig coffee maker to help get going in the morning with a nice assortment of coffees and teas along with blazing fast Internet access and we were all set.
Our first stop at the Hilton Marina though was the Tiki bar where lunch was served poolside with a variety of beverages and hefty dose of boats, yachts and other vessels that called the area home. Later, room service would be adequate but nothing to write home about which was kind of disappointing, remembering the legendary Chicken Quesadillas the previous owners offered. “Happy Hour” in the hotel’s China Grill restaurant was simply a tourist trap gone wild and we fell in head first, paying about four times more than the half-price appetizers were worth. By the end of our short stay we were really appreciating the value offered by pretty much any cruise we could have been going on. That we scored a fabulous value on Carnival Destiny made that appreciation level soar even more.
Recommendation: Nice place to stay, skip the food.
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