If you’re considering booking a hotel stay before embarking on a cruise in Fort Lauderdale, I may have just the place for you. The Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina is located in an ideal spot, adjacent to Port Everglades where all of the cruise ships dock. My sister, Robyn and I (Lauren) did exactly that – stayed over for one night before boarding the Caribbean Princess. Let me take you on a tour of our room, the hotel property, and tell you all about our stay at the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina!
Our flight from Toronto departed just after 7:30am, arriving in Ft Lauderdale around 11:00am. We collected our luggage with no issues and took a taxi from the airport to the hotel. There are no complimentary hotel shuttles from the airport to the hotel, though a taxi ride was not very expensive (around $16). We knew that our flight would be arriving well before the 4:00pm check-in time, so we marked on our reservation that we would appreciate an early check-in if possible. Thankfully, our room was ready when we reached the hotel at noon, even during an incredibly busy time of year! The hotel lobby was quite stylish, with pictures of the ocean adorning the walls. The furniture and decor was primarily white, coral, and bright yellow, keeping with the style of South Florida. The lobby itself was very spacious with many places to meet family and friends.
We stayed in room 1416 on the top floor of the hotel. As a Hilton HHonors member, I was able to check in to the hotel in advance. One day before our booking, I received an email where I was able to select a room and set up the credit card that would be attached to the booking. I’ve never seen anything like this before, and it really was worth doing. I was able to choose exactly the room that we wanted, which was a Tower Room with a Marina View. When we originally booked the hotel room, there were only rooms with a single king bed available; however, when choosing a room in advance, I was able to select one with two double beds. This was great because I no longer had to share a bed with my sister! When we arrived at the hotel, there was no fuss at the front lobby as they already had our credit card information. The staff member handed us our room keys, and away we went! After taking an elevator to the top floor, I noticed that it was a floor for HHonors members. While I don’t stay very often at Hilton Hotels to have any particular membership status, it was definitely worth signing up to be a member. I would highly recommend checking in ahead of time if this is something your Hilton Hotel offers.
The room itself was clean and comfortable. The decor matched the style of the front lobby with soothing blue ocean photos on the walls, as well as calming neutrals with the occasional splash of color. The beds were really cozy and I slept really well that night. You’ll find all of the typical hotel amenities here: a flatscreen TV, a regular coffee maker, a work desk, and a small sitting area.
Beyond two sliding doors on one side, we found a huge closet that also had an in-room safe. On the opposite side, there were two other sliding doors leading to the bathroom. There was a walk-in shower with a rainfall shower head, which I absolutely love. Sometimes it’s nice to have little perks while staying at hotels that you don’t have at home.
The best part of this room was definitely the balcony. There were huge floor-to-ceiling windows spanning the entire wall. Don’t worry, there were blackout curtains for sleeping at night that truly kept the early morning sunshine out of the room. Walking outside, we were able to feel the warm sunshine and the cool breeze off the water. There was a wonderful view of Port Everglades where we would catch our cruise ship the next day. It was great being able to sit outside on our own private balcony, relax, and watch the sailboats and yachts sailing by. Every once in a while, the bridge would rise up to let the taller ships pass through the waterway. I also really enjoyed sitting out on the balcony in the evening as it was very warm, quiet, and peaceful.
The Hotel Property
The main feature of the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina that we loved was the swimming pool area. There was a large outdoor pool that was just the perfect temperature for swimming – not too hot, and not too cold. We swam around for quite some time during the afternoon, soaking up the sunshine and getting some exercise. The pool was large enough to accommodate families wishing to play catch, without disturbing the other adults who were swimming laps or enjoying a beverage. My only complaint about the pool area was the lack of chairs and loungers. When we arrived mid-afternoon, there weren’t any loungers left and we had to wait for two to come free. When only one was free and Robyn placed her towel down on the concrete, an attendant came by and informed her that she could not lay there as it would partially prevent people from walking around. As it was a beautiful day and everyone wanted to be relaxing by the pool, I suggest that you arrive earlier or later in the day if you’d like to sunbathe. We didn’t let this disrupt our enjoyment as we swam around until some chairs were no longer being used.
While we didn’t dine at the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina, there were several dining options at the hotel. There was the Waterway Room, where the daily breakfast was served (not complimentary) as well as meals throughout the day. The Nanking was an Asian restaurant serving sushi as well as many Asian-inspired dishes. The G was a casual outdoor restaurant and bar that was located alongside the pool. We took advantage of the bar called Antea because they had a Happy Hour special on drinks from 5:00-7:00pm. All drinks were buy one, get one for free. While the bill was still quite high at $12 (the price of one drink), we were able to enjoy our first tropical drinks of the trip – a banana daiquiri and a Bahama Mama.
We also gently swayed back and forth in the hammocks just outside of the pool area. They were tied between two palm trees. I could have relaxed all day in one of those hammocks! Staring up at the blue sky and the tops of the trees, it felt like a tropical paradise.
If you’re thinking of staying at a hotel before a cruise, this is the perfect place to stay. It is located directly across the road from Port Everglades, making for a simple and stress-free trip to the port. The Hilton offers a shuttle to the port at a rate of $6 per person. Robyn and I thought it might be cheaper if we hopped in a taxi, though it seemed as if the hotel had struck a deal with the cab companies as we were charged a flat rate of $10. This might have made a difference if you had a larger family to share the taxi ride, rather than just two people. Nevertheless, it was a two minute ride to the pier and we were there in no time. Also, the hotel is located along the bustling 17th Street, home to many different shops and restaurants. We were able to find two vegetarian/vegan-friendly restaurants within walking distance of the hotel (more on that later!). There were many larger shops like a Walgreens, which would be great if you needed to stock up on any toiletries before boarding the ship. Furthermore, if you’re looking to head to the beach, the hotel offers a complimentary shuttle to the beach and back. There was also a water taxi stop just outside of the hotel, where you could hop aboard and sail to various destinations throughout Fort Lauderdale.
When we woke up in the morning and stepped out onto the balcony, we could see our cruise ship at the dock. The majestic Caribbean Princess was awaiting us. I could picture myself standing at the back of the boat, admiring the endless ocean as we sailed the seas. The sight of the ship marked the beginning of our week-long jaunt around the Caribbean.
I put together this short video of the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina, highlighting the various places around the hotel. Hope you enjoy these small glimpses of our first day in Florida!
Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina
1881 SE 17th St.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33316
Stay tuned as I write all about our cruise around the Caribbean aboard the Caribbean Princess!