Where to stay before your cruise: AirBnBs
One of our most popular questions we hear on the Royal Caribbean Blog discussion forums is “Where should I stay when traveling to this port?” We can recommend hotels in almost any port, but there is a (rather) new player in town that we should offer as an option.
When AirBnBs first started popping up, they were marketed as kitschy hostel alternatives or fun travel destinations. Since then, the program has evolved to include hosts almost everywhere, from studios to castles! You can find lovely places to stay around the world with AirBnB.
Although we still stay in hotels a lot, we usually opt for AirBnBs when browsing. Because ports are in major cities, and where there are major cities there are also conferences, sporting events, music festivals, etc., hotel prices fluctuate based on their expected volumes. .
Even when we had planned a year in advance, we were sometimes in a hurry to find a cheap hotel close to the airport or the port.
We first tried an AirBnB in Fort Lauderdale a few years ago and found it so convenient that we keep coming back, not just to AirBnB, but even to this same rental! Our Fort Lauderdale host has a cluster of 3 rentals on one property, and they’re all super cool studio apartments. The photos in this article are from our last stay at their Bird Studio.
How to book with AirBnB
Step 1: Download the app
The app is available on Android and Apple. You can also book from a computer, but you’ll need the app during your trip.
2nd step: Find out where you are going and when. (i.e. Fort Lauderdale, Jan 1, 2022) How many people are coming?
Step 3: Read the provided list of hosts and places to stay. Read reviews, look at photos of properties. Consult the map. You can sort by price, amenities, etc.
Step 4: Book! One thing I like about AirBnB is that the pricing is simple and straightforward. There are a few fees (cleaning and service), but you know what they are going to be before you book.
To show you what the booking process looks like, I’ve chosen a random property from the list, but there are locations at all price points, starting at $50 or more per night.
Not a bad deal considering a busy weekend, hotel prices can start at $200 a night!
Step 5: Arrival. When it’s time to check in there is obviously no reception.
You will receive a welcome email and/or text from the host with instructions and a code for the door security lock. This code is specific to you and is only activated at check-in and deactivated at check-out. This way no one else knows your code and can enter the rental during your stay.
With so many different options in rentals, the sky really is the limit where you can stay when booking with AirBnB. When we sail we mainly look for simple accommodations to allow us to spend the night, but it is important to look at the amenities to find what suits you.
We’re always looking for Superhosts, who are “experienced, well-rated hosts who are committed to providing great guest stays.” This way we know the rental will be clean and safe, and that it has been rated well. They’ve had plenty of tenants and know what they’re doing.
Know what you need and want from a stay. Are you just here to sleep one night? Will you take your meals to the rental? Staying for several days and maybe want some entertainment like a pool or something near the beach? Are you ok with just a bed and a bathroom, or do you need a kitchen, living room, etc.
Remember, there are tons of options in every price range, so really enjoy researching.
You get a grade too! Take care of the property, clean up after yourself. There’s a cleaning fee, but you’ll probably have to bring the trash to a central location, put the towels in a laundry basket, etc.
Think of it as if you were a guest in someone’s house. Of course, they’ll come and do the big cleaning, but we’re not going to leave it in the trash either. And you have a great line of communication with the host so if anything happens you can let them know.
For example, the battery was dying on the front door lock, so we let them know it needed to be recharged before the next guest arrived.
Plan ahead. Since you won’t get free breakfast and AirBnBs are often found in neighborhoods, you’ll need to figure out dining options in advance. You should also think about transportation, if you are not renting a car or going to the port.
We often look for AirBnBs within walking distance of a grocery store, so we can buy snacks and water. We also usually have a DoorDash dinner that night. Uber or Lyft is our ride from the airport to the port.
Hotels will always be the standard of travel for overnight stays. However, AirBnB has become a fun and creative alternative that has very competitive prices, while helping the economy of the local community. Many hosts have built additions to their own homes or converted garages to capitalize on the tourism market. So, staying at an AirBnB often pays off to the neighborhoods you’re staying in.
We found that AirBnB takes a little more effort than staying in a hotel, but the price difference and the location experience are worth it for us. Oh, and Mr. Mills would be upset if I didn’t mention his favorite part of staying at AirBnBs: he can usually find one near OrangeTheoryFitness, which, if you know, you know.
Have you ever stayed in AirBnBs? Do you use them on cruises? Let us know in the comments.
Note: RoyalCaribbeanBlog.com is not sponsored by AirBnB, but we wanted to share our experience with the service as an alternative to hotels.