The rooms on the Bay side have a wonderful view out over the nature preserve onto the bay where you can watch humans and birds fishing -- and we once saw a coyote having supper
But it doesn't meet your "not outrageously priced" criterion -- although you can get interesting weekend rates including one that includes dinner at Oyster Catchers which is on the shore a short distance from the main block (walk or hotel shuttle) and is first class.
If you could get an interesting group rate .....
If you want to spend time in Tampa itself -- Bush Gardens, Florida Aquarium (next to the Cruise Port), MOSI, Ybor City and so on -- then there are other hotels on or with a good view of the Bay.
There's also a cluster of hotels located at North Rocky Point which is just to the west of the Hyatt on the Courtney Campbell Causeway that links Tampa to Clearwater.
Now if you just want a restful time on the beach with evening "entertainment" like eating then you might want to consider Clearwater Beach itself which is on the Gulf of Mexico with a wonderful sandy beach that is one of the top ones in the country. However there is a lot of construction work going on there as they turn old hotel sites into condos 8 -- Like Adams Mark which is gone now.
However just south of Clearwater Beach, over the bridge linking to the Sand Key, is a Sheraton that is nicely located next to a State Park and with a good restaurant. There's another big hotel just across the road from it but that's on the Intercontinental Waterway, not the Gulf (beware of "Gulf View"
If you want a perfect location where the hotel/motel is literally on the Beach and that has several good eating places across the road then check out Gulf Towers Motel in Indian Rocks Beach, just down the Sand Key where Walsingham Road crosses the Waterway. We stayed there when we first moved to Florida and my family have always stayed there and enjoyed it. The rooms have balconies on the beach (Although there are some rooms that are on the inland side of the building and don't have balconies or the view) and they are "efficiencies" with small kitchen facilities that can be restful for breakfast or lunch (no restaurant in house).
But having written that I'm glad I checked their website and noticed the webcam of the beach was blank and dated March 18 so I checked Trip Advisor and it looks as if we should forget about the Gulf Towers -- shows the importance of being uptodate 8
There is a Trolley service up and down the Sand Key but I guess you'd want a car both to get there from the cruise port (although the Airport Shuttle probably serves the Cruise Port and would take you to the hotels on the Gulf and to travel around.
But since you are referring to August 2008, Dottie says ask again after the Hurricane Season and we'll tell you what is left!
thank you so much for all the suggestions and thank your friend for me also. I really do appreciate the time you spent researching this for me.
In my e-mail to Jan I asked her if Carnival had any post-cruise packages, so one way or another, we will be spending a little time in the area.
My mother and father-in-law lived in Gulfport, just down the coast a ways, before moving back to Minneapolis (imagine anybody moving FROM Florida TO Minnesota!). We visited them once and really loved the area--high praise indeed coming from a couple of Southern Californians.
Anyway, thank you again for your help, Dave, and thank you for all the effort you are putting into the cruise-chat cruise.
I'm really excited about this thing--even as far off as it is.
I guess I know how quickly the time will fly by.
We stayed at the Embassy Suites - Westshore and they were fine.
We were suppose to stay at the new Embassy Suites - Convention Center (waterfront by the port) but they did not open in time.
Westshore hotels are fine. There is a lot of shopping close by. Most of the hotels give you free shuttle within a 3 mile radius ( sorry, port is 8 miles away) but you get a free ride from the airport. We walked around and felt very safe.
However, if money is no object....either the Marriott Waterfront or the Embassy Suites Convention Center (waterfront) would be my choice simply because it is in the heart of the "cruising action".
If you are into a lot of nightlife, the Ybor district has a Hampton Inn that a lot of party folks rave about. But Ybor is like the French Quarter. Loud and active...