I wasn't able to get a group rate as I only scheduled 5 rooms, but you can get discounts at some hotels if someone is a AAA member. Always ask a hotel if they give corporate discounts or other club discounts. Sometimes it pays to pay a nominal fee to join a club(e.g. AAA) to offset hotel costs.
We're taking Jewel of the Seas from Ft. Lauderdale. We booked Comfort Inn (very basic hotel, free shuttle from airport to hotel, free breakfast, free shuttle from hotel to boat). A few blocks away is Embassy Suites, a nicer hotel, but $75 more per night. I'm sure they offer similar perks. Across from Embassy Suites is a strip mall with stores, restaurants, etc. Both hotels are walking distance to the stores/restaurants and many people do that. You'd be surprised how crowded the hotels are with cruise vacationers. We found casual restaurants, something like Walgreens/QVC for our last minute supplies, and lots of liquor stores(big business down there) -- if you choose to smuggle some "party" supplies on the boat due to high cost of party beverages on the cruises, may i suggest if you buy clear liquid items and transfer them to water bottles so they go un-noticed.
Back to the hotels:
Comfort Inn: 1800 S. Fedderal Hwy, Ft. Lauderdale
Embassy Suites: 1100 se 17TH St Causeway, Ft. Lauderdale
Staying on 17th Street if far nicer (more local road) than staying on Federal Hwy (busy + no businesses).
These hotels are only 1.5 mile from the boat, so a taxi to the boat would be cheap.
BTW, I previously stayed at Comfort Inn and its a pretty basic hotel with basic, but clean rooms. the lobby is nice, but small, so it gets really crowded when people are boarding shuttle to the ships. One thing I was told is to immediately signup for the shuttle when you arrive at the hotel. They book quickly.
If looking for a hotel, my suggestion is :
* goto http://yp.yahoo.com
and click "Change Location" (upper right of screen).
* Enter the address of where the ship departs (for Jewel of Seas departur, it is: 1850 Eller Drive, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33316 -- got that info by calling RCI - 1 866 562-7625)
* now search for: hotels
* in the results, go past the Sponsored Businesses (yellow background). Under the 'All Businesses' results, you'll see the distance (in miles) each hotel is from the actual ship departure location.
for the address I provided, this link provides me hotels in the area: