I read an article that cruises are still at near 100 capacity despite the economy. We usually book early but you can get a good deal by booking at the last minute. Although booking airfare at the last minute is a pain.

http://www.cruisecritic.com, reviews of ships/cruises.

http://www.cruises-n-more.com Decent search engine, some specials

https://www.kayak.com/cruises I love Kayak. I use it for flights all the time.

I would recommend Royal Caribbean out of Miami to the Caribbean as a first cruise, Lots of sun and fun. Southwest flies into Fort Lauderdale pretty cheaply, and they don't charge for luggage. Either book the cruise directly through Royal Caribbean or use Travelocity; both work well.

  • Don't believe the cruise line. You need a passport.
  • Get a cabin towards the middle, less rocking and shorter walks. We usually spend the extra $100 or so and get a cabin in one of the upper decks.
  • Get the 2nd seating for dinner (usually around 8pm). The 1st seating is way too early, usually before 6pm.
  • Buy the cruise line's transfers from the airport to the pier from the cruise line; they are a good value.
  • You won't need Dramamine (or any other motion sickness meds) most of the time you can barely feel the ship moving. If you do need it, the cruise lines give it away for free.
  • If you just plan on going to beach at a stop don't buy the cruise line's package, just grab a cab. If you go to St Thomas, go to Megan's Bay.
  • You can eat every meal in the main dining room w/o an extra charge, but the steakhouse (~ $25 extra per person) is usually quite good. You could also eat every meal at the buffet and never get dressed up if you don't want to.
  • Book your own flights.
  • Try to get to your embarkation city as early as possible. You can get on the ship probably around noon; it is like a extra day. Some people even go down the night before and spend the night in a hotel.
  • Fly in a day early, don't want to risk air problems
  • If you do get to the ship early, pack a bathing suit in a bag that you will hand carry onto the ship.
  • Don't listen to the cruise line. Book your return flight for after 12pm. They claim 2pm but you are off of the ship by 9am. If you have a noon-1pm flight from FLL, do the express debarkation where you carry all of your luggage off of the ship really early.
  • if you buy anything in the islands, keep the reciepts on you when you go through customs.
  • Don't cruise over a US holiday. Way too many kids and it is more expensive.
  • You don't have to participate in any organized activites if you don't want to.