Tom has offered you good suggestions. The cruise market has continued to explode and all indications are that prices are only going to continue to increase. I am not sure when you are planning to go in December but if it is anytime after Dec. 15, those sailings sell quickly. Your best bet is to book early, when availability is at its highest. As long as you are working with a good travel agent (preferably a cruise specialist) they will be able to first match you and your budget to the best ship and itinerary for you, then monitor the price and make sure you are compensated (again as Tom has mentioned, either by a price match or upgrade). If you book online, there is no one who will be looking out for your interests. A travel agent can also be intrumental in making sure your travel to and from the ship is handled properly and efficiently. As you may have noticed, there are lots of first time cruiser questions on this board. A good cruise agent will be able to answer these questions and and any concerns you may have.