On all cruises we have done (and one coming up in December 2012) we have stayed in a hotel before hand. BUT our reasoning/cause is a little different. We have gone to and going to a park prior to cruise. (Disney and Universal Studios).
We have never gone on "just a cruise" without doing something prior. So I can't give any advise on mishapes (spelling??) due to flights, etc.
It is nice to already be there day before. No real worries. Also nice to have RCCL/ Universal Studios (and Disney) having to "deal" with everything (transportation, etc). Universal Studios and RCCL work together with land and sea packages..VERY nice.