Dave's point about using a travel agent for your first cruise is excellent info. There is nothing wrong with your own research as to what you basiclly want, where you want to go, and what you want to do, etc. Take your first choices then to an agent, present them to the agent, and let them give you advice on what you have picked, pros and cons. We did for our first time, and they directed us to Royal Caribbean as being the best cruise for our dollar and preferences. Then, unlike Dave, I buy our cruises with the cruise line vacation specialist via telephone. One other thing you may want to consider for the future; should you really like RCL and cruising, meet with the onboard RCL travel specialist, and START your next cruise vacation with what is called a "Next Cruise Booking" (I
honostly cannot remember the exact name). You basically pay $200, and get a reservation number. The number does NOT expire, and can be used when you choose to book your next cruise. By doing this, you also receive an "on board credit" when you next cruise; the amount can be used to defray some of your expenses on the ship, and the amount depends on how many days your next cruise will be. It is both a great promo for the cruise line, and a good deal for you too. Everything on the ship is included in your base fare, but there are things which are considered extra (alcohol, spa treatments, excursions, soda, speciality restaurants, PHOTOS, souviners, etc.), and the credit you receive will be applied to your onboard expenses. Our first 7 day cruise we spent about $800. The following cruises, we knew what we DIDN'T need to buy, and our costs dropped to under $400 or so,
and some of that would be in the casino, where I usually drop $200 into the ship's fuel fund (as I call loosing). I remember Captain Johnnie once saying the ship gets 600 feet per gallon, so it needs all my help.