Rwiebe13--I feel bad for the problems that you had with your flights. Isn't it a shame that all lessons are learned the hard way? Here are a few things that we have learned (as confirmed on this thread by other cruisers):
1. Buy insurance. I can't emphasize this enough. I don't know how it would work in your situation, but it paid off for me when we had to cancel an Alaskan cruise last month because I broke my wrist a week before sailing. We had booked the cruise and air through Princess and were totally reimbursed for both
2. Arrive the day before sailing. This allows for delayed flights; helps assure you get your lost luggage before sailing (also the voice of experience!); and gives you the opportunity to explore the port city.
3. Book your own flights. We have booked through RCCL on a couple cruises and booked our own flights on the others. Generally speaking, it is cheaper to book your own because you can fly on Air Tran or other independent carriers. The cruise lines will book you on major carriers, which are more expensive. Also, the seating assignments on cruise-line booked flights leave a lot to be desired. On the flight which we had to cancel in May, every flight to and from Alaska, we were seated over a wing or by the bathroom. On one flight, my husband and I were separated by two rows.
4. Carry all documentation and phone numbers with you.
5. Make sure your cell phone is charged before leaving home and before leaving the ship. You could be using it a lot if your flights get messed up!
6. Finally, do try cruising again! Once you get past the airport hassles, the cruise is the ultimate payoff. It's a perfect anniversary gift to each other. Start planning now for your second anniversary!