I have always liked cruises out of Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale) because the airport is essentially across the street from the port. Well, not quite, but you are only a few minutes away!
While going with the Princess pre-cruise package will give you some peace of mind, it can be done more inexpensively on your own. Many local hotels offer a complimentary shuttle to the port - and from the airport to the hotel too - so you can get the tranportation out of the way for no added cost. But since the port is so close to the airport and most hotels, taxi rides are not too costly. I am talking in the $20 range.
Here is one hotel for you to consider: Cruiseport Hotel
but there are many others.
Princess is a real champion when it comes to embarkation and debarkation, especially in Ft. Lauderdale. On one cruise they even hustled us onto one of their buses for the trip back to the airport - even though we hadn't purchased the transfers.
A word of caution should you let Princess book your air - these typically are not the most preferable flights and you could find yourself cooling your heels until a late afternoon or early evening flight. We always do our own air. Another consideration is that - although the airport is close and Princess will most likely have you off the ship in standing in the airport by 9 to 10 am - don't risk missing your flight by booking something that cuts it too close. There are lots of flights out of FLL around 10:30am or so, and these are tempting, but not realistic these days.
Although this is your first cruise, you have already made a decision like a seasoned cruiser! Getting to the port a day early is always the right choice in my opinion. You will not regret it.
More questions? Let us know!