We are based in the UK and booked for Oasis when we were onboard our last cruise in August on Independence of the Seas. It costs £100 per person to secure your stateroom and if you booked through an agent it gets transferred and creditied to them. We are booked on the cruise departing 30th January 2010 (our 10th wedding anniversary!), I have been on a Western Caribbean cruise in late Jan 05 (Voyager of the Seas) and the weather was great and no threst of hurricanes. It is recommended that you book early for choice of stateroom as they will be in high demand as this is the inagural season. Prices are pretty high though, hopefully it will be worth it! I am looking forward to sailing the Eastern Caribbean itinerary Nassau, St Thomas and St Marten. We have been to Nassau before but not the other islands, they are apparently known for some of the best shopping the Caribbean!
I think your deposit will be lost if you cancel, I think it is 12 weeks before you need to pay the full amount, so plenty of time to save up!
Booking this early is a bit of a gamble, but at least your price is secured, you get your pick of stateroom and it gives you an amazing holiday to look forward to. If you have travel insurance and have to cancel for any reason than is deemed acceptable (medical etc.) I think you can get your deposit back through your insurance after paying the excess (dependent on your policy)We normally book all of our holidays about a year in advance, becasue of the good pricing, plenty of time for planning and budgeting for your holiday.
We did the package through RCL from Newcastle this time so hopefully the connections will be OK and the hotel they provide for us the night before will be nice (I normally book everything separate but the flight prices were guaranteed at a really good rate, we decided to book as a package). We have decided to tag a few says in Miami before the cruise as well.
Hope this helps in your decision.