I am considering travelling on a Princess cruise this December, between 7 and 10 days in the Caribbean, Bahamas or Panama Canal. Just wondering if you'd recommend this cruise line for a mid-twenties couple? What is the crowd like on this cruiseline?
Princess tends to draw passengers of all ages. Many younger adults (twenty-something to thirty-something) tend to enjoy the pool games, etc., on days at sea. Seven-day cruises tend to attract more young adults than ten-day cruises, primarily due to lower cost, but there are usually some young adults even on longer cruises.
I'm trying to decide between this cruise line and royal caribbean? Any reviews?
It depends what you like to do and what your lifestyle is. Carnival Cruise Line earned itself a reputation for throwing a fairly wild "frat party" at sea (my travel agent tells me that it has not changed much in spite of the line's efforts to tone it down), while Princess throws a classy party with a lot of style. Royal Caribbean lies somewhere in between -- not as wild as Carnival but not as "upscale" as Princess -- with some innovative activities that might or might not appeal to you, such as its rock climbing walls on the rear of its ships' funnels and even ice skating rinks on its larger vessels. You would find a fair number of young adults on all of these lines.
I recommend buying a guide to cruise lines and cruise ships (Frommer's, Fodor's, Sterns, Berlitz, etc.) at your local bookstore and reading the descriptions of the various lines, then going with a line whose personality matches your style. If you do that, you'll have a great experience.
Also, when would be a good time to book for an early December (cruising as early as the 1st) departure. Now or last minute?
If you want a specific sailing, don't wait. Most cruises do sell out.
Any recommended cheap websites?
Forget the web sites. Book your cruise through a local travel agent who specializes in cruises. The truth is that travel agents usually can match the fares that are available on the web, but they provide a level of personal service that a web site cannot provide. Their service is indispensible, especially for a first cruise.
BTW, don't worry about a travel agent charging you for services. The cruise lines pay very solid commissions, so travel agents generally value cruise bookings. In fact, most travel agents do not charge for booking independent flights and hotel stays in conjunction with cruise packages because the commissions on the cruise packages are quite generous.