As you're a first time cruiser, I would highly recommend you get a travel agent. Maybe ask a relative or co-worker for a referral. There are so many aspects of cruising and a good TA will help you select the right cruise line and itinerary for you. NCL now has single cabins on their newest ship Epic if you are a solo cruiser. Whatever you choose, I'm sure you'll be hooked-it's addictive!.
Splendor of the Seas 1997
Regal Empress 1998
Sovereign of the Seas 2003
Princess Sun 2006
Princess Sea 2007
I strongly suggest using a TA to book your cruise. If, and I do mean If, you do use a site like Expedia or Orbitz DO NOT do the booking online. Talk to an agent to make sure you know exactly what you are getting. Also ask about any discounts or added amenities they may be offering.
Ask these questions to the TA you end up working with. Also remember that there are many excellent TA's who have an online presence but are still regular brick and mortar agents with an office. A good TA does not mean the one down the street.
Cruise lines these days control the pricing so for most cruises the price you see on the cruise lines website will be the price all TA's must sell the cruise for. The exception may be group space but that is even getting more rare. What a TA can offer you that the cruise line cannot are added amenities such as On Board Credit (money you can use on the ship), travel insurance or just a bottle of wine. All agents can offer the exact same "special" rates that the cruise line offers so if a cruise agent tells you that they have a "special" rate it doesn't mean they are the only ones to offer it. Any fare the cruise line offers a TA can also offer.
In regard to pre-booking shows and specialty dining. Some lines like NCL encourage you to pre-book the shows and for things like Legends In Concert or Blue Man Group you may want to do that. On ships like Oasis of the Seas or Allure of the Seas you can also pre-book your entertainment and dining in specialty restaurants. Don't forget there are plenty of free dining venues so specialty restaurants are not required but can make your cruise a bit more special.
I don't have much information on cruising single. My wife won't let me go if I don't take her.
Look around the boards and don't be afraid to ask questions about cruising or anything you may not understand.
__________________ Cruisemates Community Leader/Moderator
"There is a great difference between being well traveled and just having been to many places." ~Me
To the valuable info already received, I would only add my 2 cents about booking with a crusie specialist agency vs booking directly with the cruise line you decide on. A travel agent will be your advocate, in case of any issues that might arise.
Make sure you get your quote including all taxes and port charges,and you get all your questions answered and feel comfortable before you book.No hidden costs or surprises for you.
Also, make sure you take out travel insurance..once booked... go to Insuremytrip.com, enter all your pertinent info,and get a quote, for your cruise. You will be surprised how reasonable it is, for your peace of mind.
Let us know how you make out.
Trip, with her book & tea!
Chat Hostess & Board Moderator
i totally agree with the others, talk to a cruise specialist travel agent, ask any and all questions, what are your likes and dislikes when it comes to a vacation, wants and don't wants, your TA will find a cruise that suits your needs and personality. If you want me to i can PM you the name of a very good national cruise travel agency
I know one: Pete Peterson, the owner (with his wife Nancy) of Cruise Planners. I chose him while reading his posts on the Cruise Line Fans message board. His user name is, naturally, Cruise Planner. Go *edited for commericial content* and click on Forums to post a message to him in the Ask a Travel Agent section. You will love his answers.