We are a married couple in our sixties living in Orange County, CA. Even though we are not retired yet it was our third vacation this year. We had also a Princess cruise in January and a resort stay in Mexico in May of this year. It was our fourteenth cruise, fifth cruise on Carnival, and the third one on Spirit.
We booked this cruise well in advance - in February. First, I do research on cruise.com, then talk to my local agent. Then pick the best offer. In the Internet Cruise.com seems like the best place to look for cruises, to compare them, etc. And their prices are good too. But sometimes my agent beats them.
We drove to San Diego a day before departure and stayed at Sheraton Airport and Marina hotel. Had a nice room and a nice dinner there. I hated the idea to drive to San Diego at night. Our flight San Diego-Honolulu was departing at 6:15 AM. With all those latest security requirements you have to be at the airport around 4:00 AM, which, practically, would mean no sleep for me that night. That's why we opted for the hotel. This way we were not as exhausted next day after our flight, as during our previous Hawaiian cruise, even though we had to change planes in Salt Lake City. Unfortunately, you seldom get a direct flight when booking air trough a cruise line; they usually go for the cheapest option.