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Warm and tropical

I have been a mad fiend of vacation research lately. From all-inclusives, to cruises, I am Googling hotels, checking Trip Advisor and Cruise Critic reviews, and even pricing out airfare. All because I have a terrible travel bug that's itching to get somewhere warm and tropical. Mainly, the Caribbean, since being in Texas puts me much closer to those destinations than Hawaii. I am looking at Gulf Coast Mexico, the Bahamas, cruises that take you to several different stops, and more. I want soft sand, fruity drinks, and a very warm ocean and the breeze off of it to cool me down. 
Oh, and don't forget budget friendly. I do not have an unlimited amount of money to spend, and I still need to pay my bills when this vacation is over.
Now, I have only ever traveled to the Caribbean once, to Puerto Rico, and I have never taken a cruise. Here's where you come in: I need recommendations. Hotels, airlines, cruises, islands, excursions, the like. If you have been somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico or the Caribbean and LOVED your experience, I want to hear it. I am flexible on travel times, and don't have my heart set on any one location yet, so we're open to all possibilities until one stands out above the rest.
Thought it changes with every new search I do, I am currently leaning toward a 7 night cruise out of Galveston. It saves on a plane ticket because we can drive there, and with 7 nights you hit up 3 different places. Cruises are appealing because they are (mostly) all-inclusive, so you don't have to worry about food, or planning transport to other areas, and offer a variety of things to do. Billy and I are VERY different travelers, so it would be nice to have options that appeal to both of us.
What I need to know is personal experiences with the different cruise lines, what you liked and didn't, the ports of call you visited, what you did while there, what to avoid or do...all of it.

Or, what all-inclusive or cheap resorts and hotels you have visited, and what your experience was like there. Basically, I want it all.

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