I played for two semesters a while ago, but let my subscription lapse when I had to go back to 56k over summer break - it was barely playable, beyond basic login and skill switch. My then-roommate, who I got into it, is still playing - the player corp I got him into is doing some major 0.0 space pvp and mining operations, which is where the game gets really really awesome, and occasionally still good-naturedly cusses me out for getting him addicted.
As to the question re: ship replacement, that's not really a problem, assuming you have any cash in your char's reserve. if you get bombed, your insurance will almost cover a new ship, most of the time. the problem is replacing equipment... when belt-rats gank you and you lose t2 strip miners... oooh, boy.
Just make sure your clone is always paid up, and no loss should be too painful. As soon as the tutorial gives you access to the character sheet, start a skill training, and _always_ keep one going - leave a long-term skill when you log out. If you kind of like what you see in the trial, get into a player corp. That's where all the fun stuff comes from, and they'll usually have enough equipment to keep your starting-era low-end frigs and cruisers (skip destys. they're useless, esp. with the new starting level bump.) in good repair.