Will be going on this cruise in 3 days! this will be my 3rd cruise. I swear, cruises are like crack!
MasterC, I've been reading there is early check-in at the Queen Mary that opens up at 9 or 930am. Check in and maybe explore a little. From the boards, it looks like you may be able to board by 11 or even 12noon. I would then go explore the ship and get used to the floor plan and have lunch on the Lido deck! By the time your luggage gets to your room at 130pm, you have time for a powernap before the muster drill! Some folks are already in the pool by this time!
I also highly, highly recommend you go to formal night. On my last cruise on the Imagination out of Miami, people HARDLY dressed up.. and dressed up, I mean nice slacks and a shirt. I guess there were a lot of spring breakers? I actually saw people with jeans! and not dressy ones.
On my first cruise on Elation out of San Diego... dress ranged from nice business casual to gowns and tuxes! I did read somewhere that the westcoast cruises tend to have people who eat in the dining rooms more than the buffets. But, just go for the lobster and prime rib! You paid for it! We are pretty casual ourselves, but some nice pants and a shirt will get you in! and these cruises have been pretty casual in my opinion. It's a SoCal thing I guess?
Enjoy your cruise!
Thanks for the review on the Paradise... you're correct in that there aren't as many recents ones. Glad you had a great time in spite of customs!