There are several variables to all the statements here. If, such as we did, you have a very early flight (10 am) (and I would never book a client on a flight that early) then it is necessary to do the walk off with your own luggage. I knew we would do that prior to booking our air. Based on that, we were the second and third persons to walk off the ship. We hit immigration first who asked how long we would be remaining in the US. When I told him 2 hours he just handed back our passports and said have a safe trip.
We were able to get the first cab in line and head straight to the airport. Upon arrival at the airport we checked outside for our Delta flight. I was not happy because the fellow said we were 4 lbs overweight on one suitcase. I carry suitcase scales so I had weighed them both and already moved stuff around. Nevertheless, I was able to open one end of the suitcase and pulled a sweater or two out and move them to hand baggage. Away they went - problem - in the fuss and bother of moving stuff around I forgot to tip the guy - oh well.
From there we went inside and directly to security. There were a few people ahead of us and one family that held things up for awhile however it was only 8 am so we stayed exactly where we were. Once we were able to move to the checkers we were less than 5 minutes to the other side. All in all, by 8:15 am we were seated in an extremely hot FLL airport waiting for our plane.
My point, it can be done if it's done right. You have to realize up front it's only going to work if you are in control - take all your baggage with you. Don't wait to sort it out after leaving the ship.
For those who choose to use the valet you are not going to make an early flight and if you don't carry off your own luggage you are not likely going to make an early flight.
I used to always book our flights for 1-2 PM. I no longer feel that's necessary. Sitting in an airport is not my idea of winding down from a cruise and we will continue to carry off our own luggage and I will continue to book us on early flights. Mind you, 10 may be a bit dicey but certainly well before noon.