I read recently a thread from a first time cruiser wondering about what time to arrive at Galveston to embark. Depending on the ship you are sailing, Conquest or Ecstasy and where you are parking (we always use Lighthouse Parking) try to be dropping off your bags at the curb for porters to take your bags by about 11AM.
The Conquest takes longer for all the passengers to embark, but we normally get on by noon on either ship. Mind you, we sail as VIP and this gets us through security in 2 minutes, VIP check in and board straight away.
If you arrive at the curb to drop your bags about 10:30 to 10:45 AM and proceed up the escalators to show CCL Staff your boarding pass and your Sign & Sail you will then be in line for Security and then a line to present your docs and receive your Carnival Card. You head to a waiting area and sit until they start calling for boarding. You go through a photo shot stop for a photo of you and your other members get a Carnival Photo standing in front of a mural of the ship FLASH the photo which you can buy later on board. Then up the boarding ramps and you present your card . . .attendant inserts it into the validation machine at which point you pose for a photo that is then imprinted on your card for all future off and on the ship events at the ports of call. Ta Da .. now you are on the ship.
You go up to the Lido Deck find a table outside or inside the buffet and have lunch. Your stateroom will be ready about 1:30PM and then you can go drop your carry on bags in the stateroom. Lock your valuables in the room safe and explore the ship. You check in luggage will starting arriving to your stateroom about 4:30PM to 6:00 ish PM. It could be earlier. Oh, if you want to enjoy the pool, hot tubs early, take your swim suits in your carry on so you can do so. . .weather permitting. If you want to see photos check my profile for photo links. CM will not allow links to sites in signatures.