Can anyone tell me what is the best time to arrive at the pier in Miami for a 4pm departure from port? Is earlier better i.e. 10:30 - 11:00am or is later better i.e. 1:30 - 2:00pm. Does one have more "waiting in line" time than the other?
As we love to get onboard as early as possible to begin our vacation as soon as possible, we always go to the port around 10:30/11:00ish and by the time the lines have dissipated (because this is a popular time to be there so the lines may be longer than at other times), and we have gone through the several checkpoints, it has been about an hour and Carnival will then let you on (previous passengers aren't generally even off the vessel until about 10/11ish).
We NEVER care about the wait in line because there is such wonderful positive reinforcement for waiting! I can see if the line is long as the Registry of Motor Vehicles, but a line to get on that cruise ship you've been obssessing over for months??? Nah. Unhappiness just won't happen
As far as which would be the best time to go? I can only imagine that answer changing depending on too many other factors. In general, however, those who stay in a hotel the night before embarkation have to check out by 11ish and those who fly in the very day of embarkation most likely have arranged the earliest possible flights and will also be getting to the ports around that time.
For us, seeing that crowd of people while feeling the warm Florida sun on our faces after a season of crappy weather is so exciting that we don't mind the wait.
Carnival Destiny - Mar 2005
Carnival Miracle - Mar 2006
can I ask about where you're waiting before embarking? Can you "sign in" or whatever and then wander around outside? Can you check your bags & stuff & then come back?
Normally, I don't even mind waiting a long time at airport gates, but for this trip, we have an energetic 4 year old and an easily bored 2 year old, and the shuttle from the hotel leaves for the port at 9am. Are we going to go totally nuts?
I'm actually staying at the Sheraton Biscayne Bay the night before, so I'll have to decide if I want to do most of my waiting at the hotel or at the pier. As for checking your bags and then wandering around - the impression I'm getting from what others have been saying is that once your bags are there and your doc's are checked you are herded into a huge waiting area to await boarding. Maybe someone can clarify this for you as this is my first cruise too.