it all depends upon what time you are scheduled to sail. If you are leaving in the early evening you can begin boarding around noontime. Wear comfy casual clothes, i usually wear cotton pants, jersey and a lightweight jacket or zipfront sweatshirt and sneakers. I pack a pair of shorts my bathing suit and a change of clothes for dinner in my carry-on just in case my luggage doesn't arrive in time for dinner.
For a cruise that leaves at 4:00 p.m. we get there about 11:30 a.m.. I wear shorts and a t-shirt. I also pack my bathing suit, a skirt and another top in my carry-on in case my luggage doesn't arrive by dinner time (that only happened to us once).
Celebrity Century 1/09
Carnival Destiny 10/07
Carnival Destiny 9/06
Monarch of the Seas 3/06
Carnival Inspiration 8/05
Carnival Miracle 4/05
Carnival Inspiration 4/04
Sovereign of the Seas 4/03
If we didn't get so freaked out about hitting traffic I would rather arrive 1-2 hours before boarding ends because there is never a wait. however, you never know when you are going to hit bumper to bumper traffic because of road work or an accident. Don't want to miss the ship altogether so we end up early.
11 ish worked for us. We wore shorts, etc. We brought our bathing suits in a carry on. We checked out our room and dropped some stuff off. Lunch was being served on Lido and the pool was open. I was a happy woman!!!!
Our ship was scheduled to sail at 4:00 p.m. We didn't get to the pier until 2:30/ 3:00. There was practically no one in line, and checking in was less than 10 minutes.
The only thing is that we rushed through lunch before the muster drill, and didn't get our bearings until the ship had set sail. Next time, I will definitely board the ship as soon as we're allowed to.
So, you have two options. Wait in the long lines to check in along with hundreds of other passengers (although the check-in lines do go by fast), board the ship and have more time on it before sailing, or waiting until later, zip through the check-in process, and have less time to enjoy lunch, and such.
We usually arrive between 10:30 and 11:00 am for a cruise that departs at 4:00pm. Our last cruise aboard the Carnival Glory, departing from Maimi at 4:00pm. We arrived at the terminal at 10:30. After a brief wait of about 30 min. We were processed and were abord the ship about 11:15.
We love anything assocated with crusing and traveling. We are retired U.S. Navy...and loving it, "Been there...done that"! (almost).
MS Carnival Glory 11/2010
MS Carnival Liberty 11/2007
MS Carnival Spirit 10/2006
MS Carnival Victory 12/2005
MS Star Princess 12/2002
MS Carnival Victory 12/2000
USS Bristol County, LST 1198, 1980-1982
USS Turner Joy, DD951, 1973-1978