A little preparation can go a long way to help you get on the ship quickly and easily. A couple weeks before your departure you can complete your on-line check in so that you can print out your set sail pass and request your luggage tags.
Before you leave home: Make sure you have tagged all your luggage/strollers with the luggage tags you got in the mail. Be sure to pack a bag to carry onto the ship that will have everything you need the first day. Make sure there is nothing in your carry on that is more than 3oz. You will go through security at the port. You might want to pack a bathing suit or a change of clothes, medicines, a pen (for forms at the port) and anything else you will need before your luggage arrives. (Although you should get your luggage right away it may be as late as 9:30 pm before all your luggage arrives).
When you arrive at the port: Porters will be there to take your tagged luggage. Be prepared to tip them about 1-2 dollars a bag. Grab your carry on, passports, and set sail pass and head to the check in line. If you drove to the port you can get in the first line while you wait for your spouse to park the car but don’t go in until you are all together. Open all your passports to the picture page so that you can get through quickly. After you show your passports you will go through security. Although you can’t have anything over 3oz it won’t be as invasive as at the airport. Next you will get in line to check in and get your sea pass card.
Check in: While you are on line for check in you will get a health questionnaire (that is why you need a pen). Each adult needs to fill it out but you can put the kids on yours so you don’t have to fill one out for everyone. Have your set sail pass, passports, credit card for on board charges, and health questionnaire ready at check in. Keep your family together because they will want to check each person with their passport again. You will each get a set sail pass at this time and this will be your room key, ID, and charge card on your trip. Keep it with you at all times and report to guest services if it is lost. Also do NOT put your sea pass card next to your cell phone. It will erase your card and you will have to get it fixed at guest services. (It only takes a minute but its annoying to be locked out of your room…I know)
ID Pictures: Next its off to get your picture for your sea pass card. You will put your card in the machine and they will take your picture. The picture will not be put on your card.
Family Pictures: This is the first of many encounters with the ships photographers. They are there and ready to take your family picture. If you are in a rush or are just not interested you can walk on by (although they may encourage you not to). If you have your picture taken make a note of the time. That will help you find your picture later in the gallery. They will be grouped by boarding time.
Get ID bracelets for the kids: If you have children they will flag you down to get bracelets for the kids. These have a code on them such as D20 that represents where your meeting station is for an emergency. This way if your kids get separated from you during an emergency or are in the children’s program a crew member will get them back to you quickly.
Board the ship: You are almost there. If you have completed this process before boarding has begun then you can wait in the lounge where there is snacks and drinks to enjoy. If boarding has already begun then proceed out to the buses that will take you to the ship. After a short bus ride you will arrive at the boat. Hand them your sea pass card to scan and you are on!! You will be on deck 1. You can go to your room or head up to deck 11 for lunch at the Windjammer. Bon Voyage!!!
It is recommended that you arrive at the port at the time on your set sail pass. Although our set sail pass said 2pm we arrived at the port around 12:30 and had no problem getting aboard quickly. The process went really quickly.
Remember everyone has to be on board before the safety drill so if you ship sails at 5 pm you will want to be on board by 4 pm the latest.
As soon as you board your vacation begins with lunch, swimming, and drinks. Getting to the port early will help you to enjoy more of your first day. I would aim to arrive at the port around 12pm.