At Port Canaveral
If you arrive at Port Canaveral by car, you'll be directed to enter the driveway in front of the Terminal. You'll need to show photo ID to security before driving forward to another security point where everyone in the car will need to show photo ID, and check you off on the passenger list. You can them drive right up to the Terminal and drop your luggage off, where porters will take it from you and have it sent to your stateroom. Make sure you've attached the DCL luggage tags, and also tip the porters. You're then free to move the car across the street to the secure car park, which costs approximately $15 per night.
Those arriving by other means, or walking across having parked their car, will need to show photo ID to get into the Terminal. Once inside the Terminal building all of your bags, purses and coats will have to go through a scanner, just like at the airport. A Cast Member will hand you a ticket with a number on that indicates the order of boarding. The earlier you arrive, the earlier you'll be able to board, and vice versa for those arriving later.
Then it's up the escalator or in the elevator to the main lobby area. Check-in usually opens between 10am and 11am. There are two separate check-in lines, one for Castaway Club members and one for everyone else. If you've completed online check-in, this part shouldn't take very long. Again, the later you arrive, the longer you're likely to have to wait. Make sure you have all of your documents ready - printed forms if you've done online check-in, otherwise completed forms that you were mailed; passport; credit card and signed credit card authorization form, etc. You'll receive your Key to the World card which doubles as a stateroom key and charge card for the length of your cruise.
Once checked-in you're free to explore the Terminal lobby. There is usually at least one character doing meet and greet in the middle of the lobby - a great chance to get a photo taken with them in their Cruise attire! Don't miss the scale model of the Disney Magic in the middle of the lobby.
Boarding normally begins between 11am and 12pm. Listen out for the number on the ticket you were given being called out, then proceed to the Mickey ears entrance. To embark the ship each guest has to have their Key to the World card swiped. Then it's time for the first of many photos, as you pose with your family in front of a backdrop. The photos are on display later than evening in Shutters.
Along the gangway and it's time for the fun to begin! As you walk onto the ship you'll be greeted by a host of Crew Members who will announce your arrival to those in the vicinity.
You'll have received a ship map at check-in, which will have today's events and timings printed on the back. Study that and decide what you want to do that afternoon and plan accordingly. Our sample boarding plan might help. Lunch is usually served upon boarding until 2:15pm in Parrot Cay, and 3:30pm in Beach Blanket / Topsiders Buffet.