Embarkation is the process of getting onto the cruise ship. While I have only gone through the Carnival embarkation procedures, I am guessing the embarkation on the big cruise lines is failry similar.
The whole process starts at the airport. When you reach the baggage claim area, you will see people from various cruise lines holding signs for their cruise line along with a clipboard. Check in with the person for the cruise line you are booked with. They might check your tickets and transport voucher, then tell you to get your bags, and then wait in a certain spot. Eventually your bags show up on the conveyor belt, and then you wait with the other cruisers.
After enough people are ready, someone takes you out to the bus. You leave your bags (non-carry-on) on the sidewalk next to the bus. Someone will take your transport ticket, and then you get on to the bus.
When all of the luggage has been loaded, and all of the people are on board, the bus will makes it’s way to the pier. You will be able to catch exciting flashes of your ship along the way.
The bus will arrive at the pier, and you wil wait on the bus until all of the bags have been unloaded. Then you can get off. Tipping the driver customary, maybe a dollar a bag. Now you have to give your (non carry-on) bags to the porters. Tipping is also customary for these guys too (dollar per bag). Your bags will be delivered to you cabin in probably 3-5 hours. You will want to have packed stuff you will need in your carry on, such as shorts and sandals, etc.
Now you will enter the port. There will likely be a lot of security guards, customs people, etc stationed around the building. These guys are serious. Have fun, but don’t mess around.
Depending on when you arrive, you may or may not encounter long lines. Try to stay calm and enjoy yourself. If you keep a good attitude, it can be enjoyable. If you don’t, you will likely have a miserable time.
The first station you will arrive at will check your boarding passes and passports. You will go to the next station where you will get your room keys/sign and sail cards. You will also give them your credit card information etc.
Now you are almost on board. There are a couple photo stops along the way where they will take a picture of you with some prop with the ships name on it. They will also take a security photo of you that will be tied to your card. This is so they can verify you are the person that belongs to the card when reboarding the ship.
If you are a platinum guest member of the concierge club, you can short cut some of the lines. I have heard you will get your own person escort to take you onto the ship.
Many of the elevators will likely be disbabled as the crew use them to deliver luggage to the cabins. But don’t expect your luggage to show up any time soon. If you are lucky, your bags will show up before dinner.
You can take some time and find you cabin. Maybe take some time and change into shorts if you haven’t already done so, and if you packed your shorts in your carry-on luggage.
You can also head out on deck and watch as your ship sets sail, and leaves port.
Have fun!