My party will be arriving in Miami about 9:30 the day of departure. If we go directly to the port of Miami, will we be close enough to anything to hang out until we can board, or should we plan on going somewhere prior to being taken to the port to keep us busy? We will have all of our luggage, so we won't really have a lot of options once we arrive.
I often go over to the Miami port about 11:30-12:00noon. If you went from the airport to the port you would be too early for check-in to get on the ship. You could check your baggage with the porters and then go back across the causeway to Bay Side Market to kill time.
The lines to board the ship are usually long. I would go to the pier and get in line. Bring an umbrella to keep the sun off if you are sensitive. You can get a bad burn standing in the sun to board the ship. You will be on the ship sooner that way and then you can relax.
If your flight is scheduled to get in at 9:30Am, figure it will take 45mins to and hour to get your luggage and then another 30 minutes to get into a taxi and to the pier another 15 or so to get to the luggage drop off point... that puts you at standing in line at about 11:15 or so... Not enough time to bother trying to get extra shopping done before they board. There will be plenty of shopping time on your cruise. I'd just go and get in line then board as soon as they let you.. That gives you more "cruising time".