When you book your cruises there is a simple process available with all the mainstream cruiselines that will save you a great deal of time at the pier and make the lines move quickly. Please pre-register online before you arrive at the pier.
carnival.com click on "Fun Pass"
With almost all the others it's a tab on their website that says "Before You Board", then click on online registration. NCL's is a little more complicated but the instructions will be a tab on the eDocs when they arrive.
I know nobody reads through all the text on their eDos or all the crap in the ticket packs. However look for the registration instructions and/or links. Everyone in line at the pier will be thankful including you. If you can't find how to do it call the cruiseline or ask you T/A.
Celebrity and Royal Caribbean offer this, as well. In fact, I recently completed online registration for a July cruise on Celebrity. It takes a little time, but no longer than writing it all out by hand, as we had to in the "old days." And, if it goes as smoothly at the pier as our last Carnival cruise, for which we also pre-registered, the time savings is still significant. Just remember to print the boarding pass (called Fun Pass on Carnival, I don't recall what it's called on the other lines) AND take it with you.
I always print mine out and take it too...and I've never been asked for it. But it sure does make you feel a step closer to the boat doesn't it??
And the other silly thing is that I usually do my pre-boarding the day I book...regardless of when the cruise leaves. My wife thinks I'm an idiot!
And I register my reservations on the Carnival web site so that when I go there it tells me how many days until I cruise. Maybe I AM an idiot!
The other thing Neil is having people fill out the paperwork in the docs BEFORE you get to the pier. There's nothing I hate worse than standing in line while someone fills out their paper work at the counter.
I remember the old days of everything being paper and getting annoyed by the idiots who showed up at the pier and hadn't filled anything out. Some obviously hadn't even opened their ticket booklets. So they first off hassle the porters by needing luggage tags completed, then they annoy the rest of us when they get in line and then get to the front with no docs completed.
It is simply amazing how some people manage to function in society. On our recent cruise on the Holiday, as we were entering the terminal on debarkation morning an officer was reminding everyone to have their ID and customs declaration ready. Some college girls in front of me turn around and ask me "do we need those?" "What's a customs declaration?" I didn't see them again but I was hoping they were singled out for "the treatment" by Customs. They deserved it.
Great to get it out of the way early but wait until you recieve the confirmation email/fax or whatever form of confirmation your agent provides before doing the registration. Not just conf/bk'ing # you get on the phone when booked. The reason is, if your confirmation has typos on names/DOB's etc you'll have to do the process again. Worse, after you register it triggers real docs to the printer. Now your real docs will be wrong and you may have to pay a $50. re-doc fee if you need to make a change.