Embarkation.. If you have an opportunity to check in early, then read on and you will be eating by 1:20pm. OK, assuming your cruise docs read "fun pass completed" go to the "early check-in" counter at the Queen Mary. This area will be located at the tail end of the Queen Mary entrance, look for the sign for early check in. Get there at 9:30am to check in. You will show the Carnival Rep's your cruise doc's, passport, then you will give them your cash deposit or credit card for your sign and sail card. They will have already your sign and sail card and it will be given to you there. They will also give you a "slip of paper" with a zone number on it. I believe its a # 1 or a A . So, Zone 1 gets on first, Zone 2 gets on second etc.. If you think being in Zone #2 ain't bad, Zone 1 or line #1 is a huge line. Anyway, if you check in early like i did, you'll be in the first line of people to board. Now you have some time to kill, its now 9:45, and you could check on the "west" side of the dome, and see if a line has formed yet, and if it has, get in it. Once they open up the dome at around 12:30 you go in for all the security screening, and after your done with that, its time to board and grubb!!
Quick tips:check in first "before" you stand in the dome lines. Eyeball the lines that enter dome. Even if you have to wait in line 1.5 hrs, DO IT.--- ENJOY!
The Grub/Activities.. OK, the breakfast/lunch grill is buffet style so expect that, its a given to what you are thinking, but its not bad. Theres also a 24hr pizza station that is great, great cause they make it the way i like pizza, light on the sauce and fluffy crust. No free soda's, you'll have to purchase them by the can or you can buy a unlimited soda "card". However the coffee, orange/apple juice, ice tea, lemonade, and chocolate milk, and milk are free. Didn't do the formal dinner, but regular dinner food was good, and served fancy. If you don't want to do the reserved dinner table thing, there is another restaurant that does buffet style food that's causal. If you do want to do the reserved dinner, get early seating cause you will have some daylight still and you can see out the window for the views.
There's also Vegas styled shows, comedians, magic show's, newlywed show, hypnotist shows, piano bars, lounges, library, tiny arcade for kids. Be advised when buying drinks, the prices listed is "without" 15% gratuity added. So when the "drink pushers" come up to you with their 6.25 special drinks, it's really 7.19 and the $4.95 drinks are really 5.69.
You will receive "Carnival Capers", the Ship Newspaper, listed with all the days activities given to you each day, check them out! Also check out their casino, good paybacks I think.
Days at sea/Debarkation.. If you do the 4 day like i did, your "day at sea" will be on thursday. What i enjoyed doing was going up to the top sports deck to walk on the rubberized jogging track on crisp cool mornings or late at night. You could also spend some time at the casino, or you might go to the piano bar and listen to music while sipping a cool drink. If you are a person who likes to read books, go to the library, nice and quiet in there with a big selection of books to check out. Or you could use the ships internet if cost is no object. The charge for that is something like a one time set up fee of $4.95 and like 0.70 cents a min. There are also many "spots" on board where you can find a bar with some tv screens. Altho the ship is now 8 years old, certainly not the largest, or smallest, but you can find areas here and there to be alone.
I found the ship to be quite neat, and well kept up. My stateroom was Cat.1A, was roomy enough for just me, i cruised solo. There were many other solo travelers out there, like the two others at my dinner table. For debarking, I had to leave the ship sooner than most others, and I was allowed an "orange luggage tag" from the information desk which replaced my brown one. I had to catch an early flight out, and I was off the ship and on my way by 8:20am.