We had never cruised before, but were celebrating an anniversary and my birthday. We flew to Ft. Lauderdale the night before and stayed with my sister (much better than a hotel).
We got there for embarkation about mid-afternoon and it was not at all a long wait. We had no idea what we were doing, but found it pretty easy to figure it out, what papers to fill out and such. I had printed boarding passes online.
Our stateroom was nice and roomy. We chose oceanview and we could actually view a piece of the ocean! We were told the lifeboats obstructed all or part of the view for all oceanview rooms on the Grand Princess. We saw lifeboat out the window, but could also see water (and land, at times!) The Muster Drill was soon after we set sail. Get there early -- we were some of the last 20 or so people to get there who had to sit on the floor.