Background information: We were a party of 6 that flew in from Washington, DC. We are all from VA and our group consisted of two married couples and two single girls and we are all affiliated with EMS. My husband and I have sailed Carnival Fantasy class ships 5 x's and the other couple have sailed the same class twice before. The two girls were new cruisers.
We flew in the day before to FLL and spent the evening at the Comfort Inn Airport/Cruise Port Hotel. They have a shuttle to and from the airport and you just contact them from the baggage claim when you arrive. We got an internet rate of $69 per night. We decided on a limo from "A Family Limo" vs. the Carnival transfer b/c it was only $4 more pp and they picked us up at the hotel so we did not have to shuttle back to the airport. They picked us up at 11 AM, we were driven to the cruise port, checked in and were on the ship by 12:30PM. We all had completed our fun pass which helped expedite the process.
The two couples did a guarantee 6A cabin and using the method of looking at the back of our sail and sign forms in our cruise documents, it showed that we were on the Empress Deck, which was a nice upgrade. However, when we arrived, we were even more surprised to find out that we had been upgraded even more - Verandah Deck, Cabins 1 and 3! These were very nice and the balconies were not obstructed by life boats. I was even more surprised to have a dozen yellow roses in my room that my husband had sent me. :-)