The ship we had bought tickets for was the biggest class cruise ship there currently is. This meant 2400 passengers and 1100 employees. We figured that between 3500 people trying to get on one boat would be pretty crazy.
We had already tagged all our bags with our room number so we were able to just drop It off. It felt weird just leaving our bags in the giant pile without anyone checking anything off and I think a lot of other people felt the same because there was a large crowd milling around watching for when their bags got moved to the conveyor belt.
From there we moved our way through a line. We signed all the paperwork, got our key cards, walked up the gangplank and were on the ship within a half hour. I was surprised how fast we got on the ship.
Once on the boat we were able check out our cabin before they did their muster drill. We took our life vests down to our designated meeting place and had a safety presentation and hand washing demonstration.
The biggest surprise during the whole process is the importance they placed on hand washing. On check-in we had to sign a paper stating we did not have diarrhea or vomiting in the last two days. They spray your hands with hand sanitizer every time you step foot on the ship. There are auto dispensers that squirt Isopropyl alcohol onto your hands at every restaurant on board and for those that do not put their hands under the dispenser an attendant will ask to spray them for you. Also, none of the crew will shake anyone's hands. I guess there have been enough problems on cruise ships that out of everything else that is what they decide to crack down on. Most likely because it cost them the most money.
We were given key cards that controlled everything. It was the key to our cabin door, it had our credit card attached to it so there were no cash transactions, only your key card. Every time you get on or off the boat they swipe your card and your picture shows up on the screen so they know exactly where you are. When you made a dinner reservation they swiped the card to keep track of who ate at which restaurant each night. (I think it was to keep the employees out of the nicer restaurants but no one would admit it.)