This is the normal, cases outside by no later than 12 midnight, but your crusie news will advise on exact timing. We always take a small case to use in the morning for any bits and pieces to take off the ship. You will meet up with your cases as soon as you clear the ship to go for whatever travel option you have to leave the port area and head to the airport of hotel etc.
My wife was reminding me on our Auckland departure earlier this year we did not meet up with our cases until we arrived at the airport, now this is the first time this has happened. As we stepped off the bus the cases were just being sorted so we only had a few minutes to wait before going heading off to the check-in.
Ocean Village in Barbados, in November, we did not see our cases from 11.30pm the night before until we arrived back in Gatwick the next morning.
On Island Escape last year our luggage was taken away at midnight which was a pain as we were flying home.
This year I will be better prepared and make sure I keep out an overnighter as handluggage... mind you as we only live 4 miles from the port its not likely to be much of a problem.
As Blyth has advised regards packing, if your going Southampton to Southampton the cases are in a terminal shed by the ship you clock of ship pick up your luggage and take it to your car or coach or taxi via the UK customs hall.
Main cases are generally taken before you go to dinner. You are generally allowed to keep small case to put things in before you go to bed ie clothes you wear that night. Anything else has to be put in your hand luggage. Caes are on the quay when you disembark the next morning - very civilised.
On P&O, you can self disembark if you so wish and thus get off earlier. If you opt for this you have to carry ALL your luggage off yourself. Otherwise put it outside your cabin and you pick it up in the terminal as you leave after you have had breakfast. Keep the same labels on that you had when boarding.
Having sailed on the Arcadia 3 times and the 0ceana twice we have always put out one of our cases before evening dinner , keeping one back so that after dinner and before bed we can put our evening wear clothes into the second case which is then put outside our cabin. 0nce that is done we do not see our cases until we collect them at our home airport .