Disney Cruise Disembarkation is not a subject that any of us really wants to think about.
However, the day will come when you have to walk away from your beloved Disney Cruise.
Here are some expert tips to help you deal with Disney Cruise Disembarkation.
Disney Cruise Disembarkation Overview
You will find lots of tips on how to deal with disembarkation day on a Disney Cruise.
However, some things will vary according to the specific Disney ship and the cruise port.
For example, Disney’s Port Canaveral has different times for your final breakfast and disembarkation in general.
Be sure to check the letter that you will receive in your Disney cruise stateroom.
You can also see our Guide to Disney Cruise Embarkation for more tips about boarding your Disney Cruise.
The Night Before Disembarkation
Unfortunately, you have to start thinking about the end of the cruise on the final day of your cruise!
This is because you have to pack and decide whether you want to deal with carrying your own luggage off the ship or have it done for you.
Your Stateroom Host will have left luggage tags in your stateroom on the penultimate night of your cruise.
All the luggage tags have a different Disney character on them according to which luggage “group” you are in.
Each group has an approximate time that your luggage will be ready to collect in the departure area at the port.
When you checked in online you will have let Disney know how you were getting back home.
If you have an early flight they will prioritize you on the time that the luggage reaches the collection point so that you can get to the airport as early as possible.
If you are simply driving home then you will be at the bottom of the priority list.
This is so that your luggage can be more efficiently processed and Disney can deal with the task of getting thousands of people off the ship and then getting thousands back on!
Here is the official information that is from a Disney Magic Cruise from Miami
If you are asking Disney to deal with your luggage you will have to have your suitcases packed, labeled, and outside your stateroom by a certain time on your final evening.
This is usually some time around 10 pm.
This does mean that you have to be organized on your final day.
Make sure that you do not pack essential items such as your passport or medication.
I usually pack one or two hand luggage bags with essential items so that we can keep these with us and carry them off ourselves.
You also have the option of carrying your luggage yourself.
I sometimes do this, depending on the amount of luggage I have.
The disadvantage is that you have to deal with your own luggage!
If you have large suitcases this can be difficult. The elevators are usually very busy on disembarkation day and it can be difficult to walk around the ship.
It may also be a long walk to the departure hall customs area.
The advantage is that you don’t have to be as organized about what you pack, and you can choose exactly what time you walk off the ship as soon as it is cleared through customs in the morning.
What About Breakfast Time on the Last Day?
You will stay in your rotational dining groups for your final day breakfast.
Just as there is Early and Late Seating for dinner, there is for breakfast.
This is actually one advantage of Late Seating for dinner if you are not an early riser.
Here is the information from Disney Magic that explains the Breakfast Dining Rotation.
As you can see breakfast can be as early as 6.45 am if you have early dining. If you have late dining you will have breakfast at either 8 am or 8.15 am.
This is quite a big time difference at that time in the morning, and may influence your choice of dining rotation!
Breakfast is also available at Cabanas if you just want a buffet.
What Time is Disembarkation on a Disney Cruise?
For Port Canaveral, all guests should have left the Disney Cruise ship by 9.30 am on the morning of disembarkation.
There will be announcements starting at around 9.00 am asking that you leave the ship.
Cast Members have to turn the ship around very quickly to prepare for the arrival of new passengers.
Remember how you were so anxious to get on the ship on embarkation day? They are now thousands of people outside the ship feeling just the same way!
So help the Cast Members by leaving when you are asked to do so.
And definitely leave no later than 9.30 am. Disney’s San Diego cruise port has a slightly later time.
You need to vacate your stateroom by 8.15 am. Everyone needs to be off the ship by 9.45 am.
Other cruise ports will vary in their times. Check the information which will be left in your stateroom on the day prior to disembarkation.
Remember that all of these times will vary according to the Disney cruise port in which you are disembarking. So always check the information you are given.
Waiting to Disembark a Disney Cruise Ship
There may be some delay between vacating your Disney cruise stateroom, eating breakfast, and actually being able to disembark.
All the luggage tag characters are called out, but if you haven’t heard yours yet you are not yet allowed to disembark.
If you are waiting to disembark you can use the lounges and bar areas to wait.
On the Disney Wonder, I particularly like waiting in the Azure Lounge as it is close to the exit and comfortable to sit in while you wait to be called.
Disembarking a Disney Cruise Ship
Depending upon what time you are leaving, there may be a line to get off the ship.
This usually moves pretty quickly.
On the Classic Ships Disney Wonder and Magic, the lines can back up sometimes towards the French Quarter Lounge.
This makes it difficult for anyone trying to get past that area as the walkway is pretty narrow.
The line always seems to me to move much more efficiently on Disney Fantasy and Dream.
The atrium is so much larger that it can deal with more people without feeling crowded.
You will have your Key To The World Card scanned as you leave the ship.
You can keep it as a souvenir if you want.
Don’t forget to leave your Comment Card in one of the boxes as you leave. Feedback is very important.
Disney Cruise Lines takes these surveys very seriously.
If you feel that you have been treated exceptionally well by a Cast Member always remember to write this on the Comment Card. Disney Cruise lines read them and sometimes will award Cast Members with extra perks as a result of guest feedback.
If you are disembarking a Disney Cruise at Port Canaveral you will walk into the terminal off the ship.
You then head down the escalators to the luggage claim area.
You will see that there are areas clearly marked with Disney Characters.
So if your luggage label is Daisy Duck, for instance, you will easily be able to see that area. It is usually pretty easy to identify your luggage.
As all bags are out there it isn’t the same waiting game that you play in an airport!
Remember that not all of your luggage will necessarily be together. Try and put a bright identifying luggage tag on it so you can find it quickly.
The only exception is that if you disembark at a port that offers onboard airline check-in and have booked Disney transport to the airport, you will not pick up your bags here. They will already be in transit to the airport.
Disney’s Cruise Port at Cape Canaveral offers onboard airline check-in.
Remember that Disney Cruise Line advises you to book a flight no earlier than 11.30 am on the day of debarkation.
Personally, I think this is really making for a very stressful morning and I would never book it that close in time!
However, I know that many of you have made it in time for a before noon flight – it’s just not for me.
However, not all cruise ports do this. The Port of San Diego, for instance, doesn’t offer this. If you have booked ground transfers to the airport you will pick up your luggage and take it with you.
Whichever port you disembark in you will have to go through customs. Be prepared to show the identification which you used to board the ship.
Make sure you did not pack this in your luggage or you will have a stressful time trying to find this when you arrive in the luggage terminal.
Transportation at Port Canaveral
Once you leave the Port Canaveral terminal you will connect with your chosen method of transport.
If you have booked Disney Cruise transportation you will exit the terminal and see the distinctive Disney Cruise buses lining up.
You will need to show your Key to the World Card which will note that you have booked Disney transport.
Disney Cruise transportation travels to Orlando International Airport and Walt Disney World Resorts.
You will be directed to the right bus.
There are no set times for the buses – it is just first come first served. They will leave when they are at capacity.
If you are traveling to a Walt Disney World Resort the bus will most likely be driving to more than one resort.
This means it can take quite a considerable time to get to your Walt Disney World Hotel unless you are fortunate enough to be on the first stop!
All guests who have booked Walt Disney World transport to a Resort can disembark the cruise ship between 7.30 am and 9.15 am.
If you are participating in the Online Airline Check-in you will receive specific instructions in your stateroom prior to disembarkation day.
If you have a flight that leaves Orlando International Airport prior to 1.00 pm you must disembark the ship prior to 8.00 am. If you don’t do this Disney will pull your bags and you will have to check them in yourself at the airport.
If you haven’t booked Disney transportation you will walk outside the terminal and proceed to your chosen method of transport.
The shuttles to car rental places are available near the Disney Cruise buses.
Taxis and Ubers are also available outside the terminal.
If you left your car in the Port Canaveral Parking Lot you simply walk over from the terminal and find your car.
If you are staying at a Port Canaveral Hotel many of them have a shuttle. Make sure you check this when you book.
Do you have any Disney Cruise Disembarkation Day tips?
Alison Meacham is the founder of EverythingMouse Disney Blog. For over 15 years she has shared her love of Disney Parks, Disney Cruises and Universal Orlando. In over 30 years of Disney Travel she has spent countless months in Disney Parks and has sailed on over 45 cruises. A British native and now a United States resident she splits her time between California, Florida and the UK. And spends a serious amount of time sailing the seven seas. She helps over 200,000 people per month follow their Disney travel dreams.