Skip to Content

Disney Cruise Embarkation – Tips Tricks and Hacks

Sharing is caring!

The first day of your Disney cruise is incredibly exciting. Embarkation is one of the best parts of any Disney cruise.

However, a lot of guests are confused as to a number of things that will happen on their first day or embarkation day.

Here we will make sure that you know everything you need to know about your first day, so you can make the maximum use of the time you have onboard!

disney cruise embarkation

Your port arrival time is important. Usually, these times range from 11 am until 1.30.

This will determine which Group Boarding Number you get when you arrive at the port.

Concierge Guests always get the earliest possible boarding time, so they will be the first to board. If you are sailing in a Concierge stateroom you will have a Group 1 boarding number.

Many Cruise Ports, including Port Canaveral, have their own Concierge Lounge where you can wait before you board.

Groups 2 and 3 are the ones with the early boarding times on Check-In.

Later boarding times follow in order.


Many guests find Port Arrival Time confusing.

As a general rule do not arrive any more than 15 minutes prior to your port arrival time.

I know.

I completely get that you want to just get on the ship and start your magical cruise, but if you arrive early you may not be allowed to enter the port.

This does depend upon which port you are cruising from, but mostly even if you are allowed in the port to check in, you will still have a while to wait.

Disney and other cruise companies stagger port arrival times so that not everyone arrives at once. 

The important thing to understand is that Port Arrival Time is related to your Boarding Number.

Usually, these range from Groups 1 to 30. The later your Port Arrival Time the higher your boarding number will be. So the later you will get on the ship.

So, if you have a later Port Arrival Time and arrive early what this means is that you will be waiting in the terminal building for a while until your number is called.

Or it may even be at certain ports, such as San Diego, that you have to wait outside the terminal.

There is no way to jump the line by arriving early!

The only exception to this is Concierge.

They do not have a Port Arrival Time as they will always be in Groups 1 and 2 for Boarding. 



Disney Cruise Luggage Tags


You will be sent your luggage tags in the mail.

Make sure that they are securely placed on all the bags that you want to check-in.

If you forget to do this or you haven’t received your Disney luggage tags on time, it is fine.

They will have labels at the port for you, but it is much quicker if these are already on your bags and ready to go.

Arriving at the Disney Cruise Port


Always make sure that you arrive in good time at your Disney Cruise port. A cruise does not wait for you – if you are late you could be watching it sail into the distance!

If you are sailing out of Port Canaveral you will go through the security and x-ray machines on the first floor. You will already have given your checked luggage to the porters.

If you have a Disney Cruise Transfer your luggage will already have been checked in for you.

The next time you see your checked luggage will be when it is delivered to your stateroom, which is usually in the early afternoon.

Always make sure that you have important documents and items such as your passport and any medications with you in your carry-on luggage.

Obviously, you will need your required ID items for the check-in desk.


Once you have cleared security in Port Canaveral you will go up to the second level.


You will have your Cruise Documents which shows your port arrival time and boarding number.

Concierge guests have priority. If you have an early check-in time you will have a lower number and be able to board more quickly.

It is essential that you have the correct ID. If you do not, you will not be allowed to board.

Check with your Travel Agent or directly with Disney Cruise Lines for the ID requirements for your cruise.

It does happen that guests are left behind as they have not brought the correct ID with them. Don’t let that be you!

Register with the Disney Kids Clubs


You are able to fill out all the paperwork online for the kid’s clubs for your children aged 3 to 12.

You can also do this online prior to your cruise.

This will include your child’s details, any allergies, who is authorized to pick them up from the club, and a password that they will use.


It doesn’t matter if you haven’t done this prior to boarding, but it does save you some time.

You can do this at the kid’s clubs when you are on board the ship.

However, if you have time you should do it right now. There isn’t much else to do while you wait!

Waiting To Board the Disney Ship


If you arrive early in the morning at Port Canaveral you are likely to be there will a lot of fellow guests waiting to get on board the ship.

Do not arrive earlier than your Port Arrival Time hoping they will let you enter the port building anyway. They won’t.

The ships usually start to board at around 11.30 am. in Port Canaveral.

The boarding process is usually quick.

As soon as your number is called you can get into the line. You will go through the Mickey Ears and begin your walk to the ship.

Your Key To The World will be swiped and you will be welcomed on board.

Should you get a Disney Cruise Embarkation Photo?


Usually in the port, before you embark on your cruise  Minnie Mouse will be there ready for you to have your photograph taken with her. Sometimes Mickey is with her too.

The lines are usually long, but if you know you have the time it’s a nice thing to have. Once you start the boarding process there will be another photo opportunity before you actually get on the ship.

If you want to save time you can skip the line. You will get on the ship slightly early, but miss out on the boarding photo opportunity.

Boarding Your Disney Cruise


The time has finally arrived! You are about to step onto your Disney ship!

A Cast Member at the door will ask you for your family name.

This will be announced over the microphone so that the whole lobby can hear.

You will be welcomed on board to the sound of applause from the assembled Cast Members in the lobby. If this all sounds a bit cheesy to you, then it most definitely is. However, it is a whole lot of fun!

Do You Need to Visit Disney Cruise Guest Services?


When you board you will probably already see a line at Guest Services. Do you need to join it?

You will if you want tickets for special character greetings such as The Royal Gathering.

Also, if you want to check to sign up for other activities such as Wine Tasting, or other special things which are not available online.

You can even put your name down for one of those coveted Castaway Cay Cabanas – it isn’t very likely, but there may be a cancellation and you will get lucky!

Disney Cruise Dining Reservations and Times


If you want to change your dining time or request a certain table now is your chance. 

Look at your Personal Navigator to see where on the ship the dining staff will be stationed to help you with this.

You can also make reservations at Palo and Remy and check to see if there are any Wine Tasting or Mixology Classes still available. 

Disney Cruise Embarkation Lunch


You will definitely never be hungry on a Disney Cruise – the eating starts as soon as you board. The buffet and one of the rotational dining restaurants will both be serving food.

The selection will be larger in the buffet, but it can sometimes be fun to go to the restaurant as it is likely to be less crowded.

Whichever option you choose, there will be plenty of food available.

For a complete guide to Disney Food including lots of pictures Click Here.

A Cast Member will be there to direct you where to go.

They usually direct you to the buffet rather than the restaurant, so ask if you want to dine in a rotational restaurant.

Disney Cruise Embarkation Lunch Menu

If you choose to have the Disney cruise embarkation lunch in one of the restaurants, there is a set menu for you to choose from. 

If you are sailing with Disney Cruise Concierge there is a separate lunch menu which is served in one of the rotational dining restaurants.

You can see much more information here about the Disney Cruise Embarkation Lunch options.

Explore the Disney Ship


This is a great time to start learning your way around and to begin exploring the ship. Cast Members lead tours of the ship which can be really useful for finding out about the major features of your Disney ship.

See your Disney Cruise Navigators to check the time of these tours.

The spa and the kid’s clubs are Open Houses until early evening so that you can take the chance to explore.

Disney Cruise Boarding Check List

  • Check-in online
  • Get to the port in good time
  • Register for the Kids Clubs
  • Decide Whether To Do The Picture
  • Board Your Disney Cruise!
  • Go to Guest Services
  • Lunch!
  • Explore
  • Enjoy

Disney Palo Brunch on Disney Wonder

Tuesday 3rd of March 2020

[…] Palo only releases a limited number of reservations to be booked online. So don’t worry if you do not have a Palo reservation prior to boarding the ship. […]

Disney Cruise Character Breakfast - EverythingMouse Guide To Disney

Monday 10th of February 2020

[…] Depending upon your Castaway Club status you will be able to sign up for events a certain number of days prior to your Disney Cruise embarkation. […]

Disney Cruise Disembarkation - EverythingMouse Guide To Disney

Sunday 21st of July 2019

[…] […]