How can you make your Disney Cruise Embarkation as easy as possible? You have counted down the days for months and now it is finally time to embark on your Disney cruise!
Embarkation should be one of the most exciting parts of your Disney Cruise, but sometimes it can be a little overwhelming if you don’t understand what you are doing.
Disney Cruise Embarkation
Here are our tips and secrets to make the Disney Cruise Embarkation process as simple and pain-free as possible.
I know you don’t want to think about it yet, but if you are wanting to know about the day you leave the cruise here are your Tips For Disney Cruise Disembarkation.
Disney Cruise Online Check-In
To cut down on a lot of time at the port you need to make sure that you have already checked in online with Disney Cruises. This is a very easy process.
First, you need to go to the online Disney Cruise Planning Center. You will go into My Reservations. There you will see a box that is clearly marked Online Check-In.
You will then complete all of the forms online. These are simple details and should not take long to complete.
You will then print out your forms and bring them with you to the port. You can do everything in the port, but it makes the process so much easier if you have done this online.
You will also put a credit card on your account and decide who will have charging privileges. You will get the chance to select a Port Arrival Time. This is very important.
Some guests always like to get the Port Arrival Time as early as possible, as it maximizes your time on the ship. Others prefer a later check-in time
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 and Platinum Castaway Cay Members always get Groups 1 and 2. So they can board first. Group 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. Many imagine that they won’t be allowed into the port prior to this time. That isn’t true. Even if you have a port arrival time of 1.30 and you arrive at 11 when the port opens you will be permitted to go through security and check-in.
However, 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. There is no way to jump the line by arriving early!
The only exception to this is Concierge and Disney Castaway Club Platinum members. 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 passport and other 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 immediately see the check-in desks.
You will be given a health form to complete to confirm that you do not have any contagious illness. You will be directed to a check-in desk line. There is a separate line for Concierge Guests and Platinum Castaway Club Members.
You will be given a boarding number. Concierge and Platinum Castaway Club members 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. 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.
You can fill out these forms in the port, but it is easier if you already have them done. You can pick up their Oceaneer Bands in the port.
It doesn’t matter if you do not want to do this right now, or if the line seems intimidatingly long. 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. There isn’t seating for everyone so be prepared to wait for a little while standing up. 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 House 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 meeting Anna and Elsa.
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 usually served in Animator’s Palate on each ship.
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
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.