What is your Disney Cruise Port Arrival Time and why is it important?
The day has finally arrived. It’s time for your Disney Cruise! You are understandably really excited and just want to start your vacation.
However, the time that you actually board the ship is going to be dependent upon that all-important Port Arrival Time that you have.
Disney Cruise Lines does a great job of getting people off the ship so that the new guests can get on to the ship. But obviously not everyone can get on the ship at once!
This is why they have different boarding groups. Which boarding group you are in is determined by your Port Arrival Time (unless you are sailing Concierge or are a Platinum Castaway Cay Member).
How Do I Get a Port Arrival Time?
You get your Port Arrival Time long before you you arrive at the cruise port.
You need to log in to My Reservations on the Disney Cruise Website
You will be able to complete your Check In once you are paid in full for your reservation and when your Advance Booking Window has opened up.
Here is when your Advance Booking Window will open up.
|Silver Castaway Club Members||90 days prior to sail date|
|Gold Castaway Club Members||105 days prior to sail date|
|Concierge Guests and Platinum|
Castaway Club Members
|120 days prior to sail date|
You can Check In and as the final part of this process you get a port arrival time. The more quickly you are able to Check In the more likely you will get an earlier port arrival time.
As part of the Check In online process you will be taken to a screen where you can pick your port arrival time.
The earlier you Check In, the more times that will be available.
As you would expect, the earlier times go the fastest!
Therefore, as soon as you are able to Check In, do it! This might mean doing it at 12.01 am when your window opens.
What is a Port Arrival Time?
It is important to understand what we mean by Port Arrival Time. This may seem like an obvious thing, but people get mixed up with the terminology.
Port Arrival Time is not the same thing as the time that the cruise port opens.
For example, Port Canaveral Disney Cruise Terminal generally opens around 10.30 to 11 pm. You can arrive at the port earlier than that, but you won’t be allowed into the terminal to go through security until the port is actually open.
In San Diego for example, the Cruise Port also generally opens around 11 pm. There is a “pre check in area” where you can sit down and wait, but you won’t be allowed to go through the security lines until around 11 pm.
For each port you will go though security, check in at the desk and be given your Key to the World Cards.
You will also get your all important Group Boarding Number. It is this which determines when you will board the ship.
Usually the Boarding numbers are from 1 to around 30.
Your Port Arrival Time is what determines your Boarding Number.
So, the earlier the time you got on your online check in, the lower your Boarding Number will be.
For all the information you need about your first day on a Disney Cruise go to Disney Cruise Embarkation Day Secrets.
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.
If you arrive at the cruise terminal before boarding starts, you will wait in the terminal. If you have a Port Arrival time of 1.30 pm for instance, you could arrive at 11 pm, but there isn’t much point in doing so, unless you realize there will be a lot of time waiting around in the terminal.
Disney makes the waiting process as fun as possible of course. Usually they will have Mickey or Minnie available for a character greeting. You can also set up your kids registration in the Kids Clubs. However, other than get even more excited, there isn’t very much to do in the cruise terminal!
Disney will announce that they are about to start boarding. The very first guests to board will be the Family of the Day. This is a family picked at random to be the ones to board first.
Then they will board Concierge and Platinum Castaway Cay Members.
The numbers will be announced and you will join the line of others in that group to board. You will have to show your boarding card to the terminal staff so they will let you board.
It will be interesting to see how social distancing is maintained for cruise terminals. It is easy to see how certain ports will find this easier than others, simply because they have more space.