Today is the day – embarkation day! You are setting sail on your long awaited Disney Cruise. You chose your itinerary with care, picked out the perfect stateroom, and got yourself to Port Canaveral. Now what? Here is what to expect when you arrive at the Port!

Port Arrival Times

During Online Check-In, you will be asked to choose a “Port Arrival Time.” This is quite literally the time that Disney Cruise Line wants you to arrive at the Port. Times are staggered so that everyone doesn’t show up at once! (If you are using Disney Cruise Line transfers, the Port Arrival time does not apply to you. The Online Check In system will still make you choose one but you can disregard it.)

If you are arriving on your own, whether by rental car, town car, etc. it is important to pay attention to your port arrival time. You may be turned away at security if you arrive prior to your assigned time.

You will be greeted at the curb by Porters who will help with your bags, insure that they are tagged properly, and take your checked bags to be loaded on to the ship. Be sure to tip your porter – $1-2 a bag is recommended! (DPP Tip: Guests are allowed to bring limited amounts of alcohol onboard – see Disney Cruise Line’s policy – but it must be kept in your carry-on bags, NOT your checked bags!)

Once your bags have been tagged and taken, you will proceed into the Disney Cruise Line Terminal with your carry-on bags.

The Disney Cruise Line terminal as seen from the Parking Garage


As you enter the Disney Cruise Line terminal, your first stop will be security. Similar to at an airport, all carry-on bags will be scanned through an x-ray machine. Guests will proceed through a metal detector. (Be sure you are not carrying any of Disney Cruise Line’s forbidden items!)

Once you have cleared security, head up the escalator to the second floor!

Health Check / Check In

At the top of the escalators, Port Canaveral employees will be waiting to greet you and to ask you to fill out a health screening. The screening asks about recent gastro-intestinal symptoms, fever, etc. This screening is incredibly important for the health and well being of you and your fellow passengers. Please answer it honestly!

Your next step will be check in! There are multiple check in queues. (Queue is Disney-speak for a line.) First time cruisers have one line, repeat cruisers (aka Castaway Club Members) have another line, and Concierge/Suite guests have their own line. (DPP Tip: Even if you are a Castaway Club member, make sure to look at the lines! Because so many guests are repeat cruisers, the regular check in line may actually offer less of a wait.)

During the check in process, you will need to provide documentation for each guests (passports or licence and certified copy of your birth certificate, depending on which itinerary you are on), a form of payment for charging to the room, and an emergency contact who is not traveling with you. You will be given your Key to the World card (aka room key), first daily Navigator (aka schedule), and boarding group number.

While you are waiting to board, you can meet with the characters, watch a Disney movie on the video screens throughout the terminal, register the kids for the children’s programming, or check out the Disney Cruise Line ship model.

Minnie Mouse greets guests waiting to board the Disney Cruise ships

Minnie Mouse greets guests waiting to board the Disney Cruise ships

Boarding the Ship

Disney Cruise Line does a “cattle call” style boarding process. Once the ship opens for boarding (usually around 12:00 or so), the first guests to board are the Concierge/Suite/Platinum Castaway Club members. Then they go in order of boarding group number. Refer to the card that you were given at check in to find your group number.

Once boarding begins. there is typically a slight crush of people for a few minutes. Disney Cruise Line is adept at getting through the initial scrum. Typically by 12:30, guests arriving at the Port can walk right onto the ship once they have checked in.

The Mickey Ears boarding area at Port Canaveral (Photo courtesy of Randy Fullhart)

Coming next week – What to Expect When You Board the Ship on Embarkation Day!

What to Expect When You Arrive at Port Canaveral for Your First Disney Cruise #disneycruise #disneycruiseline #portcanaveral

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