Embarkation day for your Disney Cruise is an exciting day indeed! The first day of your cruise is sure to be a whirlwind, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. We are here to help you figure it all out. Learn all about Embarkation Day on Disney Cruise Line.
What is Embarkation Day on a Disney Cruise?
You’re checked in, packed for your cruise and ready to sail. Embarkation day on a Disney Cruise is just the term for the day you embark! It’s the first day you board the ship.
What to carry on the ship for Embarkation Day on a Disney Cruise
Since your room and luggage are generally not going to be ready until afternoon, usually between 2-3pm, you’ll need a carryon for your Disney Cruise. This includes things like medications, cruise documents and maybe a swimsuit. Check out what to pack in your Disney Cruise carryon here.
What time does Disney Cruise Line leave on Embarkation Day?
The ship usually leaves between 4 and 5pm, depending on your itinerary. When you book your Disney Cruise, you’ll be able to see the sail away time in the itinerary. It is extremely important to make travel plans that allow for some wiggle room, in case there is something to delay you. The ship will not wait if you are late. So if you’re flying in, we always recommend flying in the day before.
What time can I board the ship on Embarkation Day?
Boarding times change depending on which port you are sailing from. But most of the time, you can board as early as 11am. In order to do this though, you’ll need to secure a Port Arrival Time during online check-in. To get this early time slot, you will need to check in right around midnight of your check in day because the earliest port arrival times go fast. Guests can now choose a port arrival time based on their Castaway Club status.
- Pearl and Concierge- 40 days prior to sailing
- Platinum- 38 days prior to sailing
- Gold- 35 days prior to sailing
- Silver- 33 days prior to sailing
- All other guests – 30 days prior to sailing
So if you’re a new cruiser, or even a Silver level, it’s possible the earliest spots will be gone by the time your check in opens. Hakuna Matata! Just choose whatever is the earliest by the time your window opens up.
If you’re not looking for the earliest time, just choose a port arrival time that will work with your traveling party’s schedule for the day. If you arrive too early before your arrival time, you will have to wait to board. Keep in mind, that unless you’re taking the Disney Cruise Line bus, you will be held to your Port Arrival Time. You won’t be allowed to board earlier just because you show up earlier. So plan arrive at the time that your port arrival is actually set for.
Learn more about the Check In Process for Disney Cruise Line here
Embarkation Day Process for Disney Cruise Line
Embarkation Day with Disney Cruise Line is an exciting day! Whether it’s your first Disney Cruise, or your 10th, I don’t think it ever gets less exciting. But one thing to keep in mind is that it can be a long day. Between traveling to the port, going thru security, waiting for your Boarding Group, finding lunch, checking out the ship, and all of the things, it cam be a lot. We always recommend having something to do for little ones. I love sending my clients these Disney Play Packs to keep smaller travelers occupied during the waiting periods of Embarkation day. You can sometimes find them in the dollar spot at Target too!
We recommend keeping some small snacks onhand as well if your Port Arrival Time is a little later. You can bring non-perishable, prepackaged snacks onboard, and having a few in your carryon is a good idea in case anyone gets hungry waiting to board the ship.
Arriving at Port on Embarkation Day
When you arrive at Port Canaveral on Embarkation Day, you will either be dropped off by the Disney Cruise Line bus, private transport or ride share, or park your car in the parking garage. If you arrive via Disney transport, they take care of your luggage for you. If you are being dropped off, there are porters to help you with your luggage. And the same goes for if you park a car at port.
Once your luggage has been handled, you will see a Cast Member, who will guide you to the correct line based on your port arrival time. Don’t plan to arrive too early, because you will just be standing there waiting until your port arrival group has been called for check in.
This does not apply to concierge guests, who do not have to abide by a certain port arrival time.
Checking in at Port for Disney Cruise Line
Once your Port Arrival Time has been called, you can go inside the terminal to check in. They’ll scan your Port Arrival form, check your passports, and you’ll be on your way to security and one step closer to boarding the ship. You can also inquire about cruise upgrades at this point as well.
Going thru Security for Disney Cruise Line
Security at a cruise terminal is much like going through security at the airport. Whatever you’re bringing must fit through the scanner and you’ll have to walk through a metal detector. You’ll also have to empty out any drinks, so try to finish them before you get to security, or they’ll tell you to empty them. Just like in the TSA lines. After you’ve cleared security, you can go up the escalator into the terminal and you’re there!
Boarding a Disney Cruise Ship
Once you’ve passed security and are in the terminal, you will either wait for your boarding group number to be called, or head right on in through the Mickey shaped entrance! You’ll walk the length of the gangways, and then you’re there! There is also a photo opp before you enter the ship, and this is optional. One line will be for the photo opp, and one line will be to directly board. The photographers will often try to sway you to get a picture, and it is a fun pre-boarding opportunity. But it’s optional. So it’s up to you!
When you get to the entryway, they’ll announce your arrival and then you are free to do what you wish! We always love grabbing lunch first, and if you’re there early enough, you can enjoy whatever sit down restaurant is open without having to wait. I will say, if you board after 12:30ish, you’re likely to have to wait to be seated. Cabanas is also open for lunch as well, so you don’t have to eat at a sit-down restaurant. And really, you don’t have to eat at all! Some people like to head straight to the pool before it gets busy. And that’s the best part about embarkation day. Being able to do whatever you want once you’re onboard!
Muster Safety Drill on Embarkation Day
The only thing you absolutely must do on Embarkation Day is the Muster Drill. During the earlier days of reopening on Disney Cruise Line, this was on the Disney Navigator app. But now, it’s back to being held in person. You can find out when and where your Muster Drill will be held on the Disney Cruise Line Navigator App. So be sure to check that and make sure you attend. If you don’t, they will find you and make you do it before the ship sets sail. It’s mandatory for everyone, so make sure you show up!
Get your Key to The World Cards
Another process that may change is how you receive you Key To The World Cards. The KTTW card is basically everything you need onboard. Your payment, your room key, it’s all there. These used to be given at check in. And now they are instead placed outside of your stateroom for you to collect them.
Sailing away on Embarkation Day
You’ve gotten through the arrival process, had something to eat, completed your muster drill, and likely checked out your room, it’s probably time to sail away! The Sail Away Party varies from ship to ship, but it’s a super fun little party that takes place on the top deck, near the pool and Funnel Vision. It’s about 15 minutes, and the time it takes place will be in your Disney Cruise Navigator. And after that, the ship is all yours! Check out the activities, the Broadway shows, your dinner rotation, the layout of the ship, and enjoy your vacation!
Can I arrive earlier than my Port Arrival Time on Embarkation Day for Disney Cruise Line?
Generally, no. Well, I take that back. You can arrive early, however you’ll just have to stand in line outside to wait for your Port Arrival Time, so there’s really no point in doing that. If you’re taking the Disney Cruise Line bus from your Disney Resort or Orlando International Airport, you’re exempt from this rule. Disney Cruise Line Bus guests get to arrive whenever the bus drops them off. Concierge guests and Disney Cruise Line Bus guests are the only ones not held to their Port Arrival Times. This is why it’s important to choose a time that works for you.
Some people think arriving early will get them a better boarding group. This is not the case! They will make you wait. So just show up at your Port Arrival Time and you’ll be good.
What if I’m late for my Port Arrival Time?
Generally, if you’re late, they will check you in when you arrive. However, this all depends on whether or not they can take you at that moment. So if you’re late, you may need to wait until they are ready for you. Again, this is why it’s important to choose a time that works for you when you do your online check in. Things happen, and we get that. So does Disney! But be realistic about what time you can be at the Port and stick with that.
And we never, ever recommend flying in the day of your cruise. Especially in today’s new normal of flights being delayed and cancelled. The ship will generally not wait for you if you’re late. On all of the Disney Cruises I’ve been on, I’ve only seen one instance where the ship waited. And that was a special circumstance.
Hopefully this guide has helped you learn all about embarkation day with Disney Cruise Line. It’s an easy process, just be prepared! If you’re a Disney Cruise Line newbie, check out our Disney Cruise Line tips for beginners! This will give you a lot of helpful information to make the most of your cruise.
Happy Sailing and Bon Voyage!