If you’re a Disney Cruise Line fan, no doubt you’ve seen pictures of the boarding process for their most common port, Port Canaveral. The big Mickey that you walk through to get on board, the character ops while you’re waiting, and everything looking magical in only a way Disney can. But if you’re cruising out of New York City, it’s a little different! Here are a few tips to help you navigate this new experience.
Cruising out of New York City
Cruising out of New York City is definitely a unique experience. And as someone who lives closer to New York than to Florida, being able to cruise out of New York for a Disney Cruise means being able to skip the airport and still be able to enjoy a magical Disney Cruise vacation. A Disney Cruise out of New York City is definitely a little different, but no less magical. All that really matters is that you get onboard your Disney Cruise, right? Of course! But if you’re used to the magic, whimsy, and familiarity that is Port Canaveral, there are a few things you should know.
Which Terminal in New York City Does Disney Cruise Line Sail From?
New York City can be confusing if you’ve never been there. Only being about an eight-hour drive from where I live, I have been there quite a few times and still, I get confused getting around! There are two cruise terminals in New York City. Ships sail out of both Brooklyn and Manhattan. It’s important to know which one to go to. Disney Cruise Line sails out of the Manhattan Terminal at either Pier 88 or 90. The exact address is 12th Avenue at West 55th Street, New York, New York 10019.
And if you are not familiar with New York City, just know that traffic can slow everything down. So definitely allow for extra travel time if you’re cruising out of New York City.
Where Can you Park in New York City for a Disney Cruise?
If you’re taking a Disney Cruise you can park at the New York City Terminal. So now that you know where you’re going, it’s a good idea to figure out how you are getting there! Personally, I cannot drive in New York City. I mean, I can, but if I want my sanity to remain intact, then, well I can’t. But if you are braver at heart than me, and want to drive in NYC and park at the terminal, here’s what you should know. Parking is $40 per day, which can be pretty pricey depending on the length of your cruise; but the terminal parking is also the most convenient if you want to drive there yourself. Parking is on a first-come, first-serve basis; and it fills up pretty quickly from what locals had told me. They don’t accept reservations and they open parking at 9 am. You can read all about parking at the NYC terminal here.
There are other options for parking as well and a quick google search can lead to you the other options available for cruising out of New York City.
How Do you Get to the Disney Cruise New York City Port?
Personally, I think this is the best option when it comes to arriving at the New York Coty terminal and there are a lot of options. We happened to book a cruise and stay package at a nearby New Jersey hotel that offered shuttle service; however, there are taxis, Uber, and private drivers as an option too if you prefer to get dropped off at the terminal. Originally when I was researching for our trip, the prices were all about the same so choose your favorite option and go from there.
If you choose to take transportation to the New York City Port, they’ll drop you off at the curb of your pier and Cast Members will help you with your luggage. Make sure you have your cruise luggage tags on your luggage when you arrive so you can hand it off to the Cast Members and move on quickly.
I also want to mention that depending on where you are staying, it’s possible that you can walk to the port. We didn’t do this since we weren’t staying close by, but keep in mind that may be an option if you want to walk and haul your luggage around in NYC.
There are also occasional packages through local hotels that can be booked that offer transfers to and from the port as well. So as you can see, you have a lot of options!
Checking in for your Disney Cruise in New York City
Once you get to the port, the next step is checking in! Maybe it’s just the layout of the terminal or maybe cruisers out of New York tend to arrive earlier, but the lines were very long when we arrived at 10:30 am. From the time we got to the port, got through security, and checked in, it took about an hour. I’m sure this varies from trip to trip but this was our experience.
First, you’ll go through security, and then you’ll be separated into check-in lines in the next room based on your Castaway Club status. Be sure to have all of your boarding documents ready. They’ll activate your Cruise card and grab a quick photo. Then you can hang out in the terminal until your boarding group is called. The waiting area was really full by the time we got through checking in, so we sat in overflow seating outside of the designated Disney area, but Cast Members are easily identifiable and will walk up and down the aisles updating passengers with the boarding groups being called.
Sailing on the Disney Magic out of New York City
If you’re sailing out of New York City, that means you’re sailing on the Disney Magic. Sailing on the Disney Magic is a little underrated in my opinion. Sure, it’s an older and smaller ship, but the experiences onboard really are magical! Rapunzel’s Royal Table is still one of my favorite dining experiences onboard a Disney Cruise Line ship, and they even have a Broadway-style show dedicated to the lost Princess. Yes, it’s a smaller ship, but that can be good in a lot of ways. There are fewer people, it’s easier to get around, and overall it just has a more homey feel to it.
If you’d like to learn more about the Disney Magic, we have a Photo Tour from our Halloween on the High Seas cruise and a guide to dining onboard the Disney Magic.
Spend some time on the upper deck before sailing
The backdrop of New York City from the vantage point of the upper deck is a really unique perspective that you won’t get when sailing out of Port Canaveral. It makes for great photos and aside from the Sail Awave deck party, it wasn’t really that crowded. And on top of that, as the ship starts to sail away from the port, the scenery is really pretty cool and I highly recommend sticking around and taking it all in you have time.
You can see the Statue Of Liberty from the ship
When cruising out of New York City, the ship actually passes right by the Statue of Liberty! Unfortunately, our ship didn’t leave on time the day of our cruise because we were waiting for a family to board who was running late. So, we did not get to see the Statue of Liberty while sailing away due to the timing of our dinner and a show we wanted to watch; but if you stay on the upper deck, the boat passes right by the Statue of Liberty on its way out to sea! How cool is that? Port Canaveral may have warmer weather, but to me sailing out of New York City is just a lot cooler of an experience.
Know what to pack when sailing out of New York City
Generally, there are two itineraries you can choose when sailing out of New York City. You choose to sail to Canada, or you can choose to sail to Bermuda. Either way, you will be in the cooler ocean air for at least part of your trip. It’s important to pack appropriately so you can spend time out on the deck if you’d like to. When we sailed, we did the Canada itinerary, so it was cold the entire time, and here is what we packed for a cold weather cruise.
But even if you are sailing to Bermuda, keep in mind that part of that journey will be much cooler than in your warm-weather destination, so we definitely recommend packing at least a few things to help keep you warm during that portion of your sailing.
Returning to New York City after your Disney Cruise
We highly recommend having a plan for your return from the Manhattan Terminal before you leave for your cruise. The day that we disembarked was a little bit hectic in the drop-off/pick-up areas and luckily we already had transportation planned, but I did see some travelers who were having a hard time getting a taxi or even finding an Uber available.
If you are staying somewhere that offers a cruise and stay package, they will have your transportation set up for you on the day you return. But if you are arranging your own transportation, make sure you know when and where they will be meeting you for pickup.
Hopefully, this post has been helpful if you are planning to sail out of New York City with the Disney Cruise Line.