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Cruising out of Port Canaveral? What to Do When You Arrive at the Port!

Disney terminal at Port Canaveral

Cruising on a Disney Cruise Line ship out of Port Canaveral anytime soon? What do you do when you get to the port? Disney makes the check in and boarding process easy from start to finish but knowing what to expect and preparing in advance can make this process even easier.  

First, do your on-line check in in advance!  This process is so easy and will save you time dealing with paperwork at the port. You can link your credit card for on board charges, designate charging privileges to your family, update your passport information, and choose your Port Arrival Time. This can now be done on the Navigator App!  

Speaking of the Navigator App, make sure you have it downloaded to any devices your family will use in advance of your trip!  The Navigator app is a whole other discussion, but trust me and have it ready!

Arrive at the terminal around your Port Arrival Time (PAT). You could be turned away if you arrive too early.  Port Arrival Times are assigned to ease the flow of traffic. An exception to this is if you have a PAT later than 12:30 pm. By 12:30, the ship is usually in open boarding, and you can check in and walk right on.  It\’s actually a great time to arrive! If you book Disney Cruise Line transportation to the port, you won\’t be assigned a PAT.

There are various ways you can arrive and/or park at Port Canaveral, so I\’ll discuss that in another article.  But when you do arrive, you\’ll go through the same basic steps:

  1. Check your luggage with a porter. Keep your essentials with you!

  2. Enter the port. Have your passports/ID and cruise folder

  3. Go through security

  4. Check in!  There are separate lines for first time cruisers and Castaway Club.  You\’ll get your Key to the World Card and boarding group number. Be sure to get a paper copy of the Navigator at this time too! 

Once you get through that basic process, you can relax in the terminal and wait for your boarding group to be called. While you are waiting, there will be an opportunity to meet a character or two! Keep an eye out for them!

One note to be aware of….there\’s not really anything to eat in the port aside from a vending machine so don\’t show up well before boarding with a hungry toddler!  If you have a 10:30 PAT, you will still be waiting an hour or longer to actually board the ship.  Once on board, lunch awaits you though! A little prep work will make the day go smoother, and you\’ll be on the ship and starting your cruise vacation before you know it!

Heather is a military spouse and a mother of two.  She has traveled to Walt Disney World over 20 times and has sailed on three of the four Disney cruise ships to several different countries and many itineraries!  Read more about Heather at: You can contact Heather at

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