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Old 10-31-2012, 11:19 AM   #1
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Boarding Time

I am a new Disney cruiser and need some help. I don't feel like I have done my uber planning on this cruise like I normally do our WDW vacations. I finally went online today and checked in. I had no idea that I could do it this soon so I have a port arrival time of 1:30 - 2:00. What does this mean? If we arrive earlier, do we have to wait to check in until that time? Does this mean we will not board until then? Totally confused and feeling very overwhelmed. Would appreciate any and all help.

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Old 10-31-2012, 11:30 AM   #2
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Guests have a "port arrival time" as DCL's attempt to spread out the arrival of all the passengers and avoid congestion at the port. This is particular due to the larger size of the Dream and Fantasy and the need to control for building capacity and fire regulations at the Port Canaveral terminal. However, once passengers begin boarding, there is little need to restrict access as people move quickly through the terminal (check-in) to the ship (boarding). The terminal doesn't officially open until 11:00am, though usually earlier. Boarding often begins around 11:30 and by noon or so most of those early arrivals have moved onto the ship.

With a port arrival window of 1:30 - 2:00pm, you can probably arrive around noon or 12:30 with no problems, possibly earlier. Depending on your ship and departure port, you might be able to arrive earlier. However, your boarding number will be tied to your port arrival time, so you may still need to wait a bit to board, though not likely as late as 1:30-2:00pm. Enforcement of port arrival times seems to vary, with some experiencing a wait outside the terminal and others allowed to enter early.

If you are using DCL transfers from MCO or WDW, port arrival time is a moot point and you will enter the port as soon as the bus arrives.

Enjoy your cruise!
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Old 10-31-2012, 11:41 AM   #3
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The only time I've seen or read of people being required to wait outside the terminal is when there is a problem with exceeding fire regulations. This is not a problem as soon as boarding starts as people move rapidly from the terminal to the ship.

If you are arriving at the terminal via Disney transportation, your port arrival time doesn't matter; you're allowed in as soon as the bus gets you there. If you are arriving by any other method, I'm with the above--if you arrive between 12 and 1, you'll get thru check in efficiently and board the ship with little delay. Yes, you'll encounter some lines waiting for security, then check in, and then a little time delay to board, but you should be on the ship within an hour of arriving at the terminal. If you arrive before 12, expect more waiting. If you arrive after 1:30, you'll hit the bus crowds from WDW--again, lines and waiting. The "sweet spot" is the 12:30-1 window.
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