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Old 02-11-2013, 11:05 AM   #1
DVCFan1994
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Question about Port Arrival - PC

In April we are driving from New England to our first DCL cruise, the Dream, out of Port Canaveral. We are now looking at having a little less driving time than originally planned. It won't be too tight, just slightly tighter than I'd like. I know it is early to worry about this, but I am an extreme overplanner

I hope to make it to St. Augustine Saturday night at a reasonable hour and finish off the next morning. Occasionally in the past we have encountered some nasty traffic on 95 in FL. So, I'd like to get up and go. That way if we run into trouble we will have wiggle room. My kids are early risers, so we'll be up anyway. If we luck out and run into no traffic I am curious what time we can park at the port and if PAT means you can't get into the port at all or just can't check in? We have an 11:30 PAT. If we make it to PC by 10:30 can we park and just wait, or will they turn us away? I have tried reading some old posts but I am confused by some of the responses. As an adult I have only done cruises out of Fort Lauderdale and Venice which did not have port arrival times, so this system at port canaveral is new for me. On other cruises we've stayed in a hotel nearby and gone over around noon, which usually avoids lines but I do not see us making it to Port Canaveral Saturday night for this cruise.

On the other hand, in the event we run into horrific traffic and can't make our PAT of 11:30 if we get there at 12:30 can we proceed in, or is there a late arrivals time we'd have to wait for?

Thanks in advance for any guidance.
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Old 02-11-2013, 11:16 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by DVCFan1994 View Post
In April we are driving from New England to our first DCL cruise, the Dream, out of Port Canaveral. We are now looking at having a little less driving time than originally planned. It won't be too tight, just slightly tighter than I'd like. I know it is early to worry about this, but I am an extreme overplanner

I hope to make it to St. Augustine Saturday night at a reasonable hour and finish off the next morning. Occasionally in the past we have encountered some nasty traffic on 95 in FL. So, I'd like to get up and go. That way if we run into trouble we will have wiggle room. My kids are early risers, so we'll be up anyway. If we luck out and run into no traffic I am curious what time we can park at the port and if PAT means you can't get into the port at all or just can't check in? We have an 11:30 PAT. If we make it to PC by 10:30 can we park and just wait, or will they turn us away? I have tried reading some old posts but I am confused by some of the responses. As an adult I have only done cruises out of Fort Lauderdale and Venice which did not have port arrival times, so this system at port canaveral is new for me. On other cruises we've stayed in a hotel nearby and gone over around noon, which usually avoids lines but I do not see us making it to Port Canaveral Saturday night for this cruise.

On the other hand, in the event we run into horrific traffic and can't make our PAT of 11:30 if we get there at 12:30 can we proceed in, or is there a late arrivals time we'd have to wait for?

Thanks in advance for any guidance.
AFAIK, the port doesn't even open for new cruisers (for parking, drop-off, etc) until11:00. Although some people have reported that it opened about 10:45 on different cruises. If you arrive earlier than the opening of the port, you will have to go away and come back. I do know that the terminal doesn't generally open until 11:00. If you arrive at the terminal earlier than your selected PAT, and the terminal is busy (as it well may be when first open), you will be asked to wait until either the terminal is less busy or your PAT.

On the other side, if you arrive after your PAT, you just enter the terminal. The PAT (even though it's a 1/2 hour window) is really a "no earlier than" time.
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Old 02-11-2013, 11:18 AM   #3
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The port will open at 11am. The 1130 time that you have is when you are actually supposed to report to the terminal. My past experience is that you will not be permitted to drop off luggage and park until 11am. If you have a report time between 1130-1200, if you arrive anytime after 1200, you should be able to go through customs, check-in and walk on the boat.
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Old 02-11-2013, 11:29 AM   #4
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You'll be fine to get there at 10:30. St. Augustine, if you stay right on i-95, is only 90 minutes from the port. On a Sunday morning? No traffic.

None of the luggage guys or the security guys asked for a PAT before taking our luggage or letting us through the gate. In fact, I don't think anyone ever asked. The security guys wanted to see my passport before going in, and then we were just put into the line to check in.

Nancy
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Old 02-11-2013, 02:29 PM   #5
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I am just a worry wort but I would rather set in my car outside the gate than miss the cruise.
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Old 02-11-2013, 02:37 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PrincessShmoo View Post
AFAIK, the port doesn't even open for new cruisers (for parking, drop-off, etc) until11:00. Although some people have reported that it opened about 10:45 on different cruises. If you arrive earlier than the opening of the port, you will have to go away and come back. I do know that the terminal doesn't generally open until 11:00. If you arrive at the terminal earlier than your selected PAT, and the terminal is busy (as it well may be when first open), you will be asked to wait until either the terminal is less busy or your PAT.

On the other side, if you arrive after your PAT, you just enter the terminal. The PAT (even though it's a 1/2 hour window) is really a "no earlier than" time.
The port area opens to incoming traffic about 10 (sometimes a bit earlier). However, that doesn't do a lot of good as the terminal isn't open then. As above, if you arrive earlier than the port opening time, you'll be sent away. If you arrive before your PAT, you may or may not be asked to wait--depends on the crowds in the terminal at that time. BUT, even if you get in to check in, it won't get you on the ship any sooner.

Now....what if you have a flat tire or other car issues? I have this logic that If I'm in Orlando/Cape Canaveral the night before, I WILL somehow be on that ship. I can't say the same thing if we are farther away. (yes, I know about illness, etc).
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Old 02-11-2013, 02:45 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PrincessShmoo View Post
AFAIK, the port doesn't even open for new cruisers (for parking, drop-off, etc) until11:00. Although some people have reported that it opened about 10:45 on different cruises. If you arrive earlier than the opening of the port, you will have to go away and come back. I do know that the terminal doesn't generally open until 11:00. If you arrive at the terminal earlier than your selected PAT, and the terminal is busy (as it well may be when first open), you will be asked to wait until either the terminal is less busy or your PAT.

On the other side, if you arrive after your PAT, you just enter the terminal. The PAT (even though it's a 1/2 hour window) is really a "no earlier than" time.
As a first timer I just want to make sure I get this right. I had thought on other threads I read you can get there early but just have to wait at the doors. So if I get to PC at 10:00 am Saturday I won't be able to drop off wife and luggage before I take car back to Budget I will be turned away and have to come back at 11:00. If that is the case I will leave WDW later.
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Old 02-11-2013, 03:11 PM   #8
DVCFan1994
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PrincessShmoo View Post
AFAIK, the port doesn't even open for new cruisers (for parking, drop-off, etc) until11:00. Although some people have reported that it opened about 10:45 on different cruises. If you arrive earlier than the opening of the port, you will have to go away and come back. I do know that the terminal doesn't generally open until 11:00. If you arrive at the terminal earlier than your selected PAT, and the terminal is busy (as it well may be when first open), you will be asked to wait until either the terminal is less busy or your PAT.

On the other side, if you arrive after your PAT, you just enter the terminal. The PAT (even though it's a 1/2 hour window) is really a "no earlier than" time.
Quote:
Originally Posted by neg58 View Post
You'll be fine to get there at 10:30. St. Augustine, if you stay right on i-95, is only 90 minutes from the port. On a Sunday morning? No traffic.

None of the luggage guys or the security guys asked for a PAT before taking our luggage or letting us through the gate. In fact, I don't think anyone ever asked. The security guys wanted to see my passport before going in, and then we were just put into the line to check in.

Nancy

I guess this is where I get confused. Such different answers. I am not blaming or flaming, just not quite sure what to take away from it all. I am not trying to beat the system and get in/on early. I could have chosen a PAT of 11, but in my experience on other lines, being in the lines early is not necessarily fun. So, after reading peoples messages about open boarding etc. I figured 1130 arrival meant we'd drive into port at 1130, get the kids and all the stuff together, and hope that by the time we actually got in line they would have begun to thin out from those waiting earlier. Then our plan of driving had to be adjusted by about 12 hours. Making it to St. Augustine will be pushing it, but doable (probably 9PM), any further and we'll be keeping the little ones up late enough (they do not sleep in the car no matter how tired) that we could be starting the cruise out on a rough note. But, I don't want to just sit around a St. Augustine hotel room and wait to leave and then have a side of the road brush fire or 15 car pile up or some other unknown cause undue stress on the ride down. Both have happened to me - although years ago - on previous Florida drives. Luckily on those trips our accommodations weren't sailing away

I guess different cruisers have different experiences. Probably has to do with who is working the gates, what time the ship cleared customs and had everyone off from the previous cruise and how full the ship and the terminal are expected to be and other factors I cannot predict. I love adventure, but am uncomfortable with some unknowns. I guess this time, I am going to have to go with leaving when we are ready and seeing what time we get there and go from there. If we get there early and are not let in for some reason we'll drive in circles for an hour Maybe I'll see if I can change my PAT to the earliest too, that way if we do get there early in this new scenario we will save on gas driving in circles


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I am just a worry wort but I would rather set in my car outside the gate than miss the cruise.
This is exactly how I feel.
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Old 02-11-2013, 03:26 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by DVCFan1994

I guess this is where I get confused. Such different answers. I am not blaming or flaming, just not quite sure what to take away from it all. I am not trying to beat the system and get in/on early. I could have chosen a PAT of 11, but in my experience on other lines, being in the lines early is not necessarily fun. So, after reading peoples messages about open boarding etc. I figured 1130 arrival meant we'd drive into port at 1130, get the kids and all the stuff together, and hope that by the time we actually got in line they would have begun to thin out from those waiting earlier. Then our plan of driving had to be adjusted by about 12 hours. Making it to St. Augustine will be pushing it, but doable (probably 9PM), any further and we'll be keeping the little ones up late enough (they do not sleep in the car no matter how tired) that we could be starting the cruise out on a rough note. But, I don't want to just sit around a St. Augustine hotel room and wait to leave and then have a side of the road brush fire or 15 car pile up or some other unknown cause undue stress on the ride down. Both have happened to me - although years ago - on previous Florida drives. Luckily on those trips our accommodations weren't sailing away

I guess different cruisers have different experiences. Probably has to do with who is working the gates, what time the ship cleared customs and had everyone off from the previous cruise and how full the ship and the terminal are expected to be and other factors I cannot predict. I love adventure, but am uncomfortable with some unknowns. I guess this time, I am going to have to go with leaving when we are ready and seeing what time we get there and go from there. If we get there early and are not let in for some reason we'll drive in circles for an hour Maybe I'll see if I can change my PAT to the earliest too, that way if we do get there early in this new scenario we will save on gas driving in circles

This is exactly how I feel.
Ok, so I googled. Port Canaveral brochure suggests you arrive no more than 30 minutes before your scheduled check in time for your "comfort and convenience.". However, we arrived (by limo) in 2011 at 10:15 for an 11:00 PAT and were allowed to drop our bags and walk upstairs in the parking deck to wait for 11:00. We were by no means in line alone, and a very funny CM told jokes to keep us entertained. Judging by the number of people in line ahead of us, they had to have been allowing people in since 10. I know things change, but that was my experience and I have not heard of any changes since then. It was after they implemented PAT.
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Old 02-11-2013, 03:37 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DVCFan1994 View Post
I guess this is where I get confused. Such different answers. I am not blaming or flaming, just not quite sure what to take away from it all. I am not trying to beat the system and get in/on early. I could have chosen a PAT of 11, but in my experience on other lines, being in the lines early is not necessarily fun. So, after reading peoples messages about open boarding etc. I figured 1130 arrival meant we'd drive into port at 1130, get the kids and all the stuff together, and hope that by the time we actually got in line they would have begun to thin out from those waiting earlier. Then our plan of driving had to be adjusted by about 12 hours. Making it to St. Augustine will be pushing it, but doable (probably 9PM), any further and we'll be keeping the little ones up late enough (they do not sleep in the car no matter how tired) that we could be starting the cruise out on a rough note. But, I don't want to just sit around a St. Augustine hotel room and wait to leave and then have a side of the road brush fire or 15 car pile up or some other unknown cause undue stress on the ride down. Both have happened to me - although years ago - on previous Florida drives. Luckily on those trips our accommodations weren't sailing away

I guess different cruisers have different experiences. Probably has to do with who is working the gates, what time the ship cleared customs and had everyone off from the previous cruise and how full the ship and the terminal are expected to be and other factors I cannot predict. I love adventure, but am uncomfortable with some unknowns. I guess this time, I am going to have to go with leaving when we are ready and seeing what time we get there and go from there. If we get there early and are not let in for some reason we'll drive in circles for an hour Maybe I'll see if I can change my PAT to the earliest too, that way if we do get there early in this new scenario we will save on gas driving in circles




This is exactly how I feel.
The terminal opens at 11:00. Sometimes it will open a bit earlier. Actual boarding doesn't begin until 11:45 (sometimes a bit earlier). I will point out that your PAT is tied to your actual boarding number that you receive at checkin at the port.

When boarding begins they announce Boarding Number 1 (Concierge), then #2 (Platinum CC members), #3, 4, 5, etc. Once the number being announced catches up with the number being issued at checkin (somewhere around 12:30-12:45) they announce Open Boarding. At that time anyone holding any boarding number may board.
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Old 02-11-2013, 05:44 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by mom2jcg View Post
Ok, so I googled. Port Canaveral brochure suggests you arrive no more than 30 minutes before your scheduled check in time for your "comfort and convenience.". However, we arrived (by limo) in 2011 at 10:15 for an 11:00 PAT and were allowed to drop our bags and walk upstairs in the parking deck to wait for 11:00. We were by no means in line alone, and a very funny CM told jokes to keep us entertained. Judging by the number of people in line ahead of us, they had to have been allowing people in since 10. I know things change, but that was my experience and I have not heard of any changes since then. It was after they implemented PAT.

This is the clearest explanation I have seen of the procedure and how to deal with it if you don't quite fit the mold of having a hotel nearby the port allowing you to easily predict travel time to the port. I guess it was port arrival vs. terminal arrival and how people referred to them interchangeably that was tripping me up. This makes it clearer. Thanks! Might still be driving in circles for a while if traffic is kind to us, but at least I understand the process better. I usually prefer to arrive late enough for my room to already be available, but in this case that is not possible. If we get there at 1030 I am not driving around long enough to wait til then, we will have been in the car over 20 hours total (bare minimum) by then!
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Old 02-11-2013, 06:34 PM   #12
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None of the luggage guys or the security guys asked for a PAT before taking our luggage or letting us through the gate. In fact, I don't think anyone ever asked. The security guys wanted to see my passport before going in, and then we were just put into the line to check in.
You may not have been asked, but your port arrival time was checked by security. On our last cruise we arrived after our noon PAT and the security person after looking at our passports commented that we were an hour late for our PAT.
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Old 02-11-2013, 07:19 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by DVCFan1994


This is the clearest explanation I have seen of the procedure and how to deal with it if you don't quite fit the mold of having a hotel nearby the port allowing you to easily predict travel time to the port. I guess it was port arrival vs. terminal arrival and how people referred to them interchangeably that was tripping me up. This makes it clearer. Thanks! Might still be driving in circles for a while if traffic is kind to us, but at least I understand the process better. I usually prefer to arrive late enough for my room to already be available, but in this case that is not possible. If we get there at 1030 I am not driving around long enough to wait til then, we will have been in the car over 20 hours total (bare minimum) by then!
So glad it helped! I re-read it later and thought not so much. When we went into the parking deck around 10:25-10:30, there were cars parked there, so I'm thinking they must let you go on and park. If you'll take a day bag with you, you can go on and swim even before your room is ready. The time seemed to fly by for us, so I hope you'll find that to be the case! So excited for you!
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