Port arrival times question

Elandon

Mouseketeer
Joined
Jan 6, 2012
We have a 12:15 port arrival time for our eastern Caribbean cruise on the fantasy starting August 24th this summer. We are flying in the night before and probably staying at a hotel near the airport. I think it makes sense for us to take disney transportation to the port from a money standpoint but I'm confused about what time to go back to the airport and get on a bus. I know disney transportation from the parks trumps your arrival time and you get processed whenever you arrive at the port. Is the same true from the airport? Can we get on the first bus from MCO and get on before our port arrival time? Or will we just end up waiting at the port until 12:15? We are silver castaway, non-concierge in case it matters to anyone.

Thanks!!
 

Marc D

DIS Veteran
Joined
Aug 27, 2016
You don’t need to respect your port arrival time if using DCL transport. In fact, if you book the shuttle before your check-in window opens, you do not get to pick a PAT. Show up whenever you want at the bus and you’ll get on the next available one.
 

lanejudy

Moderator
Moderator
Joined
Oct 27, 2011
We have a 12:15 port arrival time
Just to clarify... Port Arrival Time is just that, the time they expect you to arrive at the port. It is NOT your boarding time. Once you arrive and check-in at the port, you will be given a "boarding number" and will board when that number is called.

Now to DCL transfers and PAT... when arriving at the port by DCL transfers, you will be allowed into the terminal at any time regardless of your PAT. However, your boarding number is directly tied to the PAT -- so arriving considerably earlier than your assigned PAT could result in you just hanging out in the terminal waiting to board, while others who arrived later than you (but at their PAT) board first.

I'm confused about what time to go back to the airport and get on a bus.
Boarding doesn't typically begin until around 11:30. So a 12:15 PAT is right in the sweet spot of arriving as the crowds thin and having minimal wait before boarding. Depending how long it takes you to get back to MCO, I recommend planning to arrive at MCO around 11/11:15am, to hopefully be on a bus around 11:15/11:30ish.

Enjoy your cruise!
 
  • Lilsia

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 17, 2018
    However, your boarding number is directly tied to the PAT -- so arriving considerably earlier than your assigned PAT could result in you just hanging out in the terminal waiting to board, while others who arrived later than you (but at their PAT) board first.
    This is not true. Your boarding time is decided by when you do online check in. Does not matter what your port arrival time is. This has been confirmed by many cruise cast members. People can be one of the first to arrive at the port(we actually were the first to walk in to the port on one of our cruises) and still get a later boarding number. They specifically said that it has to do with online check in.
     

    lanejudy

    Moderator
    Moderator
    Joined
    Oct 27, 2011
    Your boarding time is decided by when you do online check in.
    It's my understanding that boarding number is tied to the PAT...and PAT is [typically] selected during online check-in. So I can see how that might be confused. While DCL has changed things with boarding numbers and PATs over the years, I do believe they are directly tied. The exception being when the online check-in system doesn't allow you to select a PAT (sometimes when booked for DCL transfers it doesn't give you a PAT option).

    It would make no sense to have boarding number determined irregardless of PAT -- they aren't going to assign boarding #3 to someone with a 1:30pm PAT, simply because that person was Gold CC and did online check-in early.

    People can be one of the first to arrive at the port(we actually were the first to walk in to the port on one of our cruises) and still get a later boarding number.
    Are you saying you had the first PAT window, but a much later (higher) boarding number (like 20-something), or you received maybe #4 or #5 while someone else received #3? Within the 15-minute PAT windows, people can still receive different boarding numbers... and that may well be determined by when online check-in was done. It sounds like that is what happened in your situation.

    Enjoy your cruise!
     

    Lilsia

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 17, 2018
    It's my understanding that boarding number is tied to the PAT...and PAT is [typically] selected during online check-in. So I can see how that might be confused. While DCL has changed things with boarding numbers and PATs over the years, I do believe they are directly tied. The exception being when the online check-in system doesn't allow you to select a PAT (sometimes when booked for DCL transfers it doesn't give you a PAT option).

    It would make no sense to have boarding number determined irregardless of PAT -- they aren't going to assign boarding #3 to someone with a 1:30pm PAT, simply because that person was Gold CC and did online check-in early.



    Are you saying you had the first PAT window, but a much later (higher) boarding number (like 20-something), or you received maybe #4 or #5 while someone else received #3? Within the 15-minute PAT windows, people can still receive different boarding numbers... and that may well be determined by when online check-in was done. It sounds like that is what happened in your situation.

    Enjoy your cruise!
    I spoke to several cast members, both on the phone and at the port and they all say that the boarding number is associated with when you do your online check in. We were the first one up the ramp and into the port and had Disney transfers so did not have a port arrival time. We got a high boarding number and I was shocked so that is the first time I asked about it. The agent was very clear that the boarding number is tied to your check in. On our past cruises I asked a couple of phone agents about it again and they said the exact same thing. Does not matter when you get to the port, they only started assigning port arrival times for those not using Disney transfers because they had too many people show up early and they got really backed up. There would be a line of cars out to the main road waiting to get into the port. We are Gold Castaway Cay members and I checked in right on my first check in day on our cruise last month and got boarding group 2.
     

    Rob1872

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Sep 8, 2015
    I spoke to several cast members, both on the phone and at the port and they all say that the boarding number is associated with when you do your online check in. We were the first one up the ramp and into the port and had Disney transfers so did not have a port arrival time. We got a high boarding number and I was shocked so that is the first time I asked about it. The agent was very clear that the boarding number is tied to your check in. On our past cruises I asked a couple of phone agents about it again and they said the exact same thing. Does not matter when you get to the port, they only started assigning port arrival times for those not using Disney transfers because they had too many people show up early and they got really backed up. There would be a line of cars out to the main road waiting to get into the port. We are Gold Castaway Cay members and I checked in right on my first check in day on our cruise last month and got boarding group 2.
    I think that either you misunderstood the CMs or they misunderstood your question. If the answer is that the boarding number is tied to you check-in, FROM THE PERSPECTIVE THAT WHEN YOU CHECK IN IS WHEN YOU SELECT YOUR PAT, then it would be a reasonable answer. Also agree that their answer of it doesn't matter when you get to the port, because your boarding time is tied to your PAT.

    Your assertion that it is purely tied to when you do your online check-in doesn't pass the logic test. As a PP said, if you are an early person to check-in online and you request a 2:45 PAT, it doesn't make sense to assign that person to Boarding Group 3, etc.

    The only time that this breaks down is if you take Disney Transportation and you are not assigned a PAT. There have been multiple discussions of how your PAT is assigned, and suggestions if you are worried about it to initially say that you are driving yourself, get an early PAT, and then purchase the Disney transfers. Or, just show up at 1:00 or so, have open boarding so it doesn't matter, and walk straight to your room instead of hauling around your carry-ons!
     
  • lanejudy

    Moderator
    Moderator
    Joined
    Oct 27, 2011
    We were the first one up the ramp and into the port and had Disney transfers so did not have a port arrival time.
    And that is why your boarding number was tied to your online check-in - because you did not have a PAT. There was a time that DCL wasn't requiring PAT for guests taking DCL transfers; in fact, the system wasn't giving a PAT option for those guests.

    I believe that has changed, or at least somewhat changed, in that most guests taking DCL transfers are now allowed to select a PAT. IF a guest has a PAT, their boarding number is directly tied to that PAT. For example, PAT of 10:30-10:45 will receive boarding numbers 3-8 (I'm just guessing), PAT of 10:45-11:00 will receiving boarding numbers 9-14, etc.

    Enjoy your cruise!
     

    Lilsia

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 17, 2018
    And that is why your boarding number was tied to your online check-in - because you did not have a PAT. There was a time that DCL wasn't requiring PAT for guests taking DCL transfers; in fact, the system wasn't giving a PAT option for those guests.

    I believe that has changed, or at least somewhat changed, in that most guests taking DCL transfers are now allowed to select a PAT. IF a guest has a PAT, their boarding number is directly tied to that PAT. For example, PAT of 10:30-10:45 will receive boarding numbers 3-8 (I'm just guessing), PAT of 10:45-11:00 will receiving boarding numbers 9-14, etc.

    Enjoy your cruise!
    I promise you that your port arrival time has zero to do with your boarding number. It is when you check in. Please call and ask them. Nobody said that Disney is logical. The only reason they implemented the port arrival time a few years ago was to spread people out arriving at the port. But plenty of people get there early but have late boarding time. In fact, a family sitting next to us at the port was commenting on how they arrived early but got a really high boarding number. It was their first cruise so they checked in later.
     

    scgustafson

    DIS Veteran/DCL Platinum
    Joined
    Feb 27, 2014
    I promise you that your port arrival time has zero to do with your boarding number. It is when you check in. Please call and ask them. Nobody said that Disney is logical. The only reason they implemented the port arrival time a few years ago was to spread people out arriving at the port. But plenty of people get there early but have late boarding time. In fact, a family sitting next to us at the port was commenting on how they arrived early but got a really high boarding number. It was their first cruise so they checked in later.
    You are confusing assigned port arrival time (PAT) from online check-in with the actual time people arrive at the port. Boarding group numbers are tied to a combination of Concierge/Castaway Club Level, assigned PAT, and relative online check-in time. Thus, those people who arrive earlier than their PAT will still have a numerical higher (later) boarding group number than those arriving at a similar time but on or after their assigned PAT.
     

    Lilsia

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 17, 2018
    You are confusing assigned port arrival time (PAT) from online check-in with the actual time people arrive at the port. Boarding group numbers are tied to a combination of Concierge/Castaway Club Level, assigned PAT, and relative online check-in time. Thus, those people who arrive earlier than their PAT will still have a numerical higher (later) boarding group number than those arriving at a similar time but on or after their assigned PAT.
    I am not confused about anything. You can have an early PAT and still get a late boarding time. Because it is tied to your check in. Call Disney and ask them.
     
  • kiford

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 9, 2012
    I believe that has changed, or at least somewhat changed, in that most guests taking DCL transfers are now allowed to select a PAT.
    We were always required to select a PAT when taking DCL transfers from the resort (though this seems to change off and on) and always got a high boarding number which was quite irrelevant to us since we would get there after open boarding. And we were checking in online right at 105 days as Gold level. I believe that, when you take DCL transfers from the airport, you no longer get a PAT and that's when they assign a boarding number to you based on your check-in time and bus time. If it was true that everyone got a boarding number based on check-in time, allfirst-time and Silver level people would get high boarding numbers even if they chose an early PAT which I don't believe is the case.
     

    Dug720

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 16, 2012
    I spoke to several cast members, both on the phone and at the port and they all say that the boarding number is associated with when you do your online check in. We were the first one up the ramp and into the port and had Disney transfers so did not have a port arrival time. We got a high boarding number and I was shocked so that is the first time I asked about it. The agent was very clear that the boarding number is tied to your check in. On our past cruises I asked a couple of phone agents about it again and they said the exact same thing. Does not matter when you get to the port, they only started assigning port arrival times for those not using Disney transfers because they had too many people show up early and they got really backed up. There would be a line of cars out to the main road waiting to get into the port. We are Gold Castaway Cay members and I checked in right on my first check in day on our cruise last month and got boarding group 2.
    I believe that they do rank the Boarding Group numbers within PAT slots by online check-in. But your Boarding Group IS tied to your PAT. If you have a higher PAT but arrive earlier, you will most likely still get the Boarding Group you would have been assigned based on your PAT. They are certainly not going to give a Gold member who selects a later PAT a Boarding Group number of 2 because that would be stupid to hold that place for someone coming in later.
     

    Elandon

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jan 6, 2012
    Wow. At least I feel like my confusion was justified. This process is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma (thanks, Churchill).

    I got a PAT because I wasn't sure if I was going to take disney transportation or not. Now I'm worried that if I sign up for disney transport I will lose my PAT and get assigned a boarding time based on my online check in (which was later than I had hoped to do it).

    I like the advice to arrive at the airport transport terminal at 11, get on a bus around 11:30 and arrive at the port for my 12:15 PAT. Does anyone disagree? or should I just say *** and book a night at WDW and take the late transport?
     

    PrincessShmoo

    DIS veteran
    Joined
    Feb 12, 2009
    Wow. At least I feel like my confusion was justified. This process is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma (thanks, Churchill).

    I got a PAT because I wasn't sure if I was going to take disney transportation or not. Now I'm worried that if I sign up for disney transport I will lose my PAT and get assigned a boarding time based on my online check in (which was later than I had hoped to do it).

    I like the advice to arrive at the airport transport terminal at 11, get on a bus around 11:30 and arrive at the port for my 12:15 PAT. Does anyone disagree? or should I just say *** and book a night at WDW and take the late transport?
    Either way.

    Since you've already selected a PAT, purchasing DCL transfers won't change anything. Your information is already attached to your reservation.
     

    Dug720

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 16, 2012
    Wow. At least I feel like my confusion was justified. This process is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma (thanks, Churchill).

    I got a PAT because I wasn't sure if I was going to take disney transportation or not. Now I'm worried that if I sign up for disney transport I will lose my PAT and get assigned a boarding time based on my online check in (which was later than I had hoped to do it).

    I like the advice to arrive at the airport transport terminal at 11, get on a bus around 11:30 and arrive at the port for my 12:15 PAT. Does anyone disagree? or should I just say *** and book a night at WDW and take the late transport?
    It is really not confusing. Each PAT has a fixed number of slots which are divided into corresponding Boarding Groups. The first PAT would have Boarding Group 2 and either all or part of Group 3. Those would be allocated in order of check-in to people who selected the first PAT. When all those are gone, that PAT would no longer be available. And so forth for each PAT. Since they no longer require PAT for most people who book DCL transportation prior to online check-in, I would imagine they hold a certain number back for those - and that would be in order of port check-in.

    HOWEVER, if you were prompted to select a PAT, your Boarding Group will be whichever is assigned to that PAT in the order you checked in online. If you are not prompted to select a PAT, you receive the Boarding Group being distributed at that time.
     

    pixiedustedme

    Planning is half the fun
    Joined
    Mar 4, 2019
    I'll share my experience that for our second cruise (so Silver CC), we booked MCO Hyatt & transfers via Disney & therefore had no PAT. We did not catch the first bus to the port. The port was already full of people when we arrived. And we were placed in boarding group 2.
     
    Last edited:

    GatorMomInNC

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 18, 2011
    I'm platinum now but last time I cruised before Platinum we had a really early PAT a late boarding group. I was very disappointed and the person checking me in thought it seemed odd also.
     

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