We have sailed out of 3 different ports, and each has been a little different but my tips for boarding are pretty much the same.
- Choose the earliest port arrival time (PAT) that you can when you register online. Now, there are differing opinions on this, but for my family the earlier the better. We have not used disney transportation, so we arrive as soon as we can at the port. yes, there is waiting. But the benefit of being one of the first to board is so worth it to us! Our kids were so excited to board the first cruise, that we were literally the first in the terminal! One word of caution, though, don’t come early if your PAT is not early. They let you board based on your PAT- so if your PAT is say 1:30 but you get there at 11:00 you will get a little ticked that people who get there after you may get to board before you.
- Plan to wait. Once you get inside the port terminal, you will register and get your Key to the World Cards. You will also get a little card with your boarding group number. I’m not sure how high the numbers go- the highest we have had is 6 and we got on pretty quick once boarding stared. You can put the rest of your travel documents away- all you will need to board is your KTTW card! You can also register for the kids club- or pick up their wristbands if you have already registered online, which I would definitely recommend. There is an option to register the kids for the clubs once onboard, but since we are there early and have to wait to board anyway- we like to do it in the port. Characters will come out for pictures, but it is mostly waiting. So, we try to have a couple things planned to do while waiting. First, they will give you navigators- which have the schedule of events for the day. We give one to each of our kids and a highlighter. They spend some time reading and deciding which events sound like fun. We also make sure everyone with a smart phone has the disney cruise line app installed. It is an awesome way to keep in touch on board with the text feature. We also people watch which is super entertaining. If all else fails- they can use their electronics they brought. The terminal is the last place we let them. Once on board, they all get put in the room safes (or phones on airplane mode) for the duration of the cruise.
- Matching shirts! Not my hubby’s favorite tip 🙂 But it’s a fun way to identify that you all go together. I have seen some amazing shirts while waiting to board. Some people go all out. For me, I watched the target t-shirt prices. Once the shirts I wanted went on sale, I snagged them. Had to be a little flexible as the same shirt was not available in every size I needed- but for me it was better to get 7 shirts at a clearance price than spend more to have them all match exactly.
- Pack a day bag or carryon. When you arrive at port, you will drop your luggage with a porter (plan to tip about $1 a bag) BUT keep a smaller bag with you that will have all of your travel documents, camera, change of underwear for the kids (I’ll explain later) anything that you will need before about 2pm when the rooms will hopefully be ready. If you notice in the pic above, my hubby is wearing a backpack- thats all we took to board. If you look ahead of my cute family, there is a lady with a rolling carry on bag. It’s really whatever you think you need before your luggage makes it to you room.
- Wear your swimsuit under your clothes. This is by far the best tip for embarkation for our family. The pools on a disney cruise are basically kid soup most of the time. However, on embarkation day they are practically empty until the afternoon. We board. We swim. We eat. We explore. In that order lol
That’s it for now- I’m going to try to keep each post to 5 tips. There is so much information, it can get a little overwhelming. If you have any questions or find any errors feel free to let me know 🙂