• On Jan 17, 2017
    Kristin from MN Asked Note: This answer was provided prior to the change to planDisney and may still contain references to Disney Parks Moms Panel.

    We've never taken a cruise before. How early a flight should we book to make sure we get onboard in time? Our ship says onboard at 3:45 pm, so does that mean that's the soonest we can board or is it best to be near port (Canaveral, April 2017)

    Welcome aboard, Kristin! Congratulations on booking your first cruise! I'm glad you asked about boarding times when making your flight arrangements. The 3:45 onboard time that you've seen listed refers to the latest time a guest can board the ship before it departs. You will want to arrive at port well before then. Usually the port opens at 10:30, with boarding beginning an hour or so later. When you begin your online check-in, you'll get to choose a Port Arrival Time, so that Disney has an idea of when you plan to arrive. Online check-in begins 75 days prior to sailing for first time guests like yourself. 

    I'd suggest booking the earliest possible flight that day, so that when you arrive at the Orlando International Airport, you can then head straight to the port. Disney offers Ground Transfers for guests from the airport to the cruise port and back. While they carry an additional cost, I highly recommend booking these, as I promise it is the best way to transition from land to sea and back again! The drive takes about an hour, and the transfers run every half hour from the airport beginning around 10:30 until the early afternoon. You'll want to factor in that hour and the time it takes to make your way through the airport.

    Another idea is to fly into Orlando the day before your cruise, and stay overnight at one of the fabulous resorts at Walt Disney World. Guests take the complimentary Magical Express from the airport to their resort. Then, to get to the ship the next morning, book the cruise transfers I mentioned earlier, as they also run from the Disney resorts to Port Canaveral! My family and I enjoy coming it the day prior, so that in the event of any airline delays, we know we will not miss the ship! 

    I hope those details help as you begin planning, Kristin!
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Meet the Panelist: Marcy, Ohio

Welcome aboard! I'm the mom of two tween/teen Castaway Clubbers who would live on any of the Disney ships if they could. I would love to help your family discover the magic that awaits you on the open seas with Disney Cruise Line. Learn More About Marcy

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