Everything PAT | Disney Cruise Line Port Arrival Time FAQ

What is a Port Arrival Time? Isn’t that when I board the ship? Can I show up  earlier or later? Don’t let a few little questions make you miss the boat, so to speak.

Boarding Day
Disney Cruise shuttle waiting at the Orlando International Airport

What is a Port Arrival Time?
If all 3,000 some odd passengers who are on a cruise together arrive at Port Canaveral at the same time, the terminal becomes rather packed. In order to try to spread out arrivals on embarkation day, the port arrival time, a kind of reservation of sorts was born.  If guests arrive spread out over a few hours on embarkation morning and early afternoon, these reserved time windows allow guests to experience shorter wait times and flow through check-in and boarding smoothly.

How do I get a Port Arrival Time?
When you are completing your online check-in process, you can select a port arrival time. Usual port arrival times span 10:00am to 3:30 pm on the half hour with some variation based on home port and ship.

So is that when I board the ship?
That is when they expect you to either show up courtesy of the shuttle bus, taxi, rental car, scooter, limo, magic carpet, pumpkin carriage or whatever your transportation to the port might be. The earliest port arrival times are currently between 10 and 10:30 am, but the earliest the ship boards is sometime between 11am and noon.
If you have an early port arrival time and check in at the start of your port arrival time you will get a low boarding number. When boarding begins, you will be on the ship ahead of higher boarding numbers. Almost all numbers will be called by 1:30. If you arrive after that point you go straight from check-in to boarding.

Can I show up later?
Yes. This is a reservation system designed to keep everyone from showing up right when the port is open. You are welcome to enter the cruise terminal at anytime after your assigned port arrival time until the end of boarding around 4:00pm. If you show up later than that not only will you miss muster drill, but the ship will possibly sail without you. Please allow plenty of time.

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Watching the luggage and supplies loaded onto the Fantasy.

Can I show up earlier?
Yes. Showing up before your port arrival time may result in you being asked to wait outside the terminal or even outside the port area until space is freed up. You may luck into being allowed into the port early, but then again, maybe not. Your call.

What is there to do in the terminal?
After your check-in process is completed, you are free to hang out in the terminal. In Port Canaveral, there is a miniature model of the Magic to examine. Almost all ports host meet and greets with Mickey, Minnie or other Fab Five friends. Other than watching the ship load (in ports where viewing areas are available) and looking over your first Personal Navigator, there isn’t a ton to do while waiting to board your ship. Arriving far in advance of boarding may not be the best plan if you want to board immediately.

Do you prefer to show up early, late or during the middle of the boarding hours?