On our first Disney cruise, Wayne and I flew to Orlando a couple days ahead. We were very excited and did a lot of reading on what to expect and do. This was not just our first Disney cruise, it was our first cruise!

What we really wanted to know was when would be the best time to go to the port, and which time should we choose for our check in time. Most everyone said to get an early time. We didn’t quite understand why, but we do now.

We chose the earliest time. That is the best time to choose, the earliest you can choose. However, that doesn’t mean you have to arrive at that time. You can wait until later.

We hopped on the hotel shuttle to go back to the airport on our embarkation day. We were early enough to catch the first Disney bus to the port. When we got to the port, we went through the security check then to check in.

The problem with getting to the port so early is that you have to wait quite a while before getting on the ship. You also have to keep your carry on items with you. There isn’t much to do at the port. You can look at the ship model (which is really cool). You can also sit. You may want to have a book to read.

You can also take the time to be sure to download the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app to your phone and/or tablet, if you haven’t done so already. You can also get logged onto the ship’s wifi to log into the app. You will be able to use the ship’s wifi when using the app. This app is a great tool for the duration of your cruise. It will have all the information you need right at your fingertips, so be sure to take advantage of it. You will also be able to send messages to each other – including some really cool Disney emoticons!

Once your boarding group is called, you will be allowed to board. Know, however, that if your group is one of the first, and you are there when it is first called, there will be long lines.

Your boarding group is assigned based upon your assigned check in time, so if you are later, you still have that boarding group. This means that if you come three hours later, you’ll be able to walk right onto the ship. So, don’t feel you have to rush to the port to be the first to board. If you want to see the ship with very few people around, you’ll want to be one of the first to board, but if not, then don’t worry about getting there early.

After boarding (we were group 2, right after the concierge group) we went to the buffet for lunch. You can go there or to the restaurant on the ship that is open. The buffet, I think, is the better choice, because you will be able to see outside the ship – or even choose an outside table (it was cold the day we left, so we opted to stay inside). The restaurant doesn’t have any windows, so you won’t get to look around the outside if you eat there. Also, my husband loves the peel and eat shrimp at the buffet, and just can’t get enough of it. Just take your carry on items with you and place them next to you at the table.

Once it is 1:30 pm, you’ll be able to take your carry on items to your stateroom. Take a few minutes to unpack them and look around your home for the coming days. If your stateroom attendant is around, they will want to meet you. Ask them any questions you may have.¬†Also, check to see where you need to report for the muster drill.

Once you have placed your items in the stateroom, explore the ship – without lugging around your carry on items!

You don’t have to go to the buffet or restaurant for lunch – you can decide to spend time at the pool and get lunch from one of the venues there. You can get hamburgers, pizza, sandwiches, and a number of other things if you want.

Before the ship leaves port, there is a muster drill. Everyone must report to the muster drill. You will need to check in with your Key to the World card. Please don’t be late. Those who are late make things longer for everyone else. Instructions cannot be given until everyone is there.

After muster drill, almost everyone will be wanting to use the elevators to get to the pool deck for the Sail Away Party. If you can use the stairs, then please do, that will allow those who can’t take the stairs to use the elevators.

We’ve never gone to the Sail Away party. We prefer watching from our balcony as we leave port. We can also get ready for dinner and/or the show that isn’t too long after we leave port.