Disney Cruise Check In: What to Expect and What to Do

Have you booked your Disney Cruise and are waiting for the next step in the process? Well, I’m here to give you an overview of what to expect on your Disney Cruise check in online and how to secure an early Disney Cruise boarding time. The Disney Cruise check in process is very straight forward and easy to do. It will allow you to book any shore excursions, secure dining reservations to Palo/Remy, check-in your kids to the Youth Clubs, and book onboard activities as well. Since you have already booked your sailing, let me re-assure you that your Disney Cruise will be worth it. Now, let’s dive right in and explain the Disney Cruise check in online so that you can begin your planning.

Disney Cruise boarding time

Time Frame for My Disney Cruise Check In

Disney Cruise Line allows guests to check in to their Disney Cruise at various times depending on their status. This means if you have never cruised with Disney before, you will get the latest time to check-in and book your activities. Just like staying on Disney property gets you extra perks, Disney rewards its’ repeat guests (Castaway Club Members) with earlier check-in times. Here are the time frames for doing your Disney Cruise online check in:

  • Platinum & Concierge: 120 days prior to sail date
  • Gold: 105 days prior to sail date
  • Silver: 90 days prior to sail date
  • First-time cruisers: 75 days prior to sail date

In case you weren’t sure what any of these categories mean: Platinum Castaway Club members have been on at least 10 cruises, Gold members have done at least 5, and Silver Castaway Club members have sailed at least once. The Concierge status means that you have reserved a concierge-level room on your cruise (you could be a first time cruiser).

Disney Cruise Line begins its online check-in at midnight EST. If you want to be one of those early birds to secure some hard to come by activities or reservations, like dinner at Palo/Remy or the cabanas on Castaway Cay, then be sure to log in ahead of time and know your user name and password. Your DCL account is not the same as your Disney Experience App, so you may need to create an account. Just be sure to do this ahead of time so that if you do decide to do the Disney Cruise check in online at midnight, you are not creating an account at that point.

Another important fact to note is that you don’t have to be paid in full to complete the online registration portion of your check-in; however, you do need to be paid in full in order to reserve any onboard activities (I’ll explain in more detail below). I would recommend that you pay in full a few days before your check-in date if possible. These are just some tips that I happen to know because I am a certified Disney Travel Agent, and have been on 5 Disney Cruises in the past 8 years. Travel agents, like me, can send you emails and remind you about all of these things ahead of time or do it for you (all for free). If you’re interested in a free quote or even if you have already booked and would like to transfer it over so that I can help you, email me and we can get started.

How to Use the Disney Cruise Check In Online

First things first, head on over to the Disney Cruise website and click on Online Check-In to get started.

Disney cruise check in

Once you have logged in, you will be able to see your cruise reservation. If you cannot see it immediately, that just means that you have to link it.

Disney cruise online check in

Once this is done, you will be able to check-in and get started. The first page is the overview. It will list your DCL cruise summary, dates of your trip, stateroom, and guests. Once you click begin now, you can start filling in the basics.

disney cruise check in online

Disney Cruise online Check-in steps

Guest Information

In this section, you will check over your address, enter Emergency Contact information for your entire party. You are able to enter it for the first guest and then copy it over to the rest if they are the same.

identification

In this section, you will enter the passport details for each person in your stateroom. Note that there is also an option to sail with a birth certificate, which can be found in the drop-down menu.

Pre/Post Cruise

Disney asks how you will be getting to the ship and where you will need to be after disembarking. If you are flying, you will enter your flight details here and your transportation to/from the port. Once again, you can choose to apply Guest #1’s transportation information to all guests in the stateroom to save time.

Disney Cruise Like book

Onboard Account

Here is the section where you decide how you will pay for onboard charges. This is very important because no cash transactions happen aboard the cruise. You can charge any souvenirs, specialty drinks, and dining at Palo/Remy, spa treatments, port excursions, and onboard activities such as spirit tastings. Guests can charge it to their credit card, a debit card, or choose Cash/Other.

If you do choose the Cash/Other option, the Cash Account Agreement will pop up and set spending limits based on the number of days of your sailing. Once you have reached your spending limit, your account will need to be settled at Guest Services. If you choose the Credit or Debit Card option, your card will be charged at the end of the sailing or when you reach a set amount (if you set a limit).

You can also grant/revoke charging privileges to your children or anyone else in your stateroom. If you are traveling with grandma and she wants to charge her onboard spending to her credit card, you can set that up. You can also make sure your children or any minors staying in your room do not charge things to your account.

In this section, Disney also mentions that your stateroom will have two wave phones so that guests can communicate with each other throughout the cruise for free. If the phones are not left in the staterooms at disembarkation or if they are damaged, you are responsible to pay $250. While this seems like a no-brainer, I know that those wave phones can get lost pretty easily. I would take my phone everywhere to make sure I was in contact with the Youth Clubs while my kids were there and to communicate with family and friends in other staterooms. Be vigilant with those wave phones and don’t lose them.

Port Arrival Time: Disney Cruise Boarding Time

Your port arrival time is the time that you are allowed to get on the ship. You can choose your Disney Cruise boarding time in this section. Disney likes everyone to select what time they think they will be arriving at the port so that the terminal is less packed. If you can swing it and if the times are available, I highly encourage you to get to the port as early as possible. I mean, the sooner you board, the quicker your cruise begins!

If you see items grayed out, they are not available to you for whatever reason. Try to pick a time that is close enough to your anticipated arrival time, but it is ok if you are not exact. Later boarding times are less hectic and you may want that option anyway. Once you have selected your time, you can also select if you would like Disney to send your final cruise documentation (which is a pamphlet summarizing your cruise) or just your luggage tags.

Keep in mind that your room may not be ready until around 1-2PM and your bags will not arrive until even later that afternoon. Be sure to bring a carry-on with anything you may need for the day. If you are traveling with kids, I would highly encourage you to pack a bathing suit for them so that they can enjoy the slides, pool, and water areas.

Disney Cruise boarding time
Disney Cruise Boarding Time Options

Youth Activity Registration

The Youth Clubs (Oceaneer Lab and Oceaneer Club) are for children ages 3-12. While you can register them when you get to the port, using the Disney Cruise online check in saves so much more time. Here you will select who is authorized to check your children in/out of the clubs and a Secret Word that must be provided at pickup. If you have older children, you can opt to have them check themselves in/out of the Youth Clubs as well.

Please note that Disney will charge you a fee for the “magicband” given to your child for the Youth Clubs. This is what is scanned upon check-in and check out of the Oceaneer Club and Lab, and it has a location tracker on it so you know exactly where to go to pick up your child once you enter the Youth Clubs. Here you can also list if you allow your kids to eat lunch/dinner there and if there are any allergies or special needs that you’d like them to know about.

Each Oceaneer Club and Lab is slightly different. Here are the video tours of each ship’s clubs:

Traveling with Minors

This section is only applicable if you are traveling with others in different staterooms. You can allow people (family and friends) from different staterooms to go ashore with your children or only allow them to enter/leave with you. All you need to do is fill out a form.

Review Contract

This section allows you to review and then sign the cruise contract. You must agree to the contract to sail. You can either print this form and add it to your cruise documents or send it to yourself via email.

Signature Form

The last section of your Disney Cruise check in is the Port Arrival Form. Be sure to print this page and bring this form with you to the terminal in your carry-on bag. Do not place it in your checked luggage.

Disney cruise online check in complete
Disney cruise check in finished

Disney Cruise Check In Online: Cruise Activities

Now onto the fun part! Once you have completed your Disney Cruise online check-in, you can select your cruise activities. Here you can choose: On Board Fun, Port Adventures, Adult Dining at Palo/Remy, Senses Spa, and the Small World Nursery (for children under 3). You’ll see your daily itinerary for your sailing. Click “Add Activities” to see what’s available. Please note, that all sailings will have a different set of activities and options. You will also be able to reserve activities and make changes by downloading your Disney Cruise Navigator App.

disney cruise check in activities

Port Adventures

In this section, you can book Port Adventures/Excursions on your ports of call, including Castaway Cay. Once you see your options and their cost per person, you can check the item, select a time, and the activity or excursion will appear in your Activity Cart. Be sure to click “Confirm” to reserve your spot. Be warned that many shore excursions do sell out, especially the cabanas on Castaway Cay. Check out my in-depth review of all of the Castaway Cay activities, where I share an overview of what to expect on the island and what you can rent or book ahead of time.

Do not be “that discouraged” if you see an excursion has already sold out. Here is a tip for you… On Embarkation Day, once you board the ship head straight to the Port Adventures Desk (ask a cast member for help) and see if any new spots have opened up. Disney often sets aside a small number of spots to be booked during the cruise, and you could snag them if you get to this desk early.

Adult Dining

Dining at Palo and Remy are often very coveted reservations. All Disney ships have Palo, but only the larger ones, Fantasy and Dream, have Remy. These adult-only dining spots offer an upscale escape from the rotational dining. In the last few years, Disney has increased the prices of these restaurants: Palo (Northern Italian cuisine) and Remy (French cuisine) offer select brunch, dinner, and dessert options for a fee.

Like the Port Adventures, if you cannot secure a dining reservation for the time/date you would like, then on Embarkation Day, head to one of the dining rooms or ask a crew member where to go to book your dining reservations. While you can do this on the Disney Cruise Navigator App, sometimes they reserve a few spots for onboard booking. Check out all of the dining options and Disney Cruise restaurants available.

Anchor autographs for Disney Cruise

Spa & Fitness

The Senses Spa provides full-service treatments that can be booked ahead of time during your Disney Cruise check in. They could also be booked on the DCL Navigator App as well. While many of these spa treatments and massages are pricey, the day pass for the Rainforest Room is one of the hidden secrets that not many people know about and is at a fraction of the cost of the other services.

Just like the Port Adventures and Adult Dining options, if there is a specific spa treatment you would like, on Embarkation Day, head to the Senses Spa and try to book it or try refreshing the app that day as well to see if any new times opened up.

On Board Fun

In this section, you can reserve many “fun activities”. Each sailing provides different options, but here are some examples of what you can expect: beverage tasting seminars (for a fee), character breakfasts and meet/greets, Bibbidi Bobiddi Boutique and Pirate’s League (for a fee), Royal Court Royal Tea (for a fee), golf or sports simulator (for a fee). You will usually see more activities on sea days, but activities are offered almost all day, every day of your cruise (except debarkation).

Nursery

The Small World Nursery is a space for the smallest of guests (6 months-3 years old). This service does come with an additional fee, unlike the Youth Clubs. Space is limited, so if you think you may want to schedule a little adult break, then book it ahead of time. Reservations can also be made on board on a first-come, first-served basis. The best time to do this is during the Open House on Embarkation day; however, they can be made anytime throughout the cruise depending on availability Advance reservations are required to drop off your child and can be made online for up to 18 hours during your cruise.

A couple of things to note – the same rules apply to this as the Youth Clubs. You can designate who can drop off and pick up your child and parents or designated drop off/pick up people will have to provide the Secret Word. You must also bring a bag with supplies if needed (wipes, diapers, bottles, etc…).

Disney Cruise autograph pillow

Some Disney Cruise Extras

Once you are done with your Disney Cruise check in online, you can schedule for Mickey, Goofy or Mickey and Minnie to call you and wish you a magical cruise. You can also make special dining requests if anyone in your party has an allergy or a special diet. Here is also where you could request cribs, high chairs, booster seats, and bed rails. You could also book a pre-cruise photo package which will be cheaper than if you purchase it on board. Lastly, be sure to download the Disney Cruise Line Navigator App BEFORE you cruise to check out deck plans, plan activities, see your daily schedule, and chat with family/friends.

Disney Cruise Online Check In – Final Thoughts

The Disney Cruise check-in online is quite simple, yet a tad lengthy. The prompts and explanations given by DCL are straight forward and easy to follow. My advice remains to try and complete the check-in process as early as possible and book whatever specialty dining, port adventures, and onboard activities you would like as early as possible.

Once again, don’t stress if the activity or booking you want is filled up. Remember what I mentioned, on Embarkation Day go to the location where a crew member can help (always ask if you do not know) and chances are you will get it. If you aren’t sure you would like a certain activity or class, you can still make changes to your schedule. Sometimes there are cancellations and it works out. You will have a magical time anyways!

I hope this post helped explain the online check-in for Disney Cruises and that you found some useful information and tips about preparing for embarkation.

Land and Sea Package

Are you looking to combine a Disney Cruise vacation with a Disney World stay? Nothing extends the magic more than combining a Disney cruise with your WDW vacation. I can help book your stay at one of the Value, Moderate, or Deluxe resorts, book your dining, and Fastpasses. To try and cut down on some costs, you may want to take a look at how to do Disney on a budget, how to plan non-park days, and what to bring on the trip using this Disney packing list.

If you are planning on doing both a visit to Disney World and a Disney Cruise, I recommend doing your trip to the parks first and then finish it off with a Disney Cruise out of Port Canaveral. Here’s why – while a Disney World vacation is fantastic, it is not always relaxing. You are waking up early, running around the parks, and trying to make it to the next attraction for days. On a Disney Cruise, you will vacation at a much slower pace and be pampered by the signature Disney service.

Disney Cruise Christmas family

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Looking for help in planning and booking your Disney trip?

As a certified Disney travel agent, I can help you navigate the planning of your trip. I can book resort stays, dining, Fastpass attractions, and help you decide on your itinerary. I can also look for discounts and help you book your Disney Cruise with onboard credit.

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5 thoughts on “Disney Cruise Check In: What to Expect and What to Do”

  1. I just got home from my DCL!!! At first I was a litttle disappointed I got boarding at 1-130 but it was not crowded, so easy and by the time we got on the ship, our rooms were ready and there were not lines to check in to the kids club or move around our dining reservations. I was also able to snag pizza at pinocchios and it was all just very easy.

  2. Amanda Patsey

    So glad you shared this today because we are headed off on our first Disney cruise soon!!

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