Be Prepared for Your Final Night
On the final night of your cruise, you’ll be asked to pack your bags early and set them outside your room. Your stateroom hostess will move them to the hold of the ship, where they’ll be offloaded and waiting for you inside the terminal as you debark (get off the ship) the next morning.
Sounds easy enough – but it can be a bit trickier than you might think. First, plan ahead based on when you’re asked to place the bags outside; it’s usually no later than say 10PM, which can be problematic if you have late seating for dinner. So you might end up packing your stuff up a bit earlier than expected, which can make dressing up for the evening a bit trickier.
You also need to make sure you don’t pack away anything you need for the next 12 or so hours — but be prepared to schlep it off the ship yourself. Think contacts, medicines, toiletries, baby supplies, jackets — and of course undies, shirts, pants, and shoes. Forget one of those and… well, as the old comic strips used to note, “it may be comedy for you folks but it’s tragedy for me.”
Most cruisers pack their “big” bag up and send it away, using their airline carry-on as their last night’s luggage.
Be Smart With Your Flights
If you’re not fortunate enough to live within driving distance of a port, you’re likely going to be flying in.
We recommend that you NEVER plan your flight on the same day that your cruise begins. One missed connection or flight delay, and you’ve quite literally missed the boat (though they prefer you call it a “ship”). It’s well worth the cost of one night’s hotel stay to not be sitting in the airport terminal, watching the minutes tick by, sweating if you’re going to make it to the port on time. Plus you’ll be well-rested and can start your cruise out right.
As for returning home, it’s much less risky to fly out on the same day your cruise ends. Just make sure you allow enough time to exit the ship, clear customs, and travel from the cruise port to the airport (Port Canaveral, FL is about an hour away from the Orlando airport). Disney Cruise Line will often publish guidance for your cruise such as “we recommend you book your flight home no earlier than X:00 PM”.
In a Rush? Use Express Walk-Off.
Not that anyone really wants to get off of the ship at the end of the cruise, but sometimes you might be in a hurry to do so. Maybe your flight time is a bit too soon for comfort, or you just have other obligations to attend to.
In our prior tips, we discussed luggage handling on the final night of the cruise and your final morning’s breakfast; using Express Walk-Off throws both of those concepts completely out the porthole.
If you’re doing Express Walk-Off, there are two essential things to understand:
- You’ll be completely responsible for getting your luggage off the ship. Don’t put your bags outside of your room the night before, because they won’t be offloaded in time to meet you at the terminal.
- You’ll be long gone by the time breakfast is served. You can still grab a quick (and not very substantial) continental breakfast at Cabanas or Marceline Market, but eggs and bacon will elude you.
On the final morning of the cruise, you’ll hear an announcement — likely around 6:30 or 7:00 AM — that Express Walk-Off passengers are clear to go ashore. That’s your cue to grab your bags and disembark. Don’t stick around — head off the ship right away, clear Customs, and go on about your day. Lollygag about and you’ll miss your opportunity, leaving you caught up in the crush of everyone else leaving the ship.
We hope our tips have helped you prepare for your Disney Cruise. For even more information, see Cruising with Disney: A Complete Guide for First Time Cruisers. Bon Voyage!