Cruising From Port Canaveral in 2021
What's it like to take a Disney Cruise from Port Canaveral?
Cruising is back on Florida’s Space Coast, but many people still have questions about what it’s like setting sail from Port Canaveral. As one of the busiest ports in North America, Port Canaveral is ready to welcome back cruise visitors with easy embarkation protocols, smooth boarding, and plenty of things to do and see. In early October, we decided to try the experience out for ourselves! Booking a 3-day, 4-night cruise on the Disney Dream, from Disney Cruise Line would give us the perfect idea of what it’s like to snooze’n’cruise on the Space Coast in 2021.
*This blog is a personal account of what it’s like to sail with Disney Cruise Lines out of Port Canaveral. Other cruise lines have different boarding protocols that can be found on their respective websites.
Some of the biggest questions surround COVID-19 protocol:
At the time this article is being published, to sail on a Disney ship out of Port Canaveral, guests 12 years and older must be fully vaccinated. Guests 11 and younger are not required to be vaccinated but must take a pre-trip COVID-19 test. Additionally, everyone gets tested when you arrive at the port, before being cleared to board the ship.
You can find out more about Disney’s rules around COVID-19 and get the most up to date information by visiting Disney's "Know Before You Go" page.
Our Disney Cruise experience can be broken down into 5 parts:
- Onboard Experience
- Island Experience
For the purpose of this article, we will only be discussing the Pre-trip, check-in, and debarkation experiences at Port Canaveral.
Just like the Disney Parks, Disney Cruise Line has an app called Disney Cruise Line Navigator. When you book your trip, you should download this app instantly. The app lets you choose additional onboard activities, excursions for the island, and more. It is important that you choose your additional experiences sooner than later.
Disney sent us an email, and we were required to submit proof of vaccination and answer other questions as part of our Pre-Sail Screening. When our documents were approved we received the status, “Clear to Arrive”.
You can order home test kits, and submit for a “90 Day Recovered Guests” waiver during this process as well. The 90 Day Recovered Guests waiver is nice, because if you’ve recently recovered from COVID, you may still test positive weeks after you’re clear.
Be sure to keep checking the site, and resubmitting documents until you get that “Clear” status. It took us two tries to get everything right.
On the day of your cruise, we had a later check-in, so we went and grabbed lunch at Fishlips in Port Canaveral. Fishlips, along with all the restaurants in The Cove, is a perfect place to gather before your cruise. These waterfront restaurants are close to the cruise terminal which can eliminate pre-travel jitters for some. And, between the cruise ships and rocket parts making their way through the Port, you never know what you may see while you dine outside! They also offer incredible menu items that have something for everyone in your party. Fresh seafood, kids options, tropical cocktails and everything in between, it’s a great way to start your cruise vacation.
When you arrive at Disney's terminal, you will drop off your checked bags with the porters before heading for the parking garage. Once in line at the bottom of the garage you sign in, and are given a testing kit. The team walks you through the testing process at the bottom of the garage, and collects everyone in your party’s samples. You make your way up the garage to a parking spot and wait for your results to be texted/emailed to you. When you get that “Clear to Sail” notification you’ll cheer (I heard many cheers throughout the parking lot while waiting, and sure enough, my party did as well). Collect your carry ons, have your passport ready, and head into the terminal!
One of the good things about this process is that no part of the check-in process had long wait times after we were cleared to sail. Getting our passports scanned, walking through the terminal. Waiting to board, and being serenaded by Mickey and Minnie when we stepped on board the Dream was a breeze. The entire process, testing and waiting included, only took about an hour from dropping off our checked bags to stepping into our cabin.
Early Monday morning, the Dream pulled into Port Canaveral, and it was time to disembark. They leave color/character-coded tags in your room the evening before for any luggage you’d like checked. If you use that system, you need to have your luggage outside of your stateroom by 3 am for it to be picked up. You also have less flexibility in the morning as they stagger who can leave when. Lucky for us, we like to travel light, so we were able to just wake up at our leisure and walk right off the boat. Checking out of our stateroom, getting off the ship, making our way through customs and back to our car only took about 30 minutes.
As someone who traveled a lot before the pandemic, it was nice to see that other than a couple of minor things like indoor masks and pre-trip testing and vaccination, not much has changed about the cruise experience. If anything, it was a better experience than before, because we never felt crowded or rushed through any part of the experience. Our support staff estimated that the ship was at 50% capacity, and everyone was excited about the deals they had been able to take advantage of.
We cruised the Disney Dream, but many of the cruise lines going out of Port Canaveral have great deals right now. It’s the perfect time to sail out of Florida’s Space Coast! Visit our Cruise page for more information on Port Canaveral, Snooze ‘N’ Cruise Packages, and more.