5 Tips for an Easy Debarkation Process on your Disney Cruise



By Leah Zanolla

So, we’ve talked about how to have a smooth embarkation day.  Now, let’s talk about the saddest part of your Disney Cruise: Debarkation Day.  You’ve had a wonderful vacation and are about to re-enter the real world.  How can you make that transition as easy as possible?


1) Pack early

Your stateroom has been your home for the past several days, so it may take a while to get packed up.  Packing is never fun and packing to leave a Disney cruise is even worse.  So, go ahead and just get it done.  We like to get as much done as possible before dinner on the last night, so we are free to enjoy our last evening on the ship.  You’ll still have to add your dinner clothes, but that will be easy enough.  If you want the crew to take your luggage down to customs for you, you’ll have to have it outside your door before you go to bed.  If you don’t, you will be stuck lugging everything to breakfast and off the ship, as there are no porters available until you exit the ship. Important!  Make sure you keep out shoes and clothes for the next day! If you don’t, you’ll be joining the ranks of the other Disney Cruise Line guests who have had to walk off the ship barefoot…


Photo: Saying goodbye to our stateroom attendant after putting all our luggage in the hallway for customs

2) Avoid lines at Shutters and Guest Services

On the last night, everyone needs to finish up looking through their photos at the onboard photo service Shutters, so the line to purchase will be very long.  If at all possible, do this earlier in the day.  This will save you a lot of time and stress.  The same thing goes for Guest Services.  People have lots of last-minute questions/complaints/compliments, so this line gets backed up easily and you don’t want to waste your last evening onboard standing in line.

Photo: Shutters

3) Attend the first See Ya’ Real Soon party

See Ya’ Real Soon (may also be called ‘Til We Meet Again on some ships) is a special farewell meet and greet event held the last day in the Lobby Atrium.  It’s a neat chance to get one last photo with the characters, as well as enjoy a farewell wave from all the characters onboard.  Often (but not always), two of these events are offered – one at 4:30pm and one at 10:15pm.  If you have the choice, attend the 4:30 show.  In our experience, it will be much less crowded, because people are just getting back onboard from the day or still in their staterooms getting ready for dinner.  Get to the lobby a little early and ask a crew member where the line for {insert your favorite character here} will be.  They should be able to tell you exactly where to line up to meet Mickey or one of his friends.  Characters will greet guests for about 20 minutes before they have to leave.  On our last cruise, we wanted a photo with Mickey, so we made sure to be first in his line, then were actually able to make it to all the other characters’ lines before the lines were shut down.  After that, make sure you can see the stairs for the grand finale.  It’s true that 4:30 isn’t exactly the end of the night, but it’s nice to have that event out of the way and not have to count on making it to the later show. 740549_587322777950490_1700420555_o Photo: See Ya' Real Soon party

4) Choose your breakfast venue

You will be assigned a dining time for breakfast in one of the dining rooms on the last morning.  The time depends on if you have Main Dining or Second Seating at dinner during the week.  We travel with our kids, so we always have Main Dining, which works out great for dinner, but being assigned to eat breakfast before 7:00 the last morning is just too early for us.  So, we make sure to say goodbye to our serving team at our last dinner and we head to the buffet for our final breakfast.  Doing this allows us a little more freedom in our scheduling, which works for our family.  If you are early risers or have an early flight, you may enjoy taking advantage of one last breakfast in the dining room.

165716_185869524762486_7310349_nPhoto: The last night with our serving team

5)  Pick a flight time that's right for you

The last piece of the puzzle in making Debarkation Day go smoothly is your travel home.  For passengers that are flying home that day, Disney Cruise Line recommends that you not book a flight earlier than 11:30am.  That will give you enough time to exit the ship, clear customs and make it to the airport.   Here’s my opinion on flight times.  If your flight is too early, you’ll end up feeling rushed to eat breakfast and get off the ship with enough time to still make it to your flight.  I don’t want to end a relaxing cruise with a really early wake-up call and mad rush to the airport.  That being said, if your flight is too late in the day, you could end up having to sit around the airport waiting.  Because there are other guests boarding soon after you and your fellow passengers debark, Disney wants everyone off as soon as possible, so you won’t be able to just linger onboard.  It takes a lot of work to turn the ship over in such a short amount of time.   A couple of years ago, we didn’t fly out until 6:00pm, and we discovered that the airline wouldn’t let us check our luggage in until 4 hours before the flight.  We had a really long wait with all of our cruise luggage sitting in piles around us in the airport food court…  These are all things to take into account when choosing your flight times to return home. IMG_3674(1) Photo: Reading in the airport for hours when we had a late flight

I hope these tips will make your return to the real world a little less harsh and give you the opportunity to make the most out of your final hours onboard a Disney Cruise ship!