Cruising documentation, paperwork, and other boring stuff.

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Apparently I’ve been promising to talk about documentation for our Disney Dream cruise since I started this blog series. Ugh. What was I thinking? Who wants to think about paperwork?? So I’ve clearly been procrastinating about writing about it. (Thanks to Safari Mike from www.jamboeveryone.com who prodded me to keep blogging.) I’d rather think about this:

Dessert trio Disney Fantasy

Dessert Trio

Paperwork sucks, no doubt. But I’ve been obsessing about it and worrying about it since booking our cruise, and here’s why. About 6 months ago I watched a show on the Travel Channel (I think) about the operations of a large cruise ship. It was totally fascinating to see how the crew manages embarkation and debarkation, gets all those meals out at the same time, manages alcohol sales, etc. But one thing about that show scared the hell out of me. There was one family on embarkation day that DID NOT HAVE ONE OF THEIR PASSPORTS. After the crew tried everything possible for the entire embarkation day, the family was not allowed to get on the ship. OMG! That is absolutely my worst fear (even more than having to bring along our own portable “facilities” in the form of plastic bags.) I’m knocking on wood just writing that sentence, hoping I haven’t completely jinxed our trip.

So as soon as you decide to go on a cruise that leaves the US (yes, even one that Passportsgoes to Canada), check your passports. Have they expired? Will they still be valid for the length of your cruise? Are they somewhere that you can find them and know where they are when it’s time to leave? (Don’t laugh – it could happen.) Don’t forget, kids’ passports are only good for 5 years. We did end up needing to renew our daughter’s passport.

“But MouseChow,” you may say, “I thought there were other documents you could use instead of a Passport.” And you would be right. Here’s the official list from Disney of acceptable documentation, as of Sunday morning, April 7, 2013 at 8am.

All Guests claiming U.S. citizenship must present one of the following as proof of U.S. citizenship:

  • Valid U.S. Passport
  • Valid U.S. Passport Card
  • Valid state-issued Enhanced Driver’s License – this is a special type of license that provides proof of identity and U.S. Citizenship. Not all states offer this.
  • Valid Trusted Traveler card (NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
  • Government-issued photo ID, along with one of the following:
    • Original or copy of their state issued birth certificate
    • Original Consular Report of Birth Abroad issued by the Department of State
    • Original Certificate of Naturalization issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
  • Guests under the age of 16 may present one of the following:
    • Original or copy of their state issued birth certificate
    • Original Consular Report of Birth Abroad issued by the Department of State
    • Original Certificate of Naturalization issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Disney Cruise Planning Center

Disney Cruise Planning Center

OK, now that you’ve got that out of the way and everyone is legally documented, let’s jump into the specific docs you’ll need for your cruise. Once again, the Planning Center on the www.disneycruiseline.com website is fantastic, and will walk you through everything you’ll need. Go to the “My Online Check-In” tab on your Planning Center home page. You should check in online at least 4 days before your sail date. If you do it well in advance, you’ll receive a fantastic folio in the mail (about 30 days before your trip) with all of the detail that you filled in online. The site will walk you through the basic steps of checking in.

1. Complete the “Guest Information” for each person traveling in your party. This is just basic name and age.

2. Complete the “Identification” section. For this you’ll need each traveler’s passport number.

3. “Pre-Post Cruise”. Here you’ll let Disney know your flight info and hotel arrangements.

4. “Onboard Account”. This is where you provide a credit card for onboard charges, and designate which people in your party will have charging privileges attached to their room card.

5. “Port Arrival Time”. Here you’ll be given options to choose your time to arrive at the Port. Basically, Disney wants to spread out the crowds so that everyone isn’t jammed in like sardines first thing on Embarkation day. The earlier you book your cruise and check in, the more options you’ll be given. Choose the earliest time you can possibly be at the Port, so that you can have more time on the ship on Day 1. However, if you’ll be arriving at the Port via Disney’s Magical Express, it won’t matter. You’ll arrive when the bus arrives with everyone else. There is a lot of discussion on the DisBoards and other sites about whether or not to stick to your given time. It seems that you may be able to arrive at the Port earlier than your allotted time, however you may or may not get on the ship earlier. I’m planning to get there as soon as possible, even if we have to wait around a bit, just in case.

6. “Review Contract”. Check that everything is accurate, and agree to the Terms.

7. “Signature Form”. Print this form, sign it, and put it with your passports and folio. You’ll need to have this with you when you get to the Port, so don’t pack it in your luggage. Keep it in your carry-on (or purse).

Then, when your folio arrives from Disney Cruise Line, put all of your documentsDisney Cruise Line Documentation Booklet together in the booklet. Actually read the whole booklet. It’s chock full of useful info, and will help to keep you organized.

I’m done thinking about paperwork (for now.) As long as I know where to find where I put it when it’s time to leave…

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7 thoughts on “Cruising documentation, paperwork, and other boring stuff.

  1. So useful for cruise novices. One other thing to consider with passports: if yours is about to expire, check into the policies of each country you might enter. Some require a passport to have a minimum number of days left in the validity of the passport. So if you realize you’ll have 15 valid days left on your passport before you need to renew, you may be going somewhere that demands 30.

    Ah hell, just get it renewed.

    • Mike, this is my first ever cruise. I have terrible motion sickness so have never wanted to go before. But my tour last year of the Disney Fantasy completely changed my mind. As my husband recently said when I asked him if he was excited about the cruise, “My only frame of reference is Love Boat and The Poseidon Adventure. So, no.” That was me before last February.

  2. Pingback: Disney Dream – Embarkation! | MouseChow

  3. If you filled out all the information online, do you still need to fill out the information in the book as it is the same info? I understand that I’ll need to take the page that I printed.

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