I want to share our experience sailing out of Miami since I couldn’t find a lot of information before our cruise. We always sail out of Port Canaveral so this was all new to us.
We stayed at the downtown Holiday Inn . It was an older hotel and the parking situation was ridiculous. It was valet parking and they put the cars VERY close together due to the small lot they have for guests’ cars. For that reason and a few others I doubt I’d stay there again even though it was very close to the port.
We called DCL the night before to ask what terminal to go to and we were instructed to go to Terminal C. Our check-in time was 11 and we left the hotel about 10:15 since we weren’t sure what traffic and parking would be like. We found C quite easily (though don’t be expecting digital signs with ship names like at Port Canaveral). At Port Canaveral there is a man directing traffic telling people where to go along the curb so a porter can assist with the luggage. No such thing in Miami. IT WAS A MESS! Buses trying to get out, limos trying to pull in, cars trying to figure out what to do, including us! I saw maybe 2 porters. We decided to park in the garage and bring our own luggage (thank God for spinner luggage.)
Once we handed off our luggage we walked across the street to stand in a long line that snaked around outside of the terminal. We weren’t there long once it started moving. Once we went inside we were directed into a line for a security officer to check our IDs and our port arrival form (printed out from when we did our online check-in. I’ve never had to show it in Port Canaveral but print it every time just in case). Then we walked through the metal detector while our carry ons were scanned. The line for Castaway Club was longer than the first time cruiser line but in our experience the Castaway Club line gives the earlier boarding groups so we went to that one. It moved slower than what I’ve experienced at Port Canaveral.
After we checked in and received our Key to the World cards and lanyards we were instructed to go up one level. Up there they were handing out Navigators and directing people into 2 separate “holding tank” areas (I’m assuming the higher numbers that came early were put in the other area). There was sufficient seating in our wait area but most people were too excited to sit.
Once our group was called we could have gone to the picture area to have embarkation pictures taken or keep going up the ramps to get on the ship. It’s not like Port Canaveral where you have to go through the picture area to get on the ship. When you enter the Magic in Miami it’s not into the Atrium but the deck above! It’s a little less Magical but who cares?! I was just thankful to be going on another Disney cruise. We got the warm, personal welcome aboard we’ve come to expect from Disney. It never gets old.
Fast forward to disembarkation.
The night before we got back to Miami we were given purple Minnie luggage tags to fill out and attach to our luggage. We were instructed to have the luggage out in the hallway by 10 (I think it’s the same on all ships). The next morning we got up, got ready and headed for Cabanas for breakfast (we don’t ever get up super early to eat in the main dining room). The plan was after breakfast we’d get off the ship and head up to WDW to continue our vacation. We assumed the disembarkation process was like Port Canaveral (you know what they say about assuming!) and the morning was not at all what we expected. The express walk-off people were cleared to get off the ship after 7:30. Then they started announcing color/character luggage tags and only those people with those tags could get off the ship! I think we heard most of the Disney characters and colors by the time they finally called purple Minnie. Once we got off the ship to collect our luggage we had to search for a bit since it was scattered all over the Minnie section. That’s never happened to us before, all our suitcases have been together. There were no porters available to assist with luggage and the customs line moved the slowest we’ve ever seen on any of our cruises. It was around 10:15 when we got to our car throwing our schedule off quite a bit. There were a lot more ships in port since it was a Saturday so traffic was heavy but we finally got out of the port area and on our way to WDW.
Of course I’d sail out of Miami again but I’d hope to fly and not drive. I think that would take away a lot of the hassle. We’d also look into park and rides and hotels that have a shuttle to the port. I realize that Port of Miami is huge and many of the things we didn’t like were due to the port, not Disney Cruise Line. Port Canaveral is so easy and they make it fun. There was nothing fun about Port of Miami. Next time I won’t compare but just take things as they come. I’m glad I have an idea of what to expect though. We had a great time on the Magic and can’t wait to cruise again.