Safety on the Waves: Disney Cruise Line Securityby Dave Marx, Author of PassPorter Travel Guides
Security screening practices on the Disney Cruise Line are a bit different than they are for air travel, and because cruise travel takes you out of the states, U.S. Customs adds additional complexity to the process. Disney Cruise Line began screening all luggage--checked and carry-on, earlier in 2002. Here's what you can expect, and how to prepare:
We strongly recommend that you carry passports plus photo ID, rather than birth certificates and photo ID alone. Even if your cruise doesn't yet require that you show a passport, we recommend you get one. Keep a second form of photo ID in your stateroom, just in case you lose your primary ID.
When you drive up to the Disney Cruise Line Terminal in Port Canaveral, have photo ID ready for every adult in your vehicle. Security checks may begin when you enter the parking lot. [Note: You will need passports for Disney cruising sooner or later, so why not get one now?]
All carry-on items go through security screening before you enter the terminal, and all checked baggage is scanned prior to departure.
Items that are not allowed in carry-on bags are almost always prohibited in checked luggage, too, as passengers have access to all luggage once aboard. The definition of "prohibited" is very different than for air travel, too. While some items are obvious safety concerns, others may simply interfere with other passengers' enjoyment (and the convenience of the cruise line, too, it would seem).
If the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) considers an item a weapon, assume that it's banned. However, other items on the Disney Cruise Line list include kites, surfboards, fishing gear, skateboards, in-line skates, bicycles, video game consoles, and VCRs (you can't hook them up to the stateroom TV anyway). Golf clubs are allowed if they're brought as checked luggage and then kept in the stateroom (no putting or driving on board, unlike some ships). If you or your kids plan to bring any sports-related gear, phone Disney Cruise Line first.
If your checked luggage contains a prohibited item it will delay delivery of your luggage to your room and the item will be held at the terminal until you return from your cruise. You'll receive a letter in your stateroom, describing the item(s) that were removed, and the procedure for reclaiming it. I packed a Leatherman-type folding tool in my checked luggage back in September 2002 (it was OK in my airline checked bags, after all). My bags arrived in my stateroom an hour after the ship sailed, minus the tool. I almost missed my chance to dress for dinner, and for a while, I wasn't sure I'd see my bags at all! If you have any doubts about an item, phone the Disney Cruise Line.
Carry your Key to the World card at all times. It will be needed whenever you enter or leave the ship. You will also have to present photo ID at most ports of call, along with your Key to the World card.
Many customs functions (customs clearance when entering St. Thomas, over-limit customs declarations when returning to the U.S.) that might once have taken place ashore now take place on board your ship. Ship's personnel will advise you of all current requirements and procedures.
Don't take fresh fruit and other foodstuffs off the ship in Port Canaveral. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture inspectors will seize it.
Whew! That's a lot of stuff, but with a
bit of advance knowledge you'll sail thorough the preliminaries and your fellow
passengers won't be delayed behind you.