Disney Cruise Line, as well as nearly all other cruise lines, recommend flying in the day before your cruise departure. This is really a non-negotiable requirement in my experience, as flight times are so volatile. (I can attest to such. I was a victim of the recent mayhem that ensued when there was a fire at a Chicago air traffic control center.) This means you'll need pre-cruise hotel accommodations. There is an abundance of hotels around Port Canaveral that provide shuttles and will work just fine for a spot to lay your head. I, however, think a one night pre-cruise stay is the perfect opportunity to start your vacation a day early. If your budget allows, here are some tips to really kick start your sea vacation...on land.
I wholeheartedly recommend staying at a Walt Disney World resort. The accommodations at Walt Disney World are top notch. (More info on some of the resorts we've stayed at here.) They are themed beautifully, there are hotels for every budget, there is free transportation from the airport and the Disney Cruise Line transportation will pick you up from a Walt Disney World resort and take you right to Port Canaveral. Whether you're familiar with Walt Disney World, want to test the Disney waters, or absolutely hate the parks, you can have an amazing one night stay at a Disney Resort. They are attractions themselves.
here.) There is likely a restaurant choice that will suit nearly every palette. The best choice would be a late reservation at a restaurant that has views of the fireworks at Magic Kingdom. Another option is an early dinner then a hop, skip and jump over to the Polynesian beach or the Ticket and Transportation Center for a great view of the fireworks. One last splurge before you hop on the Disney Cruise Line bus is to make a very early reservation for a character breakfast at a non-park restaurant. A good morning from Mickey or Mary Poppins is the best send off before a cruise I can think of.