The corroding 6,800-ton ferry raised from the bottom of the sea off South Korea last week was approaching Mokpo port on Friday, where it will be searched for the remains of nine missing passengers from the 2014 sinking that killed 304.
Finding the remains of the missing victims would bring a measure of closure to one of the country's deadliest disasters.
Most of those who died when the Sewol sank on April 16, 2014, were teenagers on a school trip, triggering a national outpouring of grief and outrage over what were seen as poor rescue efforts by the government.
The anger contributed to the ousting of President Park Geun-hye, who earlier on Friday was arrested over allegations of corruption.
Once the Sewol arrives at port, it is expected to take several days for workers to disconnect it from the transport vessel, where it had been welded in place in order to maintain balance during the trip, and further empty it of water and fuel.
The ferry will then be moved to a dry dock where workers are expected to spend weeks cleaning it and evaluating it for safety.
Investigators will then begin searching for the remains of the missing victims and for clues that could further explain the cause of the sinking, which has been blamed on excessive cargo, improper storage and other issues.