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Sunday, December 3, 2017

Castaway Cay Sandbar Beach Excursion--"Rum, Sun, Sand, and Stories"

Disney Cruise #8 took us to Disney Cruise Line's private island Castaway Cay twice!  This was our third time on the beautiful Disney Dream and the third time on this itinerary--Port Canaveral, Nassau, two stops at Castaway Cay, and a day at sea.  We have decided that this is our favorite itinerary, but that is another story.

Waiting at Marge's Barges just as the rain let up.

With two stops at Castaway Cay, we booked a port adventure also known as excursion for our first day; our first afternoon.

After reviewing several port adventures on the Disney Cruise Line website, we decided on the Sandbar Beach Excursion for ages 8 and up.  We received the tickets to the excursion in our stateroom when we arrived and were looking forward to our new adventure.

The tickets said to meet at Marge's Barges, the small pier located near the ship on the island, at 1:30 pm.  At about 12:30, it looked like it was going to pour so we gathered our gear and headed to the tram stop.  Just as we stepped under the cover of the tram stop, the skies opened up and it rained. . . hard!  Good thing we were already at the tram stop as other guests were running for cover.  After a dash to get on the tram, we made our way back towards the ship and got off at the last stop, walking to Marge's Barges.  The rain was letting up at this point, but there were more guests headed to the ship than from the ship. As we checked it, we inquired if the excursion was still on and were given an affirmative.  A little rain is an inconvenience but not dangerous, like lightning.  As we waited for our boat and crew, the rain moved on and eventually cleared the area.  There were moments we debated just heading to the ship, but boy are we glad we didn't!

The boy ready to take the speed boat to the sandbar.

We left our shoes on the dock, donned life jackets, and climbed aboard our speed boat.  Seven passengers--the three of us, a couple celebrating their anniversary, and a dad and his young daughter--and a crew of three.  
Yes, we know he isn't strapped in correctly!  Gotta love him!
The boy waved at the guests on the ship who darted out of the rain.  It wasn't raining now!

Around the bow of the ship and headed out into the open sea!  Took my visor off so it didn't blow away.  Ah, the air, the sea spray, and the view!

We could see the sandbar as we approached.  The waves seemed to crash mid-ocean.  The water turned different colors.  I had never seen anything like it.  No land!

Soon the boat was up on the sand and anchored.  We were off the boat and enjoying the shallow water on the sandbar.  It was high tide otherwise the sandbar would have been even more exposed.
Can you see the Disney dream behind the boy?

After football fun, the snorkeling gear came out and the boy decided to take advantage.  The snorkeling gear was included in the excursion. 
One of our crew took a mask and dove into the deep water, just off the sandbar.  He said it was 14-18 feet deep at that point and he was looking for conch.  Not just the shell, but the snail like creature that lives inside as it makes a tasty snack--cooked like they serve in the Keys or raw!

The land in the distance is Castaway Cay.  There was a bit of land off in the other direction, too.  We were told it was Abaco Island, a populated area in The Bahamas.

Did you hear the ocean in the middle of the ocean?

A conch shell on the sandbar.

I think I took so many pictures because I was amazed by the colors.  All the greens and blues swirling in the water and sky.  Never had I experienced being in the middle of the ocean surrounded by water and enjoy walking, laughing, and floating.
As the subtitle of the excursion suggestions, soon the rum came out for the adults.  The crew delivered it to us from the boat to where we were on the sandbar.  The choices were pineapple and coconut.  We had to try both flavors.  The crew kept them coming and we enjoyed every sip!

There was also bottled water available for any of the guests along with snacks.  Our three member crew took good care of us. 
The sandbar was teaming with life other than humans even though we didn't get any good shots.  There was a small sand shark that swam through the shallow water and a school of small fish darting various directions.  The boy was enthralled and snorkeled for a long time.  So long that he got a sunburn on his back between the top of his trunks and the bottom of his rash guard, and the back of his upper arms.

The captain and crew told us about the history in The Bahamas.  Did you know that Disney Cruise Line leased Castaway Cay for 99 years for $1.  Yep, one whole dollar.  The boost to the local economy was worth it as many of the locals boat or jet-ski to t he island and provide services and excursions.
Tug-o-war on the sandbar!

These photos were taken in different directions on the sandbar.  You can see the Disney Dream behind me in the distance in the photo below.  I was walking along the edge of the sandbar where the waves crash.  It was like walking on water.

After more football fun, it was time to get back in the boat and make our way back to Castaway Cay.

Satisfied and so glad he didn't give up on the weather and waited it out, we climbed aboard.  The boy and the husband had taken off their life vests and had to put them back on again for the boat ride.

Soon, the beautiful Disney Dream was in our sights.  It was amazing what bits of paradise were just a few miles away.

One of the crew offered to snap out photo as we came around capturing the ship in the background.
The view of the Disney Dream from Marge's Barges.
When we look back on our cruise, this excursion was a highlight.  The boy said that this was even better than parasailing--and he got to go up twice!  Click here to read about parasailing on Castaway Cay.

Hints and tips for this excursion:
  • Sunscreen!  And rash guards and sunscreen!
  • Waterproof camera.  We were the only ones taking pictures and the other guests wanted to capture the beauty, too.
  • Sunglasses.
  • We were able to bring our bag on board with towels, sunscreen, etc. 
  • Know that it is okay to leave your life vest on throughout the excursion.
  • It was easy to climb in and out of the boat, even when the boat is in the water.
  • It was sand under our feet all the time.  I have a thing about muddy bottoms of lakes, rivers, ponds, and this excursion felt good between my toes the whole time.
  • Our shoes were right where we left them on the dock when we returned to the pier.
  • Bring money for a tip.
The last bullet is the one we hadn't planned for.  The island is cashless--all services get charged to Key to the World Cards, so there is no need for money, except to pay cash for stamps at the post office.  Thankfully, we were stopping at Castaway Cay another day.  I took the crew's name and brought cash with us on the second day.  Luckily, the crew had just pulled in at the pier and I was able to hand-deliver the tip to the crew.  If I hadn't been able to hand deliver, the money was in an envelope with their names and I would have left it at the check-in area at Marge's Barges.

We would add "fun" to the subtitle of the excursion, as we had a blast!  

I mentioned the post office on Castaway Cay--click here to read about it.


  1. Wow, looks like an amazing time! Thanks for the review and pictures. We are considering this for our June 2019 cruise. How long was the ride out to the sandbar? Also, can you wear water shoes if you want to?

  2. The ride to the sandbar was 10-15 minutes including going slowly near the pier. You can see the ship from the sandbar. We had to leave our shoes at the pier. You may be able to wear them once you are in the water on the sandbar. My husband normally wears water shoes, but he did not want/need them at the sandbar. He DID forget to sunscreen the tops of his feet after he took off his shoes and got a bit of a sunburn, but otherwise, the sand was so soft and fine that none of us felt the need. Have a great cruise!

  3. Hi. Was there any time to spend on Castaway after the returning from the sandbar?

    1. Sorry for the delay in responding to your question! Just saw it!
      The return time from the excursion is 3:30. The all aboard time for the ship is 4:45. We haven't gone back to the beaches, but you could.

    2. Hi Williams family...er only have one day on the castaway cay...do you think is worth it to go to the sand bar? Should we just enjoy the disney beach?

  4. Thanks for the in-depth and lovely description of this shore excursion! We are on Disney cruise #6 in March, and wanted to do something different since we’ve been to Castaway Cay twice before. This sold us on the excursion! Thanks!

  5. Hi! Thank you for this awesome description! It looks like a blast and my wife and I are planning to do this on our Feb 2019 cruise. We noticed that the excursion description had a weight limit per person. Did they weigh the passengers? We are just barely above the limit and would be so embarrassed if they didn't let us on. Thanks!

    1. Congratulations on your cruise! No, they do not weigh guests. The husband and I are at or near the limits, too. We have done this excursion twice. It's more about mobility--being able to climb into and out of the boat using the ladders at the pier and in the water. Have a great cruise!