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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Disney Cruise Line's Castaway Cay--Day 1 of a Double Dip--July 2017

One of our top tips for getting the most out of your Disney Cruise is to get up and out early on Castaway Cay Day.

Castaway Cay is Disney Cruise Line's private island in The Bahamas and the four Disney Cruise ships make stops at Castaway Cay when sailing Bahamian or Caribbean itineraries.

When we sailed in July 2017, our eighth Disney Cruise, we were on the Disney Dream with a 5-night itinerary that included two stops at Castaway Cay.  This itinerary is known as a Double Dip in cruise circles.

The husband on Deck 11 at Cabana's on the Disney Dream.
To head our own advice, we did get up and out early on the morning the ship turned around and backed into the pier at Castaway Cay.  The best place to catch all of this action is at Cabana's on Deck 11.  We head all the way back to the end of the restaurant and find a table outside to watch all the maneuvering AND catch the first glimpses of paradise.
Since Cabana's is a serve yourself from the stations restaurant, we like to get a table and then take turns getting food.  A seagull decided he, too, liked the pickings from the outside restaurant.
The boy, during breakfast.

The first folks off the ship are the crew and any working cast members.  They unload the ship and make sure the island is in ship shape for the guests.

When exiting the ship, make sure you have the Key To The World card for every guest along with photo ID's for anyone 18 or over.

You will also find bins of clean towels to take with you on the island.  No worries about lugging wet and sandy towels back to the ship as there are towel returns located throughout the island and at the gangplank.

Next off are the 5K participants.  We are typically right behind them and make a stop at one of the photographers set up to take guest photos with the majestic ship as the background.

Note that there are typically two camera stops.  There's usually an umbrella for the photographer and their gear--you can see the umbrella's shadow in our photo.  One photographer ends up with a sign behind the  guests that says "No guests beyond this point."  We chose the photographer that did NOT have the sign in the background.

A few more steps down the trail and past Marge's Barges, the pier where several port adventures begin, is the first tram stop.  
We hopped on the tram to take us the rest of the way to the beaches.  There is a beautiful walking trail, too.

Know that the tram makes two stops.  The first stop is for the family beach.  Most guests exit here.  Not us, we ride to the second stop, which is for Pelican Point, a location for another family beach along with Pelican Plunge.  Adult guests wishing to go to Serenity Bay, the adults only beach, need to exit the tram and then wait for and transfer to the Serenity Bay tram.
As you can see from the photo above, the beach chairs are about 4-5 rows deep.  We like to find chairs in the front row and with an umbrella.  The set up typically has two lounge chairs and two short beach chairs, which is more than enough for us.  Note:  The spokes on the umbrella are a great place to hang towels and there is usually a metal part to hang a back, like a hook.

As you can see, getting up and out early has its advantages in terms of a quiet, less crowded beach.

Here's the typical toes in the sand photo.  The sand is so fine and lovely on the family beaches at Castaway Cay that it is hard to resist!  I like to bring the short beach chair down to the waters edge and watch the boy explore.  He usually finds small fish in the water before the crowd comes.  The husband enjoys the shaded lounge chair with a book for a while.

Here's a selfie from the beach chair.  And, you can tell the distance to the lounge chairs.  By the end of the day, the tide has gone up and many chairs will be moved to the water's edge.
Pelican Plunge is a water play structure on an island by the beach.  Guests have to swim out to the island.  And, while it is attached to concrete peers, the island goes up and down with the tide.  There's a viewing platform complete with water guns to aim at unsuspecting swimmers.


The views and theming on Pelican Point are fantastic.  Everywhere is a feast for the eyes.  I just want to bottle it up and take it with me!  (Oh, we do, when we purchase a David E. Doss art print!)



One thing on our packing list for a Disney Cruise is sand toys.  There are some available for purchase on the island.  The boy was building and other children came to join him.  One little boy walked off with one of his pails but it was returned.  The mom said she hadn't even thought about sand toys.  She eventually made a purchase.  The trick is to make sure you have room to take them home, or be prepared to leave them on the beach or on the ship.

For some, frolicking in sea water can be irritating.  Disney Cruise Line thought of that and has added Spring-A-Leak, a fresh water playground located near Pelican Point.  Click here to learn more about Spring-A-Leak.
One hour bike rentals are available on the island.  Guests can reserve bike rentals when they complete their online check in or on the ship or when they get to the island.  We had bike rental tickets waiting for us in our stateroom as we had reserved them before getting on the ship.  No need to select a specific time.  Just head to the bike rental location on the island, near Pelican Point, give your tickets, fill out the waiver for all participants, and pick your bikes.  Riders under 18, I believe, are required to wear a helmet.

The bike trail is well marked and contains comical, themed scenes.  The first stop was the overlook tower.


The bike trail from the overlook tower.



Another part of the bike trail takes guests past Serenity Bay to another look out over the ocean--no tower--just a good view.
We stopped for some portraits.  And, cups of water.  There are cold water and paper cup cones located throughout the bike trail for hydration.  The cold water is refreshing.
Serenity Bay is behind the husband.  Doesn't he look regal?  Soon, it was time to hop back on the bikes and ride back to the rental station.  We have rented bicycles multiple times and have never passed the hour, even one time taking a stop at Serenity Bay without the boy.  There isn't anyone checking you in when you return the bikes.


In addition to ship's photographers being located just outside the ship, you can also find them at the beach.  A ship's photographer captured all of these photos for us and they were a part of the photo package we purchased.



Lunch begins at 11:30 and is served at three locations on the island. Cookies Too BBQ is located near Pelican Point and serves a fantastic lunch--burgers, ribs, corn on the cob, chips, desserts, ice cream, etc.  A tip is to go to the far left or right as there are second buffet lines in the back.  We found covered seating and enjoyed our lunch.
Tubes can be rented for the day.

This photo shows the tubes and floats available for rent.
After a few more dips in the water, including tubes and floats that we rented, the sky started to look like it might rain.  We had to be at Marge's Barges at 1:30 for our port adventure so we packed up and headed to the tram stop.  Just as we were at the stop, the sky opened up and it rained.  Guests came running.  We got onto the tram and made our way to Marge's Barges debating about our port adventure.  Click here to read what we decided about taking the Sandbar Excursion.
The weather did clear up and if you clicked on the link above you know we had an incredible port adventure.  The photo is from Marge's Barges which offers great views of the ship.


There are other interesting landmarks between the ship and the rest of the island that make for great photos.

Do you see the mailbox on top of the pole?  It's specifically for airmail!  This can be found near the post office.  Did you know that Castaway Cay has its own post office.  Click here to read more.

Heading back to the ship, we returned our towels in the towel return bins, had a glass of water waiting for us, rinsed our feet in the outdoor showers and bumped into Stitch!

Many characters greet guests on the gangplank area.  Check the Personal Navigator for times and locations.

Hints and Tips to make your day at Castaway Cay:
  • Get up and out early!  No sleeping in on Castaway Cay day!
  • Take a look at the map of the island left in your stateroom the night before or research the island online so you have an idea of the layout.
  • Prioritize what you want to get out of the day.  A relaxing day on the beach?  An active day of snorkeling?  Fishing?  Character meet and greet?  
  • Know that there are kids clubs on the island, just like on the ship.  Hours are in the Personal Navigator and be sure to pick up your child(ren) before the clubs close on the island.
  • A waterproof camera is helpful.
  • A waterproof watch is also helpful.
  • Sunglasses, hats, visors, and sunscreen!
  • Be sure to drink plenty of water.  You can purchase water on the island or on the ship and bring it with you.  We bring big cups with lids of ice with us off the ship in our bag.
  • Rinse the sand and salt off before heading back to the ship either at the outdoor showers near the restrooms or at the showers located near the ship's gangplank.
  • Bring cash for tips for excursions.
  • Have your Key to The World Card and photo ID for anyone over 18.
For us, a Disney Cruise isn't complete without a stop at Castaway Cay.  It was one of the things we missed during our West Coast sailing.  There's a reason Disney Cruise Line saves the stop for later in the cruise itinerary.  You know, saving the best for last!

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