Castaway Cay V: The Wrap Up

Note:  This is the final post in a series about Castaway Cay

All week we've been talking about the little slice of paradise that is Castaway Cay, Disney's private island.  We've given you an overview of the island, talked about what to do while you are there, given you the 411 on food and shopping and talked about the beaches.  Today I thought I'd give you some tips & tricks to make the most of your time on the island.
  • No need to bring your own beach towels - there are cast members handing out towels as soon as you debark the ship. It's OK to ask for more than one!
  • All you need to get back on board is your Key to the World Card.
  • The first tram stop is located close to the ship.  Jump on there if you want to head to Pelican's Plunge or Serenity Bay.  
  • The first family beach area is a short walk from the tram stop.  There are some photo ops along this walk.
  • There are strollers, wagons and wheelchairs available at the first tram stop which is also the end of the walkway to the family beach.  They are complimentary but on a first come, first serve basis.  They are all equipped to roll on the sand!  Perfect if you have a little one or a guest that needs some special attention.
  • If you forget your sand toys no worries..there are some available for purchase.  They range in price from $5 to $20.  
  • Bring a water bottle and fill it up at the beverage station before you leave the ship.  Bottled water is available on the island but it's pretty pricey.  Also, the cups at the beverage station on the island don't have lids.  
  • The Oceaneer Club and Lab relocate to the island at Scuttle's Cove.  Kids will enjoy the planned activities there!
  • Wave phones work on the island so don't forget to grab yours!
  • Water shoes are not a bad idea.  The sand is beautiful but can be a little rocky.  Tender feet might feel a little uncomfortable walking on it.
  • Don't forget your sunscreen!  
  • If you find treasures at the shops cast members will deliver them right to your stateroom so you don't have to lug them around all day. 
  • The bike path has a great viewing spot halfway around the main loop.  Be sure to have your camera!  
  • It can get very hot around the island.  There are water coolers in various locations around the island.
  • Relax and have fun!  You're on a magical vacation!!  


Castaway Cay IV

Note:  This is the 4th in series about Castaway Cay

Today's post about Castaway Cay is about the beaches!  The beaches are just gorgeous and a great place to spend at least a portion of your day at Castaway Cay.

There are two main areas to the Family Beach.  You can take a tram to either of these areas if you don't want to walk.  If you have little ones the walk can be a bit long.  There are tons of chairs - lounge chairs and short chairs for guests.  There should be enough chairs for everyone!  There are also umbrellas and hammocks.  The chairs closest to the water and the ones closest to the play areas tend to fill up fast.  If you have someone who can go out early and reserve your spots it's not a bad idea.

There are lifeguards at various stations along the beach.  There are also a couple fun play areas on the family beach.  The newest one, Pelican's Plunge is a waterslide in the ocean! It's very fun!  There is also another "floating play area" on the other part of the family beach.  There are lots of places to swim and play in the ocean and an area for snorkeling.

If you'd like a little time without children around head over to Serenity Bay, the adult only area of the island.  Just as the name implies Serenity Bay is a very peaceful area of the beach.  And no children around make it very serene.

If you want to enjoy your beach day in luxury Disney has private Cabana's to rent.  There are cabanas on both the family beach and Serenity Bay.  The cabana area on the family beach has it's own beach area.  There is seating inside and outside of the cabana and you have your own cabana host to attend to your needs.  There is a fridge stocked with soda and water.  The cabanas come with a pretty steep price tag but might be well worth it if you want to hang out in style on the beach!


Castaway Cay III

Note:  This is the third in a series of post about Castaway Cay

We've given you an overview of the island and some of the activities you can do while you are in port.  Today we'll explore the food & shopping!  Two of my favorite things!

There is post office on Castaway Cay so that you can mail postcards home.  While the post office will be open at some point during your visit to Castaway Cay it may not be exactly the hours posted...the locals run the post office and well...they operate on Bahamian time.  Note that you do have to have cash to purchase stamps here.  

Shopping venues include She Sells...and Everything Else and Buy the Seashore.  These shops carry a variety of Castaway Cay t-shirts, shirts, hats, key chains, magnets, towels and much more.  Including sun screen and sand toys!  There is also a small Bahamian marketplace that has some local offerings like baskets and t-shirts.  Hair braiding is also available on the island.  

Lunch is served on Castaway Cay and is a delicious bbq!  Hamburgers, cheeseburgers, BBQ ribs, BBQ Chicken, salads are more are available at Cookies and Cookies Too from 11:30 - 2:00.  While lunch has set hours there is a beverage station that is available during the time you'll be on the island.  There are also some snacks out like fresh fruit, cookies and ice cream.  You certainly won't go hungry while you are on the island!

And for the guests 21 and over there are several bars on the island serving some fantastic adult beverages.  Most of the bars open upon arrival and close around 3:30.  While you are on the beach there are often servers available to get you a cold beverage as well.  


Castaway Cay Part II

Note:  This is the second in a series about Castaway Cay

One of the questions I get every now and again is:  "My husband/father (note: not usually the woman) doesn't like to just sit on the beach.  What is there to do at Castaway Cay?"  After my shock of thinking someone doesn't like to sit on the beach (seriously..what is there not to like?  Sun, gorgeous view, chairs, umbrellas, servers coming to take your drink order?) I empathize because my husband is one of those people.  About 30 minutes of beach time is all he needs.  Luckily Castaway Cay is a great stop for us because I can have beach time while he's entertained with other activities.

First, Disney has all kinds of Port Adventures available on Castaway Cay.  You can go parasailing, snorkeling, water skiing, kayaking, go to Castaway Ray's stingray adventure or do a glass bottom boat tour.  You can book all of these online before you leave for your trip or you can visit the Port Adventures Desk onboard to set up your excursions when you get onboard.

If a guided group excursion isn't for you then no worries - there are rentals available on the island so you can explore on your own.  There are bicycles to rent for $6/hr.  There are mens and womens bikes, kids bikes including bikes with training wheels and bikes with a child seat on the back.  Disney also has helmets available.  There is a nice bike path on the island.  You can also rent floats and snorkeling equipment.  And there is an area to rent boats including paddle boats and water trikes.  I will warn you that the water trikes are a lot harder than they look!

There is also a full schedule of Cruise team sponsored activities at Castaway Cay.  Your daily navigator will list all the fun things going on for the day on the island.  One of the more popular events is the 5K.  Runners and walkers meet by the bike rentals and can participate in a "race" around the island.  Participants get a special prize upon completion.  Other activities include beach volleyball, yoga, crab races and of course character meet and greets.

Want to get out of the sun for a bit?  In-Da-Shade games offers complimentary billiards, ping-pong, foosball, shuffleboard, giant checkers and basketballs.

Definitely something for everyone on Castaway Cay!


Castaway Cay Part I

Note: This is the first in series of posts about Castaway Cay

If you are lucky enought to be on a Disney sailing that goes to Castaway Cay you are in for a real treat! Castaway Cay is Disney' private island in the Bahamas. It's a true bit of paradise! First, the island is absolutely beautiful and Disney has taken great pride in making it a wonderful destination for most of the sailings to the Caribbean and Bahamas. There is certainly something for everyone at Castaway. You can make your day there as active and/or relaxing as you'd like it to be. We'll be exploring the different aspects of Castaway Cay through a series of posts - there's just too much information for a single entry! In this post we'll give you an overview of the island.

You will port at Castaway Cay fairly early on your morning there. Upon exiting the ship there will be cast members handing out beach towels and directing your towards the tram and beach areas. Just off the boat is the Castaway Cay Post Office. This is a Bahamian post office and run by locals. The locals are on Bahamian time so they post office may or may not be open!

There are 2 main beach areas - the Family beach area and Serenity Bay. Serenity Bay is an area for adults only. The family beach areas are large and there are plenty of chairs, umbrellas and hammocks for guests. There is plenty of space to swim and snorkel. The family beach is also home to Pelican Plunge, a water slide out in the sea! There is also a designated beach area for some water sports like paddle boating, water trikes and kayaks.

If you feel like doing some shopping on Castaway Cay there are a couple of shops. She Sells Sea Shells and Everything Else and Buy the Seashore are two of Disney's shops on the island. There is also a small Bahamian Retail shop that sells Bahamian Arts & Crafts.

Want to get out of the sun for a bit? You can head over to In-Da-Shade for basketball, billiards, ping-pong and other games! Want to play some sports? Volleyball, tetherball and soccer are available. You can also rent bikes (yes..the kids too) and take a ride around the island. Let's not forget Spring-a-Leak - a wet play area that's off the beach!

The kids clubs relocate to the island while the ships at port at Cataway Cay. Kids ages 3 -10 will find some very fun activities at Scuttle's Cove. Teens have their own area at Hideout.

And last, but not least the food! There are a few locations serving lunch on the beach: Cookies BBQ and Cookies Too BBQ are located close to the family beach area. There are also a few locations to enjoy some frozen drinks and cocktails near both the family beach and Serenity Bay.

In our next post about Castaway Cay we'll explore all the things to do during you stay on the island!


That's Entertainment

Each night aboard your Disney cruise there will be featured evening entertainment.  The featured entertainment will be highlighted in your daily navigator.  The entertainment is family friendly and designed to delight and entertain children of all ages!  Several of the shows during your cruise will be Broadway caliber Disney original live shows.  These shows are not to be missed!  Most of them are musicals and feature a number of character appearances.  Each Disney ship has a unique show schedule.  Some shows play on multiple ships but some are unique to their ships.

The production of the shows is absolutely unbelievable!  The sets, the costumes, the characters, the musical arrangements all done a boat!  It really feels like you are watching a Broadway show while at sea.  The acting and singing are first rate.  Disney knows entertainment!

On the nights there are not shows Disney has other featured entertainment. It could be a magic show, a comedian (rated G of course) or a first run Disney movie (on my first Disney cruise they showed Toy Story 3 in 3-D one evening.  It was still in theaters).  If you happen to be sailing when there is a Disney movie premiering on land it will probably be premiering at sea as well.  For example The Avengers premEared on the Disney boats at 12:01 on release day (lucky guests!).

The featured entertainment will have 2 showings at 6:15 and 8:30 to accommodate both dinner seatings.  On your day(s) at sea there may also be an afternoon matinee.  There is a concession stand outside of the theater if you wish to take snacks and/or drinks into the theater.  Be aware that these snacks are an extra charge.  There are also servers walking around with smoothies and milkshakes for children with light up straws.  Be prepared to buy one or tell your child no and know that likely children around you will have them and you may see lights flashing during the shows.

The evening entertainment is certainly a highlight of your cruise!


What do I Wear to Dinner?

We get this question a lot - what is the proper attire for a Disney cruise, specifically what do I wear to dinner? According to Disney Cruise information the proper attire schedule includes: Cruise Casual, Pirate or Tropical Attire, One Formal Night, One Semi-formal night. So what does that mean?

Cruise Casual - this is how most people dress each night of the cruise. Disney requests no shorts, swimwear or tank tops in the dining rooms in the evening. For my family this meant my girls wore dresses or skirts, my husband and son - polo style shirt and khaki's and myself a skirt, dress or nice capri pants.

Pirate/Tropical - One night of your cruise will be Pirate Night. It's usually the day you are at Castaway Cay. It's such a fun evening! All the dining rooms have a special menu (all the same) for Pirate Night. Cruisers are encouraged to dress in their best pirate attire (eye patch anyone?) or tropical attire. This evening shorts are allowed in the dining room. You see everything on this night from people if full on Jack Sparrow costumes to those folks in a Pirate Mickey t-shirt. If you opt out of dressing up then Cruise Casual is requested. On the Disney Fantasy cruisers will have an option to get Pirate-ready at the Bippity Boppity Boutique! We didn't dress up our first cruise but this next time I am determined to pirate us up!

Dress Up Night/Formal Night/Semi-Formal Night - Depending on the length of your cruise you will have one Dress Up Night and the 7 night cruises will have a Formal and Semi-formal night as well. On the Dress Up evenings the suggested attire is jackets for men, dresses or pantsuit for ladies. And on the 7 night cruises the Formal Night suggested attire is a tuxedo or suit for men and dress or gown for women. The Semi-Formal night would be the same as Dress Up Night. You see everything on this night - from ladies dressed up in their finest princess attire complete with tiara's to sundresses. They do have photographers set up in the lobby to take formal pictures on these nights. And Mickey and Minnie will make an appearance in their finest! It's a great opportunity to get a good family picture! On the Disney Fantasy the Bippity Boppity Boutique will be open to help everyone get princess -ready!

Palo/Remy - The adult only dining rooms have a dress code too. At Palo men need pants and a dress shirt or jacket and women dress or pantsuit. No jeans, shorts, capri's, flip flops or tennis shoes. At Remy the attire for me is a tuxedo or jacket is required, tie is optional. Women are asked to wear a cocktail dress, pantsuit or skirt/blouse. No jeans, shorts, capri's, flip flops or tennis shoes please.

I would advise you ladies to bring a sweater for the dining rooms. I am not too cold-natured but I froze in the dining rooms!

Also, be mindful of windy conditions on wouldn't want to wear that full skirt and head out to the deck on windy evening!


Come Sail Away

Disney Cruise ships are full of fun and activities! The action officially kicks off right after the mandatory muster drill that occurs at 4pm sharp on Embarkation day. After you leave your designated spot head up to the pool deck for the Sail Away Party! The Goofy pool is transformed into a stage where Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and friends welcome guests to Disney Cruise Line and say goodbye as we embark upon a vacation of a lifetime! The cruise staff will introduce themselves and get everyone ready in vacation mode with a variety of songs and fun as the ship prepares to "sail away." Be sure to wave goodbye to port and get ready for very magical cruise!!


Let's Go to the Movies

You may have noticed that Disney is pretty big into the movie business. And because of this they are able to show first run movies on a big screen on the cruise ships. You can bet whatever Disney films are playing in the theaters while you are on your cruise will be shown on the ship as well! If you are lucky enough to be sailing when a movie premiers then it will premiere while you are at sea too!

Movies are all around the Disney ships as a matter of fact. In your stateroom there are a number of movie channels playing Disney favorites all the time. Up on deck 11 there is Funnelvision which plays family friendly Disney movies all day long in front of the pool. Your little sailors can swim in the pool while watching their favorite Disney movies!

If you'd prefer to watch movies on the big screen in an air-conditioned theater then you are in luck. There is a theater that shows the first run movies pretty much all day long. When my family sailed in September of 2011 Cars 2, The Help and Fright Night were playing, just to name a few. Generally the films shown during the day are family friendly with G and PG ratings while the movies shown later in the evening might be PG-13 or R.

There is certainly a movie for everyone aboard your Disney cruise!