Hello fellow adventurers! Today I am going to continue talking about my Amazing Adventures aboard the Disney Dream! I am going to talk about Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay, and all it has to offer.
Disney’s Castaway Cay is THEE major highlight of any Disney cruise. There are few cruise itineraries that do not include a stop there, such as cruises that leave from Galveston, Texas, and the very special voyages that take you to the Mediterranean. Other than that, you can definitely expect to stop at Castaway Cay at some point during your cruise, and some itineraries include two stops at this magical Dream of an island!
Reserved exclusively for Guests on Disney Cruise Line Bahamian and Caribbean cruise vacations, Castaway Cay is Disney’s private port-of-call paradise. On this island, enjoy tropical leisure activities, such as snorkeling, boating, swimming and sunbathing.
Among the clear turquoise waters, white sand beaches and swaying palm trees, discover the following new Castaway Cay Enhancements and additional island amenities:
- 20 premium 325-square-foot private, furnished cabanas in 2 locations: Castaway Family Beach (for families) and Serenity Bay Beach (for adults)
- An extension of more than 700 feet to the all-ages Castaway Family Beach
- 2 Water Play Areas: Pelican Plunge and Spring-a-Leak. Note: there is a considerable swim over to these play areas, and parts are in 6 foot deep waters, so if you or members of your family are not strong swimmers, I suggest using the life vests provided for kids, or finding something else to enjoy on the island. You cannot take floats or tubes to this play area, so be prepared to sink or swim!
- 3 additional private, ocean-view massage cabanas at the adults-only Serenity Bay Beach. Note: I do not recommend getting a massage in the more public area near the family beach and family cabanas. It will not be the tranquil and indulgent experience as described. First off, you will most definitely have sand – at least on your feet, if not more of your body, including under your swim suit if you choose to swim prior to your massage experience. There are no showers available in the cabanas, so imagine a masseuse performing their duties while you are covered in sand. Also, you will not have that “magical view of the ocean” that Disney promises. First of all, you will be lying down, with your head on a table. How are you going to see anything? Also, these cabanas are not tucked away in a secluded area. They overlook portions of the family beach, and you won’t be serenaded by the tranquil sounds of ocean waves. You are much more likely to hear nearby foot traffic and kids playing on the beach. Also, the massages on Castaway Cay are considerably more expensive than those you can enjoy in the spa aboard the ship. So, unless you would prefer an expensive massage covered in sand, with a showerless cabana, while listening to the chatter and squeals of little humans nearby, I would suggest booking a massage in the spa instead.
- The Hide Out, a teens-only activity area on the beach. While this is a great offering on Castaway Cay, I did find it a waste of space. It seems that the majority of teens prefer to spend their beach time with family, or taking advantage of the many excursions that the island has to offer.
Things to Do and See
Castaway Cay visitors find an island completely outfitted for premium family leisure. Ample amenities include open-air BBQ dining locations, 2 shops featuring Castaway Cay gifts and souvenirs, and convenient tram transportation (now with additional paths) around the island. Also enjoy:
- Swimming, kayaking, water sports and more at the various teens-only, adults-only and all-ages areas
- Open-air massages with an ocean view, a yoga class and a bar at the secluded, adults-only beach, Serenity Bay
- Port Adventures for everyone in the family, including stingray interactions, glass-bottom boat tours, parasailing and fishing
- Free childcare at Scuttle’s Cove, an expansive child’s area supervised by Disney counselors Note: unless you plan to spend some time at Serenity Bay, why on earth would you want to leave your little ones with child care?
- Disney Character Greetings, including a Dance Party with Lilo and Stitch. This is a fun activity, but personally I don’t want to take away my beach time to see the characters and dance the day away.
Island Adventures Await
Castaway Cay invites cruisers to enjoy balmy tropical weather and world-class recreation on a Bahamian oasis with signature Disney hospitality. From your onboard stateroom, be sure to check out the Castaway Cay-vents activities schedule. After disembarking to Castaway Cay, you can obtain beach towels and use your convenient Key to the World cards for retail transactions on the island.
- Here’s an example of a Navigator for your day on Castaway Cay. I suggest bringing it along with you that day.
Fun Facts & Tips
Disney’s Castaway Cay is reserved exclusively for Disney Cruise Line Guests.
Serenity Bay is reserved for Guests ages 18 and older.
Check out the exclusive beachwear, hats, souvenirs and collectible pins with Disney’s Castaway Cay logo—all on sale at She Sells Sea Shells…and Everything Else! Note: much of the merchandise at this shops can NOT be found anywhere but on Castaway Cay. So if you collect things like Christmas Ornaments or magnets from all of your Disney Adventures, this is the place to get those things with different Castaway Cay logos on them. I also suggest getting the post cards. And, as most gift shops on the Disney cruise, or at Disney World, they will offer exclusive limited edition items such as watches and tote bags that you can only get if you make a minimum purchase. Most of the time it is a purchase of $25 or more for the watch, and $40 or more for the tote bags. Sometimes they will offer blankets or beach towels as well.
Disney Cruise Line recycles 7,000 pounds of used cooking oil each week to power a fleet of Bahamas Waste Management vehicles in Nassau. Disney takes conservation very seriously, and works very hard to keep an environmentally clean island. They go above and beyond the standards that are set by the various government agencies.
Castaway Cay researchers are restoring the health of coral reefs by transplanting long-spined sea urchins and fostering their growth. They also request that you do not disturb the sea life, or take any sea shells off the island beaches as souvenirs. You can purchase some at the gift shops if it’s really that important to you.
Disney Cruise Line crew members help protect and monitor endangered loggerhead sea turtle nests on Castaway Cay. If you are fortunate to catch mating season of these majestic creatures, it may be offered as part of some of the island excursions.
Guests visiting Castaway Cay can connect with nature via a series of walking paths and biking trails. I loved touring the island on a bicycle, but just remember if you are not a regular bike rider at home, you may want to skip this. There are a couple miles of paths, with winding roads and hilly areas. Not to mention you will be riding in the sun and heat. There are no bottle holders on the bicycles, so if you need something to drink you would need to carry a tote bag or backpack.
- On Castaway Cay, guests may participate in a hands-on training experience with live, native stingrays during a 60-minute, instructor-led educational program. We have yet to experience the stingrays on Castaway Cay. I have heard mixed reviews. Some enjoy the experience, and others say it wasn’t worth the time and money. If you have taken advantage of something such as stingray sandbar in Grand Cayman, you will be disappointed. The adventure on Castaway Cay is done in a very controlled environment, and the stingrays are MUCH smaller than you will find on other islands in the Caribbean. Keep in mind too, this could be a slightly daunting and scary experience for kids – of all ages. Even if they are animal lovers. Stingrays are very people friendly, and for that reason they are harmless, but they will come up right next to you while snorkeling, and the last thing you want is a child who panics and starts freaking out in the water!
Solar panels in backstage areas of Castaway Cay are used to fuel water heaters for bathing, dishwashing and laundry for Crew Members living on the island. There are about 100 crew members who live on the island year round. And much of the crew on the ship will be on hand on the island during your visit to help make the experience even more enjoyable. There are plenty crew members, you will see them everywhere you turn, making themselves available to answer any questions you might have, or offer assistance if you need it.
From start to finish, your day at Castaway Cay is full of delightful discoveries. Be sure to bring along the Castaway Cay-vents schedule found in your stateroom. Here are just some of the noteworthy locales and activities:
Swimming distance from shore is the new 2,400-square-foot floating platform—adorned with nautical flotsam and jetsam. At this water-play area and platform, which celebrates the island’s native pelicans, take a ride on one of the 2 twisting water slides and end up in the refreshing lagoon. Or, get soaked by the giant “bucket dump” that delivers hundreds of gallons of water on eagerly awaiting bathers beneath. Again, keep in mind that there’s a lengthy swim in about 6 feet of water to get to this play area.
Cool off at the brand-new, 2,400-square-foot water play area and find yourself immersed in what appears to be the remnants of a washed-away beach dwelling. The watery fun begins as you enter the storm-ravaged structure. Be greeted by dripping pipes, broken plumbing and hissing misters that have been exposed and twisted by the tropical tempest that wiped out the original structure.
The youngest cruisers will enjoy this sandy play spot, a “hub” of youth activities supervised by Disney counselors from the ship. Scuttle’s Cove now features a new whimsical water play area: a 1,200-square-foot soft wet deck area provides fresh-water fun with an array of pop jets, geysers and bubblers. With organized activities and Monstro’s Point—a giant whale-bone excavation site—kids will be delighted all day long. (A limited number of all-terrain wheelchairs can be obtained here.) This area is not reserved for kids 9 and under, but this really is the age group you will see playing here with their parents. So, I suggest keeping older kids out of this area, because it gets pretty packed, and there will be little ones scurrying about, who can easily get bumped and knocked over if the big kids aren’t paying attention.
Marge’s Barges & Sea Charter Dock
Charter a boat and then get on board for offshore recreation like snorkeling, fishing, parasailing and sightseeing in Castaway Cay’s clear blue waters. Vessels include a glass-bottom boat, a fishing boat and a power catamaran. To accommodate additional excursion boats for parasailing, fishing tours and more, this area has recently been expanded. If you’re going to ride a wave runner, keep in mind two things: 1. it’s a fairly physically taxing adventure. 2. it is a guided tour, so you only get a limited amount of “free” riding time after the tour and safety information is provided.
Grouper Game Pavilion
Play all day in this fun-filled, shaded recreation area featuring complimentary foosball, ping-pong, pool, shuffleboard, basketball, golf wiffleball—even monster chess and checkerboards! Play classic sand sports at Goofy’s Sand Lot nearby. The sand in this area is very compact, not providing any cushion or shock absorption that you can expect while playing sports. Not to mention the area is not shaded, and you are more likely to get heat exhaustion and dehydration. So I would suggest limiting your time here if you plan to take advantage of these activities, taking a break in the shade, wear lots of sunscreen and stay hydrated.
In Da Shade Game Pavilion
Take a break from the sun to play games, such as table tennis, foosball, billiards and basketball, at this new shaded structure centrally located near Castaway Family Beach. Not sure why anyone would want to do these things during your time on Castaway Cay. Personally I feel that any activity that you can do at home, is something you do at home! Not on a vacation, especially because there are so many more adventurous things you can do. I did not find this area to be crowded, or even used much at all by guests.
Meet at the Sports Beach for beloved beach pastimes, including volleyball and tetherball. this area is not on the water, as a beachy area would imply. It’s actually not easy to find if you don’t look at your map or ask a crew member. There’s a little walking path next to the bike rentals that takes you to this area. There is sand, but it’s not a beach. We did have a lot of fun playing tether ball, but we did limit our time to about 15 minutes, by then we had enough and were ready to take advantage of some shade and a frosty beverage.
Throughout the day, meet and befriend some favorite Disney Characters at the Post Office, Gazebo, gangway and elsewhere on Castaway Cay. And don’t forget: These are perfect moments for photo ops!
Gil’s Fins and Boats
Rent snorkel gear for all family members, along with kayaks, paddleboats, aqua trikes and other water equipment for your day as a marine adventurer. These all looked very fun, and there were a lot of people taking advantage of these offerings. Keep in mind they are on a first come first serve basis, and you can not reserve them ahead of time.
Flippers & Floats
Rent inner tubes, snorkel masks and fins from this festive location. Again, a limited supply.
Snorkelers of all skill levels will be enchanted by the undersea realm of marine life off Castaway Family Beach. Novices can follow the Discover Trail, and more experienced snorkelers the Explorer Trail. Keep an eye out for the hidden Mickey. This is a snorkel on your own experience. But there are several cast members around and in the water to keep everyone safe.
She Sells Sea Shells…and Everything Else
Be sure to stock up at this gift shop featuring exclusive Disney Castaway Cay T-shirts, polo shirts, hats, pins, key chains, magnets and towels—and have Disney cruise staff deliver your purchases to the ship. Again, the bulk of the items can only be found on Castaway Cay. I suggest doing your shopping first thing in the morning, or at a break for lunch. At the end of the day it can get very crowded, and if you don’t plan accordingly, you could miss your opportunity to make purchases, as it may come time to get back on the ship. While we have fantasized many times about “oops” staying marooned on the island, I highly doubt the crew would be very happy with us!
Buy the Sea Shore
Pick up a variety of Castaway Cay-exclusive items, along with towels, sunscreen and other beach essentials. This new merchandise location is a complement to She Sells Sea Shells & Everything Else.
Castaway Cay Port Adventures—shore excursions specially selected by Disney Cruise Line—let you and your family experience all the best features and recreation of this Bahamian paradise. Disney’s knowledgeable guides provide a depth of insight and expertise not found elsewhere, ensuring you the best possible leisure and adventure on a rare tropical terrain.
- Extreme Getaway Package
- Splashtacular, Nature Adventures, Active Adventures, Family Adventures
- 4-in-1 fun under the sun! Relax in an inner tube, snorkel in the Caribbean blue, get up-close and personal to real live stingrays and then go biking along an offshore trail.
- Castaway Ray’s Stingray Adventure
- Nature Adventures, Splashtacular, Family Adventures
- Immerse yourself in a wondrous water adventure where you’re invited to feed, touch and even snorkel amongst real-live stingrays.
- Active Adventures
- Fly high in the sky above Disney’s own Castaway Cay during a breathtaking aerial adventure — and discover a panoramic view of paradise.
- Watercraft Ski Adventure – Single Rider
- Splashtacular, Active Adventures, Nature Adventures
- Take the wheel of your own WaveRunner watercraft on an amazing guided tour through paradise while learning about the tropical marine life and compelling history of the region.
- Watercraft Ski Adventure – Double Rider
- Splashtacular, Active Adventures, Nature Adventures
- Navigate your own WaveRunner watercraft with a family member or friend on a guided tour through crystal blue waters while hearing about the region’s many treasured wonders.
- Walking and Kayak Nature Adventure
- Family Adventures, Active Adventures, Nature Adventures
- Stroll the scenic tropical terrain on a guided walking tour before embarking on a kayak adventure and uncovering the tranquil side of Castaway Cay.
Port Adventures are operated by independent contractors that are neither agents of, nor supervised or controlled by, Disney Cruise Line. Disney Cruise Line does not maintain their facilities or modes of transportation and is not responsible for any injury or property damage/loss that Guests may incur in connection with a Port Adventure. All Port Adventures are subject to the Disney Cruise Line Contract. All Port Adventures are subject to availability and/or cancellation based on weather, itinerary changes, and attendance. Children under 18 years of age must be accompanied by an adult on Port Adventures except for specific “teen only” Port Adventures. All prices are subject to change without notice. Cancellations can be made up to 3 days prior to the cruise departure date. After that time all reservations are final and non-refundable.
How to Pay
U.S. currency is accepted at the post office. Unique to the island, however, is an innovative payment system where you can use your stateroom keys (or Key to the World card) as a form of payment at Disney-run stores, just as you would a credit card. Similarly, dining services on the island are included as part of your cruise package.
Castaway Cay Post Office
The post office on Disney’s Castaway Cay is operated by the Bahamian authorities and may not be open for business each day that our ship visits the island. If the post office is closed, Guests can still mail their letters and post cards by utilizing the drop box outside of the post office or by dropping their letters at Guest Services onboard. Stamps are available for purchase at Guest Services and letters mailed from either location with the correct postage will be delivered with the Castaway Cay postmark. Please allow several weeks for mail from The Bahamas to be delivered. Unfortunately, the post office was closed during our visit. And I was pretty bummed. What’s a vacation without sending some post cards to friends and family back home that say “ha! look what I got to do while you were sitting at work, gazing out the window at the cold and snow!” Not that I would EVER be that selfish.
- Food: Cookies and Cookies Too is the place to indulge in some tasty morsels! With the exception of alcoholic beverages, smoothies, and iced coffees, food is complimentary on the island. It is included in the price of the cruise. And if you go to Castaway Cay for nothing else, go for lunch at Cookies. The food is buffet style, and unlimited. There’s an ice cream bar with all the fixins for a cone or sundae. Tip: grab a beverage cup from the nearby beverage bar because your cone or sundae will melt quickly! The ice cream flavors available while we were there were chocolate, vanilla, you could “twist” the two, and also strawberry and banana, and you could “twist” those together as well. We LOVED the strawberry banana, creamy yet very refreshing. The beverage island offers sodas, water, iced tea and lemonade. There is hot coffee available, but why would you do that??? The meal itself is a buffet style BBQ. And it’s AMAZING! You’ll find such offerings as BBQ chicken, hot dogs, burgers, sausage, various salads, corn on the cob, and as the name implies COOKIES, of course! This lunch was thee best we had during our cruise. There was ample seating under a covered pavilion, picnic table style. It can get a little breezy though, so make sure you weigh down your napkins and plates!
- One more thing: The day that you are on Castaway Cay is also Pirate Night aboard the ship! So if you have the early dinner seating, you need to plan accordingly. You’ll want plenty of time to get your little princesses and buccanears ready for the night’s festivities.This is a major event not to be missed!
I will talk about Pirate Night in full detail on the next edition of my Amazing Disney Adventures. Thanks so much for joining me. Feel free to post questions and comments. And please share my Amazing Disney Adventures with friends and family!
Until next time…Just keep swimming until you find your inner adventurer!