This Castaway Cay post is courtesy of our contributor Cheryl of Kids On A Plane…If you’ve ever been on a cruise you’ll know that sometimes it’s difficult to have a relaxing day at port because you’re trying to squeeze as much as possible into a limited amount of time.
Visiting popular tourist attractions, stopping at a public beach or soaking in as much culture and history as you can in an afternoon is what many cruise port itineraries look like. It’s pretty much go-go-go once you leave the ship.
Cruise guests on Bahamian or Caribbean itineraries often include a stop at the cruise line’s private island. These private islands allow guests to enjoy a relaxing day at the beach without the distractions of shops, restaurants and tourist attractions.
One of the downsides of private islands in the Caribbean owned by cruise lines is that there’s a lack of local culture and food available for cruise guests.
Castaway Cay is Disney Cruise Line’s private island in the Bahamas and the only way to get to this piece of paradise is to be a guest on one of their ships sailing out of Florida or Texas.
Unlike other cruise lines using tenders to transfer guests from the ship to their private island, Disney’s ships dock right at Castaway Cay which makes it easy for families to go back and forth between the beach and the air conditioned ship.
About Castaway Cay:
Castaway Cay is a 1000 acre island divided into three different sections:
- Kids, Tween and Teen Area
- Family Beach which includes two water-play structures in the ocean
- Serenity Bay – the adults only part of the beach on the northwest part of the island
What Castaway Cay lacks in Bahamian culture, Disney makes tries to make up for in activities and amenities.
Thousands of lounge chairs, hammocks and colourful umbrellas line the beach for those who just want to lie on the beach all day. For families who want their own private space on Castaway Cay, cabanas outfitted with loungers, table and chairs, towels, a closet and a refrigerator filled with drinks and fruit are available for $500/day.
Beach-ready strollers with sun shades, wagons and wheelchairs are complimentary and available to cruisers on a first come first served basis. We made the mistake of dragging our umbrella stroller in the sand during our first visit to Castaway Cay several years ago and it was quite tedious pushing it to our beach chairs.
There’s a lot to do as you make your way down the dock to the family beach. Guests can mail themselves a postcard from the Castaway Cay post office, take photos with their favourite characters, participate in crab races, dance parties and sand castle building competitions and fill up on food and drink at the all you can eat barbeque buffet that’s included in the cost of the cruise.
Castaway Cay guests can chow down on burgers, ribs, corn on the cob, coleslaw, baked beans, chicken, fruit and various drinks at Cookie’s BBQ and Cookie’s Too BBQ. Self-serve soft-serve ice cream is available for dessert. Serenity Bay, the adult only part of the beach, has their own buffet lunch spread which includes steak and sometimes lobster.
All the dining options are open while the ship is in port at Castaway Cay and cruisers can easily go back and forth from beach to cruise ship as they please.
There are four beach bars that serve a mix of beer, cocktails and frozen drinks as well as waiters roaming the beach taking orders.
For those looking for something a little more active than lounging in a beach chair, there’s lots to see and do at Castaway Cay including:
- Spring-a-Leak – splash pad for little ones
- Pelican Plunge – 3 story water play structure found in the family beach area
- Bike Trail – bicycles for all levels of riding (including tricycles and bikes with training wheels) are available for rent
- Various Port Excursions – Deep sea fishing, stingray encounter, parasailing to name a few
Castaway Cay is Disney’s way of offering families the perfect day at the beach. The sand is soft, the water is crystal clear and Disney has put a lot of thought into catering to cruisers of all ages.
There are change tables in the washrooms, cartons of milk at the buffet, shaded seating areas, showers located outside each restroom and a tram to get back to the ship quickly.
While not everything is free here – bottled water, alcohol, beach equipment, bikes and port excursions will cost extra – a day spent in the sand and sun at Castaway Cay is a great way to get some R&R before moving onto the next cruise port.
Have you been to Castaway Cay? Did you enjoy your time there?
If you’re planning a Bahamian or Caribbean Disney cruise in the near future, check out these 9 tips on how to make the most of your time on Castaway Cay
Visit Kids On A Plane for even more great Disney travel tips like this Free Walt Disney World Souvenirs post! Cheryl is always adding new ideas for family travel – follow her on Facebook for the latest!