Disney Cruise Report: Castaway Cay

Three Disney Cruises

The following is an excerpt from the eBook Three Disney Cruises:

Even before our first cruise, the day at Castaway Cay was something that I was greatly anticipating. Before that time, I had never been on a small island before, but even then it had a great appeal to me. A whole island of just Disney stuff, and plenty of beaches, too! We were not disappointed that first time, and Castaway Cay continues to be something that I look forward to each time. So of course, this day had some big yellow shoes to fill.

We woke up in time to go out onto the verandah and see that the ship was backing up to the dock at Castaway Cay. Interesting to see us backing up and then suddenly sliding to the side to get up to the dock. While we were wondering how they were going to get the ship’s ropes over to the guys waiting to tie us up, we suddenly heard a loud, “BOOM!” Except it was more like an air cannon than a gunpowder cannon. Because they had apparently used an air cannon to fire a smaller rope attached to the main rope over to the dock. That was cool! And then a few minutes later, they did it again for another one of the ropes. So we learned something that morning.

[caption id="" align=“aligncenter” width=“600”] Docking at Castaway Cay[/caption]

While we were out there, we made an assessment of the weather: lots and lots of clouds. Some of them darker than others. Maybe not the best day for getting lots of sun. But we are no fools – we put on sunscreen anyway. Just to be safe.

[caption id="" align=“aligncenter” width=“600”] Laura on the verandah[/caption]

[caption id="" align=“aligncenter” width=“600”] The Riedels on the verandah[/caption]

After getting dressed (can you really call putting on your bathing suit for the day “getting dressed?”), we headed out of our rooms for breakfast, going to Cabanas once again. I’m not sure what the other restaurants have for breakfast, but it is hard to beat a good breakfast buffet. And once again, we ate out on the deck, because it was much warmer out there than in the well air-conditioned restaurant. And more chairs, too. However, there didn’t seem to be quite as many people at breakfast as there were the day before. Fewer people trying to get to Castaway Cay first thing than Nassau? Fewer people with shore excursions scheduled for first thing in the morning? More people going to the other restaurants for breakfast? We never were sure. But we didn’t mind.

[caption id="" align=“aligncenter” width=“600”] The view from the back of the ship[/caption]

We headed down to Deck 1 once again to walk out to Castaway Cay. Once we got onto the island dock, we picked up some beach towels, enjoying the fact that they provide towels for your use. There were characters out for photos, even including Captain Jack Sparrow, but we decided to keep on going past them. As we were walking along, we felt a few sprinkles falling from the sky. No, the Aquaduck hadn’t sprung a leak. It was rain. But it looked like it wasn’t going to be a serious rain, so we kept on going. A tram runs between the dock and the area near the main beach, but we decided to walk, because it wasn’t that far of a walk. And it would also help to justify the large meals that we had been eating so far on the cruise. Every bit of walking we could get in probably didn’t hurt anything at all. And besides all that, as you walk along the pathway, you get some great views of the ship across the lagoon. Photo opportunities! And you know I am all about those.

[caption id="" align=“aligncenter” width=“600”] Welcome to Castaway Cay![/caption]

[caption id="" align=“aligncenter” width=“600”] Looking back at the Disney Dream[/caption]

Upon reaching the main area of the island, we looked around in the shop for just a few minutes, mainly to get an idea of what we might want to get later on. Because they don’t usually sell Castaway Cay-specific items in the shops on the ship. And then we went out to find a place on the beach.

[caption id="" align=“aligncenter” width=“600”] Laura blows up a beach ball, getting ready for the fun.[/caption]

I was slightly concerned about what we might find at the Family Beach, because we wanted to find a place where our two families could put all of our stuff. And I thought it would be a good idea to be by an umbrella or two, just in case the sun decided to come out. Or in case the rain started to fall. I was wondering if all the good places would already be taken. But as it turns out, we were able to find a place with two umbrellas and several lounge chairs. It wasn’t right up by the water, but that was just fine. We figured we wouldn’t be sitting there staring at the water for all that long, anyway.

[caption id="" align=“aligncenter” width=“600”] People at the beach[/caption]

The only problem with our spot was that all of those umbrellas on the beach start to look the same after a while. I probably should have made a note as to what colors the two umbrellas were, in case that might help me find them better. But instead, I tried to familiarize myself with where our stuff was in relation to the beach. And besides, I figured I could recognize my camera bag when I saw it.

[caption id="" align=“aligncenter” width=“600”] A lifeguard keeps watch over everything.[/caption]

The Riedels had already arranged to rent some floats for the beach, so while Laura and the kids went to check out the water, the rest of us adults went to secure the floats. They chose two tubes and two raft-type floats, just to get a variety.

[caption id="" align=“aligncenter” width=“600”] Three Riedels on the Beach[/caption]

[caption id="" align=“aligncenter” width=“600”] Taking a picture of Brant taking a picture.[/caption]

We spent some time enjoying the water. As you might guess, the water felt a little cold since the sun wasn’t out, but once you got in, it wasn’t too bad. Besides, the humidity was high enough that if you just walked around for a little bit, some nice cool water started to sound pretty good. Gotta love that subtropical humidity. We talk about our humidity being high around Memphis, but it doesn’t compare to what they have in the Bahamas.

Some of our group went to check out the sports areas, and they were gone for quite a while enjoying soccer and volleyball. Personally, I enjoyed the water, the lounge chairs, and the photos of it all that I was taking. You can’t have too many Castaway Cay photos. After all, it had been six long years since I was last there, and who knows when I might get to go again? Hopefully not six more years, but you just never know.

[caption id="" align=“aligncenter” width=“600”] The view from our spot on the beach. Read more about this photo by clicking on it.[/caption]

I know it seems like it happens often, but we were starting to get hungry for lunch. One thing about us Riedels and Burnses – we like to eat. The only problem was that Jaylin and Zach were still over at the sports area. So Brant went to try to find them. After a bit, Zach and Jaylin came back to where we were, but Brant wasn’t with them. Somehow, they had passed each other without seeing each other. So I went to try to find Brant. There was a dance party with some of the characters going on, which was entertaining enough, but it made navigating that part of the island a little difficult, and I was wondering if Brant and I were passing each other through the crowd. The other problem was that I didn’t know exactly where they had all been; I guess I should have taken one of the kids with me.

I went quite a way down and never saw Brant, so I turned back, figuring that we must have passed each other just like the kids did. But when I got back to our beach chairs, Brant still wasn’t there. Fortunately, soon after that, Brant showed up before we sent someone else out looking for him. I guess he was just a little behind me as I was on my way back.

So all of this brings up an important point. Each stateroom on the ship has two phones that you can carry with you, and those phones work all over the ship, as well as on Castaway Cay. We didn’t take any phones with us, figuring that we would be together the whole time and we wouldn’t need them. Guess what? We were wrong. So in hindsight, those phones would have been great to have. So now we know that for next time, right? And we knew that for the rest of the cruise, too.

Once we were all assembled, we went to Cookie’s BBQ. And for us Burnses, this was actually our first time to eat there. On our previous cruises, we had spent all our time at the Serenity Bay adults only beach, and we had eaten there. Always fun to have a new experience. Anyway, I was surprised by what all they had to eat there. I had a cheeseburger, corn on the cob, potato salad, and some cookies for dessert. As with the previous day, it may have been because I was hungry, but it was all delicious. And everyone else said the same thing. I was especially surprised that they had corn on the cob; it was nice to have a vegetable along with my burger.

After eating, did we wait the required thirty minutes before getting back in the water? Um, I lost count. Do they even recommend that any more? Even if they do, the kind of swimming that we were doing probably wouldn’t cause any problems, anyway.

[caption id="" align=“aligncenter” width=“600”] The Disney Dream across the way. Read more about this photo by clicking on it.[/caption]

Actually, we did wait long enough, because the girls decided that they wanted to get their hair braided. Laura had done this before at Castaway Cay, and she was looking forward to doing it again. As with the last time, she didn’t go all out with lots of braids, but instead she just got a few braids in her hair, and Karen did the same. Katie, however, got all the front of her hair braided. I kept joking with her about how they pulled her hair so tight that she couldn’t frown. Of course, it was cute on all the girls, and they enjoyed doing it.

[caption id="" align=“aligncenter” width=“600”] Jaylin on the beach, with the Disney Dream in the background.[/caption]

While they were getting their hair braided, I went with Jaylin and Zach over to the other side of the Family Beach, where there is a water slide. They had been wanting to go down it all day. I read the sign that the water at the end of the slide is about six feet deep, and I knew that both of them could handle that without any problem. I didn’t know if the cast member at the entrance might want Jaylin to get a life vest, but he just waved both of them right on by.

Once they got out to where the end of the line was, I realized that they weren’t going to be coming down the slide any time soon. So what’s a guy with a camera going to do instead of standing around to wait? That’s right, take photos. I wonder if there is an art to taking a general beach photo without everyone thinking that you are some sort of creepy guy taking a photo of them at the beach. Because that is exactly what I was trying to do. Take general beach photos, that is. I can’t help it if people are in my photos sometimes. Every now and then, I feel like I might be getting a look from someone. Oh well, I just keep on shooting.

[caption id="" align=“aligncenter” width=“600”] The Disney Dream framed by palm trees. Read more about this photo by clicking on it.[/caption]

I returned from my little photo tour just in time to see Zach and Jaylin standing at the top of the slide, about to come down. Perfect timing! I got to see some of the area, they got to come down the slide, and I got to see them come down. Couldn’t have planned that any better. And Jaylin didn’t have any trouble swimming from the deep water back to the shallow part, either. Yay for those swimming lessons that he had. They must have worked.

[caption id="" align=“aligncenter” width=“600”] Laura gets some braids in her hair.[/caption]

[caption id="" align=“aligncenter” width=“600”] The final results of the braiding. Although they are still at work on Katie in the background.[/caption]

We went back over to find that the girls were just finishing up, so we headed back over to our beach spot, where Brant had been enjoying some quiet time reading a book. Sounds like we were all enjoying our day in our own ways, which is good.

Karen had wanted to walk around and take some photos of the island, and of course, that is just my thing. So she and I went on a walking tour. Laura kept saying that we were going off for a romantic walk, but both of our spouses know us better than that.

[caption id="" align=“aligncenter” width=“600”] The water slide out in the water.[/caption]

We went back up past the water slide where Brant, Zach, and Katie went to go for a slide while Laura and Jaylin stayed back at the main beach. From there, we went past the bike rental stand and walked along the bike path for a ways, noticing all the great flowering plants and tropical growth that we don’t have back home. We did have to dodge bike riders at times, but that was okay. We made our way out to the old runway that serves as the tram path to the Serenity Bay adult beach as well as the bike path, but Karen decided it was too far of a walk all the way down there. So we retraced our steps, stopping for plenty of photos as we walked along.

[caption id="" align=“aligncenter” width=“600”] All kinds of colorful flowers.[/caption]

[caption id="" align=“aligncenter” width=“600”] The runway out to the Serenity Bay beach.[/caption]

[caption id="" align=“aligncenter” width=“600”] Clowning around on the beach.[/caption]

[caption id="" align=“aligncenter” width=“600”] The two of us in the water. Read more about this photo by clicking on it.[/caption]

Once we enjoyed the water at the beach just a bit more, we decided it was time to start heading back to the ship to get ready for the evening’s activities. But of course, we couldn’t just go right back to the ship, because that wouldn’t be right. Or at least it wouldn’t be the Burns way. We stopped at the cleverly-named She Sells Seashells (And Everything Else) shop on our way to the ship. Not that I am complaining about shopping, of course; I had some things I wanted to get as well. We looked around and made our purchases, and then we stopped for some family photos at Mount Rustmore. I often get asked what Mount Rustmore is when people see our photos from there. But that is all that it is – a photo spot with four old metal buoy things painted with the faces of Mickey, Pluto, Donald, and Goofy. But it always makes for a great photo, either with or without people in the foreground.

[caption id="" align=“aligncenter” width=“600”] Laura at Mount Rustmore[/caption]

[caption id="" align=“aligncenter” width=“600”] The Burnses at Mount Rustmore[/caption]

[caption id="" align=“aligncenter” width=“600”] The Riedels at Mount Rustmore[/caption]

As on our way in, we decided to walk back to the ship instead of taking the tram. That is always a slightly bittersweet walk, because our time at Castaway Cay is always a great time. But also as with our walk from the ship, there were plenty of good places to get some more photos of the ship, which is difficult to do when you are actually on the ship. So I fired away as we walked.

[caption id="" align=“aligncenter” width=“600”] See ya later, mon![/caption]

[caption id="" align=“aligncenter” width=“600”] Back to the Disney Dream[/caption]

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Burnsland is Steve Burns, with generous help from his lovely wife Laura. Steve is a husband, father, photographer, webmaster, writer, podcaster, artist, Christian. Steve enjoys sharing his photography, art, and stories through Burnsland.com, from the Burnsland World Headquarters in Tennessee.