A Disney fan blog about the good things in life.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Making the Most of Your Day at Castaway Cay

My husband loves Castaway Cay. Every time we visit he threatens to remain on the island like Tom Hanks in Cast Away. He has worked it out that he would creep out to be fed when the cruise ship docks and the passengers would think he is some charming Disney character (complete with frayed shorts, a Wilson soccer ball, and crazy scraggly beard). His love for the island is not hard to understand. It is a gorgeous paradise-- set up solely for the enjoyment of the visiting Disney cruise. Who wouldn't love their own island for the day?

We have visited Castaway Cay four times now and have our own methods to maximize our stay. As ports go, it is a long day, but the time at shore goes quickly. So like any good Disney fan knows, you want to have a plan. Here are our tips for making the most on Disney's tropical paradise.

Tip #1: Weather is a fickle beast. Just prepare yourselves for the possibility that the boat cannot dock. If you have ever seen a cruise ship pull into port it is a sloooow process involving lots of ropes and pulling. There are times when the sea is too choppy or the winds are too high. They will try, but it can't always happen. I heard the cruise before ours was unable to dock so they just remained out at sea. I am sure that there were loads of angry passengers that day. If you hear its a possibility (keep an ear out for the captain's announcement the night before), it might be a good time to book an activity on the boat as a back up.

I would hate to be that one guy who screws up.

Tip #2: To island massage or not to island massage? I am of two minds with this. A massage with the beach steps away is a glorious thing. But it does take a big chunk out of your island time. It is also worth noting that you will be slathered with oil. Post-massage a complete wash down is needed to avoid exploding into flames. On the last trip I booked a massage for early in the day (9AM) on the boat. The Senses spa is lovely and generally pretty quiet on port days. The timing worked out well with the boat massage and I was on the beach by 10:30.

Tip #3: Consider the island it's own shore excursion. We love chilling on the island so much that we generally don't entertain the idea of shore excursions. But they have them if you are interested. Boat tours, jet skis, parasailing, and more. If you are interested in booking you can (and should) sign up ahead of time online. It should be noted that snorkel gear and float tubes rentals can be set up ahead of time but it's just as easy to get them in person that day. One thing to keep an eye out for, if you are lucky enough to have a cruise that docks on Castaway Cay for two days, they sometimes have deals on rentals. The deal below was for 75% off the same rental for the second day. Every little bit counts, right?

Port Adventures. Gingerbread houses not included.

Tip #4: Relax, there are plenty of lounge chairs. You don't need to be the first family off the boat. There are three beaches on Castaway Cay. The family beach is the largest and the closest to the boat as well as the main BBQ spot for lunch. By closest I mean a 3 minute ride via tram or a 10 minute walk. The second is the beach adjacent to Pelican Plunge, the other BBQ spot as well as the kids spray park. Smaller, but a great place to set up camp if you think repeat trips on Pelican Plunge are on the agenda. And finally, Serenity Bay, the adults beach that I have not seen in person since my Honeymoon.

Chairs and more chairs as far as the eye can see
I watched people run off the boat in a panic to claim their spot for the day. Honestly, it's not that big a deal. It's not like finding seating by the pool (which can get a little competitive). If you are on the island by 10:30 you will get a chair. AND, you can move the chairs. So feel free to take the little chairs (don't be that guy and lug the lounge chairs, that's just rude) down to the waters edge and stick your feet in. The man with the drink tray will still find you. Promise.

Tip #5: Don't hate on the cabana renters. They are just cooler than you so stop staring at them. Cabanas are the bain of my existence. I am not going to lie, I want a cabana for our next cruise but I doubt I will ever get one. Lets talk odds. There are a handful of cabanas. Maybe 10-20 total? And there are thousands of people on the boat. While I am a silver Castaway Club member (which just means I have been on more than one Disney boat ride) there are those people with gold and platinum status. Those folks get to book their shore excursions ahead of you. Those people are competing with each other for the cabanas which means that no cabana for casual cruisers.

(side note: Cabanas are $400 a day, which makes it almost ok that we can't get one but if you have any tips on how we can snag one, I am all ears.)

As a final note, here is our own 2-minute tour of Castaway Cay. Yes that is my husband floating in the tube plotting how to stay on the island... enjoy.

If you have any good Castaway Cay tips, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below. We would love to hear from you!

Happy cruising!




  1. We <3 Castaway Cay! We've planned hundreds of trips for our clients and it's one of our favorite destinations to plan for Disney.

    We'd love to answer any questions and help in any way we can - our service is absolutely FREE!

  2. Castaway is too amazing. I hope it's not too long until I can go back :)

  3. Tip: if your child is old and mature enough (parents of teenagers - feel free to snicker), then sign a form so they can exit the ship without you being with them. I lost about at an hour and a half transiting from Serenity Bay back to the ship and back so I could sign him out. Disney has a release form you can fill out and sign to take care of this.


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