A Disney fan blog about the good things in life.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Disney Cruise Recap: Castaway Cay Cabanas - Just Call Me Big Papi

Let me start this post by saying that we are not made of money. We don't have extra money tucked away under a mattress. We can't, as the kids say, "make it rain". It feels important to begin this post with those generalized bank account statements if only for you to understand how very decadent getting a cabana felt for us.

For those who don't know, Castaway Cay Cabanas are essentially private huts for daily rental during the port time at Disney's private island, Castaway Cay. These have been intriguing to us since they were announced as a thing. Not because the rest of the island sucks-- but rather we couldn't understand how they could even think to improve on an already perfect paradise.

Admittedly its expensive. $549 for a daily rental for a family of 6. Additional guests are $50 per person. If you are traveling kid free, you can reserve the cabana on the adults only beach for $399. With this rather large chunk of change you get:

 

The inclusions are nice, but really you are paying for a little bit of privacy. After a week on the ship with 1,000+ of your closest friends, feeling like you are alone is a welcome sensation. Aside of the families tucked away to your right and left, you are afforded some guaranteed quiet.

So what did my family think of the cabana? Glad you asked.

First of all, we were lucky to get one. From the moment we booked the Christmas cruise on the Disney Magic we had a Cabana on the bucket list. We are Silver Castaway Club members which basically means we have been on more than one Disney cruise and we can book our shore excursions 90 days out. At 12:01AM on the day I could book excursions, I logged into the Disney Cruise site to try to beat the rush of Cabana bookings-- not surprisingly they were all gone.

This isn't a huge shocker given the odds with up to 2700 guests on the Magic and only 20 cabanas on the island, but still disappointing and not getting one only added to the feeling of how important getting a cabana actually was. I checked sporadically for the weeks leading up to the cruise thinking someone would cancel-- don't waste your time. Nobody does.

So how did we end up in Cabana 18? We simply put ourselves on the waiting list once we were on the boat. I did not have a ton of faith this was going to lead to anything. The already busy Port Adventures girl took our name and cabin number on a post-it and said she would hand it off to concierge. The low tech wait list made me think of all the post its scattered on my work desk-- based on the effectiveness of my own post-it system I was convinced this wasn't going to happen.

Three quarters of the way into the cruise, on our last day at sea came the phone call someone had cancelled their cabana. Note-- I recommend carrying your stateroom phone with you at all times if you are hoping for this to happen to you. They call the list (our post-it request actually made it somewhere!) and when they hit your name you have to decide right then or they move to the next guest on the list. My husband made the executive decision and we were officially Cabana guests!

Concierge delivers a package to your stateroom with the details. It includes wristbands, your cabana number, details on where to go, and a fun paper model of the cabana that you can build at home (nice touch, but our got crushed in our luggage on the way home, so we never actually did anything with it).

Our VIP Package

Not gonna lie-- we felt pretty big time. Aside of a panicked moment when we looked at the cabana number and thought we were in an adult only (we have 2 kids), the process went really smoothly. You check in on the island, pick up your included snorkel gear and they golf cart you VIP style to your retreat.

After a brief tour on how to work the fan, music, and "we need you" button, we were left to enjoy the cabana. We all kind of stood there in disbelief and feeling a little like we were going to get kicked out. One of us had the presence of mind to mention that we should take photos before we mess the whole place up. Some shots are below.

Cabana 18 is the place to be!
My 4-year old welcomes you. 

Have a seat and relax in the shade!
From the other direction. Beverage fridge on the right.
Loungers in the sun.
These bad boys get warm even with the sun shade
Looking back from the beach. 
Floats and rafts included
Personal hammock included-- and also hard work
The view of the boat from our private oasis

The Good:  It's really something special to spend the day on Castaway Cay. Spending the day on Castaway Cay in a cabana is even more special. I can't say enough about the quiet feel of the Cabana area. Getting all the extras, like the snorkel equipment, tubes, and bike ride really encouraged us to explore the island. We took advantage of everything offered and didn't leave the island until the final moments.

The Bad: You are somewhat removed from the shared island activities. We were at the end of family Cabana row and the walk to the Pelican Plunge waterslide, spray park, kids club, bathrooms (there are no bathrooms in the Cabana!), and food took a bit of time. There are cabanas more centrally located, but we didn't get a choice of Cabana number and I am sure those central ones go first.

The Ugly: Obviously the price. For the price I wanted to sit on my deck and bother my cabana hostess all. day. long. The kids however, wanted to explore and go and do and be. It is difficult to explain to a 7 year old why mama wants to spend as much time in a lounge chair as possible.

Overall, if you are thinking about a cabana, I say GO FOR IT! But if you find yourselves either shut out or priced out, don't worry-- Castaway Cay is VIP for everyone. Cabana guest or not.



Have you stayed in a cabana? Have a fav experience from Castaway or the Disney cruise? Leave a comment below! We would love to hear from you.

Happy cruisin'!

~Davina


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8 comments

  1. Thank you! I currently have 15 reserved for May but I'm concerned about the tidal pool and sand bar. Did you find that you would have rather been on the other side of the sand bar? Did you lose a lot of water during low tide?

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    1. We did wish we were a bit closer to the action-- we were the second to last cabana on the family row. However the tidal pool was nice with young kids and I never felt I needed to worry. No matter what the cabana number it is an amazing experience. Have a great time! I am so jealous.

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  2. Just put in a request for one yesterday, hope to get one for January 24th Cruise!

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  3. Just put in a request for one yesterday, hope to get one for January 24th Cruise!

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  4. I often wondered why people would rent out a cabana. I can kind of see it, but I'm too cheap to actually do it. I'd want to sit my butt in that hammock and not move, unless I was getting another soda.

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  5. Do you have to wait until you board the ship to get on the waitlist?

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  6. Such great information. Thank you! If you could pick your dream cabana #? what would it be? I have a 9 and 14yr so walking isn't so much of an issue and I would really like not to feel overcrowded with people lounging in front for the price. We are set on the Fantasy for late June but bookings start next week! much thanks!

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  7. We have cabana #18 in June. How far is Pelican's Plunge from where you were? Also, can you bring your lunch back to your cabana? Is the BBQ place walking distance? Will your cabana boy take you to all these places? Thanks so much!

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