I had my doubts, frankly, about Castaway Cay — the private Disney-owned island that is a highly touted port of call on its Bahamian and Caribbean cruises. I envisioned jockeying for lounge-chair positions on a white-sand beach, feeling “isolated” from creature comforts on our Disney Dream cruise ship, and roasting in the hot sun.
All fears and concerns were quickly allayed after my kids and I stepped off our ship and walked down the dock to a waiting tram that whisked us in minutes to a huge stretch of beach — a few distinct beaches, in fact — and hundreds of empty lounge chairs just vying for my attention. With perfect balmy-but-not-too-hot temperatures, my children and I had such a pleasant afternoon on Castaway Cay that I count the port of call among the true highlights of our short cruise.
I think we played it right in timing our leave of the Disney Dream. We could have joined the throngs of others leaving the ship at about 9 a.m. But we had a leisurely breakfast at my favorite ship-board restaurant Cabanas buffet, the kids played in an empty Mickey’s Pool, and then we spent about an hour on the AquaDuck water coaster when it opened at 11 a.m.
Upon arrival on Castaway Cay around noon, we made a beeline for Cookie’s BBQ, which featured seating in the shade (huge plus), and lunch favorites like hot dogs, hamburgers, salads, fruit and cookies. Food and non-alcoholic drink on Castaway Cay — including ice cream cones and sodas — are all included as if you were dining on the ship. A variety of bars located along the stretch of beach kept this visiting adult happily fueled with fruity rum drinks.
While my travel buddy Jen and I chatted with other cruise-ship guests underneath umbrellas on the beach, our school-age kids played with new friends in the quiet bay — no dangerous waves to be seen. They had a ball on the Pelican Plunge, a two-story water slide, and spent a lot of time searching for pretty shells.
While we didn’t rent snorkel gear, inner tubes, bicycles, paddle boats or sea kayaks, all of these activities are available on Castaway Cay (formerly known as Gorda Cay). Friends reported favorably on the “Castaway Rays” adventure, during which they fed and touched stingrays.
Scuttle’s Cove is the “kids’ club,” where, if you’ve already registered the children for the Oceaneer Club on board the ship, you can leave them in the care of trained staff to play in the sand and water fountains here. Once the kids are occupied, adult guests can scoot right over to Serenity Bay, the adults-only beach.
For still more entertainment, the whole family can play games “In Da Shade,” such as basketball and shuffleboard; walk the nature trails (only 55 of the 1,000 acres on the island are developed); snap photos with different characters who make appearances on the island; or shop for souvenirs. Next time I’m booking a massage in an open-air cabana!
While we only spent about three hours at Castaway Cay — the “All aboard!” final call came at 3 p.m. — my whole family has fond memories of our relaxing afternoon on land.