One of the fantastic perks of cruising with Disney is the destinations and ports you visit. However, did you know Disney has its very own private island tucked away in the Bahamas?
What is Disney Castaway Cay?
Disney’s Castaway Cay is located just west of Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas and takes up 55 acres of the 1,000 acres island. (The rest of the island is undeveloped). While the island is a tropical paradise exclusively for Disney Cruise Line guests, the island has also played host to mermaids and pirates on the big screen! Scenes from both Splash, starring Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah, and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl were filmed on Castaway Cay. At one time, you could even see the Flying Dutchman ghost ship of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest fame, which was docked at the island from June 2006 to November 2010.
Disney Castaway Cay is a private island in the Bahamas available to guests who sail with Disney Cruise Line. The island is a favorite for many guests as it features gorgeous crystal-blue water and everything guests need for a day in paradise. Throughout the year, Disney ships that sail out of Miami and Port Canaveral visit the island, including the Disney Dream and the Disney Fantasy. Some sailings even have what is referred to as a “double-dip” – two visits to Disney Castaway Cay in one sailing.
While there are always ships coming and going from Castaway Cay, there is only one ship docked there at a time. This keeps the island intimate and ensures it doesn’t get too crowded for guests.
How Do I Get on the Island?
Castaway Cay is on a private island where the ship can dock directly on the shore. As a result, since guests don’t need to ride a tender to the island, getting to and from the beach is about as easy as it gets. Disney provides most of the beach necessities like lounge chairs and towels, you don’t need to bring too many things for your day at Castaway Cay besides a few essentials. Along with your Key to the World Card and passport or photo ID, be sure to pack your beach bag with things like sunscreen (you can buy some in the shops on the island, but it’s expensive), sunglasses, a swimsuit coverup and a good book. You’ll also need some cash for Bahamian stamps from the post office if you want to mail a postcard and snag a covetable Castaway Cay postmark.
Typically, the all-ashore announcement comes between 8 AM and 9 AM, with Castaway Cay 5K and shore excursion participants usually allowed to disembark first. After that, cruisers can get on and off the ship as much or as little as they’d like until it’s time to go.
Once you walk off the ship, you have a few options for getting around Castaway Cay. A complimentary tram is available between the dock and the Castaway Family Beach, as well as another between the family area and Serenity Bay on the far side of the island. Or, if you’d rather get your steps in after all that soft serve, Serenity Bay is just a well-marked, 20-minute walk away.
What is Included on Castaway?
The best part of being on Castaway is that it is just an extension of the ship! Most of the same things that are included on the ship are all included on the island. While there are some things you need to pay extra for, take a look at what is included in your day on the island:
- Tram transportation around the island
- Complimentary access to the Castaway Cay beaches (including things like beach towels, loungers, and hammocks)
- Kids club areas
- Pelican Plunge and Spring-a-Leak water play areas
- Castaway Cay 5K
- Lunch at Cookie’s BBQ, Cookie’s Too BBQ and Serenity Bay BBQ
What Isn’t Included on Castaway?
While you don’t have to spend a penny on the island, there are some of the island’s available activities that do come with a cost. Excursions, including sea kayaking and parasailing, as well as rentals like bikes, tubes, and cabanas all come with an additional fee. Adult-friendly upgrades like refreshing cocktails and luxurious massages also have an additional fee. The best way to know what they are for your trip is to check the Disney Cruise Line app for the most up-to-date pricing.
If you are looking for adventure on your day at Castaway Cay, there are plenty of opportunities for fun! Guests can book any of these Port Adventures once their booking window opens, based on your Castaway Club status. These excursions may also be available closer to your sail date or once you are onboard the ship:
- Bicycle Rentals
- Aqua Trike Rentals
- Snorkel Lagoon Equipment
- Castaway Cay Bottom Fishing
- Castaway Ray’s Stingray Adventure
- Glass Bottom Boat Scenic Voyage
What Does Dining Look Like at Castaway?
As we noted above, lunch is included on the island. You might even see some familiar faces as the ship’s crew comes to the island to serve you throughout the day. Castaway Cay cooks provide beachside barbecue at three locations island-wide, including Cookie’s BBQ, Cookie’s Too BBQ and Serenity Bay BBQ.
Lunchtime begins on Castaway Cay day at 11:30 AM and runs until 2 PM. The meal, soft drinks, and soft-serve ice cream are included in the cost of the cruise. As you walk toward any of the dining locations, you’ll be handed a sanitizing wipe with which to clean your hands, and you’ll be pointed in the direction of one of several buffet lines. At Cookie’s and Cookie’s Too, all lines offer the same selection.
The meal includes items that you would expect to find at a backyard barbecue, as well as a few that you might not normally expect. Hamburgers, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, and grilled chicken breast sandwiches can all be found on the buffet. Be warned: Sean noted that the Spicy Chicken Burger is legitimately spicy. If you’re someone who likes your food to have a kick, this sandwich is for you. Over at the adults-only Serenity Bay, grown-ups can find a barbecue buffet of their very own that sports a few additions to those that families will find at the Cookie’s and Cookie’s Too buffets. In addition to cheeseburgers and veggie burgers, guests at Serenity Bay will find special offerings like Cajun Chicken, Cajun Mahi Mahi, and Rib Eye Steaks.
The chefs on Castaway Cay offer Corn on the Cob (Kansas Corn), Sauerkraut, Couscous, Red Skinned Potato Salad, Tomato Salad, Coleslaw, and bags of Lay’s potato chips in both regular and barbecue flavors. Tropical Fruit Salad, Banana Bread, Pineapple Crumble Bar Cake, and cookies are also found just around the corner from the entrées.
Soft-serve ice cream machines and soda fountains are available at all dining locations on Castaway Cay, and Powerade, water, lemonade, and Vitamin Water.
What Does a Day on the Island Look Like?
If you’re bringing your family with you to the beach, there is a beautiful family beach area. The Castaway Family Beach is a gorgeous stretch of beach with very gentle waves, plenty of shaded seating, and kid-centric activities like tube rentals and the Monstro Point dig site only a short walk away. There are a lot of loungers, hammocks, and umbrellas available to choose from. This beach is the busiest, so if you want a prime location make sure you get to the beach early.
However, you can bring them to the Kids Club area and head to the 18+ adults-only beach, Serenity Bay. This beach is the last stop on the tram and is a white sandy tropical oasis. There is a bar and servers that will bring you cocktails on the beach too! The best part is no splashing kids in the water!
Take a look at some of the options to spend your day:
- Snorkeling Lagoon: Looking to take your aquatic adventures to the next level? Paddle past the Swimming Beach and out into the big blue world of Castaway Cay’s Snorkeling Lagoon. Snorkelers of all skill levels are welcome to explore this enchanting undersea realm, from the novice-level Discover Trail to the more experienced Explorer Trail. Along the way, keep an eye out for splashes of underwater pixie dust, including Hidden Mickeys and submerged statues of Dumbo and Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid. Bring your own snorkel equipment for complimentary access to these sunken treasures, or rent your own for the day for $34.
- Spring-a-Leak and Pelican Plunge: Castaway Cay also boasts its own aquatic play areas, both just a short walk from Castaway Family Beach. The Spring-a-Leak splash pad is made with the littlest cruisers in mind and features freshwater jets to cool off in. Or, to get your heart pumping, splash into the saltwater in style from Pelican Plunge, Castaway Cay’s pint-sized floating water park named for the island’s resident pelicans. Although Pelican Plunge is easily reachable by wading out to the platform, its two water slides empty swimmers out into the lagoon. So, only relatively strong swimmers should take the plunge.
- Sports Beach and In Da Shade Game Pavilion: Ready to dry off for a bit without putting the fun on hold? Make your way to the Sports Beach or the In Da Shade Game Pavilion. Perfect for a little friendly competition, these hands-on areas are stocked with fun activities the whole family will love. Soak up some more Vitamin D and show your skill during tetherball or beach volleyball on the Sports Beach or step out of the sun for a bit with games like basketball, pool, foosball and table tennis at the In Da Shade Game Pavilion.
- Castaway Cay 5K: Want to kick the competition up a notch (or, at the very least, burn off some calories from all that delicious cruise food you’ve been devouring)? Sign up for the Castaway Cay 5K. Available to guests 10 years and older at no additional charge (unless you opt to upgrade to the Premium Package before you set sail, which comes with a Disney Castaway Cay 5K hat, cinch sack and water bottle), this race past palm trees and sandy beaches is a great way to work out and see the sights all at once. All finishers are rewarded with an exclusive Castaway Cay 5K medal.
- Disney Character Meet-and-Greets: What could be better than meeting some well-loved Disney characters in paradise? From Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse in their beach gear to everyone’s favorite pirate, Captain Jack Sparrow, Castaway Cay is a unique meet-and-greet spot worth waiting in line for. Just think of the photos! On the bright side, the lines tend to be on the short side, so you shouldn’t have to wait too long.
- Scuttle’s Cove & Teen Hideout: Just like on Disney cruise ships, Castaway Cay offers dedicated areas and activities specifically for kids, tweens and teens. Best of all, as with the likes of the Oceaneer Club, access to these youth-focused spaces is completely free. Scuttle’s Cove, located just next door to Monstro Point, is designed for kids ages 3 to 12 and features everything from supervised activities to its own aquatic play area. For the older kids, the Hide Out is a haven for 14 to 17-year-olds, while tweens ages 11 to 13 can enjoy their own special time at Pelican Plunge and the In Da Shade Game Pavilion.
- Serenity Bay: This part of the island is secluded and reserved for adults only. Enjoy an open-air cabana massage or stop at the Castaway Air Bar to grab a frozen drink. Then, put your toes in the sand and enjoy the ocean breeze!
- Shopping: Stop by She Sells Sea Shells…And Everything Else to check out exclusive beachwear, hats, souvenirs, and more! There are also some other shops on the island selling beachwear, hats, etc.
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