Thursday, July 18, 2013

Thanksgiving at Disney: A Trip Report - Day 3 - Castaway Cay

Sometimes life drags us away from our loves. In this case, my job took precedence over my blog and trip report. Thankfully I finally have the opportunity to start writing again, and I am back to finish this trip report, then share my 30th birthday trip to Walt Disney World, and host another Disney craft giveaway at some point in there! Exciting things are coming!

Day 3 of our Disney Cruise began bright and early since we wanted to get off the ship and stake out our spots on the beach at Castaway Cay. For my readers who have not yet had the pleasure of cruising with Disney, Castaway Cay is Disney's very own private island. It has beautiful white beaches, including an adults only beach, cabanas for rent, areas for swimming and snorkeling, a bit of shopping, and of course some amazing places to dine all keeping with the castaway island theme. You can also rent rafts and bicycles. Hammocks, umbrellas, and loungers are scattered throughout the island, and there is a swimming area, Pelican Plunge, with slides and platforms.

Normally we ate breakfast at in one of the dining rooms, but the view from Cabanas, the buffet, was too gorgeous to pass up. I highly recommend eating your breakfast on the deck as you enjoy the ocean breeze and the view of the beach.  From there we grabbed our things and headed off of the Dream.  Along the way to the beach there were plenty of photo opportunities:

Be prepared to walk the length of the ship to get to the trams to the beach!
Christmas tree on the island in swimwear - it was definitely a fun surprise! 
These "sandmen" were a fun addition to the Christmas theme! 
Can anyone really get these jumping pics perfect? ;-)
Captain Jack Sparrow had a very long line, so I just snapped a pic as we passed him. 
This is one of my favorite shots from the day. My parents happily posed
with Pluto who had practically no line!

After the tram ride to the beach, we were able to grab a red wagon to pull all of our towels and beach bags. That was a thoughtful perk that we were thankful for! LaRae and I made our way over to pick up the snorkels for her, Randy, the kids and me.  My parents, Randy, and the kiddos found a nice spot on the beach. The kids were excited to get in the ocean and try snorkeling, but they had a bit of a hard time with it. They quickly decided to head back to the beach to play in the sand and swim with their grandparents. My brother-in-law is not a big fan of swimming, so he tried to snorkel with us for a while, but he too headed back to the join the kids fairly quickly.

LaRae and I snorkeled for about 2 or 3 hours though! We swam the entire snorkeling area on the family beach! It was wonderful! If you love to swim, this is for you. Your snorkel equipment rental comes with fins, a mask, snorkel, and a lifejacket (which you don't have to inflate much). Throughout the area Disney had placed buoys marking underwater surprises. Sadly I never developed the film from my underwater camera to show you, but it's really more fun if you discover these treats on your own. Be ready to see some of your favorite Disney faces on the ocean floor as well as some sunken treasures. The further out we got, the more fish we saw. Every time we said we were going to swim in, we saw another buoy we wanted to check out!

It was a bit windy... See the hut there? That's where you get your rental items.
This is just the START of the beach!
Loved this souvenir cup and wanted to show off my Disney nails.
Quick tip: buy the cup, but DON'T buy the Coke they offer
to put in it! Just down the walk from where you buy the cup
you can get free beverages at Cookies BBQ! Lesson learned.

Some have asked about weather, water temp, and underwater nuisances at this time of year, so I'll take a minute to address that.  It was warm at Castaway Cay at the end of November.  It did sprinkle rain on us in the afternoon but not enough to need to run for shelter. We were comfortable in our swimsuits and coverups.  The water was chilly when we got in, but we quickly acclimated to it.  On the way out I got a bit shivery, but I was fine after a few minutes. As for underwater creatures: we saw numerous fish and a TON of tiny jellyfish.  I'm sure they brushed against my body multiple times, but they didn't cause stings at least that we felt.  These jellyfish ranged from the size of a penny to maybe a half dollar. While they surprised us, they caused no harm. I don't believe that November is really jellyfish "season," and we saw no evidence of larger ones. We did not have problems with sea lice or sand fleas, but I hear those are worse at other times of the year. Bottom line: will it be warm enough to swim at Castaway Cay? As long as it's typical weather, you'll be fine. (Just know that at sea you may find it too cold to actually swim in the pools on the ship.)

We worked up quite a hunger from swimming so much, so we went to find Cookies BBQ. This was one of our favorite meals! We all had seconds of the mahi mahi.  The food was fresh, hot, and seasoned wonderfully.
The hamburger was typical, and the cookie was nothing to write home about,
but the Cajun mahi-mahi (front center) was to die for, and the ribs on the
right side of the plate were also family favorites. My dad makes
some of the best ribs I've ever had, so for us to love these, that's
definitely saying something!
Gorgeous day!

I am not a "beach person," so once I'm done swimming and eating, I just want to get the sand out of my suit and get my long hair to untangle from the dreadlocks that ocean water puts it in. While my family went on, I headed back to the tram to have a peaceful shower in my nice, kid-free, quiet room. (Remember the kids were staying with me, which I don't mind in the least, but the peaceful room was a nice moment for me.) Randy walked me back to the tram while he returned the wagon (or something).  I was glad he walked with me as he took some photos for me:
This is one of the spots I always see DCL photos from when I'm surfing
the web, so I was glad later that he'd insisted on taking my photo.
See, brother-in-laws really are awesome.

I took my time making my way back to the Dream and took some more photos.
Find the Dream!
The sun was coming in just right for some beautiful shots of the ship.
Did you know the Disney ships back in to the dock at CC?
I guess the Captain has one heck of a rearview mirror! ;-)
There's the AquaDuck! The walk back from the tram is a long one!
One last look at the beach. This one is not accessible to guests.
Fair warning: they check your bags for shells and other beach items
that are NOT allowed to be taken back with you.
Confession: I had a bag of sand in my pocket to use to make
Christmas ornaments later... hehe! 
When I got back to the room, I still got to enjoy a view of Castaway
Cay through our Magical Porthole!

My family joined me back in the rooms for showers just as I was finishing getting dressed. We all got a bit of sun and had a laugh from all of the places we didn't expect to find sand! The ship is fairly vacant on Castaway Cay day making pools, bars, and other areas calm and giving you the ability to enjoy them solo sometimes.  That said, there's a reason the ship empties! Even with everyone on the island, it didn't feel crowded at all. There's plenty of space for everyone on this gorgeous slice of paradise. While skipping Nassau was absolutely acceptable, skipping Castaway Cay would be a missed opportunity.

If you've been to Castaway Cay, what was your favorite part on the island? If you haven't been, what area would you like to go to?

Next post we'll finally make it to the onboard Bingo game and see just how lucky we are!


  1. An elite level brother in law would have stopped you from buying a soda with the coconut cup in the first place. At least now we know.

    The line for Capt. Jack was shorter when my son & I went down there.

    I think they let Mater drive when they pull into Castaway Cay. Next time I want to be out ondeck when they do that. #boatspinningcanbefun

  2. As I recall, you were the one who stopped and came back with me when no one else noticed I stopped to buy a plastic coconut. :) Knowing is half the battle...

    Being on deck for that would be super neat! Do you think they helicopter Mater in for that?

  3. You know one time I was a cruise ship.

  4. It was supposed to say [In Mater Voice] but that part got cut off. It's a play on Mater's Tall Tales.

  5. Sounds like a great time - I can't wait to go back it's been 10 years since we were on the Magic. thanks for all the tips

  6. Love the detail you went to. We are also going in November (2014) so this was great information!

  7. Thanks, Diane & Mary! We're going back November 2014 too!

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