One of the most important things to consider when choosing a cruise (Disney or otherwise) is location – a good homeport has it’s own advantages and disadvantages, as well as it’s own different itineraries.
When compared to other destinations, the Bahamas are my least favourite by far. In fact, the only reason I would consider recommending it, is for Castaway Cay – Disney’s own private island. Yup, you heard that right – private! So private in fact, that it only has 1 dock, meaning that your ship will be the only there that day! (Not to mention the island isn’t large enough for 2 ships!) Whilst you’ll never be there with another ship, it can still feel crowded at times – if you’re on one of the small ships, you could be there with 1300 other people plus crew members! But there are ways around that crowded feeling.
For families, it’s as easy as staking out a spot on the beach (or kids area) as early as possible. And for adults, head straight to Serenity Bay. It is the adults only area of the island – much like the spaces on board. It isn’t “policed” by the crew members, but you’d get a lot of angry cruisers if you were to bring your kids here without absolute good reason. Though, some adults prefer the family beach for the atmosphere and activities available.
Castaway is quite easy to navigate as Disney provides a tram system for guests. It starts at the dock and has 2 stops – Scuttles Cove and Pelican Point. From Pelican Point, you can also take the tram to Serenity Bay. Scuttle’s Cove stop is the closest one to the family beach. Whilst Pelican Point is in walking distance to the eating areas and Merch Shops. At Serenity Bay, you have a bar and food area as well. While it’s definitely convenient to catch the trams, the island is not too big that you can’t walk it as well. If you walk, you’ll also see a lot more detail and Easter eggs hidden away as well.
Since Castaway Cay is included in your cruise cost, as is all the food and non-alcoholic drinks you consume on the island. There are 2 all ages food areas – Cookie’s BBQ and Cookie’s BBQ Too. There is also Serenity Bay BBQ in the adults only area. In premise, all 3 serve the same – BBQ Buffet with salad, soft drinks and soft serve ice cream. There are just a couple of things to take into consideration…Cookie’s BBQ is where you will pick up your food if you have any allergies or dietary requirements. If you have kids and want somewhere a little quieter, got to Cookie’s Too – it’s a little more tucked away, so doesn’t get as busy. If you don’t have kids, but want to spend the day at the family beach, still go to the Serenity Bay BBQ – they have Ribs and Steaks that the others don’t!
Whilst the bars a bit hit or miss on the island, I would definitely recommend Olaf’s Summertime Freeze. They do frozen slushie-like drinks and are super refreshing to have in the sun and are conveniently located by the Pelican Point tram stop. My favourites are “Let It Go” (Strawberry, Mango Puree and Orange Juice) and “Arendelle Winter” (Llly Cappuccino, Coconut Cream and Salted Caramel).
There are two shops on the island – “She sells Sea Shells And Everything Else” and “Buy the Seashore”. These stock Disney themed items and exclusive Castaway Cay items. Now, something that is very important regarding merch – just because the Castaway items are Disney does not mean that you’ll be able to buy them on the ship. In fact, it’s the opposite – Castaway branded items can only be bought on the island and some of it is actually really nice, so keep that in mind with your shopping.
For some people, this may be the most important part. If you’re like me, you’ll be content lying on the beach – maybe do some beach yoga on Serenity Bay. However, there are a lot of options for anyone wanting to get active. Like any sort of holiday, there will be some that you could book in for the day before (just head to Port Adventures desk). However, there will also be some that will book out as soon as it opens. This is where it pays to do your research and look into port adventures ahead of time to work out your priorities for booking.
A couple of recommendations would be: Castaway Ray’s Stingray adventure – a truly wonderful experience where you can get up close and personal with the Stingray population of Castaway Cay. Bike rental – not only will it give you a chance to work off all the food you’ll eat on your cruise, but you can also see the smaller details in areas you wouldn’t have usually gone to.
Holiday time at Castaway are delightful – it reminds me of home in Australia as it’s hot when all the decorations are up. The decorations are just as elaborate as on the ship – a huge Christmas tree along with strands of holly and Christmas figurines.
CHARACTER MEET AND GREETS
I love seeing the characters all dressed up in their beach finest and the best part – the lines are never long!!
Have you been to Castaway Cay before? Got any tips? Or are you planning and have some extra questions?