The next morning of our cruise aboard (read the previous day’s report here) the Disney Dream was Castaway Cay day. For me, this meant the Castaway Cay 5K, something I haven’t done on our past cruises. We started out by meeting in one of the District’s clubs, where a lot of explanation was offered by a couple of enthusiastic crew members.
I’ll probably do a separate post about the Castaway Cay 5K since a lot of people care about that and they might not see it in a cruise report, but it went fine. It’s nice that Disney Cruise Line has added something like this and was a fun little event, but it feels a bit like an afterthought.
I’m glad I did it once to see the course and collect the (rubber) medal, but I wouldn’t do it again. The course was uninteresting and even towards the beginning of the race, the humidity and heat were brutal. If there were a way to run this at dawn (I know there are limitations on when Disney can allow guests to go ashore), I’d be all in.
On the plus side, without much to see along the course, I didn’t really stop for photos, and finished with my best 5K time ever. I know, it’s totally meaningless; but in my head, anything can be contorted into a competition.
Sarah wasn’t doing the Castaway Cay 5K and I had not eaten breakfast, so I returned to the ship after the run to meet her, change clothes, and eat. In hindsight, I should’ve brought a change of clothes out to Castaway Cay and just waited for the buffets on the island to open. I didn’t see anyone else going back after the race, and I felt like I was swimming upstream trying to get back to the boat. It was also a lot longer of a walk than I remembered.
We did the buffet at Enchanted Garden for breakfast again. I was reasonably “proud” of myself, because instead of piling my plate with unhealthy deliciousness, I piled my plate high with only smoked salmon and trout. I felt like a sophisticated grizzly bear who eats at a table and wears pants.
After breakfast, it was time to go ashore. The mass exodus of people departing was mostly over, but there were still a moderate number of people near the boat. In this area, there was a line to meet (I think) Daisy Duck, which was still pretty long.
We blew past that, starting the long walk to the adult beach. When we got to Mount Rustmore, to our surprise, Goofy and Mickey were out with maybe 2 people in each line.
We waited in lines that were 5 minutes long (at most) to meet them, and then followed up with Minnie after a set change.
These were by far the shortest character meet & greet lines of the entire cruise. My assumption is that we were at the tail end of their sets, and most guests had either met them–or made the decision to skip them entirely–and were already situated on the beach. So I guess being slow to get off the ship does have some upside.
Continuing on, we decided to stop at Cookie’s BBQ, as the lunch buffet was going to start in about 10 minutes. It probably says something about us that we’ve come to the point where we find ourselves ‘rope dropping’ Disney restaurants just as often as actual attractions.
Cookie’s BBQ opened early, and we had a couple of plates before continuing on to Serenity Bay. The food was mostly standard stuff, but was still pretty good. I’m not particularly sure why we opted to stop here, as the Serenity Bay buffet is the only one that has steak, so usually we go there.
(We have a bunch of other tips and ‘hacks’ for Castaway Cay like that steak one in our Castaway Cay Tips & Trickspost, so check that out if you’re planning your own Disney cruise.)
In any case, we arrived at Serenity Bay, found lounge chairs and I promptly fell asleep. I probably slept for over an hour, which is a rarity for me. We go to the beach fairly regularly, but I’m never one for lounging around. As far as adults go, I’m fairly hyperactive. Sitting in one spot for any amount of time is not my thing.
However, this was shocking enjoyable and relaxing. I still wouldn’t make a regular habit of lounging, but it is a nice change of pace, and definitely a nice way to decompress. (I realize I’m talking about lounging on the beach as if I made some grand discovery–I realize everyone reading probably already knows all of this, ha.)
After that refreshing nap, we decided to enjoy the water for a bit. While I prefer the jagged, photogenic coastline we have in California, it’s not much for swimming. We go to the beach pretty regularly, but the last time I went swimming in the ocean was over a year ago.
There’s really something to be said for the clear, calm, and warm waters of Castaway Cay. It was nice to sit in the water, and it was also nice to swim a while. I even wandered way out to a sand bar that I didn’t know about previously, and just sat out there in the sand for a bit.
Our time at Serenity Bay flew by. Normally, when I’m not really doing anything, time crawls. I wish we would’ve had more time out there (we were on the beach for a good 4 hours), but we wanted to spend a bit of time exploring Castaway Cay and getting some photos, too…
Approximately 103202% nicer and more logical than the Magic Kingdom cabanas.
There are some minor Frozen tie-ins on Castaway Cay because…well…it’s Frozen. I don’t know.
Mimicking Olaf’s pose for this photo seemed like a much better idea in theory. I almost didn’t include it for obvious reasons, but oh well. Let it serve as a cautionary tale.
I wonder how many Disney fans who know who Bob Chapek is approve of the job he’s doing. (That’s not a judgment on my part one way or the other–I think it’s nearly impossible to judge from the outside.)
We’ve never done a cruise that has not stopped at Castaway Cay, and it’s something I’d definitely miss. While other destinations interest me quite a bit more, the lack of Castaway Cay would be a definite downside. I love the vibe of Castaway Cay, and it reminds me a bit of Typhoon Lagoon.
I know the natural beauty of the island (namely, the beaches) is the main allure of Castaway Cay, but I love the elements that have been built by Imagineering. In fact, I’d love to see the Imagineered elements fleshed out a bit.
I don’t mean anything lavish like a lazy river or that sort of thing, but more in the way of the island’s ‘village’ and perhaps even a scavenger hunt or some type of offering along those lines.
Even as it stands, I love Castaway Cay. The atmosphere is so inviting and relaxing, with the ambiance being conducive to relaxation.
The vibe of the island almost forces you to slow down and unwind, as that’s the main emphasis of Castaway Cay. Unlike Nassau or other ports, there are no alternatives, no unknowns, no external variables.
Experiencing a foreign place with its culture, history, and unique wrinkles is a ton of fun–one of my favorite things to do, but Castaway Cay is a dramatically different experience that’s also really enjoyable for completely different reasons. Sort of like Typhoon Lagoon v. the four main theme parks.
We lingered around the family beaches for a while at Castaway Cay, enjoying the beaches after most other guests had gone back to the Disney Dream. Every time we’ve been to Castaway Cay, we’ve noticed that almost everyone leaves around an hour before is necessary to be back on the boat.
Presumably, a lot of these people have had enough of the sun and sand, but I’d hazard a guess that others worry about being left behind or just stress out over being “late.”
I’m basing this assumption off of the number of people who ask about buses leaving them behind if they stay to watch the Kiss Goodnight at Magic Kingdom. Disney will not leave you stranded. This is true of the buses at the parks, and it’s definitely true of being on an isolated island in the Caribbean.
This isn’t to say you should just chill in a lounge chair until a search team from the boat comes looking for you. I don’t think the crew members or your fellow guests would appreciate that. Rather, it’s to say that the ‘all aboard’ time is the time you need to be back on the ship, not an hour before that “just to be safe.”
We also mention this because these late afternoon hours are the best time to be on Castaway Cay. It’s still an hour or more before sunset most of the year, but the sun is starting to go down and the heat with it. It’s also a much more photogenic time, as you start getting some golden light, depth in the clouds (if there are any) and deeper colors. The lack of people is another big upside, of course. We were back on the Disney Dream at least 5-10 minutes before the ‘all aboard’ time, and I didn’t see a single other guest behind us when we boarded the ship. On Page 2, we’ll cover some of late afternoon on the ship…