castaway-cay-with-familyEvery Disney cruise in the Caribbean has one main thing in common….Castaway Cay, Disney’s own privately owned island, open to cruisers only. We were excited about the concept when we went on our cruise. A private island? How fun! It made us feel like VIPs. However, given our extreme wanderlust and love for places off the beaten path, I had to wonder is Castaway Cay with family really worth it? Or is it just another Disney-themed money pit?

Without a doubt, the island is beautiful, as it’s a Bahamian island. Deep blue water, perfect white sand and gorgeous palm trees sway in a gentle breeze to greet you as the boat pulls into the dock. And Disney offers a LOT to do. A sampling of our shore excursions….the extreme getaway package (feeding sting rays, bike rental, snorkel rental), glass bottom boat, float and tube rentals, fishing adventures, waterskiing, kayaking….the list goes on and on. We decided to do the Extreme Getaway Package and feed some stingrays, then spend some time snorkling. When we arrived at the beach, we discovered that while our stingray feeding and snorkling gear was included in the charge (which was totally outrageous at something like $70 a person), none of the other rentals such as kayaks, and the floating “bicycles” were included in that. Extra rentals were about $25 an hour. So we decided to scratch the extra stuff and just relax on the beach and do our already scheduled shore excursion.

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In addition to the wide variety of rentals, there are waterslides and climbing toys out in the water. Kids looked like they were having a blast climbing all over the place and splashing in the water, but Max and Zoe didn’t show a whole lot of interest in it and were plenty happy just digging in the sand and making sand castles.

Although the beach was beautiful and there were plenty of things to see and do, it was overrun with people. I can’t even imagine what it looks like when one of the bigger Disney boats pulls in. At one point, Zoe walked to the shore to get some water in her bucket and I couldn’t even find her for awhile. She was lost in a sea of people. Although service was attempting to be prompt, it was almost impossible for them to keep up with the drink orders and it would take a looooong time to get a beer or a coke, simply because there were so many people.

We did really enjoy sitting under our umbrellas and relaxing and watching to the kids, but I have to admit, we felt a little pressed for time. Lunch was only served between 11:00 and 2:00. We arrived on the beach at around 11:30, but the hour and half between arrival and our 1pm stingray feeding went by really quick and by the time the stingray feeding was done, it was 2pm. No more food service. We hunted down some Disney employees and discovered there were some snacks available (chips and pre-made sandwiches), but it didn’t really satisfy our hunger after being on the beach for a few hours. It was our own fault for not planning ahead but I really just wanted to relax and not be on a schedule. Which was impossible if you had an excursion planned and food was only served between certain hours. I really feel like it would benefit Disney to have the buffet open until people started rounding up to get back to the boat.

I’m probably not being totally fair and might sound a bit negative. In all fairness to Disney, I didn’t really explore the whole island as much as we should have. We didn’t make it over to our bike rental for a bike ride, we didn’t walk down to explore the other beaches (there is an adults only beach just as an FYI), nor did we spend any time sampling the food. If I had to do it over again, I would get off the boat right away to explore the island. We moored at 7am and we took our time getting out there and exploring. Castaway Cay with family is fun, but planning ahead and really deciding how you want to spend your time there is key. Next trip? Getting up early and doing everything Castaway Cay has to offer!

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Interested in a Disney Cruise? Email me at mdownham@departurelounge.com for rates and availability.

 

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