Tips from a first-time cruiser part 3!

 If you read parts one and two of my blog post, you’ll know that I decided to surprise my husband for Father’s Day and book our family on our first-ever cruise!  Even though I plan travel for a living, I still had so many questions about the cruising experience that I couldn’t find sufficient answers for, so in the interest of helping others, I decided to write a blog series about our cruise on the Disney Dream.

Here is the final installation to help get you more excited for your next adventure on the high seas!

We woke up on Father’s Day to find that we were already docked at Castaway Cay. This is Disney’s private island that they have leased from the Bahamian government until 2096.  While I drank my coffe, I enjoyed watching the men work with the ropes to tie the ship to the dock.

We went upstairs to Cabana’s for their wonderful breakfast buffet, then after sun- screening and packing our cooler bag, we were out of the room and off the ship by 9:00 a.m.

Castaway Cay was much larger than I expected. When you get off the ship, you are handed a beach towel for each member of your party. Then, you can take a tram to the beaches, or walk the path. We chose to walk.

The beach was pretty empty when we got there because we were off the boat early. Look at the view of the Dream from the family beach!

We found a great spot -- under lots of trees, right behind the bar, near the restrooms and restaurant, with lots of hammocks. Don’t worry about getting a chair – there are plenty! 

Our oldest daughter and I headed to the water to snorkel before too many people were there and the sand was kicked up from the bottom. We brought own equipment, but Disney does require all snorkelers to wear yellow safety vests while snorkeling, so we each grabbed one, free of charge. You don’t need to blow up the vest, but you must wear it. There wasn’t much to see on the marked underwater trail, except for some fish and sunken Disney artifacts; we did like the giant teacups! According to other guests, snorkeling in other areas of the beach was better – they saw rays, sea turtles, squid, and more colorful fish. Here is what my husband did while we were snorkeling:

Beer and a book – a great Father’s Day! And as is their tradition, he and our youngest daughter built one of their ‘now-famous’ sand sculptures:

Numerous people asked if they worked for Disney – they thought they were professional sandcastle builders, and asked if they could take pictures. Very neat.

 

We had a great BBQ lunch at Cookies BBQ, then did more exploring of the island. There are no lockers on the island, and since we didn’t bring cash, we left our things on our chairs all day and no one bothered it. Everyone there is too busy making memories with their families! I’ll let our pictures speak for how we spent the rest of our day at Castaway Cay.

Self-serve ice cream:

Walking around and taking photographs (spot the lizard in two of the pictures!):

Water playgrounds and waterslides(both waterslides are crazy fast and deep at the bottom – not for young children or the faint of heart):

 

Swimming, reading and more soft serve ice cream:

One day is not enough time to see and do everything on Castaway Cay, but that’s all you get (unless you take a special 4-night cruise that stops there twice)! You can walk, rent bikes, play games (basketball, mini-golf, ping pong and a giant chess set), swim, snorkel, eat, drink, shop, dance with the characters, participate in the hermit crab race, or just relax. You can even mail a postcard (if it’s not a Sunday; they are closed). Castaway Cay is like the most perfect beach resort you can imagine, but everything is clean and safe, and so family-friendly. I did not want to leave, even after the rest of my family headed back to the ship. I knew we had until 4:30 to be back on the Dream, so I stayed. Even though the sky started to look like this:

Cast members put the umbrellas down:

 

Yes, it’s looking scary over there; I maybe should leave! 

No not yet, I have Disney Castaway Cay all to myself!

 

 

Hmm, all of the food is put away:

 

 

Ok they are ordering me to leave now:

 

 

Not raining on walk back to boat. Yet:

 

 

 

 

My family took these photos as they were waiting on the verandah (again – always choose a verandah if you can swing the cost!) for me to come back to the ship:

It indeed started to rain as I was walking back, and right as I hit the metal gangway, it started to lightning and thunder. Fortunately, Disney security got all of us very soaked late-stayers back onto the ship fairly quickly. It was a great adventure! In typical Disney service, the cast members on the island stood in the rain to wave good-bye to us – using their giant Mickey hands!

 

 

Once we were showered, we headed to the 6:00 show of Disney’s Believe, which was wonderful, as expected. We loved being able to recognize the performers from the previous night’s show and were amazed to learn that the cast members participate in several shows each week. And look at this theater! No photos during the show, of course – I snapped these before it began: