This is our last full cruise day and we are docking in our third and final port of Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island in the Bahamas. We woke to the Captain’s announcement that bad weather was anticipated and that we were docking early (original arrival was scheduled at 9:30 am) to pick up any clear weather we could. It was raining when we ported and only a few people were getting off the boat.
We grabbed a quick breakfast and headed out. Most of the excursions were cancelled. On a clear day, you can swim with stingrays, parasail, zip line, fish, ride in a glass-bottom boat, and many more activities on the island. There are large children’s play areas and water slides. Some of the snorkeling went forward and the beaches were open. The 5K race on the old island air strip also went on as planned. We stopped for a photograph with the ship in the background, but the photographer was really having trouble with the lighting. He told us he had been out since early morning in the pouring down rain. All the character greetings had been moved from the island to back on the ship.
Rocky and I boarded the tram. Since the crowds were thinner we thought we would make a stop at the family beach to check it out. This is our second visit to Castaway Cay; last time we visited the adult-only beach, Serenity Bay. We got off at the second stop and realized that more people had gotten off the boat than we thought. We looked at each other and went back out to tram terminal to take the alternate tram to Serenity Bay. We hadn’t lost any time, you have to transfer anyway. This second tram takes you along the air strip to Serenity Bay. We saw the last of the runners-they were actually walking-finishing their 5K.
There are nice restrooms, a picnic area where lunch will later be served, massage huts, and a bar right at the beach entrance. There are also lots of signs telling guests that this area is only for ones 18 and older. There is also a sign warning you about sharks, jellyfish, the undertow, etc. as you enter the beach; I wish I had gotten a picture of it. I wouldn’t be surprised if some people read the sign and turned around and went back.
There are always plenty of lounge chairs and short-legged sand chairs. We both had one of each. You can also find an umbrella if you prefer the shade. We usually select the umbrella and then pull a chair into the sun if we want a little vitamin D. The beach was popular and plenty of adults were enjoying the water as well. A ship’s server came along the beach to take your order from the bar. We felt it would be unfriendly not to acknowledge him and place an order. I can recommend the Bon Voyage.
There is a lifeguard on the beach and at one point she was yelling to some people in the water. Everyone on the beach thought she was trying to get everyone out of the water. Actually, the couple was snorkeling, which you are allowed to do if you are wearing a life vest. Finally armed with the right equipment, they snorkelers headed back into the water.
At each beach on Castaway Cay, there is a bar-b-que picnic area (called Cookie’s on the two family beaches) where lunch is served. In addition to the extensive salad bar, they were grilling everything you could think of-hamburgers, hotdogs, sausages, chicken, fish, and steaks. There is also corn on the cob and some really great German potato salad. A cold soup, chips, ice cream, tea, and soda are also available. Guests sit on picnic benches.
A few adults that were hanging out at other beaches came over for a quieter, more relaxing lunch with more food options than at Cookie’s at the family beach. They strictly enforce this picnic area as adult-only. I should mention that you can also book a cabana for the day on each of the beaches. These sell out quickly; book as soon as possible and definitely before boarding the ship. The couple in front of us in line had a cabana. They had left their children (with supervision) at the cabana to come over to our area for lunch.
The beach started to clear out after lunch, but die hards like Rocky and I were determined to stay as long as possible. Our first plan was to stay until 3 and be back on the boat to pack and not miss the evening entertainment. By two pm, the lifeguards were shutting up the umbrellas, the chairs were almost empty, and the cold front had started to roll in, so we headed back to the tram and ultimately the ship.
Everybody had the same idea and the tram lines by the family beach meant a short wait. I rode back next to a family visiting from Canada. Mom was ready to be home and “sleep in her own bed.” I asked how their trip had gone and she said they enjoyed it but because they had never seen a Star Wars movie and had no interest, yesterday had been rather a bust for them. Apparently they were in a large family group and her mom had selected this particular week. At least she had avoided the cold Canadian winter for one week.
Back on the ship we decided to get our packing done. The final production show Wishes is this evening, but Rocky was toying with the idea of going to see Rogue One again since it was being offered in 3D. I can’t tell you about Wishes, because we got the packing done and headed to the movie.
After the movie, we went to our last dinner in the Enchanted Garden. They will put your tips on your cruise statement, but Disney provides envelopes it you want to give the cast members the acknowledgement form and even something extra. After saying goodbye to our table mates and servers, we headed to the room so Rocky could take off his dinner clothes and we could put a few more things in the suitcases. Our checked bags have to be outside the room by 10:30 pm.
After we got the luggage out, we went to the farewell party, See Ya Real Soon. For the first 15 minutes (it was more like 20), the characters sign autograph books and take pictures with the guests. Rocky and I went for it, getting pictures with Mikey, Donald, Goofy, Pluto, and Daisy.
For the last 10 minutes, the Princesses appear on stage and the other characters head to the stairs where they do a closing number. Rocky reminded me that Mikey never says goodbye, it is always “See Ya Real Soon.” At the end of the number, golden Mickeys fell from the ceiling; I took a few back to the cabin in my hair. Each character then got his personal send off.
After the show, it is off to bed. We have an early wake-up call to make the first bus for our late morning flight out of the Orlando airport. If you are using Disney transportation, you can not book a departure flight before 11:30 am. Ours is at 11:40. We were able to check-in for our flight, get boarding passes, and check our luggage on the ship. We put special tags on the bags when they were set outside our room. At the cruise terminal, the regular airline tags are attached and the bags go directly to the plane. If customs (in the cruise terminal) wants to inspect your bags, you will be pulled aside.
When we left the ship, we went straight to customs without having to collect our bags. When we arrived at the airport, we went straight to security because we already had boarding passes. Security at Orlando can be a zoo because of all the travelers; give yourself plenty of time. Our bus got us from the cruise terminal to the airport in under 45 minutes.
It was a fabulous trip. If you like Disney, you will love this cruise. If you like Star Wars, you would love this cruise. Rocky and I had a wonderful time. See Ya Real Soon…Natasha.