Sunbeams on placid turquoise water, soft white sand under the feet, and a day stretched out ahead with nothing much in particular to do. It’s a dream come true in March for a family that hails from the snowy state of Minnesota. This island paradise, known as Castaway Cay, is an exclusive retreat for guests sailing aboard Disney Cruise Line on select itineraries.
We spent a wonderful, relaxing day on Castaway’s two family beaches recently, much needed after months of cold weather. As with any day you spend sailing with Disney Cruise Line, you can choose to do as much or as little activity as you’d like and have a wonderful time at it. Most visits, the kids are happy playing in the sand, collecting shells, and paddling around on inner tubes (rent on the island or wait until later in the day when most sit abandoned on the shore). We normally have no problem claiming lounge chairs to kick back in – or, if we’re early birds, snagging one of those hammocks under the palms. Not that our little ones allow us to do much dozing in the sun.
The cruise ship docks at Castaway Cay early in the morning and guests are permitted to go ashore starting at 8:30am. It’s “all aboard” for cruisers by 4:45pm, allowing for hours to soak up the rays.
A little more action
There are two separate, roughly horsehoe-shaped bays that make up Castaway Cay’s family beaches, each with its own activities.The lagoon hugging the beaches is clear and relatively shallow. Lifeguards stationed at several points out in the water add an extra measure of safety for kids who are ready to swim on their own.
The first family beach (called so for its proximity to where the ship docks) fronts on 22 acres of crystal-clear water for swimming and snorkeling. If you happen to own snorkel gear, bring it along! There is no charge to snorkel for sunken surprises in the lagoon. If you’d like to rent equipment, it’s readily available.
Not far out from the shore is a wooden play structure with bridges and ropes to swing from.
The second family beach contains the Pelican Plunge waterslide and all manner of ways to splash yourself silly. Mom and Dad, there are no age limits here; feel free to take the plunge for yourselves. We often do.
Not to be confused with the strictly adults-only Serenity Bay on a secluded side of the island, there may be a period during your day on the family beach that you’d like to take a breather from the kids. We feel completely comfortable allowing our older children the freedom to move between the beach and the nearby “In Da Shade” game pavilion. Unlimited free games of pool and shuffleboard beckon when the kids need to get out of the sun.
For younger kiddos (specifically ages 3-12), Scuttle’s Cove near the first family beach is an extension of the free child-care services on board Disney Cruise Line. If your kids are comfortable separating they will love excavating in the sand, playing water games and possibly even hanging out with kids they’ve met on the ship. The counselors will even feed the kids lunch if they’re checked in around noon. Go close your eyes under a palm tree and rest assured that if the children need you, staff will shoot you a page.
When it comes time to refuel, Cookie’s BBQ is just a short stroll from the Castaway Cay family beaches (and the meal is conveniently covered by the cruise fare). In a cool, covered pavilion we tuck into all we can eat of ribs, hot dogs, salads and soft serve for dessert. So the toddler dripped half her cone down her chin? The outdoor showers came in handy for more than just rinsing off the sand!
Memories made on Castaway Cay’s family beaches keep us warm all winter long.
Location: A stop at Castaway Cay’s family beach in the Bahamas is included on select Disney Cruise Line itineraries.