Caching in on a Cruise: Geocaching During a Disney Cruiseby Brian White, PassPorter Guest Contributor
Last modified 05-20-2010
Discouraged by the additional cost of port excursions? Overwhelmed by the choices? Just want to get out and discover a little local flavor that the various ports of call have to offer without the rest of the passengers tagging along? Perhaps you should check out geocaching!
I found it!
Geocaching in Massachusetts
Geocaching is basically a high-tech treasure hunt. Instead of searching for the proverbial ‘X marks the spot' using a map and compass, though, you head out the door armed with latitude and longitude coordinates and a GPS receiver to help you find the treasure.
Thousands of people take part in geocaching every day. They start by looking up coordinates to a cache location on the Internet and then use their GPS receiver to guide them to the treasure, or cache, which was hidden by another geocacher. The coordinates could lead to a local park, a museum, or the top of a mountain – the adventure is largely up to you!
While at first blush it may sound very simple, once you arrive near the cache coordinates you must then rely on your treasure hunting skills, as the GPS receiver may only get you to within 20 or 30 feet of the cache. While geocaching rules don't allow a cache to be buried, it may be hidden beneath sticks, a log or palm fronds, or otherwise camouflaged. Cache "hides" can run the gamut from very simple to deviously difficult.
Geocaches also vary in size from a large plastic container down to a thimble-sized magnetic container. A traditional cache might consist of a Tupperware container with a logbook and small prizes inside. Once you find the cache, you sign the logbook and may take something from the cache, leaving something else in its place for the next treasure hunter. Once back at home, you can also log your find online, which allows you to easily maintain a virtual logbook of all of your adventures, along with maps and pictures that you upload.
While older children and adults will likely be more interested in the journey and the search for the cache, don't be surprised if the little ones take longer to chose a prize than it took to find the cache!
On the geocaching website, each cache is rated on a 5-point scale for both the difficulty of the journey to the cache location and the difficulty in locating the cache itself. This allows you to tailor your cache hunts to your crew's desire for a challenge!
Why Cruise Caching?
Tip: Private Pool Parties on Your Cruise
We have taken two Disney cruises, and on each trip, we let the kids choose one night that we skip dinner in the dining room and instead head to the pools. We have had two magical nights where our boys had the entire pool deck and both the Mickey pool and Goofy pool *all to themselves!* We eat burgers or pizza from the counter-service locations up on deck 9, watch movies on the Dumbotron, and swim without the normal crowds. I've got great pictures of my boys in the Mickey pool that I took from above on Deck 10. The pools are such fun for our boys, but they're usually crowded, so our private pool parties have been a highlight of our trips. I highly recommend taking a night away from the dining rooms to enjoy some peaceful time in the pools. (And for those who are trying to pack less clothes to deal with the airline luggage limits, this is one less nice dinner outfit you need to pack!) - tip contributed by Melissa
Save This Tip
I often use geocaching as a tour guide when traveling, and I’m frequently amazed at the places we’ve "discovered" while on the road. Parks that even the locals don’t know about, waterfalls, caves, even a model railroad in the middle of the woods – you can find them all while geocaching. You’ll find interesting statues and landmarks, great vistas, and even have the chance to solve puzzles and receive history lessons along the way.
When we took our first Disney Cruise aboard the Wonder in January 2009, I knew I wanted to explore Nassau, but didn’t want to have to sign up for an excursion. So, naturally, I let other geocachers become my virtual tour guide. They led me on an extensive walking tour while stopping for a several caches: in front of the Governor’s mansion, visiting Parliament Square, taking in the view from Fort Fincastle atop Bennet’s Hill, and learning about the Battle of Nassau while visiting the British Colonial Hilton. All this was made possible by the efforts of geocachers I hadn't even met. A little over a year has passed, and there are now 14 geocaches on the island of Nassau for you to find.
We’ve recently booked our second cruise for February 2011 aboard the Magic heading to the Western Caribbean, and we’re looking forward to finding some of the 18 caches in Key West, the 36 in Grand Cayman, and the 14 in Cozumel. We know we’ll find some great spots for enjoying the local flavor of the Caribbean!
There are even geocaches on Castaway Cay – we found two when we visited in 2009. However, for a fun hunt for the kids, try your hand at hiding a temporary geocache – bring along some pirate trinkets, put them in a cache container, and hide it for the kids to find before they head to the pirate night dinner aboard the ship.
Getting Started with Geocaching
To get your feet wet, head to www.geocaching.com – here you'll find everything you need to know about this great hobby. Choose a geocaching username and create a free account. You can then view geocaches in your area, and then after your hunt you can log your experiences on the website as well.
Simply plug in your zip code, and you'll see the closest geocaches in your area. And lest you think you'll need to travel far, geocaching.com lists over one million active geocaches worldwide!
Next, you'll need to borrow or purchase a GPS receiver. A GPS unit typically costs between $70 and $500, depending on the feature set you're after, such as auto-routing, mapping, or simply a larger screen. There are even geocaching-ready GPS units now, including the Geomate Jr,. which comes pre-loaded with 250,000 cache listings and does away with all of the wiz-bang features of its expensive brothers while keeping its operation as simple as possible for the new geocacher. After that, you're off and running on your own adventure!
The Geocaching Experience
One of the great aspects of geocaching is getting out on the trail with others. We've introduced many people to geocaching, and now more often go with friends than without.
To add to the social aspect of geocaching, there are also events associated with the geocaching; camp outs and barbecues, competitive tournaments held each year, and, of course, the impromptu meetings with other geocachers on the trail.
Are you ready to be taken to fantastic locations that you would've never known about? Ready to have an impromptu tour guide when on vacation, or just need to pick a spot to get out and stretch your legs on a long drive? Join us on the geocaching hunt, and you'll have a winning solution to the kids' "I'm bored" mantra this summer!
Hunting for a cache in Brimfield, MA
Geocaching in Massachusetts
About the Author: Brian is a mechanical engineer, but is often found wandering in the woods with his wife and two children. He has found nearly 1600 geocaches in 25 states and three countries.
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I love caching and cruising.. It's even fun to cache at the Theme Parks
I just signed up and hope to do some caching on our roadtrip this summer and then again on our cruise ports in January. Sounds like a lot of fun!
We are off on a cruise in December and even being mad keen geocachers we had NOT even thought of finding caches on the islands!!! Well DUH!!! Thank you so much for the article - we are now ready to find those caches. Having caches in quite a few countries around the world we sincerely agree with the writer of the article. WE have seen so many beautiful spots that our geocaching community has shown us on holidays - spots that without the hunt for the cache we would have never ever seen - or even worse would have driven right by. Some examples are a beach that was perfect shells - a good metre deep of shells right across the whole beach!!! Hot springs bubbling in a small pond in a roadside park! We get to find the cache and see some great wonders of nature!!! So bring on the caching on the cruise - we may even drag the other two families with us on the hunt!!!
Thank you for the great article on geocaching- it's been hard to explain to my friends why my family loves geocaching in a way that tells them its not only for hardcore enthusiasts. We particularly like to geocache when we travel. In the last year we've done it at Yosemite, the Crand Canyon, the Valley of Fire in Nevada and up on Haleakula on Maui. My pre-teen kids are much more into sightseeing and exploring out in nature than they would otherwise. The comment about choosing which treasure to keep made me laugh because my 12 year old still has a bit of agony at choosing just one prize and fantasies of a cache with really great "swag" motivate her to get out there. We also use the Geomate Jr. and you got that right too. Since it's preloaded with caches I don't have to look them up on a website and even plan before we go if I don't want to. We just throw the Geomate in my bag and then I hang it around their necks and off they run like puppies- I don't have to worry they will misplace a fancy $400 GPS device or my iPhone. We are going to DisneyWorld at Thanksgiving 2010 and I have not yet investigated the cache situation in and around the Parks, but we just can't wait to see what's there.
To answer the question about geocaching at the Disney parks: there are no traditional caches in the park - back in 2007 Disney asked that all physical caches be removed from the park.
However, there are still 'virtual' caches - which require that you visit specific locations and look for information to prove you were there, but there is no physical cache to find.
There are virtual caches in the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Crockett's Wilderness adventure. There's also a Whereigo cache in Downtown Disney.
If you venture outside the parks, though, within 10 miles of Cinderella Castle, there are over 200 geocaches to find! Or, if Hidden Mickeys are more your style, they are listed at waymarking.com for you to track down with your GPSr!
We loved reading your article about geocaching while cruising! We have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to cruise twice with Disney in the past few years. Our first cruise was a 4 night cruise including stops at Nassau and Castaway, but we didn't know about geocaching when we took this cruise. Our second cruise was a 7 night Eastern carribean cruise in August 2009 and because we had become completely addicted to geocaching, we couldn't wait to explore the ports of call! This hobby is exactly as you described...fun, adventurous and educational for the whole family! We didn't have the opportunity to find any geocaches in St. Martin because we stayed close to the port that day and there were no geocaches in walking distance from the ship. However, we had a blast geocaching in St. Thomas. After leaving the ship, we walked down towards the taxis and took an open air taxi ride to Coki Beach and Coral World. First we visited Coral World and we all loved the animals there. Afterwards, we had a truly magical time at Coki Beach. We found the geocache right near the beach and then spent the rest of the day basking in the sun and hand feeding the fish in the ocean! As time drew closer to having to leave, we took our open air taxi back to the port and then found 2 more geocaches right near the pier! Another favorite day on the cruise was the day we spent at Castaway. We pre-purchased one of the packages that included snorkeling, biking and floatations and had such a fun time biking on Castaway as we followed our GPS towards ground zero for the cache. When we were visiting, there was only one geocache on Castaway, but venturing out to find it added to the amazing day we spent there! It had a fun cache container that our boys really loved. Thanks for a great article about geocaching while cruising! We have loved reading the logs from other geocachers on the Disney cruises that have found the same geocaches. We think that a section about geocaching and the trackable bugs and coins you pass along would be a great addition to the Passporter's guides!
I had never heard of geocaching before reading this article. It sounds like a wonderful way to see the port of call. I will be cruising in October and will definitely put geocaching on my TO DO list.
shbobto;3301365 >I had never heard of geocaching before reading this article. It sounds like a wonderful way to see the port of call. I will be cruising in October and will definitely put geocaching on my TO DO list.
I would reccomend trying a few caches local to your house as their are many different container/hide techniques this will get you thinking like a cacher
The worst thing would be to go caching on your vacation come up with a DNF (Cache lingo for Did Not Find) and get turned off from the sport.
Search your area for a local Caching community go to an event have fun but most of all Get Out There
Great article! We cache anywhere and everywhere! We cached on our last cruise (Western Caribbean) and found a couple on Castaway Cay, Cozumel, and thanks to our laptop, even got one in Key West after an unexpected docking there. We will be caching up the Mexican Riviera in February. I agree with the previous poster--if you are new to caching, try a few easy ones at home before you leave for your trip. It helps you to get the hang of looking for hidden things. Thanks for bringing some more exposure to this great family activity!
We love to GC in an area we visit. Like you we have found many neat overlooks, historical markers, etc. If we don't come pre-planned, we fire up the Blackberry application for a fast on-the-fly time killer.
Check out this GC we completed. It was a neat bit of Disney History.
WD's Original GC4B24
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Updated 05-20-2010 - Article #478
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