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Castaway Cay for Adults: Disney Cruise Line Review

by Cheryl Pendry, PassPorter Featured Columnist
Last modified 11-08-2012

Castaway Cay.

Say those two words, and for those who've been lucky enough to visit Disney's private island paradise, fond memories will immediately spring to mind.

Castaway Cay is a stop on most Disney cruises around the Caribbean and Bahamas. There are exceptions (most Galveston-based cruises, and many Miami-based itineraries), and sometimes Castaway Cay can be on the itinerary, but has to be missed if you're unfortunate enough to experience bad weather on your cruise. Fortunately for us, on both of our cruises that were scheduled to dock at Castaway Cay, we made it with no problems.

In recent years, with the addition of the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy to the Disney Cruise Line, Castaway Cay has also undergone changes, expanding many facilities to ensure it can handle the increased numbers of passengers. With this in mind, I will be honest, on our most recent visit to Castaway Cay, I was sceptical about how busy the adult beach would be, as that hadn't been expanded.

As you'd perhaps expect for an adult-only hideaway, Serenity Bay, the beach that’s strictly reserved for those aged 18 and over, is at one of the furthest points from where the ships dock. As a result, it's something of an adventure to get there, involving two tram rides, with a change at the Palm Central Station Tram Stop. That's something we'd forgotten from our previous visit to Castaway Cay (in our defence, it had been far too many years!).

Having said that, the second of the tram rides over to Serenity Bay is one of my favorite memories of the times we've spent on Castaway Cay. It may sound strange to say that, and perhaps it's got something to do with feeling a pleasant breeze on a stifling hot day, but it's also something to do with the sights you see along the way. I'd honestly recommend that everyone takes a ride over to Serenity Bay, even if you don't get off at that stop, and just return back to the family or teen areas, as it's worth it for the views. The route that gets you there is a former airstrip, and just to reinforce that there’s a plane alongside the runway – Disney theming at its best. All of this is preparation for the tiny piece of heaven that you’re about to encounter, Serenity Bay. This is strictly for 18-years-old and over only, and as a result, it's exceptionally peaceful here -- that's the first thing that strikes you when you arrive.

The beach is full of pure white sand, like the rest of Castaway Cay, with loungers, and the essential beach parasols scattered among them. If you're here early enough in the day, you might even be able to grab yourself one of the few hammocks, although be warned, as I discovered when I tried one, they are an absolute nightmare to get in, and out of. Once you're settled in there though, you don't want to move. They really are paradise!

And speaking of paradise, it's literally spread out right in front of you, with crystal clear water. Be warned though, inviting as it looks, like most seawater, it can be cooler than you expect. We were pleasantly surprised by the various wildlife we saw during our time on Serenity Bay, including the birds watching over us. And yes, we did a double-take, and wondered if they were animatronic, but they weren't!

You don't have to head back to the main section of Castaway Cay (or the ship) to get something to eat, you can sample the lunch offerings at the Castaway Cay Air Bar-B-Q. As the name suggests, there's a selection of grilled items on offer--I've been especially impressed by their salmon. While you have to pay extra for alcoholic beverages, as you do throughout the cruise, it's worth buying at least one at the nearby Castaway Cay Air Bar, just so you can sample a cocktail in a beautiful, tropical island setting.

Something we haven’t yet tried, mainly because of the warnings about the massage oils making your skin more likely to burn, are the massage cabanas that overlook Serenity Bay. Massages do have to be reserved in advance, through the ship's spa.

So those are the adult-only offerings. What about adult-friendly activities elsewhere on Castaway Cay? If you like your shopping, definitely check out She Sells Sea Shells and Buy the Sea Shore. We were very impressed with the offerings in both shops, especially the Castaway Cay logo items. If you’re a scrapbooker, you may be in for a pleasant surprise, as the last time we were there, I was able to get some wonderful kits.

Although we never go near the family beach, this is the area to head to if you want to rent any form of watercraft. Even if you don’t rent, the sailboats, with their bright, vibrant colors, make for some stunning photos. Talking of photos, don’t forget that you can get some wonderful shots of your Disney ship. Keep an eye out for the cruise line's photographers, as they’re often in evidence. And just because you’re an adult, you can still bring out your inner child, and meet the characters! We had a fun encounter with Captain Jack Sparrow, even if sadly, the photos with him didn't turn out as we'd hoped.

Something else worth keeping in mind is to allow time to visit the post office on Castaway Cay to get the unique postmark. If you’ve got someone at home who appreciates Disney, this is a lovely touch, having been on the receiving end ourselves.

As an adult-only couple, visiting Castaway Cay is a bit like an extension of the Disney ships. You have your own adult-only section that you can spend time in, and many adults do. Serenity Bay is the perfect place to just kick back, and relax, and forget the realities of everyday life.

However, just like life on board, there are many other wonderful things to see and do away from that, so be sure to allow some time to explore the whole island during your stop, which in our eyes is sadly too short. Whatever you do, ensure you stop to take in that wonderful view across the beaches, back towards your ship -- what a beautiful sight! Kids, and families will love Castaway Cay, but there’s no reason why adults shouldn't as well.

About the Author: Cheryl is the author of the e-book, PassPorter's Walt Disney World for British Holidaymakers, and is the co-author of PassPorter's Disney Vacation Club Guide: For Members and Members-To-Be. Cheryl and husband Mark live in England and love to travel, particularly to Disney, and they have travelled around the world, taking in a number of Disney cruises, Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Aulani in Hawai'i, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disney and Hong Kong Disneyland on the way. Click here to view more of Cheryl's articles!

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Updated 11-08-2012

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