Jennifer and Dave's Disney Adventure Report

Dates: 10/18 - 10/27, 1999 (10 day trip)


  • Jennifer Watson (author): 31 year old, writer and co-author of PassPorter Walt Disney World, on her umpteenth trip to Disney (from Ann Arbor, MI)
  • Dave Marx: 44 year old, writer and co-author of PassPorter Walt Disney World, on his 10th (or is it 11th?) trip to Disney (from Hackensack, NJ and Ann Arbor, MI)
  • Evans: online friend who we used to work with on AOL; Disney vacation veteran (joining us for the first three days)
  • Liz: friend of Evans; never been to Disney before (also joining us for the first three days)
  • Kim Larner: 28 year old, Jennifer's younger sister, pregnant (in her fourth month). On her third trip to Walt Disney World but brand new to the Disney Cruise (from Okemos, Michigan). She is joining us for the cruise aboard the Disney Wonder.
  • Chad Larner, 28 year old, Jennifer's brother-in-law. Also on his third trip to Walt Disney World. (from Okemos, Michigan) He is also joining us on the cruise.
Updated 11/21/03

Copyright 1999-2006
PassPorter Travel Press, an imprint of MediaMarx, Inc.

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  Our Sixth Day: Saturday, October 23, 1999

Morning brought us into Castaway Cay, Disney's private island. By the time we awoke, we were already docked and we could see the island through our porthole window. Considering how disappointing Nassau had been yesterday, we didn't get up early nor did we rush to get ready. We finally got going around 10:30 and disembarked onto Castaway Cay.

Note: The Disney Wonder arrived at Castaway Cay around 7:00 am and folks were able to go onshore around 8:30 am. We strongly recommend you get up early and take advantage of Castaway Cay!

Tip: Disembarkation for Castaway Cay is on Deck One - Aft which is at a different location than Nassau (Deck One - Forward). Unfortunately, the disembarkation signs are confusing. If you go down to Deck One -Forward and try to walk Aft, you cannot. Instead, go to any other deck, walk aft to the aft elevator banks, and take the elevator down to Deck One.

The crew members had a cart full of towels set up next to the boat, to which we helped ourselves to. We then set out for the island, observing how well the island looked considering its recent brush with the storm. We expected to see little to no vegetation, when it fact there was plenty of ground vegetation and most trees had thier leaves/fronds. We did notice a sign that apologized for the state of things while Disney rehabilitated the island, but frankly it wasn't necessary.

After stopping to take a photograph of the beautiful Disney Wonder, we hopped on the tram and went towards all the action. We then made a beeline for Cookie's Bar-B-Q (our empty stomachs guided us), where we met up with Kim and Chad. They had yet to eat that day, even though they had gotten up several hours before us. It seems the boat closed their food service venues earlier than usual and Cookie's Bar-B-Q didn't open until 11:30 am (and closes at 2:00 pm). The food was presented buffet style, as expected, as was filling and good. Seating is all outside on picnic tables, some of which are under umbrellas and others are under a pavilion.

During lunch we studied the map of the island (which was sent to us in our cruise documentation before the cruise) and decided the island was bigger than it seemed in the map. And unfortunately, it was close to noon and the boat would be sailing again at 5:00 pm. So we decided we couldn't do a thorough examination of the island, but we might be able to get in at least one activity: snorkeling. We wanted much more time, and wished we'd gotten up earlier, or that the boat would leave later as it did from Nassau. Get up as early as possible and make the most of Castaway Cay — it is worth the effort.

After lunch we headed to rent snorkeling equipment (face mask, snorkel, and fins) for $10 per person ($20 total). Note: We've recently learned that this $10 rate was being offered only because Disney was still refurbishing Castaway Cay. Normally snorkeling equipment is about $27 per person per day (arrive early to get the most out time out of your rental).

This was Jennifer's first time snorkeling, while Dave had been snorkeling at St. Maarten/St. Martin. The snorkeling lagoon was roped off and quite generous. A crew member gave us pointers and tips (much appreciated) and off we went. The sunken treasure placed by Disney was fun to find, and there were enough fish swimming about to delight us. We followed the "snorkeling trail" set by Disney for the most part, and actually went out further than we expected we could. We spent probably two hours snorkeling and it was very enjoyable. Jennifer didn't like the taste of saltwater in her mouth, though (yuck!).

Snorkeling Tips:

1. Put waterproof, strong sunblock on your back and legs or you WILL get sunburned badly. Jennifer had plenty of sunscreen on, but it wasn't waterproof enough nor strong enough, and she got a light burn.

2. Spit in your mask before you put it on. We know that sounds unpleasant, but it helps keep your mask from fogging up while you're snorkeling.

3. Either put your fins on once you're deep enough to swim, or put them on in shallow water and then walk backwards to avoid tripping over them.

After snorkeling, Dave left to check out the adult-only beach while Jennifer relaxed in a hammock. The day was beautiful and there was a cool, island breeze. We noted that the family beach was very crowded and all chairs and most space on the sand was occupied. Jennifer found her hammock by the snorkeling lagoon (behind the rental barn), which was less crowded. Dave didn't make it to the adult-only beach as the last tram left right as he arrived (the trams stop running at 3:30 pm). Kim and Chad did get to the adult-only beach, however, and they were not impressed. It wasn't crowded and there was plenty of space, but almost no chairs, hammocks, or shade. They were also frustrated by the crew beach, which was right next door, as they saw it had lots of shade and many, many chairs and hammocks.

If you're into pin collecting as we are, we recommend you visit the She Sells... (and Everything Else) gift store on Castaway Cay for one of their Castaway Cay pins ($5.50 each). This is the only place you can buy them, so they're an important collectible! The store is open from 9:00 am - 4:00 pm.

Around 4:00 pm, we headed back to the ship. As it turned out, a tram was operating and we got a ride back. Onboard, we went up to deck 10 to watch the boat pull out and away from Castaway Cay. Afterwards, we headed back to the stateroom to get ready for our evening. Tonight was our meal at Palo, and then the Disney Dreams stageshow. We all dressed up (the men in suits, the women in dresses) and headed back up to Deck 10 - Aft for Palo.

Palo was wonderful, and unquestioningly the best meal we had on board. In fact, it was only here that we felt the food and service had that elusive magical quality that seemed missing elsewhere on this cruise. We strongly recommend you make reservations for Palo -- you'll need to make them the day you get on board (2:00 -3:30 pm) at StudioSea (Deck 4 - Midship). Be there right at 2:00 and you shouldn't have problem getting reservations. We recommend the earlier seating, as you may get to see the sunset as we did.

After dinner we returned to the stateroom to change into less dressy clothes. During that trip, our stateroom host told us our luggage had to be outside our stateroom door by 11:00 pm. Yikes! This is the first we'd heard of it. So we made a mental note and hurried off to see Disney Dreams. Incredible show! It actually brought tears to Jennifer's eyes. Do not miss this show. It is magical, entertaining, and quintessential Disney. Also, we recommend you arrive at least 20 minutes before the show starts to get a good seat. We had to stand in the back as all seats were full when we arrived just as it started.

After the show, we went back to the stateroom to pack our bags. Packing went smoothly and the cruise line provides new tags for the bags. We weren't happy about having to pack so early (as it meant plenty of things would be unpacked and would have to be carted around), but it is understandable. After packing, we walked around the deck a bit. We turned in shortly thereafter, as we would need to get up very early (7:00 am) in the morning.

From our PassPorter:

The weather on our sixth day was sunny, warm, and breezy... perfect.

The best thing about our sixth day was visiting Castaway Cay, a delightful beach playground.

The worst thing about our sixth day was not having enough time to really explore Castaway Cay.

The most interesting thing about our sixth day is how well the island looked after weathering a hurricane in September.

The most frustrating thing about our sixth day was having to have our luggage packed and ready to go by 11 pm.

One word that best describes our sixth day is SNORKELING!

To learn more, continue on to our Seventh Day.

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