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Today was Disney Fantasy’s second day in Castaway Cay, Disney Cruise Line’s own island. And, as yesterday, the distinct shudder of a ship moving into position at the pier jolted me awake.
Most cabins on the ship would never feel such vibrations, but those on the rear — and keep in mind, I’m in an aft-facing stateroom with a view of the wake — do! It was one of those mornings when you glance out the window and immediately know it’s going to be a lovely day.
We got the feel of the land yesterday by riding the tram all the way down to Serenity Bay and then renting bikes, so we spent the most of today at Family Beach. Snorkeling along the lagoon’s underwater path was one of the things I was most looking forward to. But first, what? Breakfast!
“Attention to detail” is one of three words that have come to me often throughout this sailing trip. This is something Disney is renowned for, and I’ve definitely seen it at the parks, so I shouldn’t have been shocked to learn that the same high standards apply to the company’s cruise ships. For example, guess who was gazing back at me from the froth when I got a cappuccino this morning? Mickey!
For coffee lovers, Disney offers a punchcard that allows you to get a free speciality coffee after purchasing six. Given that this was just a four-night cruise, I didn’t drink enough coffee to qualify for the free coffee, but it’s a great benefit for those who sail for extended periods of time (or who drink more caffeine than I typically do).
When we arrived, the majority of passengers took advantage of the beautiful weather by getting off the ship as soon as possible. However, we saw that the AquaDuck water coaster opened at 9 a.m. and decided to take advantage of the almost empty ship by riding it before landing.
A cast member will inform you when to join the two-person raft after you reach the top of the steps leading to the AquaDuck. When I inquired if I could bring my GoPro, they stated it was OK as long as I used a head strap to keep it secure. I was ecstatic to learn this, since the POV video is fantastic. Plus, I was having so much fun on the coaster that I didn’t pay attention to what was going on around me, so being able to watch it back afterwards was fantastic.
A conveyer belt pulls you into place after you’re seated in the AquaDuck raft, and then gravity takes over! Because the bulk of the trip is enclosed, a part of me worried whether I’d feel claustrophobic. However, there were enough holes in the tunnels that I was alright. It also helps that the tube is transparent, which means it doesn’t seem as enclosed as it would otherwise.
We disembarked for the day at Castaway Cay after riding twice. When we arrived at the beach, there were a few different characters with whom we could take pictures. Chip and Dale were the first ones up, followed by Daisy and Donald in their jeep driving down the beach. We didn’t need to wear a mask while posing with the figures since we were outdoors. We also couldn’t wrap our arms around them or do anything like that.
Last night aboard the ship, Jack and Sally (from The Nightmare Before Christmas) were in a similar situation. The vehicle was in the ideal spot for selfies or having someone else take the photo. You could easily mistake the beach photos for ones shot during “normal” times if you didn’t realize everything was socially distant.
After shooting pictures, we went to Pelican Plunge, which is a huge floating barge that you can swim out to. You’ll discover two distinct slides — one covered and one open — to ride down once you arrive. Surprisingly, while being on the Family Beach side, this isn’t a very good attraction for young children. The water is very deep, and you must swim to Pelican Plunge… Even with a life jacket, it would be difficult for little children to get out there and return.
The slides at Castaway Cay’s Pelican Plunge.
We next proceeded to the snorkel shack to rent a mask, fins, and snorkel. The day’s cost was about $33 per person. When we leased the accommodation, they took our room number and last name. In addition, we were issued a life jacket, which is required by Disney in the 22-acre lagoon.
Make sure you eat your Wheaties before putting on your mask, since you’ll be swimming a lot if you want to see all of the sights!
All around the lagoon, there are sunken “treasures” indicated with buoys. There are ship anchors, character sculptures, the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride vehicle, and plenty of fish and coral. Remember that coral is a live creature that you should never touch for a variety of reasons. For one thing, if you come into contact with fire coral, you’ll get a terrible rash. But, perhaps more importantly, just touching certain types of coral may cause severe harm.
We swam ashore to catch a tram to Serenity Bay, the adults-only area, after approximately an hour of exploring eight underwater locations. I intended to visit these beaches under better circumstances since the weather wasn’t fantastic yesterday.
We went to the adults-only beach after a steak lunch and stayed for approximately an hour. Rather from the more activity-oriented activities at the Family Beach, here is a spot to simply sit in the sea and chill out. The water will never be deeper than your waist if you walk a few hundred feet from the beach; much of it was knee-level.
While sitting in the water, we requested a drink, and the waiter took our order by asking for our room number. This is one of the ways Disney has decreased the number of contact points on the island and on the ship. Also, if you’re making a purchase from one of the ship’s stores, they have a card reader hidden behind plastic, so all you have to do is tap your card on the glass, and it’ll be read through RFID, much like your cabin.
We rode the tram back to the Pelican Point Tram Stop to do some shopping after spending as much time as we could in the Bahamian heat. On the island, they sell unique Castaway Cay stuff, so I purchased a water bottle before making my way back to the ship.
Despite spending two days on the island, we were unable to see everything. Castaway Cay is a massive island. Adult and family cabanas, a stingray experience, the Castaway Cay post office (where you can mail a letter with an authentic Castaway Cay postmark), and additional covered eating spaces can all be found on the island.
We heard that the skipper would play all eight horns during the sail away as we were boarding the ship, so we went directly to the top deck near the funnel. Just as we were about to set sail, the horns began playing some of the most well-known Disney songs of all time.
Be Our Guest, Do You Want to Build a Snowman, It’s a Small World, Imperial March (from Star Wars), Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life For Me), A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes, and Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee-Dee-Dee-Dee-Dee-Dee-Dee-Dee-Dee-Dee-Dee-Dee-Dee-Dee-Dee-Dee-Dee-De (from Pinocchio).
Is there one more charming touch? Cast members who live on Castaway Cay or commute to the island lined the dock as we floated away, waving farewell with giant, white Mickey hands.
Believe was the last performance at the Walt Disney Theater today. I’ll confess that I was dubious after reading the show’s description (“a busy father reconnects with his kid via a little Disney magic”).
As good as the others had been, I had a feeling this one wouldn’t be my cup of tea. Well, it turns out I was mistaken because I became totally absorbed in both the narrative and the musical performances as the play progressed. On this four-day cruise, I believe I sat through more performances than on any previous sailing, even ones twice as long.
The penultimate restaurant in our cycle around the ship’s three dining rooms was Animator’s Palate, where we had our last supper. This area is devoted to the art of Disney animation, as the name suggests, and there are drawings and sketches from popular Disney films around the room.
The bread and garlic butter provided were the finest I’ve ever had – so wonderful that they brought two baskets to our table. The butter knife is fashioned like an artist’s brush, which is a fun touch. That’s fantastic! Tuna tartar with sliced cucumbers, butternut squash soup, and ginger teriyaki-crusted beef tenderloin with carrots were all delicious.
The top of tonight’s coffee was adorned with a Star Wars Rebel Alliance insignia. It’s incredible how they do them, and I presume they’re done by a machine, but any way, it’s incredible.
Crush, the turtle from Finding Nemo, makes his way around the room during dinner, appearing on screens adjacent to each table to have a direct discussion with you. I first thought he was delivering pre-recorded bits of speech… until I asked if we may photograph him and he began making postures.
Crush inquired about the temperature of the water on the Jersey coast at the table behind us, which was from New Jersey. The technology at work here is incredible, and it was wonderful to see the kids’ cheeks light up when they had a chance to speak with him. Okay, kids and adults included. After bidding my goodbyes to our servers, I discovered that this wasn’t the end of the story. If we opt to dine in the dining room tomorrow morning, they will also be our servers. So we’ll get to see them again!
The characters were snapping pictures in the atrium on their way out, each in a different location. On the one hand, it was a nice parting present and an opportunity to snap some photos. However, some of the placements were inconvenient, since you could hardly see the figures, much alone attempt to photograph them.
Above all, it has left me — and I presume others — hopeful that things would soon return to normal. It would have been great if all of the characters had congregated at the bottom of the steps for a group picture.
I’m going to pack and get some sleep after missing the chance to leave my baggage outside the cabin. We’ll arrive in Port Canaveral at 5 a.m. and be beside the pier by 7 a.m., ready to depart. With the ship at 25% capacity, I imagine disembarkation will be a breeze.
Stay tuned for disembarkation and my Disney Fantasy final comments.
See my previous Disney Fantasy vacation reports here:
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