Saturday, June 6, 2009

Port Call - Castaway Cay, Day 7

CASTAWAY CAY, BAHAMAS - Imagine a quiet private island in the Bahamas that comes to life only when a Disney Cruise ship arrives. A couple of times a week this small island has thousands of visitors, from around the world, arrive to spend a few luxurious hours on the pristine beaches,to enjoy the clear water, special activities and the service of attentive hosts. Until the ship arrives only a small group of Disney staff is on this 1000 acre piece of island getting it ready for the next wave of tourists.

This small island has a beach for everyone. Castaway family beach has plenty of lounge chairs, umbrellas and beach access for everyone. There is an adults only beach, Serenity Bay, with cabanas and hammocks for taking in an afternoon of massages, drinks and sunning. The teens have their private beach to snorkel and kayak, and the younger children have Scuttle's Cove to explore.

One of the first areas we came across after leaving the ship was a small cove with the Flying Dutchman Pirate ship anchored. This is Davey Jones' ghost ship from Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest movie. It is a great backdrop for pictures, you may even catch a glimpse of Jack Sparrow on the beach.

There was no hunting for a place on the beach as chairs, umbrellas and hammocks were positioned on for anyone, no charge. The ship brought lunch to the island and set up buffet lines in the buildings that were designed to look like castaways may have built them, only a bit larger scale than say Gilligan's Island buildings.

There were a number of excursions available, like jet skiing, glass bottom boat tours, and a Stingray adventure where kids can touch and feed Stingrays. We opted for the sedate bicycle tour followed by some beach volleyball and topped off with parasailing, another peer pressure adventure I was glad I tried.

The winds were high and the parasailing was breathtaking, I recommend it for anyone, even if you have a fear of heights. The harness, rope and pull of the chute gave me the sense of security I needed to enjoy the flight. The way the boat is designed that pulls you into the sky you could take off and land without getting wet. That is unless you have two teenage daughters telling the driver to "dunk em". He also succumbed to peer pressure and in we went for a refreshing dip before being pulled back up and onto the boat.

The island has had several noticeable improvements since our visit four years ago. The bike and walking paths have been paved, which makes for better biking. A new observation tower has been erected to look over the small undeveloped island. And some new buildings to cover the eating areas and house some local craft stores have been built. The island has it's own Post Office where you can mail your postcards with Bahamian stamps and a Castaway Cay post mark. One feature that serves as the main thorough fare across part of the island is the runway, reportedly was used by drug runners before Disney bought the island. Now it is part of the bike path and serves as the shuttle point to the adults only beach.

This was a picture perfect island and a great way to spend the last day on a weeklong cruise. Some of Disney's new tours have been designed to stop twice on Castaway Cay. I wouldn't mind coming back a couple more times myself.

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