Disney’s Castaway Cay-A Great Place for Adults!

Castaway Cay has an adults-only area!  My wife and I have been to Castaway Cay four times over three Disney Cruise Line voyages.  (and we have another “double-dip” booked for Summer of 2017.)  We have only had an opportunity to visit Serenity Bay one time.  We think all adults need to visit this adult-only beach!

First, Castaway Cay is everything that you have heard/read (and possibly a lot more).  Castaway Cay is one of our family’s favorite vacation spots.  There are a vast amount of amenities only steps away at all times.  Furthermore, the Port Adventures available at Castaway Cay offer incredible enhancements and a tremendous value.  Castaway Cay itself is, in my opinion, an incredible value for families.  Just imagine if Disney could build a resort here…

Map of Castaway Cay

Getting to Serenity Bay is a little more challenging to get to than the other areas of Castaway Cay, but it is not difficult by any means.  The tram picks passengers up near the ship.  This tram stop is just past Marge’s Barges.  On the map, the tram stop is called Kargo Handling.  There are two family beach tram stops.  The first is at Scuttle’s Cove.  Scuttle’s Cove is basically the Oceaneers Club/Lab of Castaway Cay.  Parents may drop off children there similar to dropping them off at the clubs on the ship.  The second is Pelican Point.  Pelican Point is a stop right in the middle of two very vast family beaches.  The two beaches are divided by a protruding land mass that would otherwise be a very large lagoon.  However, on this peninsula, is the Heads Up bar.  It is a great place to have a beverage and take some great photos.  We got off of the tram at Pelican Point to wait for another tram to take us to Serenity Bay.  I believe the second tram would go between Pelican Point and Serenity Bay for a majority of the day.  The second tram picked us up within five minutes, and the ride to Serenity Bay was brief.

Serenity Bay is a wonderful place where adults may relax without the hustle and bustle of family life.  The biggest difference I remember is how tranquil the environment is.  It felt slow, spacious, and quiet.  This is much different than the family beaches which are very busy.  Great seating is abundant.  It was a short walk for my wife and me to find multiple lounge chairs with an umbrella.  Shortly after finding “our spot,” a server came by to check on our needs.  The service on Serenity Bay is terrific!  Our beverages were delivered quickly and our server checked on us often but not too much.

 

The beach at Serenity Bay looks like what you see on an advertisement for tropical resorts.  I am not referring to just the white sand and crystal blue water.  Those two features can be found at hundreds of locations.  The really cool thing about the ocean at Serenity Bay is how far out one can walk.  It tapers similar to most beaches.  However, there is a sandbar out a little way which is neat to hang out at.  The beach also has two key features that allow adults to stay secluded if they wish.  1.  A bar.  2.  Serenity Bay BBQ.  I really, REALLY like Cookies and Cookies Too, but my experience at the Serenity Bay BBQ was amazing.  I do not know if it was timing or luck, but my food was prepared to order which is much different than both Cookies locations.  I need to stress that the food is good no matter which location you are eating at on the island.  Another advantage that I noticed was there was a little less wildlife around the seating area.  If you have eaten at Castaway Cay, you have noticed the birds around the seating areas.  There seemed to be significantly less birds there.  Float and tube rentals are also available for pickup at The Windsock Hut, located at Serenity Bay.

Serenity Bay is a remarkable, relaxing place for adults to enjoy the tropical ecstasy, Castaway Cay.  My wife and I recently went on a Disney cruise without our kids.  Being in our low 30’s, numerous friends and family questioned why we would go on Disney Cruise Line if we are not travelling with our children.  We have several reasons why Disney Cruise Line offers a wonderful experience for an adults-only experience.  Serenity Bay is a dazzling highlight of the experience.  Please comment below if you agree or disagree.

Justin Eggenberger, Co-owner of Adventure is Out There Travel, LLC

justin@adventureisouttheretravel.com        Twitter @JAEggenberger

Running in the Castaway Cay 5k

Disney Cruise Line has leased their own island from the Bahamian government.  Various aspects of Castaway Cay definitely deserve their own posts, but I will only mention that the island is my wife’s favorite vacation spot now that we have children.  The focus of this post is the Castaway Cay 5k.  My wife and I traveled without our children aboard the Disney Magic in early March 2016.  This opportunity allowed us to experience a LOT of things we were unable to on our previous two cruises.

Before jumping into my discussion about the Castaway Cay 5k, I would like to share a bit more about my relationship with running.  The Castaway Cay 5k is truly for ANYONE.  It doesn’t matter if you walk, jog, or run the race.  I witnessed people running a very impressive pace and some folks casually walking and taking in the beautiful Bahamian scenery.  I run, but I do not consider myself a runner.  This doesn’t make sense, but bear with me.  I run six days a week; usually four to six miles at a time.  I do this more for alone time/therapy rather than the fitness.  I do not consider myself a runner because, up until our recent Disney Cruise, I have never participated in an organized run.  Honestly, I would not have done it without the persistence of my lovely wife.  Now, she thinks she has a shot at turning me into a runner.

Registering for the Castaway Cay 5k was extremely simple.  We needed to go to Guest Services for a couple of issues, and were not sure where registration for the race was.  We had thought registration was either at Guest Services or Port Adventures.  The cast member was able to register us for the race within seconds.  When you register, the cast member will give entrants a ticket for participation.  Here is the first thing to keep in mind if you are interested in participating in the race:  Register before the day of the race.  There were people turned away the morning of the 5k for not pre-registering.  123 people were registered for the race.  Another thing to remember is participation in the Castaway Cay 5k is included in your cruise fare!  You read that correctly.  This is a runDisney event that is free!  If you have looked into pricing for runDisney races and challenges, you know how expensive partaking in those events are.  I consider the Castaway Cay 5k an opportunity to maximize the tremendous value of a Disney Cruise Line vacation.  Participants (and some of their family members) met in Fathoms before the race.  There is a brief presentation about the island and course for the 5k.  A map of the race is provided to each participant and projected on a large screen.  The course is discussed, but several people did not follow the course during our run.  See the map of Castaway Cay 5k below.

Disney Cruise Line runDisney Castaway Cay 5k DCL
Map of runDisney Castaway Cay 5k. Getting there (and back) is half the fun!

As you can see, the beginning of the race is near the middle of the island.  Prepare yourself for a nice walk, which is about a mile long.  The cast members jokingly called this a bonus mile.  I feel like it was actually a nice walk, as I have always taken the tram to the beaches.  It was nice to slowly take in some of the island.  Also, there are some terrific photo opportunities along the walk.  The race is loosely organized.  Once it seems like everyone is near the starting point, the timer is started and the race begins.  The course begins on a bike path and moves on to the runway.  During the pre-race presentation, the hosts emphasized staying on the side of the runway multiple times.  After participating in the race, I understand the need to do so.  I need to preface my next comments with I rarely have criticisms of Disney and generally trust their brand and process for distributing their entertainment.  But, Disney has some intense and sometimes distracted drivers for the trams and golf carts.  I don’t know how much it would cost to provide hands-free technology to each driver, but I’m sure it would be a minimal and necessary investment.  That being said, I personally followed directions and had no negative interactions with said vehicles.  However, I witnessed an interesting interaction.  After the runway, racers turn into a bike path loop.  The loop is kind of neat during the first trip.  A lookout tower is located near the back of the loop.  I have never been to the top of the tower, but I have read and heard that there are good views from there.  I guess that’s an excuse to return???  After one complete loop, participants turn right to head toward Serenity Bay.  At the entrance of the bike path loop, there is a drink station setup.  Cold water is available.  If I remember correctly, the station was not established on my entry of the loop but fully functioning when I came out of the loop.  Serenity Bay is at the opposite end of the island as the ship.  Racers turn around near the end of the runway and repeat the course in reverse.  I found the loop to be much more monotonous the second time around.  It is probably my fault as I was beginning to push my pace a bit and just kept thinking about how BIG that bike path loop is.  Again, the water station is setup at the entry/exit to the bike path loop, which participants pass four times.  In typical Disney fashion, there is a shop with runDisney merchandise near the end of the course.  There are Castaway Cay 5k specific items.  They are unique.  If you are a collector, you may want to check it out.

I ran with my cinch sack on.  Don’t make that mistake.  I ended up running with my right hand on the strings for the entire run!

Please email me if you are interested to know how my run went!  justin@adventureisouttheretravel.com (I thought I did well for my first organized run.)

Justin Eggenberger, Co-Owner of Adventure is Out There Travel, LLC

My First Spa Treatment

Until our last vacation aboard the Disney Magic, I had never been to a spa.  I have had one massage in my life.  A local masseuse has been a long-time friend of mine, and I was able to man up one time to support her local business.  Most readers of this post have no idea who I am or what my personality is like.  To keep it short, I thought spa treatments were not my thing.  Keep reading to learn about our Senses Spa & Salon experience aboard the Disney Magic to find out how my feelings toward spa treatments may have changed.

My wife and I recently went on our third Disney cruise (our first without children).  SheSenses Spa & Salon had the opportunity to visit Senses Spa & Salon on the Disney Dream on each of our two previous cruises.  I had neither the desire nor interest to visit.  We had discussed the possibility of visiting Senses prior to our cruise.  We visited the spa after lunch and a brief tour of the ship.  It was approximately 1:30 when we were given a tour of Senses Spa & Salon.  The facility is truly amazing!  I encourage you to explore Disney Cruise Line’s description here: https://disneycruise.disney.go.com/onboard-activities/senses-spa-salon/#! My descriptions of the various areas, amenities, and services would not do justice to what they have to offer.

Castaway Cay palm treeWe did not have spa reservations, and we did not make a reservation after our tour.  We could not make a decision on what treatment we wanted.  However, we agreed to come back during the open house.  My wife has attended the open house before and mentioned the awesome giveaways, so this made it easy for us to hold off on making any plans.  At the open house, representatives from multiple services gave a quick introduction/sales pitch to the services each group offers.  There was a “manager’s special” offered for Senses Spa & Salon that my wife thought we would enjoy.  The lady who gave us our tour remembered we were interested in some of the couples’ treatments.  She graciously turned the “manager’s special” into a couples’ treatment.  We made reservations on our way out of the spa for that evening.  Honestly, I had no idea what we were getting into.

If I remember correctly, the reservation was for 7:15.  If I were in this situation again, I would make the reservation for a later time because we had main dining.  We were a little late because we wanted to stay to watch the show at Animator’s Palate.  The spa employees were very understanding and really acted like it happens often.  The two ladies who were going to provide our treatments walked us to the locker rooms.  The locker rooms were located near the fitness center.  The men’s and women’s locker rooms were on opposite sides of a hallway.  Disney Cruise Line locker rooms deserve their own post, but I’ll try to be brief.

The locker room is divided into three areas.  When you walk in the door, showers, a sauna, and chairs are to the left.  Restrooms and sinks are in the center.  Lockers are to the right.  The lockers are in a U shape, with cushioned benches in the center.  Almost everything one needs to freshen up is provided in the locker room.  Here are some of the things available that come to mind: robes, sandals, multiple sizes of towels, soaps, shampoo and conditioner, body wash, and lotions.  This was the first time I have ever seen a locker room aboard a Disney cruise.  I was impressed, and I even returned later in the trip just to use the shower because of its size!  (And, maybe because my wife takes a long time to get ready, but only now and then.)  I digress.

The two ladies asked us to remove our clothes and put on a robe.  To put readers at ease, you may keep undergarments on.  We then made our way to a couple’s spa room.  The room was designed to be very relaxing.  It had soft lighting, wood cabinets, and a wood floor.  There was also a sink and mirror.  I do not recall the music playing, but the entire setting was extremely relaxing.  The treatment felt wonderful for the most part.  Every now and then it felt as if I was receiving some sort of torture tactic.  But, the masseuse DSCN4658said I was about 10 years overdue for a massage.  Actually, at the conclusion of my treatment she said, “I wish I could come home with you and massage you every 2 or 3 days.”  An uncomfortable mumble came out of my mouth as my wife chuckled at my uneasiness.

After a brief sales pitch for some lotions, we were on our way to the locker rooms to change.  They encouraged us to consume a lot of water to detox our bodies.  My wife really enjoyed the beverages provided at the spa and fitness center.  She really appreciated the freshness of the fruit-infused water and warm tea options.

Overall, my first spa treatment at Senses Spa & Salon was relaxing and felt very nice.  I may even do it again.  If you will be sailing with Disney Cruise Line, please check out the website above.  There is an in-depth description of the facility and treatments available on the DCL website.  If you are a spa regular, I think you should give Senses a try.  I have a strong feeling you will enjoy the experience.

Justin Eggenberger, Co-owner of Adventure is Out There Travel, LLC