Sunday, January 29, 2012

Disney's Castaway Cay

Disney's Castaway Cay



Ever wondered what it would be like to be a castaway on an island owned by Disney? Well wonder no more! Just take a cruise on any Disney ship in the Caribbean and you will get a day or two on their private island Castaway Cay.

Castaway Cay is a wonderful place for a family to play in the sand and water. You will find something for everybody at Castaway Cay. There is Scuttle's Cove for the little kids with supervised activities, the family beach with snorkeling for the entire family, a teen hang out area with supervised activities and the adult exclusive beach with beachside massage cabanas.

I must say the best day of our first Disney Cruise was spent on Castaway Cay snorkeling as a family. Those memories will last a lifetime. I did not see any other area of Castaway Cay because we were swimming and enjoying much needed family time. Our next cruise I will make sure to get to the adult beach!

The family Snorkeling area is designed so even a weak swimmer can do it. There are deep areas with artifacts at the bottom. Fish of all kinds swim around you. The deep areas are not so wide as to tire a weak swimmer. You can easily swim across the deep parts to a shallow area to rest.
We were on the Magic in the Caribbean late January, 2005. Castaway Cay was hit by two major hurricanes in September of 2004. Frances hit the island September 3rd & 4th doing significant damage. Just 3 weeks later hurricane Jeanne hit Castaway Cay on September 25th. From what we were told by Island staff almost 90% of the islands amenities were destroyed. The snorkeling lagoon was filled with sand and had to be dredged and cleaned. It was amazing how much repair had been done by the time we arrived at the island. It was still obvious they were making repairs but the fun offered was still first class.
Here is a sign that was posted for all guests to see. It gives the names of the hurricanes and the dates they hit Castaway Cay. I enjoy the humor of how Disney looked at the damage done.

This These small storm(s) was were Just Mother Nature's way of doing a little tropical redecorating. Please excuse us as we finish the clean-up work for her.


Here is what DisneyCruise.com has to say about Castaway Cay.

Reserved exclusively for Guests on Disney Cruise Line Bahamian and Caribbean cruise vacations, Castaway Cay is Disney's private port-of-call paradise. On this island, enjoy tropical leisure activities, such as snorkeling, boating, swimming and sunbathing.

Among the clear turquoise waters, white sand beaches and swaying palm trees, discover the following new Castaway Cay Enhancements and additional island amenities:

What's New

  • 20 premium 325-square-foot private, furnished cabanas in 2 locations: Castaway Family Beach (for families) and Serenity Bay Beach (for adults)
  • An extension of more than 700 feet to the all-ages Castaway Family Beach
  • 2 Water Play Areas: Pelican Plunge and Spring-a-Leak
  • 3 additional private, ocean-view massage cabanas at the adults-only Serenity Bay Beach
  • The Hide Out, a teens-only activity area on the beach

Things to Do and See
Castaway Cay visitors find an island completely outfitted for premium family leisure. Ample amenities include open-air BBQ dining locations, 2 shops featuring Castaway Cay gifts and souvenirs, and convenient tram transportation (now with additional paths) around the island. Also enjoy:

  • Swimming, kayaking, water sports and more at the various teens-only, adults-only and all-ages areas
  • Open-air massages with an ocean view, a yoga class and a bar at the secluded, adults-only beach, Serenity Bay
  • Port Adventures for everyone in the family, including stingray interactions, glass-bottom boat tours, parasailing and fishing
  • Free childcare at Scuttle's Cove, an expansive child's area supervised by Disney counselors
  • Disney Character Greetings, including a Dance Party with Lilo and Stitch

Island Adventures Await
Castaway Cay invites cruisers to enjoy balmy tropical weather and world-class recreation on a Bahamian oasis with signature Disney hospitality. From your onboard stateroom, be sure to check out the Castaway Cay-vents activities schedule. After disembarking to Castaway Cay, you can obtain beach towels and use your convenient Key to the World cards for retail transactions on the island.

Places to Explore

From start to finish, your day at Castaway Cay is full of delightful discoveries. Be sure to bring along the Castaway Cay-vents schedule found in your stateroom. Here are just some of the noteworthy locales and activities:

Pelican Plunge
Swimming distance from shore is the new 2,400-square-foot floating platform—adorned with nautical flotsam and jetsam. At this water-play area and platform, which celebrates the island's native pelicans, take a ride on one of the 2 twisting water slides and end up in the refreshing lagoon. Or, get soaked by the giant "bucket dump" that delivers hundreds of gallons of water on eagerly awaiting bathers beneath.


Spring-a-Leak
Cool off at the brand-new, 2,400-square-foot water play area and find yourself immersed in what appears to be the remnants of a washed-away beach dwelling. The watery fun begins as you enter the storm-ravaged structure. Be greeted by dripping pipes, broken plumbing and hissing misters that have been exposed and twisted by the tropical tempest that wiped out the original structure.


Scuttle's Cove
The youngest cruisers will enjoy this sandy play spot, a "hub" of youth activities supervised by Disney counselors from the ship. Scuttle's Cove now features a new whimsical water play area: a 1,200-square-foot soft wet deck area provides fresh-water fun with an array of pop jets, geysers and bubblers. With organized activities and Monstro's Point—a giant whale-bone excavation site—kids will be delighted all day long. (A limited number of all-terrain wheelchairs can be obtained here.)


Marge's Barges & Sea Charter Dock
Charter a boat and then get on board for offshore recreation like snorkeling, fishing, parasailing and sightseeing in Castaway Cay's clear blue waters. Vessels include a glass-bottom boat, a fishing boat and a power catamaran. To accommodate additional excursion boats for parasailing, fishing tours and more, this area has recently been expanded.


Grouper Game Pavilion
Play all day in this fun-filled, shaded recreation area featuring complimentary foosball, ping-pong, pool, shuffleboard, basketball, golf wiffleball—even monster chess and checkerboards! Play classic sand sports at Goofy's Sand Lot nearby.


In Da Shade Game Pavilion
Take a break from the sun to play games, such as table tennis, foosball, billiards and basketball, at this new shaded structure centrally located near Castaway Family Beach.


Sports Beach
Meet at the Sports Beach for beloved beach pastimes, including volleyball and tetherball.


Character Greetings
Throughout the day, meet and befriend some favorite Disney Characters at the Post Office, Gazebo, gangway and elsewhere on Castaway Cay. And don't forget: These are perfect moments for photo ops!


Gil's Fins and Boats
Rent snorkel gear for all family members, along with kayaks, paddleboats, aqua trikes and other water equipment for your day as a marine adventurer.


Flippers & Floats
Rent inner tubes, snorkel masks and fins from this festive location.


Snorkeling Lagoon
Snorkelers of all skill levels will be enchanted by the undersea realm of marine life off Castaway Family Beach. Novices can follow the Discover Trail, and more experienced snorkelers the Explorer Trail. Keep an eye out for the hidden Mickey.


She Sells Sea Shells...and Everything Else
Be sure to stock up at this gift shop featuring exclusive Disney Castaway Cay T-shirts, polo shirts, hats, pins, key chains, magnets and towels—and have Disney cruise staff deliver your purchases to the ship.


Buy the Sea Shore
Pick up a variety of Castaway Cay-exclusive items, along with towels, sunscreen and other beach essentials. This new merchandise location is a complement to She Sells Sea Shells & Everything Else.


Port Adventures on Castaway Cay include Castaway Ray's Stingray Adventure, Parasailing, Watercraft Ski (single or double), Walking and Kayak Nature Adventure, Bicycle Rentals, Boat Rentals, Castaway Cay Bottom Fishing, Castaway Cay Island Cruise, Float and Tube Rentals, Glass Bottom Boat Scenic Adventure, Seahorse Catamaran Snorkel Adventure, Snorkel Lagoon Equipment Rental and The Wild Side Teen Adventure. Check out the Port Adventures and find something good for you.

History and information on Castaway Cay

The history of Castaway Cay, once called Gorda Cay is interesting and wild.

'Castaway Cay' is a private island in the Bahamas which serves as an exclusive port for the Disney Cruise Line ships Disney Wonder, Disney Magic, Disney Dream, and Disney Fantasy. It is located near Great Abaco Island, and was formerly known as Gorda Cay. It is owned in full by The Walt Disney Company, giving them substantial control over the experience of visitors to the island. A post office on the island has special Bahamian postage specific to Disney Cruise Line, and a "Castaway Cay" postmark.

History and Development

Gorda Cay was once used as a stop for drug runners. There is an airstrip on the island, but it is no longer in regular use nor maintained. Gorda Cay has also been used for filming; the beach where Tom Hanks first encounters Daryl Hannah in Splash is on the island.

Smugglers on Castaway Cay


In the 1960s, Alvin Tucker flew over the island with a real estate agent from Nassau. He asked to circle the island a few times, and before the plane even landed, he bought 150 acres of it. Alvin was a businessman who loved investing in tropical locales, and Gorda Cay was among the first of his many purchases in the Bahamas.

The only way to get to the island in those days was by boat, so Alvin planned to clear land for a runway to afford easier access. He's the one responsible for the 2400 foot runway that still exists today. The runway is no longer in use for planes but instead serves as a bike and tram path to Serenity Bay, the 'adults only' area of Castaway Cay.

As time went on, though, this tropical hideaway was discovered by criminals and put to use for their nefarious purposes. Alvin heard rumors that his private airstrip was being used by drug smugglers to bring narcotics into Florida. Even when he tried to put a stop to it, it was to no avail - the police were supposedly in on it as well! Alvin began to visit less and less, and eventually sold his land to a private company.

By the 1980s, Gorda Cay had become notorious. Various newspapers reported that people who once owned parts of the island were no longer welcome, and were being chased away by men with large guns and even larger Dobermans. Residents claimed that they saw up to six planes a day landing on the airstrip.

This dark time in the island's history can be attributed to Frank Barber, an American who lived in Florida. He was secretly using the runway himself for years to smuggle drugs into the country, and turned out to be behind the 'private company' that bought Alvin Tucker's land. Now that the island was largely his, Barber began to operate his own little drug empire exclusively on Gorda Cay.

Aside from his illegal activities, Barber rented out the airstrip to other smugglers looking to bring their goods into the country. But if you were unfortunate enough not to make arrangements with Barber ahead of time, his associates would be more than happy to relieve you of your cargo - at gunpoint!

On a slightly more savory side of things, Barber also had plans to turn part of the island into a resort for tourists. He got as far as building a large hanger adjacent to the airstrip before he was arrested for his crimes. In 1983, there was a bust on the island involving $100 million dollars worth of cocaine. Just a few days later, Barber went to jail for it. He was sentenced to five years, but died in prison before he could serve his time.

Activity on the island continued even after Barber's imprisonment. It was rumored that, despite being behind bars, Barber was still in control! After his death, however, the smuggling bustle turned into a trickle.

Disney is said to have spent US$ 25 million to develop and outfit the island. Construction took 18 months and included dredging 50,000 truckloads of sand from the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. The pier and its approaches were constructed to allow the Disney ships to dock alongside, thus removing the need for tenders to get the passengers ashore. To create the mooring site for the ships, workers dredged sand and used explosives to blast coral, and form a 1,700-foot (520 m) channel about 35 feet (11 m) deep and ranging from 200 to 400 feet (120 m) wide. The island is still largely undeveloped: only 55 of the 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) are being used.

Facilities

The island is developed in the theme of a castaway community, with buildings made to look as if they had been improvised after a shipwreck. The facilities are maintained like any other Disney theme park, and the shops accept guests' stateroom keys for payment. The food service is operated as an extension of the cruise package. A variety of activities are available to guests including bicycle hire, personal watercraft rental, snorkeling, and parasailing. There are three beaches for guests: one for families, one for teens, and another exclusively for adults, called Serenity Bay.

Two submarine-ride vehicles from the now-closed 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Submarine ride at Walt Disney World lie underwater in the snorkeling area. The Flying Dutchman pirate ship, from the Pirates of the Caribbean film series, was on display in the lagoon. As of the final week in November 2010, the Flying Dutchman had been removed and taken to another location on the island where it was being dismantled. The Flying Dutchman is reported to be at the new Aulani Resort in Hawaii.

The seven-night cruises visit Castaway Cay on Fridays, four-night cruises visit on Tuesdays, and three-night cruises visit on Saturdays.

Castaway Cay has facilities for the exclusive use of the ships' crews, including beaches and recreational areas. A staff of 70 custodians, boat captains, drivers, landscapers, and maintenance personnel live on the island, and are supplemented by crew from the ship when one is in port. Food and other supplies are brought in by the ships themselves. Sea water is desalinated for drinking with reverse osmosis water processors.


DisneyCruise.com
DisneyDispatch.com
eu.wikipedia.com

1 comment:

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