Arriving at Castaway Cay
Today we stopped at our favorite port. Castaway Cay! It really is a beautiful, serene little island. We woke up to the sounds of knocking on our door as our room service breakfast was here right on time. I was somewhat surprised to look outside to find that we were still positioning ourselves to dock. We were moving very slowly and eventually started to back up to the pier. So we took our time getting ready this morning. We continued to watch as the ship very slowly maneuvered to the pier. Suddenly I heard a loud blast come from the front and I realized the person on the pier was then trying to retrieve a rope. I always wondered how that worked and it would seem they must blast a smaller rope from the side of the ship and then use that to pull in the the main rope that ties the ship to the pier.
We got updates over the speakers as to when we would be expected to be let off the ship and when it came close we started to work our way down. Only problem was, so was everyone else and if I’m not mistaken, they only used one or two gangways this day so everything got really backed up. I believe they let the 5K runners off first so they could get started as we would later see them finish as we were finally reaching our spot on the beach. Fortunately, it didn’t take long and we were off the ship and greeted by characters.
We could get as many or as little photos as you wanted. We stopped at Daisy cause she didn’t have anyone by her at the time. There were a few spots where you could stop and get pictures taken by the ship’s Shutters crew for a professional looking photo. We opted not to. Augers stopped a few more times then we did for some photo ops, we just wanted to get to the beach. We did notice on our walk that number of port adventures had been cancelled for various reasons. Thankfully ours was still going to happen.
We caught the trolley and I believe I read at some time to not get off at the first stop but continue to the next one because everyone either walks to or gets off at the first stop. So we continued on which put us finding a spot by Pelican Plunge (the water slide). We found some spots back a little farther but that was fine. We walked up to the water to get a feel for how cold the water was. Let’s just say, it was cold and our first thought was now, “we have a Stingray Adventure pretty soon and we have to get into the water. Yikes!” We splashed around a bit with the kids. They tried to get me wet and cold so I splashed back. A few others decided to make a quick sandcastle. We couldn’t stick around long because we had to get to our Stingray adventure.
The last sequence of photos above we saw as we were walking to the Stingray Adventure. We tried to get the timing just right as the water would splash on and over the rocks but we didn’t get it perfect. One of them above sort of caught it. It would have been great to be able to walk over there and get better pictures.
So we had to walk a bit to get to where needed to go. It was, what I would consider, the opposite end of the entire family portion of the beach. It didn’t take that long to walk there but as we were walking we saw plenty of spots along the beach we could have had and we didn’t need to stop at the second trolley stop. There were plenty of spots to sit across the entire beach so I’d say for any newcomers, walk to or ride to where you want. There should be spots open.
We had our tickets for our reserved 11am time. We waited in line to get our gear and then sat to wait for our instructor. It was quite interesting some of the facts but unfortunately, I no longer remember many of them. I just remember they can grow to become really big. I didn’t know quite what to expect but we actually got to feed the stingrays. The only problem was, we actually had to walk into the water about waist deep. We put food between the knuckles of our two fingers and laid our hands on the surface of this platform of which the stingrays would come to. They would then grab the food away from our fingers. They said it felt almost like a sucking motion, which it sort of did, but you could feel a bit of a scrape as they grabbed the food. Leighton said he got bit or scratched but there was no blood. I think he was just very surprised by the feeling. Unfortunately this didn’t help any of the other kids and they really didn’t want to do it other than the other two.
There was a stingray named Ella and our guide said when Ella comes up he will tell us and then Ella would have to feed her!
After the feeding, we could go snorkeling with the stingrays. This was really neat but the first step was getting your head into the water. Holy cow that first time I put my head and had to take that first breath through the tube was quite something. Talk about a shock to the system. After you get in and used to it, I quite enjoyed it.
The Auger kids did better than mine as far as actually attempting to put their face in. I don’t think any of my kids tried while I believe Ally went in and Leighton at least tried to stand and look into the water.
Not sure what happened here but a few of the Augers were not feeling good and we had to stop at the bathroom for a while. While we waited we did a little shopping and picked up souvenirs. I got my magnet and Sophie got some tub toys. After they finally got out of the bathroom they were fine for the remainder of the day.
We stopped for a bite at Cookies Too and found some additional seating away from the main crowds that was really nice. It was tucked away a little behind a row of shrubs. One sort of surprising thing is the crew members on the ship don’t have much time off. Many of them came onto the island to work in some capacity.
It had the usual grilled type of foods like hot dogs and hamburgers but they also had things like short ribs and pulled pork. They also had chips, beans, corn on the cob, and cornbread. It was good and by this time we were all quite hungry.
Fun and Relaxation
Ella and Leighton talked Linda and I into going down the slide. Again, the problem was the water was cold and we had to swim out to Pelican Plunge. Once you get moving it isn’t bad, but then the hard part is you come out cold and the breeze hits you while you wait to go down the slide. That was almost worse then actually getting into the water.
While all this was going on, I went out to snorkel on my own. You have to wear a vest but you don’t have to inflate it and you can use your own snorkel gear so that’s what I did. The water was cold but I wasn’t as shocked when I put my face into the water this time. Unfortunately we didn’t have any shots left on our underwater camera so I didn’t get any photos. The sunken “treasures” to look for are marked with buoys so you can swim out to a buoy and look around. It was a bit of a swim to get out to some of them so I was glad I was by myself. It sure was neat out there and lots to see. I did come upon a turtle and just beyond the ropes that mark the boundary, there were tons of fish. Not sure what sort of fish I saw so I’m not going to speculate. I did this for about an hour before I figured I had to go back as I was sure it was getting close to the time we had to start packing up to leave. I was getting a little cool by this time also but I could have snorkeled a little longer.
So I got out of the water and met up with the rest of the group. We started to head back as we could see many people had already started the trek back to the ship. We knew we wanted to do a few more things on our way back so we started a little early.
Last number of photos before we have to get on the ship. Chris also stopped to help a few people take family photos along the way. The ship sounds its horns when the last trolley ride is about to leave. We walked all the way back to take in the scenery and noticed by this time the post office was closed along with most everything else. To note, that I forgot about, there is a point when drinks are half-off on the island. Not sure what time it is but be aware of that. We talked to one person on the island and there are around 150 people that stay on the island. There are crew boats docked there in case they have to leave for a hurricane.
One Last Night
We went to the last show which really wasn’t anything special but it managed still to pull tears to our eyes as we knew we were now at the end of our wonderful vacation. They showed pictures of people during the vacation on the screen and thanked us for coming along. The ending act was the magician one last time. As he did his card trick he solemnly talked about something his grandfather told him. It started with the saying, yesterday is in the past, tomorrows the future, today is a gift that’s why it’s called the present. I know it’s not the exact saying but he started with that and continued on as he showed us this string trick that went along with what he was saying.
This time we made sure everyone was with us for this last show and even though it wasn’t as entertaining, we left with water filled eyes. Thankfully,
Goofy was there to cheer us up. I had to get one last picture with him! We then went to the gift shop to decide one last time what we wanted to get. We got some things for Grandparents and for best friends and for our own kids. Kaitlyn got a key chain and shirt and the other two got stuffed animals.
This was also one last shot to get signatures and pictures with the rest of the characters. This got to be a little crazy. We also had to order our pictures from Shutters early this night so we were quickly trying to decide what to do while the rest just waited on the steps for bit and watched what was going on and played with their new toys.
Tonight was Animator’s Palate and the night we draw our own people for them to put into the movie they show later. Tonight it opens 10 minutes earlier than usual so that we have time to draw our pictures and so they can scan them into the system for the show.
Sophie was having issues with her drawing because she didn’t like how it was turning out. We had to convince her it would be just fine and she had to keep drawing because they don’t have a lot of time to get the pictures turned in. In the end, when hers was on screen, it looked pretty good actually.
We had to get one photo with our servers. We would see them quickly the next morning at Animator’s Palate again but we knew we’d be in a little more of a hurry this day so we had to get pictures tonight.
The characters left for a while to get ready for the See Ya Real Soon Party at the Atrium. In the mean time,
Number 1s took Number 2s and 3s to help finish each of their Detective Agency but we wanted them to be back in time for the party at the Atrium. Ally got her crew back in time, Kaitlyn, who has a problem keeping track of time, did not quite make it on time. Ella and Leighton came back but were not quite finished. At some point Leighton and Linda took off to find their last clue and when they came back Ella was so upset that they figured out the last clue without her.
At this point we didn’t quite know what to do with ourselves. We didn’t want it to end but there wasn’t a whole lot more we could do either. The Number 1s went to the Edge one last time. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice was playing on the FunnelVision. We went to watch that for a bit but it isn’t the greatest movie to watch.
Finally we decided and talked the kids into doing karaoke. We got there a little late and Sophie went to request a Frozen song (of course) but she came back and said they didn’t have that one. We looked through the list and found another Frozen song so she went to request that and again she started to come back all sad so I went up to see what was going on. They were full of requests and karaoke would be ending soon so we started to walk away and Sophie was crying. This must have made them feel bad because they found room for us. They put us in the end and we sang “Love is an Open Door”. Of course this is a boy/girl duet so I had to go up in order for Leighton to join us.
Tonight we had to have our luggage ready outside the door with our luggage tags on them. Of course, our tags were Goofy! So we had to plan what we were going to wear tomorrow and what we wanted to carry off the ship and the rest went into the larger bags and got everything set outside our doors. You can carry all your luggage if you want, but it is much easier to let someone else do it.
We got all the kids into bed (including Number 1s) and we still had more drinks to finish off and we wanted to play Wizard one more time so we met in our room, closed the curtain and used our bed for the table. This was a fun night again and I finally won. It had been a while. We finished off our drinks and our snacks and turned in for one last night.
Tips for Future Travelers
- If you are looking for something to do on the island I would recommend the Stingray Adventure. The only thing I would say however is it did take away from our beach time or snorkel time. The day goes quick.
- I’ve read to take the trolley to the second stop because everyone stops at the closer location but honestly, there were so many chairs sprawled across the beach that you could have found chairs most anywhere. Just maybe don’t be disappointed if your chairs aren’t right up by the water.
- The water in the winter is cold but you can get used to it.
- At Cookies Too there is a hidden place to sit and eat behind some shrubs. Find it as it was a nice place to eat away from the rest of the crowd.
- You can bring your own snorkel gear to snorkel at Castaway Cay but you have to wear a life vest, you just don’t have to inflate it if you don’t want to. I would read about a month later that on back-to-back days there were people that needed to be rescued and it is believed one person did not make it. It’s not like the waves or current were crazy as we were well protected by the rocks around the perimeter but still, things happen sometimes.
- You have to order your pictures from Shutters early this night so they have time get the pictures ready. Look over them the night before so you can get an idea what you might want to do. Or, just order them the night before because everyone this last night is trying to make decisions as well and it gets a little crazy.
- If you are going to do karaoke, get there early or you might be left out. Or, have your little girl cry cause she doesn’t get to sing, that always works.
- Some have suggested to have return address stickers with you to stick on the luggage tags so you don’t have to fill all of them out. That would be helpful but not entirely necessary. The one thing to have on the sticker other than your address is your room number.