Planning Your Cruise on Disney Cruise Line – What’s Included – What’s Not

A Disney cruise isn’t exactly the cheapest way to cruise. If you book early, you will find your costs lower. You will get the absolute best price for a Disney cruise when the new dates and itineraries are released. When it comes to Disney Cruise Line, I always recommend using a Disney Travel agent who can monitor the prices and get you booked at the best time and at the best price.

What's Included Disney Cruise Line

What’s Included ~ Disney Cruise Line

Lets face it, a Disney cruise is a perfect family vacation and a trip the entire family will never forget. When you are in the planning stages of your Disney cruise, you’ll be surprised at the many things that are included in your fare:

  • All quick service meals on board the ship
  • All table service meals on board the ship (except for adult-only fine dining experiences)
  • Meals on Disney Castaway Cay
  • Room service – order a before bed snack 
  • Character meet and greets
  • Fitness Center use
  • All you can drink soft drinks and hot drinks
  • Unlimited ice cream
  • Live entertainment including deck parties and Broadway type shows
  • Recreational activities
  • Activity centers for the children that provide programming for the little ones
  • Free use of the Navigator APP that will give you access to daily schedules and ship information on your phone (be sure to set your phone to air plane mode). A paper edition of the Navigator will be left in your cabin each night with the next day’s schedule of activities and shows.

Money Saving Tip: If you just LOOOOOVVVVVED your Disney cruise and can’t wait to sail again, you’ll want to save money and get an on-board credit. All you have to do is stop by the Future Cruise Desk during your cruise and put down a $250 ‘place holder’. You will have two years to travel so you don’t have to choose any dates at that time. It’s refundable if you change your mind. The Future Cruise Desk will have all the details on what percentage of discount you can receive, how much on-board credit, etc. It definitely worth stopping by.

What’s NOT Included ~ Disney Cruise Line

After paying off your Disney cruise, you may very well be on a tight budget so it’s good to know what things are not included so you can plan accordingly. Some of these “not included” items are optional so you won’t have to worry about them if cost is an issue. You will still have a fabulous vacation and won’t be surprised by a high bill afterwards.

It may surprise many frequent WDW visitors that Ground Transfers are not included. If you frequent WDW you know that Disney’s Magical Express is complimentary to and from the airport. When it comes to making your way to Port Canaveral, Disney Cruise Line buses do charge a per person fee. It is around $70 per person round trip. If you book it while booking your cruise, the cost will get added on to the total cost of your cruise. The bus service offers pick-ups and drop-offs at either a Walt Disney Resort or at Orlando International Airport. 

Every cruise line offers Port Adventures and Disney does too! Unfortunately, these excursions can be one of the most expensive extras during your cruise. The cost for optional activities at the ports of call can range anywhere from $25 to $500 per person. Disney does offer a wide range of excursions so changes are you will be able to find something within your budget. There is lots of fun possible on Disney’s private island Castaway Cay, which also includes your meals so there is no need to spend on extra excursions there. Many cruisers also choose to stay on the ship while in port to take advantage of all the ship offers while others go off on excursions.

For adults only, fine dining at Palo or Remy. Both restaurants offer dinner service and different tasting options throughout each cruise. Reservations are needed in advance and both restaurants are considered quite expensive. 

This is a big one! Internet Usage packages are expensive on all cruise lines, not only Disney. My best recommendation when it comes to this is unplug if you can. If you can’t, be prepared forif a high cost. Each stateroom is offered 50MB complimentary Wi-Fi on embarkation day, but once that is used (and believe me it goes away fast) you can purchase one of several offered packages that are really high priced. Also, be sure to put your cell phone on air plane mode so you don’t risk getting hit with a huge cell phone bill a month after you get home.

Photos – Just like in the parks, Disney photographers have a knack for capturing you from your best angle! There are many different packages you will be able to purchase but they are pricey. The ships have photography studios that let you view and purchase all the  pictures taken of your family. Character meet and greets are always a favorite! You can purchase individual photos (around $20 each) or full packages that can cost several hundred dollars. You can also pre-purchase a photo package starting at around $150 and up.

Gratuities – Disney definitely knows how to give guests great service and Disney Cruise Line is no different. You will definitely be impressed with the level of service you receive on your cruise from the servers that follow you from restaurant to restaurant as part of the rotational dining system to your Stateroom Host that gives you your nightly turn-down service (and just about anything else you may need in your cabin), the service will be top-notch. You will definitely want to be sure you take care of gratuities. You can pre-pay your gratuities which is $12 per night for each person in your cabin. However, this amount gets split between all of the staff that has worked with you during your cruise. The cruise line will provide you with a tipping envelope and suggested tips for the different service personnel so you can always add more for a certain individual or all of them, if you wish.  

Cocktails – If you like to enjoy a few of those cute little cocktails with an umbrella while on vacation, you will definitely need to add some extra to your budget for cocktails. You don’t want to be surprised at the end of your cruise with a big bill that you aren’t prepared for. Prices vary and can be as much as $14 or $15 per drink. Since your cocktails will be added to your stateroom’s bill you don’t want a huge surprise on the last day. Be sure to keep track of what you are spending/drinking. You are welcome to carry on two bottles of wine and six bottles of beer for each adult in your party. Be sure to pack a corkscrew to open the bottles of wine since the uncorking fee is high if you let your server do it.

Some Snacks –  Although all of your food is included in the cost of your cruise, there are a few snack options that will cost you. Vanellope’s Sweets and Treats on the Disney Dream offers some great special treats but everything in this shop costs extra and is not included in your fare. The concessions stands located outside the theaters are also snacks that you will have to pay for.  

Spa Treatments – Pirate and Princess Makeovers – Be careful here! You can easily add several hundred dollars onto your end of cruise bill. The spa will easily cost you over $100 or much more and a pirate or princess makeover for the little ones can start around $60 and run up to close to $200. 

Although the Children’s Activity Center is included in your cruise cost, if you have a little one between 6 months and 3 years of age that you would like to leave in the NURSERY for an afternoon or evening of relaxation, there will be a charge. The cost is around $9 per hour for the first child and $8 per hour for each additional child.

When planning to cruise on Disney Cruise Line, you’ll want to be prepared for any extra costs that weren’t included in your fare so your vacation won’t be hampered by unexpected costs – Bon Voyage!

Before setting sail you might want to read about some Secrets of Disney’s Castaway Cay HERE.

What's Included Disney Cruise Line

I’ll Be Heading to Disney Social Media Moms Celebration 2018!

You all know how much I love all things Disney. I’m always over-the-moon excited when I get one of those pixie dusted email invitations to attend an event at Disney. A few months back I received an invitation to attend the 2018 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration being held in February. I’ve been fairly quiet about my plans to attend this year. Not for any particular reason. I sometimes think my friends and readers may get tired of seeing me gush about Disney so every now and then I stay a bit quiet while I make my plans to once again visit the most magical place on earth!

Disney Social Media Moms Celebration 2018
Photo Credit: DisneySMMC

What is Disney Social Media Moms Celebration?

It’s totally and completely unknown how anyone gets invited. It’s pixie dust! The Disney Social Media Moms Celebration is an event held each year by Disney for social media influencers, writers, bloggers, vloggers, etc. It’s an invite-only conference with limited space and an invitation is a super huge honor in the blogging community. At the conference you are given a sneak peek into what’s new coming to Disney Parks. That sneak peek is given to you in the way that only Disney can present things – VIP, Over The Top, Fantastic parties, great speakers and generous and wonderful sponsors.

In 2017, and again this year, the conference will be both a land and sea event with 3 days at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando followed by a cruise on the Disney Cruise Line. Invitees can bring family to experience all the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious-ness of it all! When invitees are in session, family/friends can enjoy all that the Disney Parks (and cruise line) offer. In typical Disney fashion, sessions are arranged so that there is more than enough time for everyone to spend time together as a family either in “free family time” or in planned events that include all members of your group.

It is not free to attend. There is a lump sum cost for the invitee to attend with an add-on cost for each additional family member you bring along. The cost, however, is HIGHLY discounted.

Disney also holds DisneySMMC On-the-Road events at random cities. The On-The-Road events are half or three quarters of a day and free to attend.

Photo Credit: DisneySMMC

You Can Be Invited to DisneySMMC More Than Once

Just as it’s completely unknown how anyone gets invited, it’s also completely unknown why some get invited several times. I have gone twice before (in 2015 and 2016). Those years the conference was held strictly at Walt Disney World Resort. I also attended one DisneySMMC On-The-Road event way back in 2012.

2017 was the first year the conference was a land and sea event. This year, 2018, I will be bringing along my daughter-in-law and two grandchildren. Even though we visit Walt Disney World often, my 9 year old granddaughter is so excited about her first Disney cruise. She is making all sorts of plans for her first time at sea!

So . . . the setting aside of cruise clothes has begun. I’ll admit to being a little overwhelmed planning for the cruise portion since my grandson is only one. Making sure we have everything we need has my head spinning! Regular diapers, swim diapers, diaper cream, baby soap, baby shampoo, bibs, hats . . . it feels like his list is endless!

I’ve got gadgets and gizmos a-plenty – I’ve got whozits and whatzits galore (Ariel/The Little Mermaid). I keep trying to predict and be sure to have everything he will need but “the only thing predictable about life is its unpredictability.” (Remy/Ratatouille)! 

I know once it’s time to hit the road for DisneySMMC, the excitement – the joy – the anticipation – will have been stretched to it’s limits and we will have a Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah trip!

I know when this years conference is over, I will come away with more tips and lessons to help me grow, and will have some really great Disney memories with my grandchildren!

Take Aways from Previous DisneySMMC

Over my many years of blogging, I have grown a great deal. I know I have progressed in a positive way. Today I went back and read some of the posts I wrote after attending previous conferences. Reading those posts I realized that much of my growth as a blogger is due to my attendance at DisneySMMC. Disney has that magical way of teaching us lessons through entertainment.

What I Learned About MYSELF at Disney Social Media Moms Celebration 2015 – #DisneySMMC – We are never fully FREE of who we are but it’s o.k. to just be you! I am what I am and that’s all that I am!

Disney Social Media Moms Celebration – Be Inspired! #DisneySMMC – Be Inspired! No matter how confident or self-assured we are in what we do, there are always many, many others that know more, are much better at it that we can learn from. At the same time there are those less confident and less self-assured that we can help and support. There is always something to learn, to absorb, to understand better. I came away Inspired!

Disney Social Media Moms Celebration – 3 Months Later – I’m Still Inspired! I was determined to focus on what I had learned at the conference from other bloggers and from the many wonderful speakers. I was still absorbing much of what I heard and saw but set some goals and timelines for myself. I decided to give myself 3 months to tackle 2 goals. At the end of the first 3 months I would set 2 new goals and slowly work my way through the list of things I was inspired to take on. 3 months sounds like a long time but believe me when life gets in the way, and you have set a timeline you are determined to stick to – 3 months flies by in a second! Knowing myself I knew that I could only focus on one or two things at a time. I am still – 3 months later – DETERMINED and INSPIRED! 

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” Walt Disney

The ABC’s and D of Packing for Your Disney Cruise

Packing Tips Disney Cruise

Packing for any cruise can be overwhelming. We all know you will remember your clothes, socks, bathing suit, underwear and pj’s. Add in a light jacket or sweatshirt and you’ll be good to go – or will you? There’s no need to bring all sorts of shampoo, soaps, conditioners and hair dryers, since Disney Cruise Line ships are basically sailing Disney resorts and will supply you with all of those incidentals. 

A – Absolutely Positively Must Have – Don’t Leave Home Without It Things

TRAVEL DOCUMENTS – Airline tickets, DCL signature forms (if you’ve check-in on line, print these at home), passports (or birth certificates/depending on cruse), cruise documents received from Disney Cruise Line.

DISNEY CRUISE LINE LUGGAGE TAGS – The tags you receive prior to your cruise will tell all those magical Disney people where to take your luggage. When you arrive at port, the magical porters will be able to get you new ones if necessary but why delay getting on the ship!


EMPTY GIFT CARD – the stateroom light switch is triggered by inserting your Key to the World card (or any other card of the same size) into a slot inside the door. I prefer to use an empty gift card because if you forget it, it doesn’t matter. If you forget your Key to the World card when you leave your cabin, you have no key to get back in or no way to get on and off the ship.

CASH – Your Key to the World card (stateroom key) can be used for all charging on the ship. But you will still want to tip at times for things such as room service. Some shopping off of the ship may require cash as well. Many cruisers opt for the “pre-paid tips” option but you will still need some cash for tipping. The porters that take your luggage from the car to the ship or room service deliveries are two examples. If you opted for “pre-paid tips” this covers your head server, stateroom host, serve and assistant server. Based on your service you may want to include a little extra in the envelope (with pre-paid tear-away strips) you receive on the last night of the cruise.

CARRY-ON that contains your travel documents and one set of clothing. It should contain anything you may need for the day since you have no idea what time your luggage will arrive at your cabin. Suggestions: swimsuits, sunscreen, necessary medications. Be sure to keep it with you when you hand over your luggage when arriving at the port. Your luggage is delivered to your stateroom in the afternoon, but you’ll want to start enjoying your cruise while you wait for it. Be sure to keep your travel documents and anything needed to board the ship in this carry-on.

DECK SHOES/WATER SHOES/FLIP FLOPS are really necessary. Shoes that are easy to get on and off and comfortable. The pool areas on the ship can be HOT and slippery. I prefer water shoes since they can also be worm off the ship when heading to the beach, where the sand can be hot too! 

SEA-SICK PREVENTION – There is no quicker way to ruin your cruise – If you or someone in your group has never cruised before, be sure to have some type of sea-sick prevention ready and with you. There are many over the counter medications, bracelets, etc. With sea-sickness it’s much better to be safe than sorry. I personally get a sea-sick patch prescription from my doctor and use it “just in case.” It easily sticks behind your ear and each patch lasts 3 days. I put it on before getting on-board so there is never a chance of getting sick. It works like a charm! Of course, I have no idea if I would actually get sea-sick, but I’m not willing to take the chance.

B – Be Prepared – Important to Have – But Not the End of the World if You Don’t 

LANYARD – If you have been on a Disney cruise before and are a Castaway Club member, you will receive lanyards when you check into the terminal. If you have never cruised before, you should really have a lanyard (with a wallet-like pouch) to keep your Key to the World card in while on-board. Your cabin key (and charging ability) will be right where you need it at all times.

PORTABLE USB CHARGER capable of charging multiple devices – cell phones, iPads, laptops, etc. all need to be charged while cruising. However, there are a limited number of wall plus in your cabin so the more devices you can plug into one unit, the better. I personally “unplug” on a cruise but I know some of you don’t. Internet access on the ship can be expensive. If you are “unplugging” be sure to put your cell phones in airplane mode so it does not randomly pick up some internet and you get hit with a huge bill.

MAGNETIC STATEROOM DOOR DECORATIONS – This is really a big practice and big deal on Disney cruises. You can go over the top or simply add one or two little decorations but you surely don’t want your kids to be questioning where their door decorations are as they walk down the halls looking at all the different themed doors. You can find lots of cute ideas on Etsy and depending on your creative talents, can make your door look magical too!

BEACH BAG/TOTE – You will want something light weight to take with you to the pool and to the beach when at Castaway Cay.

SPECIAL ATTIRE/COSTUMES – Dressing up is never required, but if your sailing has any special events, (Pirate night, Star Wars Day at Sea, Halloween) many of the cruisers are pros and very well prepared! You can be as extravagant or as simple as you choose.

FISH EXTENDER AND FISH EXTENDER GIFTS – Fish extenders are cool but also time consuming, can be costly and can also be disappointing. If you want to participate in this practice, search on line for the rules, the tips and tricks and best practices. You will most likely be able to spend a full day reading about it all – searching for your extender on Etsy or Pinterest and deciding on what gifts to buy. Many DCL cruisers participate but many more do not. If finances are an issue (let’s face it, a Disney cruise is already expensive) don’t bother. Although a somewhat cool tradition for Disney cruisers, it adds another level of things to get ready and to pay for when you may already be over-stressed and short on time or money. This is only important if you think your kids or family will be disappointed when they see other fish extenders while walking the halls.

C – Can I Get it Cheaper – Things You Don’t Want to Pay an Exhorbitant Price for So Be Sure to Bring

Just about anything you may need is available on the ship, but . . . at about 4 times the cost of buying it and bringing it from home.

SUNSCREEN – I’m sure you have this on your packing list. Be sure to bring more than you think you will need. It is SUPER expensive to buy on the ship and SUPER DUPER expensive on Castaway Cay. The ship gift shops are closed when the ship is docked so you also won’t be able to buy it unless the ship is at sea. Depending on your destination, sunscreen is definitely one thing you don’t want to be without. A bad sun burn can ruin your entire vacation. 

ALCOHOL – If you want a glass of wine or a cocktail while getting ready for the evening, or even a sip or two mid-day, bring your own. Be sure to read all the Disney Cruise Line alcohol policies HERE to know how much and what you can bring. If possible, bring your own travel corkscrew since Disney charges a $25 corking fee if you bring an unopened bottle into the dining room. You will be surprised (and stunned) how much those cute tropical drinks add up to when you get your bill at the end of your cruise!

BABY NEEDS – diapers, wipes, baby creams – all necessary baby items.


REFILLABLE DRINK MUGS – What? Drinks from the free beverage stations are great – all day long! The self-serve drink stations have supplies of paper cups with lids and straws but they are small. Depending on your cabin location or what part of the ship you are heading to, you could finish that cupful before you get back. The cruise line wants you to use their paper cups for filling. You cannot fill the mug from the dispenser at the self-serve beverage station. You are asked to use a fresh glass for each refill (a glass that hasn’t touched anyone’s mouth). You are welcome to take their cup and pour it into your insulated mug. You can fit at least two cupfuls into your insulated mug. The self-serve beverage stations serve soda (Coca-Cola products), coffee, tea, lemonade and more. Keep in mind that the soda from the roaming bar servers at the bars, pool decks or room service are charged (at a highly inflated cost) through to your bill so it’s worth the walk to the self-serve station for your refills.

ZIP LOCK BAGS – in a variety of sizes. There is nothing grosser than packing items that haven’t dried yet back into your luggage when leaving the ship. A zip lock bag can also be used to protect your electronics and/or camera in your day bag when off on a shore excursion.

Do you have any special packing tips for sailing on Disney Cruise Line?

Once you plan your next (or first) Disney cruise or Walt Disney World vacation, be sure to sign up for some Mickey Mail for the kids to let them know Mickey is excited about their plans! Imagine their excitement when they receive some mail right from Walt Disney World.

The Perfect Friend’s Getaway! Sailing on Disney Cruise Line Without the Kids!

Disney Cruise Without Kids

Outstanding ~ Wonderful ~ Blissful ~ Beautiful!! There aren’t enough words to describe a long weekend on a Disney Cruise with a group of girls – without kids! Nine friends – three cabins with connecting verandas – NO kids! Disney!

Most people automatically think kids when they hear Disney but I can’t begin to tell you how much there is for adults to do without kids on a Disney Cruise. From the minute we arrived at Port Canaveral until the time we once again set foot on dry land ~ we were pampered, happy, full of good food, relaxed, smiling and laughing!

Disney Cruise Without Kids

Our girl’s weekend started by spending a leisurely day before our cruise enjoying Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival and staying Club Level at the Beach Club (that’s definitely the way to stay!). Being pampered and spoiled on WDW property is the perfect way to start a girl’s getaway weekend. We ended our stay at WDW by disrupting the lobby at the Beach Club with girlfriend shenanigans and then heading to Port Canaveral in a stretch limo!

Disney Cruise Without Kids

We arrived at Port Canaveral in style! Once on board we found that adult only areas are plentiful. I never once felt like there were tons of little ones under my feet. Spa treatments, great food, quiet pools with cocktails served ~ all done with that special touch of Disney magic! Of course it helps when you absolutely adore each and every member of your traveling party and you are all Disney lovers. Getting into the spirit of the Sail Away Party and Pirate Night is easy when you travel with great friends. There are more than enough locations on board to have your own fun while watching families and children from afar!

Disney Cruise Without Kids

Senses Spa & Salon is located on deck 11 of the Disney Dream. It is a huge facility and contains a state-of-the-art fitness center, barbershop, hair & nail salon, hot tubs, saunas, and a variety of treatment rooms offering services such as massages, algae wraps and facials. On the first day of the cruise, the spa offers packages of services that you can take advantage of during the entire cruise for a discounted cost. They also offer a daily special each morning. Our group took full advantage of the spa and one or more of us could be found there at any given time! Believe me ~ you will hope your hot stone massage never ends!

Palo – Adult Only Restaurant


Adult only dining at it’s finest, Palo is pure luxury. Decorated in muted tones and dark woods, the restaurant is posh, comfortable, and quiet. Service is over the top excellent and the food is superb. We were able to enjoy both brunch and a private dinner in Palo during our cruise and I have to say, at least one meal at Palo should not be missed.

Disney Cruise Without Kids

Serenity Bay – Adult Only Beach on Castaway Cay

Located on the far northwestern end of the island is Serenity Bay. A tram will take you to this area and deliver you to this secluded beach for adults 18 and older only. Beach side pampering at its finest! Adults can enjoy pampering in an open-air cabana, sip a drink, and relax and enjoy the quiet of the beach with no children. A buffet lunch is served. The only downfall to Serenity Bay is having to leave and go back to the ship!

Disney Cruise Without Kids

Satellite Falls – Adults Only

Disney Cruise Without Kids

Adult Only – Over 18 Deck Areas are plentiful. Grown-up Disney fans can find plenty to do where no children are underfoot and still enjoy all the kid-friendly entertainment throughout the ship. Then retreat back to the peace and privacy of the adult-only areas. On-board adult exclusive activities are limited to drinking, dancing, socializing, resting, and your imagination! I can’t wait for my next girlfriend’s weekend on a Disney cruise!



10 Secrets of Disney Cruise Line’s Castaway Cay

Secrets Castaway Cay Disney Cruise Line

Castaway Cay is a private island in the Bahamas which serves as the exclusive port for the Disney Cruise Line ships. The island is 3 miles long and consists of 1,000 acres, but only 55 acres are developed. It is located near Great Abaco Island and was formerly known as Gorda Cay. As with all things Disney, Imagineers create a backstory and history for every attraction, shop or show, and Castaway Cay is no different. When you first arrive on the island you see the island’s story:

“Three explorers set sail to the scattered islands of the Bahamas in search of fame and fortune. They brought along their families and a diverse crew. Through mild mishap and extreme good fortune, they located the objects of their desire–sunken treasures and the secret of youth. Though castaway on this island, they had no desire to leave due to the breathtaking beauty of this tropical paradise. Visitors to this island can still see the original structures built by the explorers and take part in many of the same pleasures our castaways enjoyed years ago. Disney Cruise Line welcomes you to the island paradise of your dreams, Castaway Cay.”

Secrets Castaway Cay Disney Cruise Line


It is commonly believed that Disney owns Castaway Cay. The island , Gorda Cay, is actually owned by the Bahamian Government and Disney leases the island from them. The current lease will expire in 2096. It took eighteen months, $25 million and 50,000 truckloads of sand to transform Gorda Cay into Castaway Cay, a castaway-themed island with buildings designed to look like they had been built from timbers following a shipwreck.


Although never completely confirmed, it is rumored that pirates frequented the island in the early 1700’s. The island was located just north of a trade route used at the time. The island offers many hidden alcoves and was believed to provide great hiding spots for pirates to anchor and lie in wait to ambush passing ships. Two treasure hunters from Nassau in the 1950’s came across a few objects just off the shoals of the island including three coins and a 72 pound silver ingot. Markings showed the objects belonged to Spain’s King Philip IV, and that the treasures were aboard the San Pedro, a Spanish Galleon that sank in 1733.

Secrets Castaway Cay Disney Cruise Line


Many years ago, Gorda Cay was originally used for farmers from neighboring islands. Because the fertile soil was excellent for growing groups, locals from other islands would boat over and use the land to farm. 

In the 1960’s, a businessman, Alvin Tucker, looking for investments flew over the island with a real estate agent from Nassau. He purchased 150 acres of the island, one of the first investments and purchases he made in the Bahamas. The only way to get to the island was by boat, so his plan was to clear land for a runway for easier access. He is responsible for the 2,400 foot runway that still exists today. The runway is no longer used for planes but does serve as a bike and tram path to Serenity Bay. 

Secrets Castaway Cay Disney Cruise Line
Photo Credit:

As time went on this beautiful and isolated tropical hideaway was discovered by criminals and put to use. 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, he could not because – the police were supposedly in on it as well. Anyone owning parts of the island were no longer welcome and were being chased away by men with large guns and Dobermans. Residents of neighboring islands saw up to six plans a day landing. Alvin began to visit less and less, and eventually sold his land to a private company. An American living in Florida, who had secretly used the runway himself for years to smuggle drugs, was the man behind the private company that purchased Alvin Tucker’s land. His name was Frank Barber. Barber would also rent out the use of the airstrip to other drug smugglers.

Along with Frank Barber’s smuggling business, he also planned to turn part of the island into a resort for tourists and got as far as building a large hanger adjacent to the airstrip before he was stopped. In 1983, there was a major drug bust on the island and authorities found over $100 million dollars worth of cocaine. A few days later, Barber was arrested, went to jail and died in prison. For a brief time after his arrest, activity on the island continued and it was rumored that Barber was still in control from behind bars. After his death, the smuggling stopped.


The post office on the island is a real Bahamian post office with special Bahamian postage specific to Disney Cruise Line, and a “Castaway Cay” postmark.

Secrets Castaway Cay Disney Cruise Line


One of the first questions many ask after arriving at Castaway Cay is “Why is that palm tree so big?”  All Disney lovers know that Disney never wants anything to look out of place so that giant palm tree is actually a not-so-cleverly disguised communications tower located in the middle of the island disguised as a palm tree. The communications tower is used for the local Bahamas cell phone carrier, as well as to transmit radio frequencies for cast members who work and live on the island.


The island makes much of it’s own fuel. Sea water is desalinated for drinking with reverse osmosis water processors. Some water is procured in Port Canaveral and delivered to Castaway Cay by the ships to an 80,000 gallon fresh water storage tank on the island. On Castaway Cay, an innovative recycling program re-purposes used cooking oil from the ships’ galleys and combines it with diesel fuel to power machinery on the island. The program reduces waste and carbon dioxide emissions, saving up to 8,000 gallons of traditional fuel each year. Hidden from the view of guests are a sewage treatment plant and the two facilities that turn sea water into fresh water.


Over 100 people live on Castaway Cay. These “castaways” are a mixture of guest services employees – those that interact with the guests from the ships; island maintenance; horticulturalists; boat captains, landscapers, engineers; etc. There are also a small number of cast members that commute by boat from the neighboring island, Abaco. Other island Cast Members come from the ship ~ some of the ship Cast Members go onto the island to work as food servers for example.

All of the resident “castaways” live in the Crew Compound. They have a crew beach, gym, football pitch, indoor recreation area, crew mess and, of course, they live on one of the most beautiful Caribbean islands. Food and other supplies are brought in by the ships themselves, so while everyone is enjoying their vacation, workers are diligently off-loading supplies from the ship. Those that may have some time off when the ship is docked, can go on the ship, watch some movies and relax. 

Secrets Castaway Cay Disney Cruise Line
The red box shows the area of the island that guests don’t see (via Google Earth)

Many of the island “castaways” will use the ships as their “taxi” ride home after several weeks or several months on the island. When it is their turn to have some time off, they will board one of the cruise ships as they are leaving the island and get a ride back to Cape Canaveral. Disney Cruise Line keeps several staterooms unoccupied to be sure there is room for these “rescues!” If you think you might want to be a castaway on the island – you can find available jobs on Disney Cruise Line’s Career listings under “Island Opportunities.”


Before being turned into Castaway Cay, Gorda Cay was also popular for filming movies. The beach where Tom Hanks first meets Daryl Hannah in Splash is on the island. Part of the film Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was also filmed there.


There is a gumbo limbo tree that Disney planted on the island. Cast Members call it ‘the tourist tree’ because its red, peeling bark resembles a sun-burnt tourist.


Many guests know that if you go snorkeling just off the family beach, you’ll find a nautilus submarine that used to carry passengers to the depths of Atlantis in Fantasyland at Walt Disney World Resort. Snorkeling around this is a surreal experience for theme park fans and something you can only do at Castaway Cay.

#10 ~ Sea Urchin Research

Researchers at Castaway Cay are helping to restore the health of coral reefs through a unique research project transplanting native sea urchins in The Bahamas. The urchins help to control harmful algae levels that can choke out corals, and the project is providing vital research for rebuilding coral reef systems that serve as homes for tropical fish and marine life.

Secrets Castaway Cay Disney Cruise Line

A little extra info: Just like the tributes paid to many by the windows along Main Street USA, there are some signs around Castaway Cay that pay tribute to executives at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.