Celebrating the Holidays at Disney’s Castaway Cay

Castaway Cay Christmas - Christmas TreeDuck II

Welcome to Castaway Cay!

Disney makes a big deal out of all the holidays, but really goes all out for the Christmas season!

Disney’s Castaway Cay is the private island that Disney owns and that all their cruise ships sailing the Caribbean stop in at.

We stopped there on our Disney cruise aboard the Disney Dream.

christmas Mickey

In December, Captain Mickey dons a festive holiday sweater to greet sailing guests at Port Canaveral.

tree

Christmastime aboard the Disney Dream.  So pretty!

Magical Winter Holidays with Disney Cruise Line

Mickey and all his friends sail with you!

gingerbread house Dream

The gingerbread castle aboard ship! WOW!!!

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So pretty and festive with holiday music playing in the background.

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The giant Christmas tree on the island.

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Close-up of the giant “ocean creatures” decorations.

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Mickey greeting guests in his beach attire.

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Minnie in her beach outfit.

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Santa’s sleigh.

goofy (2)

Santa Goofy. When he’s not at sea, you can find him greeting guests at Disney’s Hollywood Studios during the holiday season.

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Chip has the chocolate chip nose.

gingerbread

December 19, 2018:  It’s amazing that they assemble this gingerbread castle onboard ship!

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Olaf is the island’s mascot.

cruise

Disney cruises are the best!

mermaid Ariel cruise

Merry Christmas!

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Castaway Cay

Us going ashore for the day at Castaway Cay.

Castaway Cay is Disney’s private tropical island in the Bahamas. From our breakfast table over a cup of coffee, we watched as our big cruise ship was slowly maneuvered alongside the Castaway pier.

Castaway Cay from the air.

Castaway Cay from the air.

Snorkeling Bay.  We saw lots of fish, including some sea bass.  They have huge nets stretched across the mouth of the bay to keep out large predator fish, like sharks and barracudas.

Snorkeling Bay. We saw lots of fish, including some sea bass. They have huge nets stretched across the mouth of the bay to keep out large predator fish, like sharks and barracudas.  Nothing larger than 6″ across can enter the bay.

We did not snorkel out as far as the underwater Mickey, but a lot of kids did.

We did not snorkel out as far as the underwater Mickey, but a lot of kids did.

Our shore excursion for the day included unlimited snorkeling, floaties, and bicycling around the island. A huge bar-b-que lunch was provided under covered, open air picnic table seating just up from the beach.

Nets across the bay opening to keep out sharks.

Nets across the bay opening to keep out sharks.

Bicycling around the entire island. The island vegetation was so thick it reminded us of Jurassic Park!

Bicycling around the entire island. The island vegetation was so thick it reminded us of Jurassic Park!

We bicycled around the island after lunch from Snorkeling Bay to the adult beach at Serenity Bay, but they also run trams back and forth every 6 minutes.

Serenity Bay, the over 18 beach for adults only.  Deserted!  We counted only ten people on the adult beach.

Serenity Bay, the “Over 18” beach for adults only.  Deserted!  We counted only ten people on the lovely white sand beach.

We loved the beach here.  It was shallow with a sandy bottom a long ways out. You could drag your beach chair into the water, and sit and enjoy the waves splashing over your toes.

We loved the beach here. It was shallow with a sandy bottom a long ways out. You could drag your beach chair into the water, and sit and enjoy the waves splashing over your toes.

Collecting sea shells by the sea shore.

Collecting sea shells by the sea shore.

Even after a whole day out on the beaches enjoying the surf and sun, we weren’t ready to go back to the ship at 4pm.

Our 40% cast member discount also worked on Castaway Cay, so we stopped in the shops and picked up some t-shirts and special Castaway trading pins.

A perfect Caribbean day at Castaway Cay!

A perfect Caribbean day at Castaway Cay!

They warn you in the morning before you leave the Dream that if you hear the ship’s horns playing and you’re not back onboard, you’re late! Literally, the horns started playing as we walked up the gang plank!  We stayed until the very last minute because who knows when we’ll get a chance to return.

We won a foot and leg massage at the spa by playing bingo the day before, and we still had that to do before dinnertime!

So much to do on this cruise and so little time!

olaf

Olaf from ‘Frozen’ was doing a hula dance by the gangplank.

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Adventure Book Cover

Adventures in the Animal Kingdom

Lions and Tigers and Strollers, Oh My!

This is not Caroline’s first time in the Disney College Program. Along with her sister, she was previously accepted into the program a few years earlier.  Back in Colorado, Caroline was wishing for a little more pixie dust to brighten up her life.  On a whim, she decides to apply to the exclusive Disney Alumni Summer Program.

Now that she’s back, things get wild.

Wild, as in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, where Caroline is assigned to work in Stroller Rental.  While not the most glamorous position in the park, it’s often ground zero for humanity at its best and at its worst.

While Caroline makes many “Magical Moments” for deserving guests whose pixie dust has gone temporarily sideways, she also receives magical moments of her own through the friendships she makes, going to Disney cast member exclusive events, and all the spectacular dining opportunities at Disney World.

Caroline tells all – from the ins and outs of Disney’s secret training class called Traditions; to learning how to be a happy cast member during on-the-job training; to what it’s like to interact with fellow cast members and the guests who are ready to explore the most magical place on earth.

Join Caroline as she takes you on a wild ride through her adventures in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. But be careful, it’s a jungle out there!

Available now at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle formats. Published by Theme Park Press.

Book link on Amazon.com:  Adventures in the Animal Kingdom

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DAK costume

Caroline working at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

About the Author:

Caroline’s love for all things Disney, and desire to grow up to be a Disney princess, is the reason she always wanted to work for Disney.  Her dream came true working as a cast member at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Caroline is the co-author of the book, Two Girls and a Mouse Tale, about her adventures working at Disney World with her sister.

She is currently a 7th grade middle school Social Studies teacher in Colorado.

Daily blog link:  https://collinsrace1.wordpress.com/

DAK-Entrance

Welcome to Disney’s Animal Kingdom!

***

Two Disney Sisters

Two Disney Sisters

Castaway Cay

Castaway Cay

Going ashore for the day at Castaway Cay.

Castaway Cay is Disney’s private tropical island in the Bahamas. From our breakfast table over a cup of coffee, we watched as our big cruise ship was slowly maneuvered alongside the Castaway pier.

Castaway Cay from the air.

Castaway Cay from the air.

Snorkeling Bay.  We saw lots of fish, including some sea bass.  They have huge nets stretched across the mouth of the bay to keep out large predator fish, like sharks and barracudas.

Snorkeling Bay. We saw lots of fish, including some sea bass. They have huge nets stretched across the mouth of the bay to keep out large predator fish, like sharks and barracudas.

We did not snorkel out as far as the underwater Mickey, but a lot of kids did.

We did not snorkel out as far as the underwater Mickey, but a lot of kids did.

Our shore excursion for the day included unlimited snorkeling, floaties, and bicycling around the island. A huge bar-b-que lunch was provided under covered, open air picnic table seating just up from the beach.

Nets across the bay opening to keep out sharks.

Nets across the bay opening to keep out sharks.

Bicycling around the entire island. The island vegetation was so thick it reminded us of Jurassic Park!

Bicycling around the entire island. The island vegetation was so thick it reminded us of Jurassic Park!

We bicycled around the island after lunch from Snorkeling Bay to the adult beach at Serenity Bay, but they also run trams back and forth every 6 minutes.

Serenity Bay, the over 18 beach for adults only.  Deserted!  We counted only ten people on the adult beach.

Serenity Bay, the over 18 beach for adults only. Deserted! We counted only ten people on the white sand beach.

We loved the beach here.  It was shallow with a sandy bottom a long ways out. You could drag your beach chair into the water, and sit and enjoy the waves splashing over your toes.

We loved the beach here. It was shallow with a sandy bottom a long ways out. You could drag your beach chair into the water, and sit and enjoy the waves splashing over your toes.

Collecting sea shells by the sea shore.

Collecting sea shells by the sea shore.

Even after a whole day out on the beaches enjoying the surf and sun, we weren’t ready to go back to the ship at 4pm. Our 40% cast member discount also worked on Castaway Cay, so we stopped in the shops and picked up some t-shirts and special Castaway trading pins.

A perfect Caribbean day at Castaway Cay!

A perfect Caribbean day at Castaway Cay!

They warn you in the morning before you leave the Dream that if you hear the ship’s horns playing and you’re not back onboard, you’re late! Literally, the horns started playing as we walked up the gang plank!

We had won a foot and leg massage at the spa by playing bingo the day before, and we still had that to do before dinnertime! So much to do, so little time! 🙂

Disney Dream Cruise – Sailing Away Dance Party!

Disney Dream Cruise – Sailing Away Dance Party!

Disney Dream Bahamas Cruise: 4 Days/3 Nights

Day     Port                        Guest Ashore    Guest Onboard
1          Port Canaveral, Florida   —                   4:00 p.m.

2          Nassau, Bahamas             9:30 a.m.       5:45 p.m.

3          Castaway Cay                   8:30 a.m.        4:45 p.m.

4          Port Canaveral, Florida    7:30 a.m.

We left Orlando for Port Canaveral at 10am as we had an early check-in time of 11:45am.  We both have been on other cruises, but this is the first time we sailed with Disney.  The Disney Dream was launched in 2011 and has room for 4,000 passengers and 1,500 crew. It is a HUGE ship with 12 decks!

We arrived at the Disney terminal in Port Canaveral without knowing what stateroom we had been assigned to. We were happily surprised to learn that we had been upgraded to a Deluxe Family Suite (sleeps 5) with oceanview and veranda on Deck 7! We love Disney!

Ready to set sail with Captain Mickey aboard the Disney Dream.

Ready to set sail with Captain Mickey aboard the Disney Dream.

After dropping our luggage off at the curb, we checked-in at the terminal port. The Disney characters were already there and we got to meet both Captain Mickey and Minnie. The check-in process was the best and fastest of any cruiseline that we’ve sailed with. When you walk onboard the ship from the gangplank, officers and crew are lined up in the Grand Atrium to announce your names and welcome you aboard.

The Grand Atrium is lovely with a huge art deco flower art piece hanging from the center of the ceiling.

WOW!!!

WOW!!!

A lunch buffet was being served at Cabanas on Deck 11, the pool deck. We knew we were going to have a fabulous time on the cruise when we saw how delicious the buffet was! There were plenty of free tables at Cabanas if you wanted to sit inside, and also lot of covered seating around the pool if you wanted to sit outside.

Beautiful mural at Cabanas.

Beautiful mural at Cabanas.

Disney is the only cruiseline to offer a soda fountain bar with unlimited ice and drinks. (Other cruiselines make you buy a beverage package.) Cabanas was open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. After hours, on the same deck, Flo’s V8 Café (like in California Adventure in Disneyland) served hamburgers, pizza, sandwiches, and salads until late into the night.

Our stateroom was available at 1:30pm and our luggage arrived at 2pm. The cabin was beautiful! After some settling in, we decided to explore the ship from top to bottom before the Sailing Away party started at 4:30pm. So much to do!

Disney Dream Recreation (from Wikipedia):

The ship features the first water coaster at sea, called the “AquaDuck”, a 765-foot long winding waterslide with a four-deck drop and a course that winds 13 feet over the edge of the ship and through the ship’s forward funnel. The AquaDuck runs the width of the ship and the length between the funnels, almost the size of a U.S. football field. Other water activities include a Mickey’s Slide and 3 pools. All pools contain fresh water.

The adult-only, Quiet Cove Pool, includes a series of connecting pools with depths ranging from 6” to 4 ft.deep sun-bathing pools with a bar at the end of the 6 inch “pool”. There are also hot tubs for adults & families, some of which have glass in the floor. The ship also boasts a Walt Disney Theatre, which shows first run Disney movies and live Broadway style shows.

There is a giant 24 x 14 ft. LED screen facing Donald’s Pool, attached to the forward funnel.

Activities aboard the Disney Dream include: a 9 hole mini-golf course, a walking track, digital sports simulators, a full-sized basketball court that can be converted for use as a soccer pitch, volleyball court, or football/table tennis area.

Some cabin photos:

Our decorated cabin door.  The doors are made of metal and you can use magnets to decorate it.  We got our name decal off of ebay before the cruise, and the ship’s gift shops also sell door décor.

Our decorated cabin door. The doors are made of metal and
you can use magnets to decorate it. We got our name decal
off of ebay before the cruise, and the ship’s gift shops also sell door décor.

Our lovely stateroom with veranda on Deck 7.

Our lovely stateroom with veranda on Deck 7.

Sailing Away Dance Party:

Party being broadcast live on the huge LED screen.

Party being broadcast live on the huge LED screen.

The Sailing Away dance party was a high energy blast! All the characters were there dancing away as the ship slowly left dock and made its way through the canals of Port Canaveral and out into the open sea. It was a cool and overcast day, but the pools were open and people were sliding down the Aqua Duck slide.

Having fun at the Sailing Away party.

Having fun at the Sailing Away party.

As we left port, the ship’s horns started to play. Disney Dream’s horn plays songs from Disney movies and parks: “When You Wish Upon a Star” (Pinocchio), “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” (Cinderella), “Be Our Guest” (Beauty and the Beast), “Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life for Me)” (Pirates of the Caribbean), “Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee (An Actor’s Life for Me)” (Pinocchio), and “It’s a Small World”. Wonderful to listen to!!!

The fabulous Disney Dream’s horn show:  A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes 

Ship’s horns playing Disney tunes.

Ship’s horns playing Disney tunes.

One went to the Disney pins trading event one night:  Trading Disney Cruise Pins Onboard the Disney Dream.

Dream cruise Castaway Cay

Docked at Castaway Cay.

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working together at DAK

Working together at DAK.

Two Girls and a Mouse Tale

   by Elly Collins & Caroline Collins

Ever wonder what it’s like to work for Disney???

We worked at WDW for a year in the Disney College Program and have written a book about what it’s like to be a cast member working for Disney.

We’ve included advice on how to successfully get into the DCP program, including some of the actual phone interview questions, how to have a successful internship, and how not self-term before your program ends. Our book is filled with lots of behind-the-scene stories of the magic of Disney. Available now at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle formats. Published by Theme Park Press.

Book link on Amazon.com:  Two Girls and a Mouse Tale

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Planning a Disney Dream Cruise

Planning a Disney Dream Cruise

Our cruise ship – The Disney Dream

After ‘earning your ears’, one of the perks for Cast Members is that you get a significant discount on Disney cruises. But, there’s a catch. As they tell you in the Disney Traditions class, you can get a great cruise rate, but good luck getting the time off for a cruise!

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The cruise of a lifetime to sail as a cast member aboard the Disney Dream.

You have to work for Disney for 90 days to qualify for the cruise discount. For the Fall CPs, that puts you right into the peak November-December holiday season, with little chance of getting a time off request approved at the last minute.  But, if you extend, or for the Spring CPs, there’s a very good chance of it all working out!

Disney posts unsold staterooms (inside/outside) for cruises 2-4 weeks out on the HUB. That doesn’t give you much time to put in for time off and get it approved!

The fares are typically 40-60% off the prices listed on the official Disney Cruise Line webpage. You have to be flexible because you won’t know what stateroom you’ve been assigned to until you sign in at the port, literally minutes before you board the ship.

cruise-2

A sample of cruises available on the Hub for cast members.  A 4 night cruise to the Caribbean aboard the Disney Dream was only $260!  The 40% cast member holiday discount was still in effect…so we got 40% off all merchandise and excursions!!!

And, of course, not all cruises will have staterooms available. Disney likes to sail with their ships at 100-104% booked. So, cruises won’t be available for Cast Members around holidays or other peak times.

But, if it works out, not only will you get a great rate, your Cast Member discount will work at the Disney Port and shops onboard the ship too!

We’ve booked a cruise aboard the Disney Dream ship for the first week in February from Port Canaveral to the Bahamas! 🙂

Sailing away aboard the Disney Dream:  Our Disney Cruise!

Pin Trading aboard the Disney Dream: Trading for Disney Cruise Pins!

We traded a ship's officer for this one!

The pin trading aboard ship is wonderful!  We traded a ship’s officer for this one!

cruise

Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island paradise!

disney dream

Disney Dream docked at Castaway Cay today.

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two-disney-sisters

Two Disney sisters.

Two Girls and a Mouse Tale

   by Elly Collins & Caroline Collins

Ever wonder what it’s like to work for Disney???

We worked at WDW for a year in the Disney College Program and have written a book about what it’s like to be a cast member working for Disney.

We’ve included advice on how to successfully get into the DCP program, including some of the actual phone interview questions, how to have a successful internship, and how not self-term before your program ends. Our book is filled with lots of behind-the-scene stories of the magic of Disney. Available now at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle formats. Published by Theme Park Press.

Book link on Amazon.com:  Two Girls and a Mouse Tale

***