I have posted about Castaway Cay before. I put a few photos up from this same cruise here and I also posted about Castaway Cay when we first visited the island back in 2011. It is such a beautiful spot that I will share a few more photos from our recent Caribbean cruise. This will keep the series of posts about our cruise in chronological order. Castaway Cay was our last port before returning back to Port Canaveral, Florida.
Disney purchased a 99-year lease for the island from the Bahamian government. The lease expires in 2096 so we should be able to go back if we ever take another Caribbean cruise with Disney.
The island is roughly 1,000 acres. Disney has developed about 55 acres. I found out that there are permanent residents on the island. Somewhere around 100 people maintain the property.
Disney created a mooring site for their ships to dock at Castaway Cay which you can see in this photo.
This is the entry point to Castaway Cay. Guests can continue walking out to the beaches or wait for a tram.
We elected to go to Serenity Bay, a second beach area designated for adults only. We had to travel along the runway of Castaway Cay Airport (MYAG) to get to Serenity Bay and we found a few wrecked aircraft like this one.
The beach areas are wonderfully maintained.
There are restaurants and bars nearby although Disney folks will serve you right at the beach. Castaway Air is a bar for the adult beach.
We did bike the island and we found a viewing tower that allowed us to spot this small vessel.
There was always something of interest to see on the beach.
It would not be Disney if there were no shops.
The Heads Up bar is for the family beach.
Water slides at the family beach. Lorraine rode this one a few times.
As our day at Castaway Cay came to a close, we walked back towards the ship. Truly an island paradise.
How did we wind up here? A port of call on our recent Caribbean cruise, which, at first glance, appeared to be some massive condominium complex. Except that it was only the Allure of the Seas. One of the largest cruise ships in the world.
Time to get ready to go ashore. No selfie stick so an elevator mirror had to serve the job.
The port is really a gated shopping and dining complex. As you can see from the next two photos, it is a surprisingly beautiful spot in the Caribbean.
And then we got here. The gate that keeps the Jamaicans outside and the cruise ship passengers inside. I counted over a dozen police officers in front of this gate. It looks so different out there that most people, including ourselves, debated whether to go on the other side of the gate. And most people, like ourselves, decided to stay inside the compound.
It just felt safer. I mean, there is the Mickey Mouse logo on the horizon.
We did drop by Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville.
This Margaritaville is more of a destination restaurant with its own water park.
Here are a few more shots of the port.
You can see how the two cruise ships tower over the port of Falmouth. And the economy of Falmouth would be largely based on the cruise ships.
After several hours of walking through the port, we retreated back to the ship for a late afternoon beverage. And then, off to Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island in the Caribbean.
The Grand Cayman Islands was certainly the nicest port of call on this particular Caribbean cruise. Beautiful beaches. Beautiful homes, particularly around the Seven Mile Beach. And very clean.
No dock so we had to get aboard a tender to go ashore.
We walked around the main shopping and dining area by the port and decided to take lunch at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville.
Our tour started around 1pm and so we made our way back to the pier to find our group and our guide. We had several stops along the way including the far end of the Seven Mile beach. It just seems too perfect to me.
So we went to Hell. Hell, Grand Cayman Islands that is.
Fortunately, Lorraine is an angel and she helped me out of Hell. Thank goodness.
Our last stop on the tour was the turtle farm. Lorraine was able to hold one of the baby turtles.
We have a bit of a tradition in that if we happen to be near a large body of water, like an ocean or a sea, not usually lakes or rivers, Lorraine likes to get her feet wet. I have to document this tradition by capturing the event.
We had a few more hours to explore our port of call before returning to the ship. Wonderful day.
Our first port of call on our Caribbean cruise was Cozumel, Mexico. Cozumel is an island off the eastern coast of Mexico. It looks as though the entire economy of Cozumel is based on tourism, most of it coming from cruise ships.
Our first stop was the Maya ruins at San Gervasio, located somewhere near the centre of the island.
Miguel was our guide. He was very proud of the history of this place and he was very proud of the Maya civilization, art, architecture, mathematics, calendar and astronomy. He described the Maya calendrical system noting that the Maya solar year was more accurate than the Julian year.
Miguel was also prepared for the heat and humidity. You can see a white towel hanging from his belt. I could have used a white towel as well. So hot. So humid.
We did not have much time at the ruins. The areas we did see were beautifully landscaped and the ruins showed well.
Our next stop was the Mayan Cacao Company. This stop was created just for the tourists. More of a pseudo factory tour as no production chocolate comes off the island. It is described as a place to discover the origins of chocolate.
Adrian took us through the process of how the Mayans made chocolate. The Mayans were the first to discover cocoa, perhaps as early as 900 AD. The beans inside the cocoa pods could be harvested and made into a liquid. I sampled the pure chocolate right there. A bit bitter for my taste as I have been conditioned to enjoy chocolate with a lot of added sugar. Interesting, though, to learn about the history of chocolate and to see how it was made back then.
These two birds guarded the entrance to the Mayan Cacao Company.
Our final stop was the Discover Mexico pavilion. The area contains a small museum, air conditioned. And an area of miniature buildings that highlight the main architectural features of Mexico.
Our time in Cozumel was ending and we made our way back to our ship. Although the crew tracked us going out and coming back on the ship, there was no passport control in Cozumel.
There is a sense of excitement and anticipation as you start your travel adventures. And a cruise is really no different. It is so cool to get that first view of the ship.
We had taken a Disney Cruise bus from our resort hotel in Orlando directly to the ship in Port Canaveral. I was able to get the above shot from my seat in the bus as we made our way to the terminal.
Unlike prior cruises, we literally just walked on. No waiting. Our stateroom was ready for us. Again, no waiting.
We had our first meal at the Enchanted Gardens restaurant.
We spent the balance of our first day exploring the ship. As you can tell from the photos, this ship is huge.
Oh, and yes, there were about 5,000 or so people on board. I’m not sure where they all went but I suspect either topside on the pool deck or unpacking luggage in their staterooms. The rest of the ship was literally empty.
When we left Port Canaveral on our very first Disney Cruise back in 2011, we passed this ship on the way out.
And, less than five years later, we passed it again. This time it looked a little rusty.
This was our first time staying at the Disney Coronado Springs Resort. We spent one night here before heading out on our Caribbean Cruise. Disney bills this property as a moderate resort. The rooms are more like what you would find at an older Holiday Inn property, and our room was a bit worn out and tired. Not really that magical feel that the more expensive Disney properties offer. That said, the resort grounds were really outstanding as you can see from the following photos.
It is a park that I have been to many, many times over the years. It is my favourite park at Disney. I think it is because no matter how large the crowds, you can always find some quiet spots at Animal Kingdom. And, by late afternoon, most people give up on this park.
Shooting with a 50mm lens does provide a focus to your photography, if you will pardon the pun. And you have to become aware of the details in the frame. You can never be quite sure what might be lurking in the trees. A 50mm also provides some freedom. The camera is so much lighter. So much easier to carry.
Trying to get the crowd out of a frame can be tough. Particularly when they are packed against a performance like this one. I did, however manage to find a frame where the crowd mostly disappeared.
Every time I do the Kilimanjaro Safari, I take all sorts of pictures of animals. The animals are often too far away or too difficult to shoot when traveling in a rough riding vehicle.
I know. Why don’t I shoot the rough riding vehicle instead?
Looks almost peaceful in that frame, doesn’t it?
Eating at the parks usually consists of stuffing down some junk food. But, if you do look around, you will find evidence of the Disney touch everywhere. Like the “i are smart” on the InternationalOsaurus trailer. I am not sure about the significance of the number 15244. It is the Zip Code for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Perhaps it has a deeper meaning. This is, after all, Disney.
Wandering through the park, with the heat a searing 35 Celsius, this sign certainly had a deeper meaning for me. Something to do with survival.