It was an early 7am alarm (but luckily a smooth night of sleep from 11:30pm). The continental items we ordered from Room Service the night prior arrived about 10 minutes later at the same time we began our approach to Castaway Cay.
At just past 7:30am we joined the virtual queue to disembark, which was to begin at 8:30am, While we were #83 in the queue, we were downstairs, swiped off the ship, and on-ground at the island by 8:47am.
Kara: I had a rough night of sleep due to a migraine so I was a little slower getting up this morning when my alarm went off at 7. But, when room service arrived at about 7:15 I hopped into action and grabbed the tip and let in our server.
We enjoyed breakfast casually while we chatted about the day. I’ve been reading Brene Brown’s “Atlas of the Heart’ on this cruise and it’s a good reminder to discuss expectations to allow for clearer communication.
Luckily before we left the ship the sun introduced a cloudless sky. We took our traditional tram to Stop 1 to look in the Sally Sells shop and then decided to walk to Stop 2 at Pelican Point.
Kara: As we headed down to deck 1 to disembark, it was unclear where the gangways were located. To our surprise we essentially just walked off the ship as we were able to exit AFT!!!
I want to add a note on the shops. A LOT of the merchandise is themed to the 5K. While I do still have this on my to do list for Disney, I don’t want this merchandise all the time. I do wish there was more variety on the island AND on the ships.
We took the same approach as in October. Since there were so few people onboard we decided to stay on the Family 2 beach at the very far end. We set up in Kara’s favorite lounge chairs next to the Sand Bar & palm trees as well as under an ocean-colored umbrella. (Can you tell she wants/needs shade?) I, however, need some sun. I was ok except for the fact the wind had become “moderate & sustained” to the point a couple of times I covered my shoulders & legs with my towels. Yet that was short-lived.
Kara: A bit more about what has now become one of my favorite spots on the island. On our last trip, a gentleman brought canvas and paints to the beach and painted a lovely scene with the ship in it. This was the spot he had on that trip.
Did you know the island has its own soundtrack? From nearly every building is a playlist of instrumental island (cue those steel drums!), a bit of Calypso, and a rare pop tune, such as Kissing You, Not Missing You by ???. (Seriously I cannot find this song at all!) It perfectly sets the tone for a private island escape.
The morning passed smoothly, mostly in quietly contemplating life. We headed for Cookies Too when it opened at 11:30am. Like from October I had the delicious sweet potato salad and just a small piece of snapper. This time we were prepared to Mission: Big Island Cookies. (If you’ve read any of my prior trip reports you know I have a dedicated addiction to these and work to take some home every chance I can. More on this topic a bit later.)
During lunch we let our Head Server, Simone, know we would not be joining the team for dinner. While he surprisingly offered to have anything from the main dining room delivered to our stateroom (a perk usually only for Concierge guests), we knew we were likely headed for a low-key evening, embracing the true vacation environment.
Just prior to lunch a bunch of people sailing as a group associated with a notable fan site podcast community setup next to us. (After this experience, let me assure you I will not be a patron of that podcast/site ever.) By lunch we knew we couldn’t enjoy the island situated next to them. It was at this point we realized we’d made a great error in not reverting back to our tradition of stationing at Serenity Bay.
We both tried to read, but their overly loud conversation drew all the attention and dashed all ability to relax. (The roughly dozen people had circled up their chairs and were nearing “South Beach at Spring Break” level.)
From our options we decided to head back to the ship around 1:30pm, as we were getting toasty, but knew the water was likely too frigid for us.
Back onboard we dropped a few things at the stateroom and headed up to the Adult Pool area. As we suspected most folks were still on the island, so the area wasn’t packed and only about 10 people were rotating in/out of the pool. While Kara stayed at the lounger, I headed to the pool to cool down a bit.
I’m the one who’s always cold, but this water was almost too warm for me! (FYI all the pools are always heated, but I don’t remember anything being this warm!) Talk about “bath water”! Some water was better than no water, so I hung out a bit. Eventually Kara joined me as we chatted about mostly random topics.
Kara:. I was getting ready to get in just as she came back so we both got back in the water. When we came back to our seats we realized that we were right in the area outside of the smoking area and the smell was awful so we headed to find shade on the other side of the pool deck to dry off a bit.
By 3:30pm we were headed back to the stateroom to each shower and watch the sail-out. It was the first time in a LONG time we were on the port side and could watch them throw off the lines, move away from the dock, and pull-out from the island. This view is forever emblazoned in our minds. (See the 2010 7 night-turned 8 night cruise for reference.)
Kara: After our dip in the pool, it was time to shower and get ready for the evening. We both enjoyed spending some time on the Navigator Verandah watching folks coming and going on the island as we each showered and got ready. The ship departed promptly at 5 pm and we headed up to deck 9 to grab a light snack before we went to see Disney Dreams again.
By this time it was after 5pm and we planned to go to the early show since we were skipping Main Dining. On the pool deck Kara grabbed a pre-show appetizer of grapes & a small chicken Caesar wrap, which I had a small Krispie treat and mini chocolate croissant!
We arrived at the Walt Disney Theatre just as it opened at 5:30pm. As the 2nd to arrive, we were shown to the front row aisle seats! Typically I’d never want to be this close to the stage, but I’ve luckily seen this show plenty of times. It intrigued me to see it from a different viewpoint.
While this was the 2nd night of this show and being an island day, we were still stunned to see the theatre maybe ½-⅔ full. So I knew the cast deserved for us to be a bit more vocal & responsive.
Kara: The front row was a fun spot to watch the show from and see a different perspective. The show was, as always, fabulous, although Tinkerbell wasn’t working properly at many points during the show. The cast just went with it and it was absolutely fine. Again, Circle of Life was, by far, my absolute favorite number. The cast got another well deserved standing ovation.
It had a couple of small tech glitches that only someone who had seen it plenty of times would notice, it was still as great as ever. (If Kara hadn’t been with me, I probably would have gone back for the 8:30pm showing too!) It was then back up to the Pool Deck for actual supper. Kara was going to try the Shwarma, but they were all out. So she finally got her chicken strips, and since I’d had almost no protein all day, grabbed a burger. It was just ok per all the toppings and I was again reminded, nothing beats the chicken strips!
There weren’t activities that were really calling us tonight, on top of having an early morning, and Kara being awake in the middle of the night with a migraine. So it was back to the room to begin typing all of this.
“Needing” dessert, I called Room Service. The Cake of the Day was chocolate mousse, which I got as well as chocolate chip cookies. This time they even asked if we wanted them warmed. Yes, please! When they arrived, low & behold… there they were… a blast from the past that I never thought I’d see again - the Big Island Cookies!
These used to be the standard Room Service cookies, which is where I’d get them as my bounty to take home. Then a few years ago they changed to a much smaller, less tasty cookie. This saddened me to the point of likely putting this in my feedback/survey a few times. So here’s to the Return of the Big Island Cookie on the ship! And yes, I will be providing feedback of my appreciation of their return!
Kara: Tomorrow is our relaxing day - a.k.a. Day of Sloth although we do have a few fun things planned including one new experience which I’m excited to see.
Disclaimer: I (Gayle) am a travel agent with Authorized Disney Travel Planner agency - Off to Neverland Travel. Contact me today for a no-obligation quote!
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