Hello, we are Kris and Andy Tilton and we love sailing on Disney cruises! In fact, we just completed our 10th cruise on Disney Cruise Line® in December 2016 to become Platinum Castaway Cay Members!! While it took almost 10 years to do this, it was so worth it!! In those 10 years, we have cruised on 3 of the 4 ships to the Bahamas, and the Eastern, Western and Southern Caribbean. We have visited quite a few islands such as the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Antigua, St. Thomas, St. John, St. Maarten, Barbados, St. Kitts, Grenada, St. Lucia, and the most recent to Tortola. We’ve also been to Key West a few times. Of course, no Disney cruise is complete without a stop to their very own private island paradise, Castaway Cay... our absolute favorite port!!
Our most recent cruise was a 7-night Very Merry Christmastime cruise out of Miami on the Disney Magic to the Eastern Caribbean. Ports of Call included St. Thomas, Tortola and Disney’s Castaway Cay and we spent 3 days at sea. We were so happy to be sailing with friends and family for this vacation. One of the special things about this cruise was that it was in December, and the entire ship was decked out for Christmas. All of the ships usually have a life size Ginger Bread House (all handmade) somewhere on the ship, as well as a Christmas tree that spans up 3 decks in the Atrium Lobby. This was our 4th sailing during the holidays, and we like it because everyone is in the Christmas spirit.
While sailing out of Miami on embarkation day, we were treated to a breathtaking sunset, which was a welcome sight since it had poured for 2 days before that!
The first 2 days, we were at sea. The seas were a little rough because of the rainstorm we had the past 2 days, so not many folks were swimming and some even found themselves stuck in their staterooms due to seasickness. (TIP: Come prepared with Sea Bands, Ginger or Dramamine just in case). Luckily, it didn’t really bother us. In fact, this is the first in 10 cruises where the seas were rough enough to keep us out of the pool!
There are a lot of folks that feel the sea days are boring, but quite the contrary. There is always something to do. You have to watch the personal navigator. It tells you what is happening where and when at all times. The pools will definitely be very crowded on sea days due to everyone being onboard, but that is really not a big deal.
The second sea day was formal night. Most cruises will have a formal night where guests can dress up if they wish. Some choose not to, but we do it each time. You see all types of dress from gowns and tuxedos to jeans with T-shirts. It is strictly voluntary. Formal night is also Captain’s gala night where you meet the officers, including the captain and they provide complimentary drinks. You can also have your picture taken with the captain if you want!
After 2 days at sea, we arrived in beautiful Tortola, where we took a catamaran from the ship over to a small island for snorkeling. For those who don’t snorkel, like us, we were able to swim in the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean. After about an hour, we were brought to a beautiful beach where we could either swim or hang at this beachside tiki bar. We chose the latter. This island was absolutely gorgeous and one of our favorites!! We had about an hour here, and before we knew it, it was time to hop on the catamaran back to the ship, but not without lots of free flowing rum punch and dancing music! Some of us may have had just a little too much rum punch, but it was all good.... LOL! The excursion was about 4-5 hours when all was said and done. Before heading back on the ship, we decided to do a little shopping in the port for some souvenirs .
That evening , we had reservations to Palo, the dining room for ages 18 and over to celebrate our 25th, and also Steve and Heather’s 10th. Much to our surprise, the party before that had reserved the private room cancelled, so we got treated to dinner in the private room! As always, the food and experience were exquisite!! May we suggest to always get the Chocolate Soufflé for dessert?? Trust us, you will not be disappointed!
The next day, we arrived in St. Thomas, an island we had been to a couple times before. We had done the excursion to Magan’s Bay, so we suggested it to the others. The beach is on the other side of the island, and the drive over is a little bumpy, but it afforded us some really nice views, including a bird’s eye view of the beautiful Magic down in port and of the other virgin islands in the distance. Here, we swam and relaxed on the beach while some snorkeled. There is a little snack bar there where you can have lunch and drinks (not included). There are also bath houses with fresh water showers, and a couple of gift shops. The overall excursion lasts about 4-5 hours.
Back on board, that evening was Pirate night, which Disney does on each ship on each cruise (weather permitting). The cuisine in the dining rooms is all Pirate themed, and some guests as well as the wait staff really get into the Pirate dress. We don’t usually dress up for Pirate night, but we do partake in the Pirate deck party and the fireworks display, which is named “Pirates in the Caribbean.” Disney was the first and still is the only cruise line that shows fireworks at sea.
Since the new Star Wars movie Rogue One was being released that week, we were treated to view it on opening night! When Disney movies debut in the theaters, guests aboard Disney ships can also see the movies, and it’s included in the cost of the cruise. We also saw Moana while on board.... Both fantastic movies!!
The next day was a sea day, where we had some down time to just hang by the pool and relax. The seas were a lot calmer on the return trip than they were going out, so we were able to swim. We also played some Disney trivia as well as 80s trivia and won!!
The last and final day on the ship is always a stop at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay. We just love this port, and are firm believers in “saving the best for last.” The ship is able to dock right at the island, so no tendering is necessary. There are trams that will take you everywhere you want to go. There are all kinds of water sports (weather permitting), as well as Parasailing. If you’re not afraid of heights, do it once if you can. It’s well worth it, and you won’t regret it!! Any excursion or water sport is extra. There are also several gift shops on the island where you can purchase Disney Cruise Line and Castaway Cay items. There are 3 beaches, 2 for families and Serenity Bay, the adult only beach is on the other side of the island. There are 3 places to eat called “Cookies” which includes picnic food like burgers, hotdogs, corn on the cob, fruit, potato salad, chips, baked fish and of course chocolate chip cookies. On Serenity Bay, adults can enjoy grilled ribeyes, and sometimes lobster. All the food is included in the cost of the cruise here.
We usually take up a few chairs on one of the family beaches where we are equidistant to the rest rooms and the Heads Up Bar, which is our favorite place on the entire island. You have a perfect view of the ship from there and the entire lagoon. We call it paradise! We’ve even seen a few weddings while sitting there because they have the ship as their back drop. This year, we didn’t spend much time on the island because it rained most of the day, but as they say, a rainy day at Castaway Cay is better than a sunny day home at work!! Nevertheless, we made good use of our time by going back to the ship, doing laundry and packing, then hanging at O’Gills, the Irish pub in the adult section of After Hours until it was time for dinner.
The last night of the cruise is themed "Til We Meet Again," and the crew puts on a farewell show in the lobby, as well as a show in each dining room. In all 10 cruises that we've taken, we have never gone to the farewell show in the lobby because it makes us too sad. But, when we disembark the next day, although we may not know when, there's always another cruise in our future.