Showing posts with label Castaway Cay. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Castaway Cay. Show all posts

Castaway Cay 5K - What to know before your run!

We're fresh off our latest Disney Cruise Line vacation in January 2020 and during our sailing on the Disney Dream we made a stop at Disney's Castaway Cay - a private island paradise in the Bahamas!  This island has it all. . .sun, sand, crystal clear water, food, a kids club, and much more.  But running friends will be happy to know that there is a FREE, yes you read that right, FREE 5K run available on every stop at Disney's Castaway Cay.  This was my second time participating in the run, but while many things remained the same, a few have changed and it's important to note what you need to know before you run.

It's a fun run, not a race - If you're a regular reader here, you know my deep love of runDisney races.  Alas, this is not considered a runDisney race.  In fact, it's considered an "onboard activity" for cruise guests.  When you are planning all of your cruise activities on the Disney Cruise Line website you can "register" for the race.  Once on board, stop by guest services and pick up a waiver that will need to be completed before the race.  Or, you can walk up to the race start and get the waiver to fill out.  Trade your completed waiver for a bib and you are good to go.  The start is a simple "1, 2, 3. . .Go!" announcement and there is no chip timing - just a simple clock at the start finish area.  

But you do get a medal! - The other thing you probably know about me is that I care about the bling. . .deeply.  All finishers in this fun run will get a fun rubber medal.  Yes it's only rubber, but it has a cute ribbon and a fun design to commemorate your accomplishment.  I mean, you ran on a cruise vacation while most people on cruises only run to the buffet line!  Wear it proudly and be sure to stop by and see the characters around the island after your run for some pictures showing off your bling.

Getting off the ship - So this was a change from the last time I ran this particular event and the guest services staff told me it started just a few months ago.  In the past, runners would receive a "shore excursion" ticket the night before and meet in a specified lounge around 7:45.  As soon as the ship was cleared, the runners disembarked first together as a group to take the nearly 10 minute walk to the start line.  That's in the past now.  Runners just meet up at the start line which means that you have to join the pack of people exiting the ship when it's cleared at 8:30 and make your way very quickly to the starting point near the bike rentals.  I have to say, I was not a fan of this change. . .even if I got to sleep in an extra 30 minutes!

This run is for everyone - You will find serious runners here who go all out and others who are 100% walkers just looking to stretch their legs with some exercise and take home a unique cruise souvenir.  I know sometimes we all find ourselves being self-conscious with our abilities, but don't be nervous about joining this fun run.  The course is a super simple out and back and the island terrain means you will encounter no elevation change whatsoever.

Speaking of the island - Regardless of what time of year you run, there are a few things to keep in mind.  Even with an 8:50AM start time, you are running on an island. . .in the Bahamas.  It's hot and oftentimes it humid.  The sun is intense most days too.  Even the walkers in this event want to take hydration very seriously.  Think about it in the days leading up and drink plenty of water on board.  Along the course of the fun run, you pass a water aid station 4 times - take advantage of it!  I saw a lot of people stretching out cramps along the way.

The Castaway Cay 5K is truly a family fun event that casual and serious runners will want to check out on your Disney Cruise Line vacation.  Kids as young as 10 may participate.  If you need a space to check-in younger children while you run, Disney has a kids club, Scuttle's Cove, on the island which is open as you make your way to the run.

You may also want to pack some extra money for the race apparel that you'll find at the finish line! There is a cute collection of hats, tanks, tees, and long sleeve shirts along with pins and much, much more to further commemorate your fun run on the island.  I picked up a Castaway Cay 5K hat to bring home as my cruise souvenir and something I can use on cold training days to remind me of the island vibes this run leaves you feeling!  Enjoy the scenery, the fun, and the bling. . .then enjoy the sun, sand, and drinks!


Why I runDisney

I'll be running my first runDisney races this year as part of the Wine and Dine Half Marathon weekend in November.  Follow my journey from registration into training and onto the big day!

Running is something I do for fun.  I ran indoor and outdoor track during high school, ran in a local running club during college, and coached track during the beginning of my teaching career.  Let's be honest. . .I was never very good.  No state champion plaques or medals adorn my walls and my PRs (personal records) were considered a bad day for elite runners.  But running was always fun.  It was a time when I could push myself to the limit while also getting some time to be alone with my thoughts.

And then something happened.  I hit my mid-20s, fell in love, got married, started grad school, and stopped putting my health and alone time first.  I stopped running.  While I was very happy with my husband, my son, and my career, I felt like I was missing something.  I found it again last year when I made a commitment to start running again.  That alone time, that me time, is something important for everyone.  Some find it on a bike, others find it in yoga.  For me, it's on the road as I pound pavement.  Disney was part of my inspiration to get back to running and the Castaway Cay 5K on my April 2014 Disney Cruise was a training goal I was happy to achieve.  I wasn't the fastest.  I wasn't the slowest.  But none of that matters.  I was running again and it felt good.

I did it!  And I've got a Mickey medal to prove it!
Just as I was starting to hit my stride (both literally and figuratively), I found out that I was expecting baby #2.  I happily put aside my Garmin watch and my running shoes for nine months while we waited excitedly for our new little man.  In February, our family was blessed with the arrival of Caleb!  All I can say, is he's pretty awesome.  Now that I'm healed from the c-section, I'm ready to again lace up the sneakers.  And Disney is once again there to help me along the way.

Isn't he cute?  Well worth the break from running for this guy! 


Getting my runDisney shoes back out to start training!
I've been anxious to try a runDisney race and have also wanted to run a Half Marathon.  This November, I'll be doing both.  Today was registration day and I successfully registered for the Jingle Jungle 5K and the Wine and Dine Half Marathon before both races sold out in less than 44 minutes.  Running and Disney - two of my great passions joined together. . .and I can't wait to experience the journey!

Romance on the High Seas

When you think of a Disney Cruise Line vacation, a lot of people don't often think of romance.  However, while I love spending quality family time on the cruise, one of my favorite parts of a DCL vacation is having some "adult time" for my husband and I.  In honor of Valentine's Day, here are three quick tips to make your next DCL vacation a bit more romantic.

Tip #1 - Take advantage of the nursery and kids clubs - Kids will LOVE spending time in these bright and colorful areas of the ships where they can play and interact with the amazing Youth Team and some of their favorite characters.  You can enjoy a few guilt-free, child-free hours on board while you know your children are well cared for and having as much fun as you are.  There is a per hour charge for the nursery which is available for children under 3, but the other youth spaces are included in your cruise fare for all children over the age of 3.  The ship has plenty of adult only spaces to explore including pools and nightclubs that are often a lot less crowded then you would expect.

Playing in Andy's Room in the Oceaneer's Club on the Disney Fantasy


Tip #2 - Try out one of the adult only restaurants - Whether it's a brunch or a dinner, be sure to spend at least one meal (or more if you're like us!) at either Remy or Palo.  Palo features delicious Italian cuisine and is available on all four Disney ships while Remy serves French delights and is available on both the Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream.  We have had the pleasure of eating at both Remy and Palo on our previous cruises and the food, service, and atmosphere did not disappoint.  Brunches are typically seres on at sea days only while dinner is available each night.  While, these restaurants do require an additional fee, they are a wonderful way to spend some alone time with your significant other.

Enjoying our date night on the Disney Fantasy waiting for dinner at Palo
Tip #3 - Don't forget about Serenity Bay - While on Castaway Cay, Serenity Bay is located on the backside of the island and is the adult only beach.  When we traveled on our last cruise, we spent time on Serenity Bay and were surprised about this hidden gem.  There were hardly any people on this side of island and we enjoyed some quiet time on the beach - along with a few cocktails!  And once again, you don't have to worry about the kids.  Scuttle's Cove is available on Castaway Cay for kids 3 and over to have fun with attractions and games just for them while you sneak in a little romantic time!

A view down the beach of Serenity Bay!
What's you favorite way to get romantic on a Disney Cruise??

2014 - The Year in Review

2014 was another whirlwind year for our family with much excitement and many blessings!  As we say goodbye to the past year, here are some of our highlights:

  • Started blogging and (somewhat) successfully maintained it - minus the summer hiatus.
  • Got back into running "for the first time in forever."
    What better than #runDisney to motivate me back into running for the first time in 8 years??
  • Celebrated Brody's 2nd Birthday.
  • I turned 30 and was lucky enough to celebrate on a Disney Cruise with Dan for a little "mommy / daddy time" at sea.
    With Captain Mickey on the Disney Dream!
  • Dan got a new job doing what he loves and does best.
  • We found out that we were expecting baby #2 - another boy. . .due to arrive February 2015!
    Waiting on Baby Caleb!
  • I got promoted to an Assistant Principal position in July.
  • The Orioles won the AL East for the first time since 1997 :)
    Enjoying a day at Oriole Park at Camden Yards!
  • I made it R2 of the Disney Parks Moms Panel application process, but alas, no R3 this year.
    Such a magical email to receive!  Hoping for more #DisneyMP fun next year :)
  • We put a contract on a new house and are planning to move in January.
  • Brody got to go on his 2nd vacation to Disney World - this time a 5 day trip in November.
    Brody was so excited to meet all of his favorites - and a perfect gentleman!

Why Disney Cruise Line is a Great Vacation for Adults

"One of these things is not like the other. . ."

That's how Dan and I felt on our Disney cruise in April.  When you find yourself surrounded by families in a cruise terminal, you really do start to question if making a cruise reservation for a 4-night date weekend over Easter break was the right decision.  But I'm here to share with you that Disney cruises are not just for kids and families like one might think!  Below are some of our favorite memories from the trip that we got to enjoy as part of the adult only services and activities.

Dining
While we enjoyed a few dinners in the main dining rotations (especially at Animator's Palate), we opted for several special dining experiences.  We loved Palo when we cruised on the Fantasy in June 2013 so we decided to do it on the Dream as well this time around. Palo did not disappoint once again!  In fact, we loved it so much on the first night we went back later in the cruise for another dinner.  This time we also tried the champagne brunch at Remy , the other adult only restaurant.  (Look for a future Remy review post.) It was fabulous!  The brunch is only offered on "at sea" days so we only got to do this once.  I'm already looking forward to our next cruise though to do it again.  Both of these do have an additional fee.

Quiet Cove Pool
The main pools on the Disney cruise ships are packed with families and kids ALL THE TIME.  It was great to retreat to the adult only pool area.  Here you'll find a nice sized pool, a swim up pool bar, two hot tubs, and a large amount of cushioned comfy seating.  When we weren't eating or in port, this is where you would find us!  Disclaimer on this area - you will SEE kids in this area from time to time passing through.  Since the Deck 11 forward staterooms and elevators are right by this, families will walk through to get to the main pool.  The idea that you're on a Disney ship and could never "see" a kid is a fallacy - but they do a nice job of separating out adult only areas.

Serenity Bay @ Castaway Cay
Castaway Cay has been my favorite port on both of my Disney cruises.  I LOVE this island.  And just like they did on the ship, Disney carved out a piece of paradise here just for adults.  This side of the island is practically deserted!  They have their own bar, lunch area, lagoon, and beach.  It's on the backside of the island so it's a good walk / tram ride away, but well worth it.  They also have spa treatments offered over here which we took part in.  A beautiful view during our couples massage!

View of Serenity Bay during our couples massage.


Rainforest Spa
And speaking of spa treatments, the spa on the cruise ship is fabulous as well.  We did a couples massage on the first day we arrived.  While it was expensive, it was a great way to start vacation.  They then offered us discounts on additional spa services during our trip which is when we booked our couples massage on Castaway Cay.  We decided to indulge since these kinds of "extras" are ones that will most likely be forgone on future kid oriented cruises.


While all of these great adult features of DCL are available whether you sail as a couple or with kids (just as long as you drop them in the kids club first!), don't overlook Disney as a great adult only vacation option when you're looking for first class dining, service, and fun!   

Castaway Cay 5K

As many of you know, I used the excitement of a runDisney event to get myself off the couch and back into running shoes.  Even though the Castaway Cay 5K is not an official runDisney "race" it is an official runDisney "run" as evidenced by the bib and t-shirt :)  Here is my recap of the race for both my running friends and those of you who also suffer from a mild (or major) Disney obsession!

I read a lot of blogs about the race and the experiences of others before leaving for the cruise so I was well prepared on what to expect.  The biggest piece of advice that I heard time and time again was that running this 5K rivals what it must be like to run on the face of the sun.  The Bahamian heat and humidity is brutal and everyone recommended hydrating well before the run.  I packed gatorades in our suitcase and used those and bottled water the day before the race to begin preparing.  The other thing to know going into this run is that (as of right now at least) it is a free event.  They do ask that runners pre-register at the Port Adventures desk and all runners are given a ticket and bib for race morning.  The night before the run, I laid out my things so I'd be ready to go in the morning!



Run Morning
We were supposed to meet at Evolution at 8:15 so I set my alarm for 7 and was at breakfast by 7:15.  After a breakfast of oatmeal, yogurt, half a bagel and a gatorade, Dan and I made our way to Evolution.  Even though Dan wasn't running, he was able to gather with the runners at check-in and disembark the ship with our group.  Once runners were all checked in, the cast member in charge went over a map of the route and gave instructions to parents who had little ones to drop off at Scuttle's Cove when we were on our way to the starting line.  We got the all clear from the captain to disembark around 8:30 and our group quickly exited off the aft gangway (look at me being all nautical!)  The starting line is about a 10 minute walk from the ship which provides a great warm-up!



The Run
By 9:00 we were ready to begin.  Jamesy (our fabulous British Disney cast member) reviewed the route map one more time and then away we went!  The course is very flat and follows a bike route that is on the island.  The bulk of the route is inside a bike loop that has tall shrubs on both sides.  This helps provide a little shade for the run, but also makes it a little boring at times.  However, you miss the shade of the bike loop when you turn onto the air landing strip that is miserable hot and sunny.  During the run, you pass a water station 4 times which is helpful during the run.  You will find everyone from kids to grandparents, experienced runners to walkers on this course. . .and everyone is having fun!  I felt surprisingly good during the run and was pleased with my pacing considering the heat, humidity, and the fact that it was my first 5K in about 8 years.  





Post Run
When I crossed the finish line, my plastic bling was waiting for me!  The Mickey medal is simply plastic that says Disney Cruise Line - not even a mention of the race - but I know what it was for and that's all that matters :)  And in true Disney fashion, the race finishes next to a gift shop that sells Castaway Cay 5K t-shirts, which of course I had to buy.  Over the next 3 hours I drank some gatorade and water to replenish.  I felt good throughout the rest of the day. . .but then again, how can you not feel good in this paradise??  And the couples massage Dan and I had in a beach cabana after lunch probably helped a lot too!  



I absolutely LOVED my experience with the Castaway Cay 5K and would highly recommend it to anyone on their next Disney Cruise.  On a personal note, this really motivated me to get back to running and I plan to now use this to propel me into some of the larger runDisney events in the years to come!