Disney Fantasy Cruise 2016: The Castaway Cay Day That Wasn’t

This is the last installment of our cruise recap, sad times! Unfortunately, this cruise did not end on a high note for us. Read on.

We woke up to gloomy skys, but I didn’t care. We were soon going to dock at my FAVORITE place on earth, Castaway Cay. A little gloom was not going to stop my happiness (oh really now.) We got dressed, ate breakfast, and headed to the tube to get our bibs for the 5k and wait for instructions. Keep in mind there are no windows down here so we couldn’t see what was going on with docking.


We waited…and we waited…and I knew we should have docked by now. Finally, someone got on the microphone and said that the wind was too high for us to dock, and was blowing us away from the dock. The captain was going to try again in 1.5 hours, and they were waiting to get the word on what to do about the 5k. We waited around about 20-30 minutes before we got the verdict.

We were not postponing the 5k until we (hopefully) docked later, but we were going to run around the ship….really. IMG_1527

Seven and a half laps to be exact. The boat is HUGE, so yup, that’s what it took to run a 5k. Now, this is where I got annoyed. I realize I am risking backlash by writing this, but honestly it got me so fired up that I am ok with people not agreeing with me. I know medals for people not finishing and runDisney races are a hot topic, but in this case, the people in question didn’t even attempt to START the race, so here goes…They told everyone that if they didn’t want to run around the ship, that they could “promise to run a 5k at home in the next few days” and come get their medals now and leave.



Huh? If you are already dressed to run a 5k, and were planning to run said 5k…why not just go ahead and run it RIGHT NOW? There were around 400 people in the room, and only about 60 stayed to run. EVERYONE ELSE GOT UP, AND COLLECTED THEIR MEDALS AND LEFT! Not only that, the race is for those 10 and up, but they were handing medals out to everyone! Little boys and girls, anyone who wanted one. (The kids were there because the adults were going to drop them at the kids club before the race). Here is a picture of everyone jumping up to get their medals. I just couldn’t believe it.


Now, I would like to believe these people went home and ran a 5k, really I do….(and props to you if you did follow through, you are my hero), but I’m also not dumb, and know that for the majority this probably did not happen. A lot of the other people that stayed to run were very annoyed as well. They are getting a medal for a race they didn’t even START? I was so worked up, that Bobby and I actually ran really fast for our 5k.

They send us out in two groups so we wouldn’t be all bunched up, and then off we went, 7.5 laps, around, and around, and around. It. was. so. boring. There were a few sweet families that stayed on the side and cheered for us as we went by, and Disney even put out a “water stop” for us on the deck which was nice of them. It was difficult to run because if you have ever run on a Disney boat you know this, but there are some tight spaces at certain points. Now imagine 60 runners PLUS people playing shuffleboard/just walking around the deck for enjoyment. There was lots of stopping and going, weaving and “excuse me, on your left” going on. After we finished, we met in the pub for water and to get our earned medals, and then back to the tube to collect our belongings.


In the elevator we had the chance to chat with some people who also ran and were frustrated that people who didn’t even attempt to start the run got medals, so it made me feel better we weren’t the only ones. I was very proud of myself for sticking out a boring frustrating run and that medal means more to me now.


(note how windy it was).

So even though I didn’t sail on the cruise to complete the castaway challenge and get the special extra medal, I DID still technically complete the challenge!


Later that day I saw people walking around wearing their medals that I distinctly remember getting up and getting the medal without running. Really? sigh. About that time, we tried to dock again, and could not do so, the winds had not changed. The captain tried a third and final time an hour later. It was SO disheartening to be looking over our balcony, just a few hundred yards from the island, seeing all the workers standing out there waiting to receive us, and have us get close, only to slowly drift and pull away again. I’m not going to lie. I cried. I cried because I was frustrated about the morning race, sad it was our last day, and mad I was not getting to go to my favorite place, the highlight of my cruise. It may sound pathetic, but in that moment, Heather was not having a good day and I’m owning it.

The rest of the day was pretty boring. We ate lunch, took a nap, watched TV in the room, etc. There was a noticeable change in the mood of everyone on the ship. We had already had 3 sea days, so we honestly were just a little bored. It was rainy and windy so there was no laying out by the pool which I would have been perfectly fine with doing.

It was finally dinner time, and we were at Enchanted Garden.



Here we are with our new friends and tablemates. We all decided to get mickey bars that night. Cheers!


Back in our room this guy was waiting. We sadly put our luggage in the hall, and I honestly can’t remember what else we did that night!


The next morning we had breakfast at the buffet before getting off the ship and taking the bus to the airport. I am so glad we had the opportunity to go on this trip, but between me being sick/losing my voice, lots of rain and not going to Castaway Cay, it wasn’t our best cruise. That just means we have to go again to make up for it, right?

Thanks so much for following along with this trip report. It was fun to relive the good times from the cruise with you all.

QOTD: ever run a 5k on a ship? Do you like Mickey bars?

Inaugural Castaway Cay Challenge 5k

The Inaugural Castaway Cay Challenge 5k took place yesterday morning on Disney’s beautiful private island. Over 700 runners took to the beautiful course surrounded by lush tropical landscape, rolling waves, and an island breeze (well, some days!)

Any cruise that sails to the island has had a 5k in recent years, but this is the first time you could run a runDisney race in Walt Disney World, the follow immediately with a Disney Cruise Line cruise. If you completed a race at WDW and the Castaway 5k, you would also get the challenge medal, which is absolutely beautiful! (Please note you have to register for this challenge!)

Inaugural Castaway Cay Challenge 5K Event on Disney Cruise Line Private Island

The cruise is on the beautiful Disney Dream, for four nights as it sails to the Bahamas. The ship left from Port Canaveral, FL on Monday. Runners also have access to special speakers, merchandise, and activities all surrounding the Castaway Challenge.

Inaugural Castaway Cay Challenge 5K Event on Disney Cruise Line Private Island

There will be another Castaway Cay Challenge 5k following on the heels of the runDisney Princess half marathon weekend next month. Space is still available for this challenge, check out runDisney.com for details on registration.

I do hope runDisney and Disney Cruise Line continue this partnership with more races, as I would love to be able to participate! Who doesn’t want to relax on a Bahamian cruise after running hard at a runDisney event?

QOTD: What are your thoughts on this challenge? Is this something you would like to participate in?

Disney’s Castaway Cay 5k April 2013 + Tips

I have written two other Castaway Cay 5k posts, you can check them out below:

Castway Cay 5k and  here.

castaway cay 5k

Castaway Cay is Disney’s private island that most of their cruises sail to at the end of the voyage. The Castaway Cay 5k is an unofficial runDisney run. It is a free fun run, it’s untimed, and is a 5k distance that has a race clock so you can see your time at the end. Let me back up and start from the beginning.

The night before our day at Castaway Cay, there was information in our navigator (papers that highlight the next day’s activities) about the 5k. It told us to meet in the Tube at 9:00 ready to run, and bring our ship card and ID with us. It was for anyone 12 and older if I remember correctly. Bobby and I knew that the start of the 5k is a pretty good ways into the island and didn’t want to waste time going back to the ship after the race, so we each brought backpacks with us so we could go straight to serenity bay afterwards.

We went to the Tube about 9:10 and checked in. We were given a bib and safety pins, and they wrote down our bib and stateroom number next to our bib number and told us to be sure to check in with them after so they didn’t leave anyone out on the course.

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People checking in at the table for the race.

We took a seat, pinned on our bibs, and waited. At about 9:25, a cast member got up on stage with a microphone and explained what was going to happen. We were going to walk off the ship together and to the starting point by the bike rentals where there would be a big box to drop personal belongings. We would start the race (water provided on the course) and they went over the route with us on a map up on the big screen. They reminded us to check in after so we could get our finishers medal.

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At 9:30 when we were cleared to go ashore onto Castaway Cay. wWe walked together off the gangway and onto the island. Bobby and I grabbed some towels to put into our backpacks and we followed the group for the 8-10 minute walk to the starting line. We put our bags in the box, and got behind the start line where they went over the map/course one more time.

castaway Cay 5k

It was very dark and had started to drizzle a little bit.

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I carried Bobby’s phone with me so I could snap some photos. This proved to be difficult because I was so sweaty, but I managed to get a few! I didn’t have high expectations for this race after eating myself into a  food coma every day for seven days, but it’s still fun to run with Disney! Soon we were off, and I fell into a steady rhythm.

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It rained on us for about two minutes and then stopped. I made it to the first turn and followed the red and white 5k signs.

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We ran a bit on the airstrip before making our first turn onto the bike loop. One of the cast members had gone out ahead and set up a water station for us. I didn’t grab water this time, but knew I would when I came through the second time.

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Into the loop I went, and this loop for some reason feels like it goes on forever. I’m not sure if it’s because there are so many trees you can’t really see anything or because you run it twice, but it’s not my favorite.

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It was weird running, I felt like I was rocking back and forth on the boat and had to really concentrate to keep my balance. I made it out and took a right onto the airstrip. It was nice to be out in the open but man was it hot! No shade, and running on asphalt. I picked off a couple runners, and headed towards Serenity Bay.

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Bobby passed me going the other way and we waved. I made it to the Serenity bay turn around, and you are supposed to loop around the cul-de-sac. I got a little frustrated that a couple girls in front of me cut it way short, but then reminded myself this was a fun run. I headed back down the airstrip as people were heading towards the beach to relax and I wished it was me! I grabbed some water at the entrance to the bike loop and headed in again. At about mile 2.3 I had to stop and walk for a minute because the heat was getting to me. I wished at that point I had worn a hat or visor. I chugged along reminding myself I was almost done then I could relax on the beach all day. I finally made it out of the bike loop and headed back towards the finish. I followed the signs and made one last turn and then saw the finish line ahead of me with people clapping! I crossed at 29:00, definitely slower for me but I was proud anyway. I checked in and got my medal before Bobby and I took some pictures.

Castaway Cay 5k

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We chugged some water that was at the finish line, grabbed our bags and headed to the tram stop which happens to be right by the finish line. We made it to Serenity Bay, changed clothes and hit the beach for an amazing and relaxing day on Castaway Cay!

Castaway Cay 5k

Here are a few tips I have learned after doing the Castaway Cay 5k 3-4 times that may be useful:

1.) Bring your beach clothes and things with you in a bag or backpack so you don’t have to go back to the ship. You will waste a good 30-45 minutes walking back, showering, and coming back out when you can change and shower at the beach.

2.) Get towels when you get off the ship. I am so glad we did because they did NOT have towels at Serenity Bay and we would have had to go back and get some.

3.) Sunscreen, sunglasses, hat. It’s HOT and there isn’t a lot of shade on the course.

4.) Hydrate! They set up a water stop at the bike loop, but you can also take advantage of the water stops in the bike loop and at the Serenity Bay tram stop

5.) SOMETIMES they have a Disney character waiting at the finish line (didn’t this time, but did last time) so bring a camera or phone to capture the moment!

6.) If you want to see the island but don’t want to run, there is an “island power walk” that leaves just a few minutes after the 5k that you can join in with, or you can always rent bikes.

7.) be sure to look at your finishing time as you cross, it’s on your left up high in a brown box

8.) At the souvenir shop right by the finish they sell 5k finishers shirts. I wouldn’t wait until late in the day to get one in case they run out of your size. I snagged mine right after I finished the race and they had plenty.


(This photo is taken from the start. When you are coming in to the finish, the clock is facing the other way so you can see your time.)

*Note, there are now NEW MEDALS for the race!

QOTD: Would you want to run the Castaway Cay 5k race? Have you ever run in the Caribbean or Bahamas?

Castaway Cay 5k Take Two


My post on the Castaway Cay 5k is to this day one of my most visited posts, and also one of my top search terms. even though I wrote it almost two years ago, it is still relevant to people going on Disney cruises…until now. When I went on the Disney Fantasy for the earmarked conference a couple weeks ago, I convinced three of the other agents in the agency I work for to do the race with me. We had a blast, and I am so glad they all participated! However, there were some new (pretty big!) changes since I last ran the 5k ten months ago (this would be my third time running.) So, I thought a new post and recap was in order. Let me just say I LOVE most of the changes, all but one, which you will see below!

Since it was a special preview cruise, I wasn’t sure if the 5k was going to happen or not. When I saw it listed in my Navigator the night before we went to Castaway Cay, I was so excited and knew I had to run, along with some of the other agents I was with! The navigator said to meet in one of the adult area’s (The Irish pub) at 8:45. (Change number one: Normally we meet right outside the ship at 9:00, or whenever we are finally able to get off the ship.) We all headed down in our running clothes, excited for what was in store. When we got to the pub, there were a lot of people already inside. We headed to a table with two cast members, and were told to write down our name and stateroom numbers on a chart, and then we were given a bib and safety pins. (change number two: we have never had bib’s in the past!) We chatted with some other runners, I ran into Lorraine who was also running. Loraine and I were both part of the Princess blogger group back in February!

At 9:00, we headed off the ship following a cast member.


Corby, Robyn, me, and Amy. Notice, my bib is ALWAYS crooked!

We followed the cast members off the ship… and we walked…and we walked. This is the one change I did NOT like. We had a fifteen minute walk just to get to the start line. (Change number three: We always used to start right off the ship, ran a 3 mile loop that ended back at the ship). We started over by the bike rentals and volleyball nets. Those familiar with the island know it’s a good hike to get there! I was already hot and sweaty  by time we got out there. Oh well!

They had an official sign for the 5k start!


Everyone gathered around to listen to the cast members, and then Daisy showed up!


We gathered around the map as the course was explained to use. We were to run out to the airstrip towards the adult beach. head into the loop where the observation tower is. Run the loop, head to Serenity bay, head back, do the loop again, and then head to the finish line, which was also the start line. (change  number four: well, the whole course! before we just did the loop once but ran all the way back to the ship.) Oh, they also had a box where you could leave personal items that you didn’t want to run with.


We were told we could get photos with Daisy at the finish, and to line up by the start clock. Heck yes, there was a time clock! I know it’s hard to see with the sun on it, and the fact that I took this hours after so it’s not actually on anymore.


We were told there would be water on course, and there was water at the finish. (You can see it behind the time clock.) One of the cast members got on a bike, and when we started he said to follow him out to the loop. he was going to stay outside the loop to make sure everyone made it in, back out, then back in again. He did a great job of cheering us on the whole time!

The race started, and we were off! We made it out to the loop, and in we went, into the thick trees!IMG_5079

I made it around the loop and back out, and started heading down the airstrip towards serenity bay (the adult beach) There were no trees and it was quite sunny. I started getting a little woozy and thought it was just the heat and kept going.




See the red plate on the barrel? It says 5k, and was where we turned around to head back.

I headed back the other way and waved at my friends as we passed each other. I stopped for water before heading back into the loop. They had set up a little station for us right before heading back into it.


I started getting REALLY dizzy about this point, and felt like I was spinning. Then it hit me…my sea sickness patch behind my ear!!! I had heard stories of people who had issues wearing them once they got back on land, but I hadn’t thought about it until then. Last year and the year before when I did the 5k I didn’t have the patch. I decided for safety I should start doing some run walk intervals so I didn’t make myself sick or more dizzy. I made it around to the observation tower and knew I was about halfway around the loop.


Luckily, there was also some water (nice and cold!) so I was able to rehydrate (side effect of the patch is AWFUL dry mouth. I felt like I couldn’t breathe or get enough water!) There was another water stop before I made it out of the loop, and I gladly stopped to take a drink.


I made it out of the loop and decided to run in to the finish. I made it the rest of the way down the airstrip and followed the sign. (change number 5: signs directing us!)


I kept running, and came to a fork in the road and wasn’t sure which way to go. I could here cheering at the finish, so I took a chance and went left and kept running. I ran into a family walking, they cheered me on and I yelled that I didn’t think I was going the right way. They told me “you are almost there the finish line is just around the corner! Go go go!” So I picked up the pace, ran around the corner and saw the finish line, and Daisy duck! She was standing with one of the cast members, and she was holding medals! (change number six: medals!) After I crossed Daisy handed me my medal and I thanked her. I finished right at 30 minutes, not bad considering my pathetic “land sickness” issues!


Here are the cast members cheering in one of my friends!

After I drank about four cups of water, I made the long walk back to the ship wearing my medal, and got lots of strange looks, as everyone else was heading in the opposite direction towards the beaches! I had to laugh because all the medals said “winner” on them (by the way they are plastic!)


Overall, the changes were good. The directional signs were greatly appreciated, and the bibs, medals, and time clock were a nice “official” touch to the race. Having plentiful cold water was nice in the warm tropical climate, and the guest appearance by Daisy was so cute! I was very pleased! I also love how the bibs say “runDinsey” on them!


*UPDATE: ON our March cruise the 5k said “open to adult runners” but on our May cruise it said “ages 12 and up”
QOTD: Have you ever run a race in a tropical climate?

A huge thank you to Amy for letting me use some of her photos!

***It has been reported from several people that DCL is no longer giving out medals to participants, but instead you get a certificate for completing the race in your room afterwards.

*Meghann from Meals and Miles mentioned the race and my post in her post this morning! Go say hi to her!

***The winner of the Zero Water giveaway is Ricole Runs! Email me at  [email protected] so I can get you your prize! ***

Thank you to all who entered! You can all sign up for zero water coupons here.