During our February 2016 cruise aboard the Disney Magic, we were able to experience a Family Beach Cabana at Castaway Cay. Other than getting a tour of one late last year, this was our family’s first visit to Castaway Cay with access to a cabana. The cabana experience begins in your stateroom when you received an envelope with instructions and information on some cabana beverage packages.
The majority of the cabanas are located along a portion of the family beach and a smaller number over on the adults only side at Serenity Bay.Inside the envelope, you will find wristbands for each member of your party. The wristbands allow access to the cabana area as well as your voucher of sorts for snorkel equipment, floats and bike rental which are all included in the cost of the cabana.
Once we left the ship, Emily went over to the Castaway Cay 5K starting point and Isabelle & I made our way over to the Pelican Point Tram stop. There, we looked for the information booth marked Cabana Check-in. A Cabana Host quickly checked us in before leading us to a golf cart for a ride to our beach cabana.
Although we were driven around via an access road, there is Cabana gate near Cookies BBQ Too for easy access to the island’s various amenities.
The cabanas have personalized welcome signs.
Once we arrived, I was captivated by the view. Our Cabana Host led us on a tour of the cabana and provided with some additional information to get the most out of the cabana experience.
We were told if we needed anything or wanted to order any drinks, to just push the button located above the refrigerator and one of the Cabana Hosts would show up as soon as possible.
The cabanas may look small from the ship, but are actually really spacious, especially for our family of three. A friend of mine and co-pizza xtreme challenge winner happened to be sailing on this cruise and was a few cabanas down. They had split a cabana with a group of their friends. This definitely helps offset the cost of these things. Plus, it is a great place for everyone to hang out together for the day.
The beach cabanas are furnished with teak furniture complete with ample cushioning. The main area inside the cabana features a couch, a couple chairs and a few tables. The cabanas are open on the beach side with large doors that can close if you really wanted depending on the weather, if you had a child that wanted a darker place to nap or you wanted additional privacy…
On one side of the cabana you will find a refrigerator, a snack basket, a spare copy of the day’s Personal Navigator, a drink menu, a basket of towels and a closet.
Inside the closet we found a box of tissues, a safe and some extra towels.
The refrigerator is pre-stocked with complimentary Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Spite Zero, Evian bottled water, a fruit bowl along with some damp wash cloths. Emily loved the damp cool wash cloths after running the 5K.
The snack basket featured a selection of Lays plain and BBQ potato chips available on the ship, the Castaway Cay bars and Cookies/Serenity Bay BBQ along with a mix of Kashi granola bars.
A drink menu and Personal Navigator were sitting next to the snack basket.
Under the table between the the closet and the refrigerator, there is a basket of towels and a trash can. As funny as this sounds, it was really nice knowing we did not need to grab towels on the pier. Ok, this next feature, an electrical outlet, is important to those of us who do not completely unplug while on vacation or for those who may have forgotten to charge their camera battery the night before. I may or may not have fallen into one or both of those categories.
For warmer days, there is a ceiling fan to help circulate the air (although on this trip it wasn’t necessary). Notably absent from the cabana was a light fixture. I realize they are only used during the day, but I just wanted to point this out. I mean, it could come in handy during a storm because unless DCL refunds me for the cabana, I’ll hunker down in the cabana and wait it out.
There is a curtain in one corner providing a private space to change clothes. Emily made use of this area once she returned from the 5K. While there are restroom facilities on the island this is a great feature for quick changes. Plus, you can change in and out of your swim suit and walk around the island in more comfortable clothing.
On the cabana deck facing the beach, there are a two padded lounge chairs. Emily and I spent most of our day in this spot as it gave us a clear view of Isabelle playing on the beach.
If you are still looking for places to sit, there is an outdoor chaise lounge chair opposite the two loungers.
Blogger fail… If you look closely at the photo below you will see something on the end table. That something is the complementary sunscreen provided with the beach cabana. Yes, the same overpriced sunscreen you will find on the ship and at the various Castaway Cay shops is included in the cabana rental. This actually a great offering because a sunburn ends up impacting everyone in the traveling party.. If I ever get around to updating this post on this site, sunscreen is always in my top 5 things to pack for a cruise primary because it is cheaper to stock up at home with coupons and melanoma is a…
The cabanas are also numbered on the beach side making it easier to remember which one is yours after a few hours floating in the water.
Rafts and floats are also included in the cabana rental. The best part about this is the floats and rafts are conveniently corralled on the beach and do not require you to go up to the rental location to get them. If you want to take advantage of the included snorkel rental, you will need to go up to the rental location to get a mask, snorkel, fins and the inflatable life jacket.
Location, location, location, Cabana #9 provided a wonderful view… sorry… magical view of the ship. At this rate, DCL will never let me run their twitter account.
The spacing of the cabanas basically gives you your own portion of beach. I think the best way to describe this would be most of Castaway Cay is like a beach hotel that is available to all guests. The Cabana beach is more like the little cottage resort with just a few rooms. The cabana experience provides a private beach experience and depending on how adjacent cabana guest use the beach it could be like your own beach front house where you have it all to yourself.
Another perk of the cabana is the inclusion of the beach sand toys. The sand toys are the same set available for purchase on the island with the DCL ship mold.
Castaway Cay hammocks are a more coveted than a prime lounger on the pool deck. With the cabana experience, you do not need to worry about stalking one out or giving fellow passengers the stink eye for commandeering one with a towel for the 10 minutes they will use it during their time on the beach. With a cabana, you only have to jocky for hammock time with your travel party as the cabana includes a hammock! Funny thing… I didn’t even try it out because the padded lounge chairs > hammock! Although, our daughter did spend some time reading her book on the hammock.
Emily ordered the Drink of the Day – the Stingray. It was as simple as pressing the button; the cabana host came up, asked us what we needed, and then sent the bar server up.
The cabana experience was so great we decided to bring our lunch back from Cookies BBQ Too.
The cabanas have selection of current magazines. Kudos for Disney Cruise Line not to rip out competitor ads. Emily spotted this ad for Regent for an Alaskan cruise with included port adventures.
As I mentioned earlier, I spent most of the day on the lounge chair. It was so comfortable, I gave up trying edit photos and write the daily trip report. I tried, but after a bit I closed the computer and just enjoyed the experience.
Since our quick cabana tour in October, the family beach cabana restrooms opened! I am a bit surprised cabana guests never had their own facilities.
Before we close out this review of the Family Beach Cabana, I want to share a time lapse shot from from the cabana porch. I set up the camera at 10:50 AM and let it capture images through 4PM when we said goodbye to the cabana.
Beach Cabana #21 AKA the Big One
A few years ago, Disney started construction on a few extra cabanas at the end of the family beach.
The final cabana added, #21, was double the size of the traditional cabanas on the island.
Cabana 21 is twice as long offering additional space for larger groups with the same amenities.
The major difference besides the size is the additional table and chairs.
Tips on Booking a Castaway Cay Beach Cabana
It has been our experience that the cabana reservations are tough to secure even when the Platinum Castaway Club booking window opens. However, for this particular sailing, availability was plentiful. In fact, a friend of ours booked the cruise at the last minute and was still able to get one. So, clearly availability ebbs and flows based on each sailing. Additionally, we noticed during our bike ride that at least two of the Serenity Bay Cabanas were unoccupied. If you really want a cabana for your next Disney Cruise, I would suggest logging into DCL’s website as soon as your booking window opens and try to reserve a cabana. If having a cabana is your end all be all for the trip, I’d consider booking a concierge room to hedge your bets based on what I’ve been told… Last but not least, you can always check with the Port Adventures desk once onboard to see if there are any late cancelations.
Final Thoughts & Would We Do It Again
So, the million dollar question… Is a beach cabana at Castaway Cay worth the $590.18 (that price includes tax)? From a value perspective… NOPE!!! However, from a treat yo self perspective… ABSOLUTELY! We did hold back from the FULL BOATHOUSE experience… We could have ordered the Castaway Beverage Escape package that included a bottle of Tattinger, but $125 seemed excessive at this point. Would I (we) drop the that kind of coin again? Yes. We had one of the best days ever on Castaway Cay and the cabana was the primary reason.
VERY IMPORTANT CASTAWAY CAY CABANA INFORMATION
Oh, one last, very important thing. During your day in the cabana, you will have at least one cabana host making sure your experience is awesome. Make sure to tip these awesome crew members, as they are the concierge hosts onboard the ship. This is especially important if you snag a cabana when you are not staying concierge as I would expect you’d include this in you end of cruise concierge tip.
Great review! My family and I absolutely love Castaway Cay, and I have always been curious about the cabanas.
Thanks for the report! Some friends of ours also had their first cabana experience on that cruise. I have always looked at it and thought NO WAY! Now I am plotting and scheming as to how I can get one on our next cruise! 🙂
Wow Scott. Nice pictures and video. You just gave me something to think about for my next cruise.
So hard to do Castaway Cay without a cabana once you’ve experienced it. Makes the CC stop so much more enjoyable.
Quick question about your photography – know you’ve mentioned using a GoPro in the past. Is that what you used here? We’re sailing the 7 night EC on the fantasy in a few weeks and I’m researching alternatives to my big (and pricey) canon dslr. If these are GoPro images, have you found it easy to use with consistent, good results? Thanks for any help/advice you can give!
Jenny, I used a GoPro just for the time-lapse. All my other pictures were taken with a DSLR and to a lesser extent an iPhone.
Thanks for the response, Scott!
At that price that could include a private lunch !
Anne, Funny you say that. At one time they were testing a concierge lunch area (picnic tables in the sand) that included servers.
That would be quite grand I reckon !
I would compare it to some extent to Discovery Cove ; very expensive but very exclusive with all included.
I think a lunch as mentioned would make a lot of sense.
Was the drinks off the menu complimentary? I am going to guess that it was not but just curious. Another question, will they bring you all the water and snacks you want? I would love to have a cabana but at $600, I find that I can spend it on my wife on something nice (e.g. Spa Retreat). In addition, I am with you, I find no value but a unique experience along with bragging rights…lol.
The beverages in the refrigerator are included. The drink of the day was purchased from the server walking the beach.
Just booked our first cabana for the July 23rd cruise. After reading your review it sounds like we did the right thing. Thanks!
Scott, excellent review. I’ve always say, no way I would ever pay this much for one, but, the review does help a bit to reconsider, if travelling with a larger group (to split it) and as a grand treat.
Do you think the cabana is worth it for only two people – me and my 9 year old daughter? I am worried that we won’t spend much time in it.
I will not tell you it is worth it or not for you and your daughter. This is something you would need to determine as with most things, experiences are subjective. This particular experience comes with a hefty price tag, as a result we chose to maximize our time in the Cabana. I would consider how much time you have on the island during the day. Then determine how much time you will be doing other activities riding bikes, Pelican Plunge, snorkeling, walking around, shopping, port adventures, etc. If it were me, I would not spend the money if we would not maximize our time in and around the cabana.
Thanks so much, Scott. We just booked our first cruise ever on the Disney Wonder for next spring break. I have relied on your blog for planning. I find your guidance invaluable. I will be turning in my personal navigators so I can pay it forward just a little bit. Thanks for all that you do.
Loved the time lapse and music. Castaway is a Disney Beach Island theme park and is one of the highlights for the Disney Cruises that stop there. As Platinum cruisers we are definitely putting the Cabana’s on our list of cruise things to do. Thanks for the great review and DCLBlog.
Been to Castaway Cay twice, once on the Dream then a second time on the Wonder…when we stopped on the Dream this would have been great. Castaway Cay was crowded, but with the Wonder I didn’t see the need. The smaller ships aren’t as crowded. The beach wasn’t packed and we had no issues with space or finding chairs and umbrellas.
This makes sense to me, Dave F. My daughter and I will be by ourselves on our first cruise and, putting aside the expense, don’t want to be tied down to a cabana on our first trip to Castaway Cay. We also chose the Wonder for its small(er) size.
Do they sell out?
Yes. From our experience they are gone right when the platinum booking window opens.
So we are booked and PIF for our fantasy cruise next April. We have sailed many times but never concierge. The concierge booking opens in December. I’m guessing we just let the concierge staff know ahead of time that we want a Serenity Bay cabana and they should be able to seal the deal for us?
Definitely speak with the shoreside concierge team. I am not sure the exact process never having sailed concierge, but there is a dedicated team that works with the concierge guests prior to sailing.
Ok, great, thanks, Scott 🙂
does anyone know if there is another family size cabana like #21 but closer to ship and kids activities?
No, #21 is the only family sized cabana at this time on Castaway Cay.
We are taking our first “magical cruise” in February, 2017 and are highly considering renting a cabana, however was wondering how far away are the family cabanas compared to the “fun stuff” in the water for kids that we keep seeing on brochures? and is there good snorkeling off the beach in front of the cabanas?
Pam, this is one of the downsides to the Cabanas any why we only consider them when the water is colder and we do not anticipate going into the water. Pelican Plunge is the closest, but it would be a walk if you wanted to use the water climbing play area or snorkel in the lagoon. The Snorkeling Lagoon is where you’d want to snorkel if you wanted to see anything worthwhile. Personally, I find the cabanas hard to justify if we would not be spending the entire time on the island in and around the cabana.
How was the sand by the cabana? On our last Disney cruise the (2015) the beach was rocky and difficult to enjoy. We have always booked a cabana but the beach made it disappointing the last time. We are debating a cabana because of this for our next cruise(2017 August). Please let me know…
We did not experience any issues with rocks. The beach was the same as the family beach area.
do you know if any of the Cabanas will accommodate a party of 20?
Cabana 21, the grand cabana may be an option if available on your sailing. I would call DCL to inquire for your sailing.
What was the gratuity situation for your attendant? Just want to know if we need cash.
I LOVED reading your post! Thank you. I am really wondering if there is a cabana that is optimally placed? From the map it looks like the ones toward the end are close to that berm. And how do the beaches differ in the two cabana area? Is the beach in front of your cabana reserved for your own use or is it open for everyone?
I have a series of photos I can put together to show the views from each family cabana. The beach in front of the cabanas is technically shared with all cabanas. There is a cast member stationed preventing non-cabana guest from entering that portion of the beach. Given a choice I would not pick the last 3-5 on the end, but to each is own and sometimes choices are limited since they book so quickly.
Thanks Scott. From your post and others we’ve figured out top choice but as you said…we are concierge so fingers crossed!
Has ANYONE ever stayed in Cabana #25 on Serenity Bay!? I’ve only ever seen pictures and videos of 22, 23 and 24..
Hi Katie, We stayed in #25 this past February and will be staying in it again in October. If you search for Kevin Dill Disney on YouTube some of our videos will come up. The one of Serenity Bay has a lot of video from Cabana 25. We loved it.