We went on a Disney Cruise just before Christmas in December 2018 with our friends the Riedels. See more about it at the 2018 Christmas Disney Cruise page. When we last left, we had just completed the Castaway Cay 5K and were looking to relax…
Tuesday, December 18, 2018 (continued)
Although it was around 10:00 by this time, the far end of the family beach (away from the ship) was not crowded at all. We found a group of chairs and umbrellas that was not being used, and we decided to camp out there for a while. And “camp out” meant that we wanted to just sit and do nothing for a while. The kids walked out to the water, but they did not get in much past their knees, because the water was still just a little bit cold. Laura and I walked out there as well, and we did not go any farther than they did, for good reason. If you stood around long enough, it did not feel quite as cold on your parts that were already in the water. But if you went any deeper, your freshly wet parts definitely felt the cold.
We went back to our chairs for a while. We lounged and dozed while the kids threw a small football. Even though this was the family beach, because of the lack of people around, it was not all that noisy as it sometimes is. The breeze was blowing, and the temperature was just about right, especially in the shade. Once again, a big contrast from the weather that we knew was back at home, where was cold and cloudy, as you would expect on one of the last days of fall. Here, it felt like a perfect day. Not the normal heat of summer, but just right.
But even with the near-perfect weather, we experienced one of the other main problems of mankind: hunger. As I had mentioned earlier, we had all eaten a rather small breakfast (no easy task when all of that food is available), and then we had burned a lot of calories, so we were all ready for lunch. We kept watching the time, and as soon as 11:30 came, we headed over to Cookies to get some lunch.
One of the benefits of going to lunch right when they start serving is that you beat a good bit of the crowd. There was only a short line, and we were able to get our food very quickly. Once again, there were so many choices that it was difficult to decide. I got a hamburger, corn on the cob, some potato salad, and some fresh fruit. Others got ribs and some other things. Lots of good stuff to fill up our empty stomachs.
Another benefit to going early is that there are still plenty of tables available. We did not have any trouble finding a place to sit. Plus, on our previous three Castaway Cay visits, storms were approaching right around lunch time, so several people had been starting to look for shelter. This time around, the clear blue sky made it possible for more people to stay out and enjoy the beach, giving us plenty of room to sit.
As we were eating, a couple with a child in a stroller came and put down their food on the table next to ours, and then the husband went back to get something else. As they often do, birds came to check out what was there. Just small finches, no big birds of any kind. And just one or two of them. The wife jumped up and panicked. She took one of the cloth napkins and started swatting the table with it, not hitting the food or the birds. I’m sure she was trying to scare the birds away, but they were not bothered by it. The young girl in the stroller started laughing (as we were doing, but keeping it to ourselves), and the woman growled, “It isn’t funny!” Oh, but it was. The husband finally came back with his plate of food, and the wife said, “We have to go somewhere else! This place is infested!” All that she had to do was wave her hands over the food, and the birds would have flown away, but apparently she was quite scared of some very small birds. That was one of the things we joked about for the rest of the trip.
After we had eaten, we started to get some of our energy back. We adults decided to go for a walk, and the kids decided that they wanted to go play volleyball. When we were planning and checking in online, I had marked that Zach was one of the adults that Jaylin could be with, since Zach is technically an adult, and Karen had marked the same thing for Katie. So we did not feel bad about leaving them on their own like that. Besides, we knew we would not be going all that far.
I had suggested that we walk down to Serenity Bay, the adults-only beach. Laura and I had always wanted to go back there, especially after we were so close earlier in the morning, and the Riedels had never been. So off we went, walking much of the same route that we had followed earlier in the day. However, it seemed to go much more quickly when we did not go on the bike loop. We could have ridden the tram out to Serenity Bay, but we were just enjoying walking and talking. And because our pace was not as fast as earlier, we did not get quite as hot as before, which was nice. It was a relaxing walk. Except when a small bird landed on the airstrip in front of us and I yelled, “Bird!” and screamed, just like the lady at lunch. Anything for a laugh.
Once we walked out to the beach at Serenity Bay, I immediately remembered why I liked it so well. It was quiet, it was calm, it was peaceful. There were only a few people out walking on the beach or in the water. All the rest were in lounge chairs sitting, sleeping, relaxing, or whatever. There was music playing over by the bar/restroom building. But the only sounds out on the main beach were the sounds of the wind and the waves. Serenity Bay was very well named.
We enjoyed walking a short way down the beach, and we took some photos to prove that we had been there. You can see those photos in the
We caught back up with the kids, who were finished playing volleyball. We spent a little time looking around in the shop at that end of the beach, and we took advantage of being able to send our purchases back to the ship to be picked up later, so that we did not have to keep them with us.
Our spot on the beach was still there because we had left a few of our things in our chairs. There were a few more people around us, but it still was not crowded in any way. After a bit of lounging, along with some cups of Coke from the drink station at the restaurant, Laura and I headed back to the water for a while. There, Laura was impressed by a large fish that kept swimming around where she was standing. It almost looked to be clear. It was not all that afraid of us, except when she would reach her hands down into the water. I was able to get a photo of it because it was right there where we were, and because the water was so clear. Pretty cool.
Laura sat in a chair that someone had left at the edge of the water, and I took photos until my memory card ran out. I went back to our base came to get another card and then went back out to the water. Because of the nice weather, we were in no hurry at all to return back to the ship. And we did not have any pressing plans for the afternoon, either. We were just beach bums, and proud of it.
Because of the sun, Laura eventually got hot enough to go for a complete swim in the water, which she said was not that bad. I took her word for it and still did not get in above my knees. That was plenty for me.
We then went back to where everyone else was, and Laura said if anyone wanted to go down the Pelican Plunge water slide, she would go with them. For that slide, you have to swim out to the platform where the slide is, and then slide back down into the water. Katie decided that she would go as well, and I went along as the official photographer.
While they were swimming out to the slide and waiting in line, I walked out to Pelican Point for some photos, because I always like the views of the beach and the ship from there. I got back just as Laura and Katie were at the top of the stairs about to come down the slide.
Once they reached the bottom, they decided to go again. And again. And again. Somewhere along the way, Brant and Karen came to join me to watch them slide.
We then went back to our base camp, and Laura was finally able to grab one of the nearby hammocks, which she had been watching for all day long. Those are quite popular, and I can see why. But her hammock time was not all that long, because we eventually decided it was time to head back toward the ship. We wanted to spend a little time in the other, larger shop before going back to the ship, and the Riedels wanted to have enough time to get changed to go to that evening’s show.
We packed up our stuff, said goodbye to the beach, and did a little shopping. On our way back to the ship after that, we stopped for a couple of group photos at one of the photo locations. We were not in a big hurry, which was quite different than trying to get back to the ship during a rain storm on previous visits. We also spent a little time taking photos of the Christmas tree and decorations. In hindsight, we should have done that earlier in the day when the tree was not in the shadow of the ship. Let this serve as a reminder in case we go back on another Christmas cruise one of these days.
When we got back to our rooms, we still had a nice view of the Christmas tree and surrounding areas from our verandahs, which was nice. Some of us went up to Deck 10 to get some drinks, and I liked the view out of the windows of the island down below. Back in our rooms, we took turns taking showers and getting changed for the evening’s activities. Although the Riedels had someplace to be, because all four of them had decided to go to that evening’s Believe stage show, we were a little bit more leisurely.
Down below, the lines were let loose and drawn back into the ship. We started pulling away from the dock. As we were leaving, a group of crew members who remained on the island put on Mickey Mouse gloves and waved goodbye to us. At one point, they all took a bow together as we clapped for the wonderful day we had enjoyed on a beautiful island paradise. We sailed off into the sunset, enjoying some more views of Castaway Cay as it slowly faded from our sight.
The Riedels then went to the show, and we Burnses did what I like to call ship exploring. Right before we left the room, I put a friendly note on the bed reminding Teja that we would like to have our balcony divider opened, and then off we went. We walked down to Animator’s Palate restaurant and out to the Lobby Atrium, stopping for some photos along the way. We had some photos taken by the ship photographers using their backdrops. And we went shopping in the ship shops, finding more treasures there and picking up our treasures from our island shopping.
When we went back to our room to drop off our purchases, Teja was in the Riedels’ room, and I mentioned that we had left him a note about opening the divider. But he had already opened it, so he did not need our note after all.
We went back down to the Lobby Atrium, where we had our photo taken with Santa Goofy and with Minnie Mouse. We got in line for a photo with Mickey Mouse, and we texted the Riedels, who we figured were out of the show by that time. Fortunately, they were able to join us before we reached the front of the line, and we all got our photo taken together with the main Mouse, who was wearing his Christmas sweater.
It was time for our evening dinner, so we made the short walk over to the Royal Palace restaurant. This was the favorite of some in our group, including Katie, although I had already had my favorite sea bass the night before. But the meals are always good at all of the restaurants, so I was not complaining.
We were shown to our table, and Curtis and Don soon came to take our food and drink orders for the evening. I chose the iced lobster and shrimp appetizer, french onion soup, and beef tenderloin with lobster medallions. And Coke to drink, of course As always, it was all delicious. I chose the strawberry shortcake sundae as my dessert, and it was nice and sweet.
While we were eating, Constantin, who was our server during our 2015 cruise with the Riedels, walked by our table. We had seen him a few other times during the cruise, too. Katie said his name, and he heard her and headed back to our table to chat for a minute. I am fairly certain that he did not remember us from 3.5 years ago, but he was gracious enough to talk for a few minutes. I always love how friendly so many of the crew members are on the Disney ships.
After we had finished eating, Curtis, Don, and the other servers came over with a special dessert for Zach, along with a Happy Graduation song. It is always nice when they do those little things like that. And it was another way to celebrate Zach’s upcoming graduation, which was one of the reasons that we were on the cruise in the first place. Another good meal, and another night of great service by Curtis and Don.
Because we were not quite ready for bed yet, we went back out for some more ship exploring. Because the crowd in the Lobby Atrium was small, we used the opportunity to take a couple of photos by the large Christmas tree, especially since there was no blue light on it as there had been the night before. We also took our customary walk on the Deck 4 Promenade, enjoying the cool evening breeze and the sounds of the ship splashing through the ocean.
Back in our rooms, we found an elephant with its trunk up in the air, made with the bed blanket and a towel. Always so creative.
It had been a relatively long day with our early start, and a busy day with our 5k run and walk, but it had been an extremely good day with good people. And with that, we were off for a good night’s sleep.
Up next was a day at the port of Nassau. Check back soon for the next part of the 2018 Christmas Disney Cruise trip report!