Disney Cruise Line (DCL) has five – soon to be eight – ships that sail all over the world. From Europe to Alaska to the newly-added Australia and New Zealand routes, chances are good that Disney sails to at least one of your bucket list destinations. But perhaps no port is as perennially popular as the Bahamas. Finding a Disney cruise that stops in the Bahamas is not hard. In fact, DCL has such a Bahamian presence that they have one – soon to be two – private islands there.
DCL switches up their routes and itineraries every year, but the Bahamas cruises are a constant. Cruise enthusiasts and travel agents eagerly await Disney’s route releases because people want to see which ship is sailing where and whether there are any new routes. There are always a few surprises, but cruise ships sailing from the Florida ports to Nassau and Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, are a DCL staple.
Disney Cruise Line currently sails to the Bahamas from Port Canaveral, which is about 45 minutes from Orlando and Miami. They’ve also added routes leaving from Fort Lauderdale. Currently, Disney Wish is doing three and four-night cruises to Nassau and Castaway Cay, which looks to be the standard Wish route for the foreseeable future.
The Disney Magic has several 2023 and 2024 Bahamian cruises leaving from Fort Lauderdale The Disney Dream, which is spending this summer and next in Europe, is sailing several Bahamian routes from Fort Lauderdale in 2023 and 2024. The Disney Fantasy sails several Bahamian routes from Port Canaveral and several Eastern and Western Caribbean routes from Port Canaveral, including Castaway Cay stops.
How to Find Cruises
Finding a cruise to the Bahamas, or wherever else you want to go, is easy. Go to the Disney Cruise website and select the “Plan a Cruise” tab toward the top right, then go down to the “Find a Cruise” tab and enter your details. If you want to sail on a particular ship, go to “more filters,” and you can adjust the search only to show you certain ships.
If you want as many options as possible, just pick the destination – I recommend selecting Bahamas cruise and Caribbean cruise if you want to go to the Bahamas – and your dates and see what comes up. Disney sends cruise ships to the Bahamas all year round.
Stops at Nassau in the Bahamas
Veteran Disney cruisers have a habit of not getting off the ship in Nassau, so if you opt to stay on board, expect the ship to be a little more crowded than the average ports of call.
If you want to get off the ship in Nassau and explore, you can walk into town and check out the shops and restaurants. You can also book a shore excursion through Disney Cruise Line or on your own. One of the popular Nassau excursion spots is Atlantis. Atlantis has restaurants, epic water slides, and marine life experiences, such as swimming with dolphins, plus more.
Disney’s Castaway Cay
Disney’s Castaway Cay (pronounced key) is a 1,000-acre island, 118 km due north of Nassau. Although DCL is the first cruise line to have a private island, most other major cruise lines have followed suit. Castaway Cay and Royal Caribbean’s island, CocoCay are two of the most well-appointed private cruise ship islands. You can only visit Castaway Cay as a cruise ship passenger.
Castaway Cay is the ultimate relaxing beach day, with activities such as snorkeling, bicycling, waterslides, and many opportunities to lounge in the shade. The gorgeous white sand beaches and clear turquoise water can be enjoyed all year round, although the water can get fairly chilly in the winter.
The ship’s kids clubs also relocate to Castaway Cay when the ship is docked at Castaway Cay, so parents who want to have some alone time to get a beach massage or hang out on the adults-only beach, Serenity Bay, have an easy time doing that.
Dining on Castaway Cay
Dining is included on Castaway Cay. Guests are treated to a BBQ buffet that includes burgers, hot dogs, ribs, chicken, and salmon, accompanied by salads, fruit, and desserts. There are two buffet locations, Cookies and Cookies Too, on the family beaches. A third buffet location on the adult-only beach, Serenity Bay, usually has grilled ribeye steaks in addition to the other proteins.
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There are self-service soda fountains and soft-serve ice cream adjacent to each buffet. There are several bars on Castaway Cay, but alcohol isn’t included in your cruise price.
Cabanas on Castaway Cay
There are a limited number of beachfront cabanas available on the family beach and on Serenity Bay. The family cabanas go for around $700 for the day and include a fridge with cold drinks, snorkel equipment, beach floats, and bike rentals.
Cabanas are usually snapped up by concierge guests and Platinum and Pearl cruisers, who get first dibs on the booking windows for cabanas, shore excursions, and all the things. However, if you want one, be persistent, and maybe you’ll get lucky. Concierge and Platinum and Pearl cruisers often book cabanas early because they can cancel them later. Keep refreshing the app; maybe one will be available when someone cancels. You never know.
Disney Characters on Castaway Cay
Castaway Cay offers many opportunities to meet and take pictures with your favorite Disney characters. See Mickey and his friends in their beach gear at dedicated photo spots between where the Disney Cruise ship docks and the family beach. The meet and greet times will be in the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app.
The Disney characters on Castaway Cay drive around in colorful Jeeps – even if you don’t get a picture with them, you can sometimes snap photos of them whizzing around the island and waving merrily at the beachgoers.
DCL is opening a second private island. Lighthouse Point, located near Eleuthera, is opening in 2024. The Lighthouse Point cruises are scheduled to go out of Fort Lauderdale. Some of these cruises stop at Castaway Cay.
Some cruises have two stops at Castaway Cay, known in Disney cruising circles as a “double dip.” So far, a cruise that stops at Castaway Cay and Lighthouse Point is unnamed, although “double island paradise” sounds pretty good.