Disney Magic 7 Night Eastern Caribbean Cruise October 2009

Disney Cruise Pictures

GPS Map of Route

The following pictures and commentary describe my Disney Cruise to the Eastern Caribbean. The cruise was a 7 Night trip through three different islands. I went as part of my brother's super honeymoon. He got married in Spokane, WA, then went to Antigua with his new wife for a week and a half, and was then crazy enough to invite the whole family for a cruise celebration wrapping up with a couple days in Disney World. We had a total of seven people in three cabins. My brother and his wife got their own cabin (smart), and then my mom and I had a cabin, and on the other side of the family, her parents and brother shared a cabin.

Arrival

Rental Car Everyone on this cruise had been on a previous cruise, and I'm amazed how much that helped the coordination. My brother and his wife were already back in Florida after spending a week in Antigua, I came in the night before and stayed in a hotel near the airport, my mom flew in on a red eye and got picked up at the airport, while the other side of the family flew in and got a rental car. Despite the separate travel plans, we all met up at my hotel within a half hour of each other and proceeded to the cruise ship.
Rental Car In keeping with the super vacation mode, my brother is sporting a fancy rental car, so I had to get some pictures that look like he owns it.
Disney Model In general, I tend to not take pictures of things that I have already photographed before; so much of the ship is missing from these photos. If you are interested in more of those, then look through my previous albums that are linked on the left. The general exception is when I think I can get a much better picture than previously. This model within the Disney Dock always impresses me, and I can never seem to get the whole thing into one nice picture. Also, in case you were wondering, that is Goofy's head in the background, welcoming the kids in true Disney style.
Disney Dock Area This shot of the entire Disney Dock is one that I did not get before, but that I think turned out great. Check one off the list, because I don't think I could do much better even if I tried.
NASA VAB I've come close to seeing the Shuttle launch on an earlier cruise, but it was delayed due to weather. This time I was there just before the scheduled Ares I launch, but didn't get anything. I never quite luck out in these regards, but at least I got a nice picture of the NASA VAB (Vertical Assembly Building).
Refueling You might wonder how they fuel a ship that is this large. Well apparently they bring the station to the ship. Here it is while re-fueling.
Carnival Disney and Carnival share a close dock area, so here is a picture of the Carnival ship departing just before we do.
Florida Coast One last shot of the Florida coast before we head out to sea and begin the voyage.

The Disney Magic

Family All Aboard Family photo time. For the most part, I didn't take very many pictures of our group. I'm not sure why. I remember posing in a lot of photos, and taking a lot of them, but I guess they were all on other people's cameras, and instead of creating more red spots with another blinding flash I just used my camera for sightseeing. I will try to augment these photo from those other cameras where appropriate.
All Aboard Party Before the ship even starts moving, the parties get kicked off. This is part of the all aboard party, and brings out all the Disney characters. People routinely ask me why I chose a Disney cruise, and the main reason is because I got a great deal by going with the rest of my family. However, I have also heard people say bad things about all the other cruise lines except Disney and Royal Caribbean. Disney has great food, great service, and although it is family oriented, they do a great job separating and entertaining the kids, so that the adults can relax. At some point, I want to try Royal Caribbean and contrast them for myself.
Life Boat Drill Of course, at the start of every cruise you have to do a quick life boat drill. Most people are still lost on the ship at this point in time, but if you already know your way around, then the safety drill can be a lot of fun. They open emergency stair wells that are usually only open to the crew, so you can explore areas of the ship that are normally off limits. Also, the super reflective, bright orange life vests make for great obnoxious photos.
Life Boat Drill The drill itself is a little boring, but only lasts about 10 minutes. The new Mrs. Stauffer seems to be enjoying herself more than her husband.
Life Boat Drill The drill is now over, so it was time for one more picture, and back to vacation. I may be contradicting myself, because I do always take repeat shots of the life boat drill, but they are too much fun to resist.
Night Time Parties For the rest of the ship, I don't really have any new photos, but one thing that was missing from before was some of the night time activities. This is a shot of everyone partying on the ninth deck, for the big Pirates in the Caribbean celebration.
Night Time Parties The cruise ship was not as full as on either of my previous cruises, which was nice, because our cabin got a free upgrade and we got a bigger balcony than we originally booked. However, the people on board seemed to be experienced cruisers for the most part, and tried to get the most out of everything. I swear this has to be at least 75% of the ship that came out for this party, because it was packed.
Night Time Parties The Mickey head at night. It looks black in this photo, but is actually painted white. Everyone remembered it being black on a previous cruise, but sure enough, when I look back at my previous photos, it has always been white. I guess that is why we all take photos instead of trying to remember everything.
Formal Dinner As I mentioned earlier, once the cruise got going I stopped taking pictures of our group, but formal night was fancy enough to make an exception. Here is a photo of the newlyweds all decked out in their nice clothes.
Formal Dinner
Photo courtesy of Disney staff (sort of).
The Disney staff also sends professional photographers around to take pictures of everyone. For the most part I ignore them, because the photos are way too expensive (about $15-$20 each). However this one turned out great, so I made an exception. On the converse side, this photo is reproduced without the express permission of Disney, but I paid for it, so sue me.
Formal Night
Photo courtesy of Zoe Ann Stauffer
Another picture of us all decked out after eating dinner on Formal night.
State Room On my previous cruises, I never got any good pictures of the cabin. This is probably mostly due to the fact that after 20 minutes into the cruise, the cabin is a mess. Since it was just me and my mom in this cabin, there was a lot more room to expand, and it was much easier to keep clean. My first cruise was in a smaller cabin with four people, and none of us had cleanliness as a priority.
State Room The couch and living room area with the TV hidden behind the curtain. This couch can make an addition bed, and some rooms have a drop down bunk above it. Since there were only two of us, the couch got to remain as a couch for the entire time.
State Room There are two tiny bathrooms in the cabin. Both have sinks, so two people can get ready at a time. This is the second bath room, and has a small bath tub and shower, while the first one has the toilet.
State Room The main bathroom. This one has a sink and toilet, and a small amount of shelving for storing stuff, but no shower.
State Room The main advantage to this room was the addition of a private balcony. This balcony is really nice, because it gives you a private area to relax outside, without having to put up with sharing the space amongst others on the cruise. The balcony was appreciated, but I'm not convinced that it is worth the extra money. Having a window is great, so I highly recommend upgrading to a room with a port, instead of an inner cabin, but anything beyond that is just not worth the extra money.
State Room Another picture of the balcony and one of the chairs. Again, the balcony is nice, but it's not large enough to lounge out on, and most of the time I want to be in the sunshine. The main time I used the balcony was to watch the horizon at night. There are some great views when passing islands, especially during lightning storms, and the balcony saves the effort of having to walk up to the top deck.
Towel Creature 1 As always, there were towel animals setup every night. I'm constantly impressed with the creativity behind all of these. You might expect that the same seven creatures would be repeated each cruise, but there are way more than that. A couple I've seen before, but others were definitely new.
Towel Creature 2 A towel swan. Yes, I've seen this one before, but it's still pretty good. The newlyweds actually got a towel wedding cake complete with a bow on top, but I didn't get a picture of it.
Towel Creature 3 I never expected a towel animal to look scary, but this scorpion is downright intimidating.
Towel Creature 4 Originally I was thinking this is an elephant, but two days later (and two pictures down) was another variation with more elephant like ears, so now I'm thinking this is a something like a Rocky Mountain Big Horned Sheep.
Towel Creature 5 One night we came in, and the room was all made up, but there wasn't a towel animal. We thought maybe they weren't finished yet and still had to come back, and then we noticed this guy hanging up by the TV. In my view it's the most creative one I've seen.
Towel Creature 6 The aforementioned elephant, at least that's my best guess.
Towel Creature 7 This one I can say with confidence is a snake. It's also one I'm seen before, but is still impressive.
Chandelier I've tried many times to get a good picture of this chandelier in the main entrance, but the lighting is too low, and my flash is too weak, so I still have yet to get a good picture. (This is at least one reason to have to go on the cruise again!)
Hanging Out on the Ship
Photo courtesy of Zoe Ann Stauffer
So what do you do all day when you are at sea. Well most days, you sun tan, read books, go swimming, and just try to relax as much as possible. Here we are accomplishing those goals.
Dinner on Semi-formal Night
Photo courtesy of Zoe Ann Stauffer
There was one night for a formal dinner, pictured earlier, and then a second night for a semi-formal dinner. Here we are dressed up for that night.
Dinner on Semi-formal Night
Photo courtesy of Zoe Ann Stauffer
The other half of the family, all dressed up, too.
Deck 4
Photo courtesy of Zoe Ann Stauffer
I've meant to get this picture of Deck 4, where the running track is, but have never gotten a good picture of it. My mom was there at the right time of day, because it's completely empty and the sun made some great shadows along the deck.
Windy Night One night got really windy and had a beautiful lightning storm over Puerto Rico as we were leaving St. Thomas. Of course, instead of staying inside, we had to go up top and enjoy the storm. The picture doesn't quite capture the full effect, because you could actually lean over into this wind and have it hold you up.
On another more calm night, we got to enjoy a fireworks show. Disney likes to hype this up, because they remain the only cruise line that can launch a fireworks show from on board the ship. It is pretty impressive to watch when you are out in the middle of nowhere, with no other lights around.
Ships at Sea I like the feeling of the ship all alone at sea, but for a lot of the time it's just not really true. The shipping lanes between all the Caribbean islands are often visited by other ships and on a clear day there is almost always at least one island visible on the horizon. Here is one of the Carnival ships off in the distance.
Ships at Sea Here is a cargo ship passing us by. If you want to stay really positive, then one potential plus side of the other ships is that if you fell overboard, and no one noticed, then another ship will probably pass you by within the day. Although, I don't plan on testing this theory any time in the future.
Ships at Sea Here is a Royal Caribbean ship just off in front of us. This ship shows up in some other photos, because it was on a very similar schedule and visited most of the same islands as we did.
Buoys I felt like photographing buoys on this trip, so here are a couple examples. One green buoy.
Buoys One red buoy.
Buoys One yellow buoy.

St. Maarten / St. Martin

Welcome Sign When I was looking this island up online, I was really confused. Sometimes it was spelled St. Maarten, and sometimes it was spelled St. Martin. I was wondering who was wrong, and it turns out, both are correct. This island is actually a joint territory, where half the island is a Dutch territory, and half the island is a French territory. Disney refers to it as St. Maarten, because they pull into the harbor on the Dutch side, and that is the Dutch name. Who would have thought that the French would have the simpler spelling. I would have expected St. Martin-esielle-abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz with a silent "-esielle-abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz".
View from Port The view of the port from the ship. What about those yellow buildings? Why shopping, of course. You don't have to travel far to spend your money. About 75% of the tourists to this island come from cruise ships, while the remaining fly into one of the two airports. The actual downtown is about a 15 minute walk or a 5 minute water taxi ride. I was busy on two different excursions, so I never made it into downtown, but just drove by.
Steel Drum Band Live, steel drum band music. I always appreciate live music, and steel drums really get you in the Caribbean mood, so I thought it was great.
Ships at Port I'm impressed by the engineering that goes into these huge cruise ships, so I like taking pictures of simple things that aren't so simple. Such as, how do you tie down a ship this big? Well, you use a lot of ropes, anchored to a lot of tie downs. The guy in yellow is one of the staff, and is standing on a normal sized boat down in the water, so that gives a size perspective.
Ships at Port One of the more effective buoys that I've seen. The ship was rocking at the port a little one day and you could see this spring compressing about 6 inches back and forth.
Ships at Port The Royal Caribbean ship Liberty of the Seas pulled up alongside us, and began our joint adventures for the next few days.
Ships at Port This was the first island where I ever went on two different shore excursions in a single day, but it turned out really nice. The first excursion was an island bus tour, with a tour guide describing the island. The joint territory aspect of the island makes for some great story telling, and I highly recommend the tour. Overall, if it's your first time to any particular island, then a tour is always a good bet. It gives you a lot of information, and appreciation for whatever location you are at, and gives you a bearing for the rest of your plans.
Island Tour This is quite the protected harbor. There are about four different levels of islands here, with most them still connected by roads. This part of the tour was basically a straight drive through, but it would be fun to explore this area some more.
Island Tour Pretty much all of the pictures from this tour were taken through the bus window, but they turned out pretty good. For most of them, I turned the auto-focus off, and switched my camera to an infinite zoom, and I think that helped a lot. It keeps the camera from inadvertently focusing on specks of dust on the window.
Island Tour When I think Caribbean islands or tropics I think about lush, green vegetation, not cactus. However, there are lots of them around, and they seem to do just fine. Mental note, don't inadvertently fall down hill, because it will hurt.
Island Tour No, this isn't just a blurry, non-level photo of the ocean. Those two black spec looking things are actually a boat and a parasailer. This is one activity that I haven't done yet, but still definitely want to at some point in the future.
Island Tour Our bus tour was taking us around to the French side of the island, but did stop at one point along the way so we could get out and take some pictures. I remember being in a lot of family photos here, but I didn't get any on my camera, so I'll try and fill them in from others.
Posing on St. Maarten
Photo courtesy of Zoe Ann Stauffer
People photo from my mom's camera. This excursion was also fun because everyone went on the same one and we all got to hang out together. Our cabins were all split apart, so except for dinner, we didn't really see that much of each other and were split apart for a lot of the other excursions.
Posing on St. Maarten
Photo courtesy of Zoe Ann Stauffer
My brother and me.
Island Tour One of the really impressive things about this island is the freedom you have to go between the two territories. This statue and sign mark the entrance to the French side, but there is no gate or patrol or customs. However, that flexibility doesn't extend to the infrastructure. Making a phone call to the other side of the island is considered an international call, and runs 30 cents per minute. The French side runs at 220 Volts, the Dutch at 110V. They also both use their own languages and currencies, and don't accept each others. This could make things really complicated, however, it turns out to be an advantage for the tourists, because both sides also speak English and take US dollars, so this becomes the de facto standard.
Island Tour Once on the French side, we stopped at a big shopping center, and of course did some shopping. It also had a great view of an old French fort that used to protect the island. Somehow, at the end of this tour, my mom and I ended up carrying all the alcohol bought by others back to the ship. We had to go back to the ship to change and prepare for our later excursion while they continued shopping at the Dutch downtown.
Island Tour Overall, most of the popular tourist islands are kept pretty clean and fancy looking to attract future tourism, as it is there biggest industry, however every now and then something stands out. This ship sank in one of the hurricanes that periodically hit the island, and was just left rather than paid to be salvaged.
Island Tour I don't know the story behind this hill, because it's not on the island border, but does clearly show a property line of some sort. The longer I live in California, the more I seem to think "green", and this clearly shows the difference that conservation efforts can make, because this has to be an artificial difference due to clear cutting or farming or some such thing.
Island Tour This was a beautiful beach that we passed by on the tour, but luckily the second excursion planned for the day was a beach trip, so we got to come back. After this point, we went back to the Dutch side, and there were a couple other things I would have taken pictures of, but I forgot to recharge my camera beforehand, and the battery died. Luckily, we went back to the ship to before the next excursion, so I quickly recharged it. This also let us change for the beach, put on sunscreen, and eat free lunch on board the ship.
Beach Bash After a nice lunch on board, we went back out for an afternoon on the beach. There was one other difference about the two sides of the island that I didn't know when we were booking this excursion. On the Dutch side, gambling is allowed, but on the French side, nude sun-bathing is allowed, while they are illegal on the other side of the island. So depending on what you want to do, you just have to drive 20 minutes one way or the other. This beach was on the French side, so nudity is allowed. There were a couple topless women walking around, but it would have felt weird to just stare and take pictures of them, so there is nothing exciting that I captured to post here.
Beach Bash The beach itself was also awesome. It's about two miles long, with beautiful white sand, and on the day we were there, the waves were pretty big. My pictures did not capture any of the good ones, but it was fun to go out and go swimming. Apparently my family is crazier than most, because my mom and I were by far the furthest people out there swimming, but we both had a blast (and we are both very good swimmers). Everyone else was staying were you could still touch the ground, but then you are right in the middle of the crashing waves. That is fun too for a time, but unless you are a really small kid, it tends to get old quickly.
Waves
Photo courtesy of Zoe Ann Stauffer
This photo of my mom's does a slightly better job of conveying the size of the waves.
Beach Bash Another picture of the seemingly endless beach. You really have to walk this beach to get an idea of the size.
Saying Goodbye to St. Maarten
Photo courtesy of Zoe Ann Stauffer
Time to say goodbye to this island and continue our voyage.
Sailing Away I don't know how our shipped pulled this one off, but here is the Royal Caribbean ship departing before us, and then we both ended up at the same island the next day, with us arriving before them. Although that was also the night were Disney launched some fireworks, so my only guess is that Royal took it's time so that they could also check out the show. Disney remains the only cruise line that can launch fireworks from aboard the ship, and it's pretty cool.

St. Thomas

Port Map On to our next island, St. Thomas. I've been to this island before, so I went into a bit of auto-pilot mode, and forgot to take any good pictures of a welcome sign. I sort of got a picture of this map, so that will have to do.
View from Port The official excursion for this island was an awesome snorkeling trip, but here are a couple pictures from the ship at port that I captured. The blue line going up the hill is the so called "Sky Ride", which I rode up later in the day.
View from Port This is another port where the shopping has been built up to cater directly to the cruise ships. All the red roofed buildings are shopping, with many more off to the right of the photo. So you can easily do any shopping you want within walking distance. This island is a US territory, so they also speak English and take dollars everywhere, thus keeping things simple. However, they still drive on the left side of the road, which totally confuses me. I guess it used to be a British territory and never converted over. Even though I wasn't driving, I still get confused walking around. I always look the wrong way first, and I don't know which side of the street to walk on.
View from Port The harbor here is also very beautiful with the homes on the hill, and all the sail boats moored below. A pesky cloud was out when I took this photo, and I meant to try it again later in the day, but forgot, so the shady hillside is the best I got.
View from Port More of the sailboats moored in the bay. I doubt it will ever happen, but when my brother talks about moving to the Caribbean, he talks about going to this island. I have to say that living here and having a boat yourself would definitely be quite a nice way to spend your time.
View from Port Here is a close up of one of the nice looking sailboats.
View from Port Another close up of a fancy boat. This one isn't a sail boat, but definitely qualifies as nice.
St. Thomas Harbor photo with me
Photo courtesy of Zoe Ann Stauffer
Here is a photo of me on the 9th Deck in the harbor at St. Thomas.
Snorkeling I got a chance to do a lot of snorkeling on this trip, and it was awesome. My first trip in 2006 in Antigua was fun, but I was stuck snorkeling around a bunch of jelly fish. My second trip to Cozumel in 2007 was pretty good, but it was kind of cold. This trip was just perfect. We rode this power boat, with twin engines and tons of speed out a couple miles to a small island. The island is protected, so you can't set foot on it, but the nearby reefs are perfect for snorkeling.
Snorkeling My mom had problems trying to figure out how to use the underwater camera. Yes it only has one button, twist to wind, push to take. I made fun of her for it then, and must again right now. However, after many trials she did manage to take some nice pictures. Here is one of me snorkeling around.
Snorkeling So I have decided that disposable under water cameras are a waste of time and money. You can buy a real water proof camera for about $100, and if I do this again, then I will buy one. On this trip, I bought two disposable cameras for $20 each. Both take 27 photos, then I had them developed for $11 each. They don't have a zoom lens or flash or anything fancy. So I'm out $60, and most of the photos look like garbage, even though the scenery was spectacular. This photo is one such example. All the dark shapes that you can barely make out are fish swimming all around right next to me.
Snorkeling Luckily if the fish got absurdly close, then the cameras still managed to take some good photos. This school of about 100 fish is swimming all around me, and the nearest ones are passing within a foot of my face.
Snorkeling Here is another picture of the fish that turned out pretty good. Of all the places I've snorkeled, these fish seem to be the most used to people and the least timid of any I've ever seen.
Snorkeling One of the main reasons for going snorkeling at this island is that it is a popular place for sea turtles. Overall, I thought the underwater cameras were a complete waste of money, but this one shot might make the whole expense worthwhile.
Snorkeling The turtles will eat the plant vegetation about 15 feet down in the water, and about every five minutes they come up for air. Our tour guides told us that if you remain really calm when the turtles are coming up, then they will actually surface right next to you. We were about 20 feet away from a couple turtles, and then when we gave up on that, another popped out of nowhere and came up right next to us. The advice was taken, and my mom and I both stayed still. The turtle was maybe five feet away, took a couple breaths and then went back to chowing down.
Snorkeling Here is another turtle hanging out on the bottom, looking for food. There were also some string rays in the same area, but unfortunately none of my pictures of them turned out.
Snorkeling There were two things that we were warned about before getting in the water. The first is the fire coral. It looks nice, but touching this stuff will apparently cause a rash and irritation for about 6 hours.
Snorkeling The other thing to watch out for was the black sea urchin, and apparently their sting can hurt for quite awhile longer. Although, as they mentioned, these look about as inviting as a porcupine, so why would you want to touch them. They are a little hard to see in this picture, but there are about 20 of them in the crevices surrounding the large rock in the center.
Snorkeling The final warning we got wasn't for anything dangerous to us, but something that could be quite a shock when you first get into the water. It's one of the locals who likes to hang out under the ship for the shade. As introduced to us, his first name is Barry, and his last name is Couda.
Snorkeling If you look to the right, you can see another large fist looking like he is tracking the snorkeler. Most likely to stay out of the way.
Gondolas After our morning spent snorkeling, we took the sky ride up towards the top of the island. This is a very simple gondola. It's not that long, and it has fixed cars so the whole line has to slow down to let everyone get on and off. Despite the simple design, they are still charging $20 per person. It's a rip off, but the view on top is awesome. You can walk up instead, but I've done that once before, and in the tropical heat, it is not any fun.
Sky Ride Gondolas
Photo courtesy of Zoe Ann Stauffer
Here is another shot of the gondolas coming up the hillside.
Sky Ride View This is a view of some of the many surrounding islands from near the top of St. Thomas.
Sky Ride View View of the harbor and hotels from up high.
Sky Ride View Another view of the beautiful hillside.
Sky Ride View Most of the nearby islands are very small, but the larger island seen in the distance here is actually Puerto Rico. I didn't know they were so close, but there was a convenient map near the view point that had the islands labeled.
Ships from Sky Ride This is one of my favorite photos of the entire cruise. It shows all the cruise ships amid the harbor with the shopping in the foreground, and hills in the background. It captures the essence of St. Thomas.
Ships from Sky Ride If you notice in the top left of that last photo, there is a third cruise ship docked at the island. This was a ship from Holland America. I only know this because we happened to ride down the gondola with a group from that ship.
Ships from Sky Ride I don't know if this can qualify as a close up, but here is the Royal Caribbean ship Liberty of the Seas framed nicely from above.
Ships from Sky Ride This close up of the Disney Magic is a photo I've taken before, but given the chance would definitely take again ('cause it's awesome!).
Sky Jump At the top of the Gondola (Sky Ride), there is the Sky Jump. It's a bunch of trampolines with spotting belts setup at the top of the hill. It wasn't operating at the time, or I would have been very tempted to partake.
Paradise Point I love this frame in the middle of nowhere. There are not many places in the world where you can put an empty frame and say that the background is the postcard. It's a great idea, so I had to get a picture of myself.
Paradise Point Another framed post card picture with my mom.
Motorcycle One of the downsides to traveling by ship is that I don't get to bring my motorcycle along. I was missing riding on it, and saw this beautiful one, so I had to get a picture. There are some wonderful windy roads on some of these mountains that would be a lot of fun to ride on.
Departing View A couple of the really large hotels that are on the point of the island as we were departing.
Departing View This time we left before the Royal Caribbean ship. There they are as we leave them in the wake.
Departing View This little island is the place where we went snorkeling earlier in the day. I didn't try to take a picture from our bouncy speed boat amidst all the waves on the way out there, but I snapped it from the cruise ship as we departed the island.
Departing View Since we did a nice drive by (fly by, swim by, float by, whatever it's called), of the Royal Caribbean ship, I took the opportunity to take some photos. This is the leading candidate for future non-Disney cruises that I want to try at some point in my life.
Departing View Their ship design definitely maximizes the number of balconies in all the room. It looks like the outer rooms on decks 5 through 9 all have balconies. Although nothing comes free, so the trade off would be having very few windows in the common areas of the ship.
Departing View Logo shot.
Departing View They have a climbing wall on the ship. Disney caters towards kids, but I don't expect too many adults are using this wall, so it's probably targeted towards teenagers. After as much eating as most people do, I would be surprised if there are that many who can make it to the top by the end of the voyage.
Screaming Eagle One of the other possible excursions was to ride on this super fast jet boat, and it goes through a bunch of maneuvers. It would have been fun, but we were out of time for this trip, and this was an expensive option. Plus, if I ever do it, I would really want to drive, instead of just riding along.
As we were leaving the harbor, I got a chance to view the speed boat entertaining some passengers. I took a video as it passed us by.
Departing View One final parting picture and it's on to a day at sea, and then our final island stop for the trip.

Castaway Cay

Welcome Sign Welcome to Castaway Cay. This is a private island in the Bahamas that is owned by Disney and used exclusively for their cruise ships. This has advantages and disadvantages, although the pros outweight the cons. The island is basically an extension of the ship, so the crew comes down and makes lunch, and it's free. The room key works to buy any souvenirs or to rent snorkel equipment or bikes, etc. The beach is beautiful and also has lots of snorkeling areas, and there is a separate adult's only beach on the far side of the island. However, there isn't much in the way of sightseeing. You can rent bicycles, and it's fun to go around and see the place, but it only takes a couple hours to see everything, and it was my third trip to the island. The snorkeling wasn't as good as St. Thomas, and for some reason it was just way too hot for sunbathing this day, so overall I wasn't as excited as previous trips. Although this was probably the part of the cruise where my cold was the worst, and I was feeling pretty crappy, so that probably jaded my opinion.
Beach Disney is launching a newer and bigger (amazingly) ship within the next two years, so they are slowly expanding their dock to be able to handle the new ship. You can see some of the construction behind the main pathway. It's hard to hide the work and keep the island looking good when the ship is five times taller than the highest point on the whole island.
Post Office There is a post office on this island specifically so that you can send post cards and have them addressed from the Bahamas. Yes, it's a gimmick, but it's a good one, and I have used it in the past. This trip I didn't send any cards out, so sorry for anyone who wanted one.
Air Mail As the sign says: air mail.
Flying Dutchman The Flying Dutchman from the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie now permanently resides on this island. It makes for awesome pictures, so I had to take some more.
Flying Dutchman Most of the time it's beautiful and cloud free, but all three times that I've been to this island have been cloudy. I did still get this awesome photo, but I would much prefer a clear blue sky in the background.
Flying Dutchman I came back and took the same picture on the way back to the ship in the late afternoon, but the sun was starting to drop down behind the ship, and it didn't turn out as well.
Flying Dutchman Perspective is everything, right.
Disney Magic at Castaway Cay Another picture of the ship, this time, its backside.
Disney Magic at Castaway Cay So how do you touch up the paint on the underside of the ninth deck? Well you get a really tall ladder, and hope you don't fall.
Mount Rustmore I have never been to Mount Rushmore, but I can say that I've been to Mount Rustmore. It's only the one letter difference, right.
Mount Rustmore What is Mount Rustmore, well the name pretty much describes it, in literal Disney style, that is.
Beach Another advantage of the private island is lots of lawn chairs and umbrellas, and here they are free. Most beaches on the other islands will try and get a couple bucks out of you for the rental.
Beach This beach is quite large, and these people are all entirely from the cruise ship, so I don't know how it manages to become busy. It helps illustrate how big the ship really is.
Beach Here is the adult only beach. It is significantly less crowded over here, and blessedly free of screaming kids. Did I really yell all the time as a child, because I don't remember doing that?
Beach It was really super hot this day, and even though it is near the end of the cruise where I'm more acclimated to the temperature, I'm still frying. The smart people grabbed some chairs and sat in the water. My mom and I caught on and shortly followed suit. I have never snorkeled on this side of the island before, so if I ever go back, then that is my plan for next time.
Beach Some water ropes and such to keep the kids busy. Unfortunately no adults on these, because I would have fun, too. Although it's only about 5 feet deep here, and they have to close it down at low tide, so watch out on the fall.
Beach There is a new water slide going in, but it wasn't quite open yet.
Snorkeling As I mentioned earlier, I did also get to do some snorkeling here. My nose was plugged due to my cold, and I had to cough through my snorkel a couple times, but overall it was still fun. I used up most of my underwater camera film at St. Thomas, but overall there were better photo opportunities there, so it turned out well. I didn't get any photos of the fish that turned out here, but I got some of the structures. One problem with this area is that it is really shallow, and we were here just after low tide, so all the snorkelers who insist on swimming upright, instead of on their bellies tend to kick up the sand and obscure the water. If it were a little deeper, and had more coral, then the water would probably stay clearer.
Snorkeling I did manage to find Minnie Mouse on this trip. I only have about a 50% success rate in finding the Mickey or Minnie statues, and that's after knowing roughly where they are.
Snorkeling My mom surprised me again, and after fussing around with the camera and saying that it didn't work, she still managed to get a photo of me.
Flight Line There is a tiny flight line on the island, and I didn't get a good picture of it, but I did get the very end that also has a basketball court setup.
Palm Trees I felt like taking pictures of the palm trees on this island, so here they are. Complete with coconuts.
Palm Trees Some palm leaves.
Palm Trees A line of palm trees, blowing in the wind.
Cactus Some more cacti. I saw these on every island we visiting despite not remembering them from previous trips.
Departing Wave As we depart from our final destination, we get a Disney crew wave good bye.
Departing Sign It's pretty much the end of this trip, so the sign captures the feeling. Now it's time to pack up everything and depart in the morning.
Sunrise We depart super early in the morning. This is the sunrise, not a sunset. It's only about 6:30 in the morning, which most people wouldn't consider too bad, but if you know me, then you know that is way too earlier. The one bright side, besides the early sun in my eyes, was that I got to continue the trip at Disney World for a couple more days before heading home. You can see pictures from that part of the trip here.