Our first big family vacation was a 4 day cruise to the Bahamas on the Disney Dream. We’d never done a cruise before and while we’d traveled with O to visit family, we’d never really done a family vacation. After lots of reading and research, we decided that a four day cruise was just the way to start. I really liked the idea that we would be the hands of people who really know hospitality (as demonstrated on our two Disney vacations before O was born) and who had high standards, so I’d feel safe taking O with us. I was also reassured by the fact that he would be in good hands in the nursery on the ship, which meant we could have some grown up vacation time too. I could gush about the entire trip and how it exceeded our expectations in so many ways, but today I’m focusing on the running. I did some running on the deck of the ship (there’s a designated deck for running/walking) which was really nice early in the morning. It didn’t take long to adjust to the sway of the ship and since I was waking up super early on this trip, it wasn’t crowded at all. I did a couple of miles on the first two days of the trip but was most looking forward to running on Castaway Cay.
Castaway Cay is Disney’s private island in the Caribbean and it is gorgeous. Because it is exclusive to Disney (and I’m sure for various complicated legal reasons), it was easy to get on and off of the ship without worrying about passports, etc. The food on the island was all included in the cruise as well, so we didn’t even to worry about bringing money to pay for those things. All around very fun and easy. There are loads of activities (snorkeling, bikes, boating, etc) but we stuck to playing on the beach and the water pad with O and watching crab races.
Backing up a bit, if you’re going to do the 5K, no registration is required. Just watch your daily navigator (the menu of activities you get for each day of the cruise) for the time and place to meet for the 5K on the morning of Castaway Cay day. For us, it was down in one of the adult lounges. One thing to be aware of that threw off a lot of us on my trip – we had to have both our identification and our room key for some reason. Over half of the crowd down there for the 5K had to go back to their rooms for ID because this was a new requirement! The 5K is free to run. You just sign in and get a bib:
We were the first guests off of the ship, although by the time we all got off (about 50 of us) they were also letting other guests off and my husband and son actually walked with us to the starting line. It is quite the hike from the ship to the starting line – about a 10 minute walk – so don’t worry about warming up! The 5K course starts near the bike rental stand and now has a time clock at the start/finish line so you can see your time if you’d like. There is also a big box you can put a bag of stuff in if you’d like to have your swim clothes right there for changing into after the run (or you could send them with your family). Apparently there is frequently a character at the starting line for a group photo, but that didn’t happen on our trip.
The course takes you down the air strip that leads to the adult beach from the family beach and around a loop of the bike path through the jungle-ish area. You leave the loop to go almost all the way to the adult beach (wow it looked gorgeous) and then come back through the bike loop again and back to the start. There are water stops along the way, which are greatly needed given how warm and humid it is! It’s a very relaxed run for most people – both because of the cruise mentality (really we were mostly there so we could feel good about a second dessert later that night!) and because it is so hot and humid it’s hard to push very hard! There was good mix of runners and walkers, so don’t worry about your pace at all.
It was a lot harder than I was expecting, just because of the heat. My time ended up being 38 minutes (a lot slower than my two previous 5Ks – Commitment Day and Color Me Radd), just because I walked most of the second half. I was soaked with sweat by the time it was over and bought two bottles of water as soon as I finished! I then changed into my swim suit and plunged in the water to cool off a bit. It felt good to start the day with a bit of workout and I’m looking forward to going back and bettering my time – now that I’m in better shape and more accustomed to running longer distances, I think the heat wouldn’t bother me so much.
In addition to my first runDisney race bib, we also got a plastic Mickey medal. It is my very first race medal and I love it! They really aren’t consistent about having those available at the finish, though, with varying reports in the DisBoard threads and other race reports. I’m glad I got one since this was my first “goal” race – even though it wasn’t my first race. There is also a Castaway Cay 5K t-shirt that you can buy near the start/finish point. I had my husband pick one up for me while I was out running because I’d read that they run out of the smaller sizes pretty quickly.
All in all, it was a lot of fun and I saw more of the island than I would have otherwise (sorry no pics of the run itself! I was too hot and tired during the run to take any apparently!). I also had two desserts that night at dinner with absolutely zero guilt. I can’t wait to go back and do it all again!
Links for more reading about the Castaway Cay 5K:
Heather’s recap from 2013 has some great pics of the course so you can see what it looks like.
Cruise Critic’s recap
DisBoards Official Castaway Cay 5K thread: very helpful for questions and advice!
DisUnplugged recap: lots of pics