|This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (June 2012)|
|Location||Disney Cruise Line, The Bahamas|
|Operated by||The Walt Disney Company|
|Opened||July 30, 1998|
|Website||Castaway Cay homepage|
Castaway Cay is a private island in the Bahamas which serves as an exclusive port for the Disney Cruise Line ships Disney Wonder, Disney Magic, Disney Dream, and Disney Fantasy. It is located near Great Abaco Island and was formerly known as Gorda Cay. In 1997, The Walt Disney Company purchased a 99-year land lease for the cay from the Bahamian government, set to expire in 2096, giving the company substantial control over the guest experience on the island. A post office on the island has special Bahamian postage specific to Disney Cruise Line, and a "Castaway Cay" postmark.
History and development
Gorda Cay was once used as a stop for drug runners. There is an airstrip on the island, but it is no longer in regular use nor maintained. Gorda Cay had also been used for filming; the beach where Tom Hanks first encounters Daryl Hannah in Splash is on the island.
Disney is said to have spent US$25 million to develop and outfit the island. Construction took 18 months and included dredging 50,000 truckloads of sand from the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. The pier and its approaches were constructed to allow the Disney ships to dock alongside, thus removing the need for tenders to get the passengers ashore. To create the mooring site for the ships, workers dredged sand and used explosives to blast coral, and form a 1,700-foot (520 m) channel about 35 feet (11 m) deep and ranging from 200 to 400 feet (120 m) wide. The island is still largely undeveloped: only 55 of the 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) are being used. Castaway Cay now has 90-140 permanent residents who keep the island running daily; the numbers fluctuate between the busy season and off season.
The island is developed in the theme of a castaway community, with buildings made to look as if they had been improvised after a shipwreck. The facilities are maintained like any other Disney theme park, and the shops accept guests' stateroom keys for payment. The food service is operated as an extension of the cruise package. A variety of activities are available to guests including bicycle hire, personal watercraft rental, massages overlooking the ocean, snorkeling, para-sailing, volleyball and basketball. There are monkey bars and a rope for children to climb across set about 30 metres (98 ft) in the ocean on one beach and a slide about 25 metres (82 ft) into the ocean on another beach. There are three beaches for guests: one for families, one for Cabana guests, and another exclusively for adults, called Serenity Bay.
Two submarine-ride vehicles from the now-closed 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Submarine Voyage ride at Walt Disney World lie underwater in the snorkeling area. The Flying Dutchman pirate ship, from the Pirates of the Caribbean film series, was formerly on display in the lagoon, but as of November 2010, it had been removed and taken to another location on the island where it was dismantled.
Castaway Cay has facilities for the exclusive use of the ships' crews, including beaches and recreational areas. A staff of 145 custodians, boat captains, drivers, landscapers, and maintenance personnel live on the island, and are supplemented by crew from the ship when one is in port. Food and other supplies are brought in by the ships themselves. Sea water is desalinated for drinking with reverse osmosis water processors.
The Flying Dutchman at Castaway Cay
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- Ward, Douglas ed.. Berlitz ocean cruising & cruise ships. London : Berlitz, 2003.