Welcome back to Day 2 of the Deb and Steve Cruise. You can click on this link to recap my journey thus far on the cruise!
This was the first of what was supposed to be two visits to Castaway Cay during our 5-night cruise. Even with Tropical Storm Hanna lurking about the Caribbean, the weather this day was picture perfect.
At 10 am, I was scheduled to participate in the Castaway Ray’s Stingray Adventure. As beautiful as the weather was all water excursions were cancelled due to expected high winds. Fortunately for me, the stingray adventure was still a go!
Here is Disney’s description of the excursion:
Castaway Ray's Stingray Adventure
Head for the Stingray Hut for the experience of a lifetime! After a 15-minute orientation including many educational fun facts, guests will be divided into groups and enter the shallow waters of the Stingray Lagoon. Your friendly guide will be on hand as you get up-close and personal during a feeding session using specially designed feeding trays. Feel the rush as the stingray takes the food right from the palm of your hand and even pet these amazing animals as they go up and down the feeding ramp.
Next, don some snorkel gear and head out further into the lagoon as you snorkel amongst the over 40 rays who call Castaway Cay home. After approximately 30 minutes of snorkel time, return to the beach with great memories and stories to tell of your Castaway Rays experience.
Our orientation class took place in the back of Castaway Ray's Stingray Hut.
I was thrilled to find out that my good friends, George and Ann, who I met last summer while on my Adventure by Disney trip to the Southwest were doing the stingray feeding, too. My new friend, Mary Lee also joined our adventure. Adventures are always more fun when doing them with friends.
We were reminded that all the barbs on the stingray’s tails have been trimmed. So we had no worries about being stung. Rays like to hide under the sand and defend themselves with their tails. If you step on one in the wild, there is good chance it's tail will whip up and hit you in the foot or leg. The results are a very, very painful sting. It is always a good idea to do the "stingray shuffle" which simply means shuffling your feet along the sand once you enter the water. It lets the rays know you are coming and they will move.
Mary Lee, George and Ann are ready for the adventure to begin.
We were separated into groups of 10 or so. A floating feeding tray is placed in the water for each group.
All the rays are southern stingrays and all but one or two are female. Disney has trained the stingrays to come into the feeding tray. Here comes the first one for her breakfast. Food choices for today were shrimp, calamari and stingray jello. All the food items were cleaned and looked like they were ready to be cooked for our lunch.
Our instructor showed us the Mickey Mouse cutout we would be using as part of the feeding.
For those not familiar with feeding southern stingrays, here's a little info. Their mouths are on the under side or bottom of their bodies. They swim over your hand as you hold the food and the rays suck the food into their mouths.
When I first booked this excursion, I made a quick trip to SeaWorld to practice feeding these creatures. At SeaWorld's Stingray Lagoon, the rays are much smaller and you are given little fish about 4 or 5 inches long. Not really "given the fish", you have to buy trays of fish for approx. $7. You hold the stinky fish between your fingers with the palm of your hand down and the rays glide over your hand. It took me a while to get used to the odd feeling.
Here's at Castaway Cay, the rays are much larger and I think I was supposed to hold my palms up instead of down. Rays don't have teeth but they have gums that are strong enough to break open clams, mussels and other mollusks. The reason I'm sharing this info with you is as I began feeding one of the rays, I think it mistakenly thought my new acrylic finger nails were part of its meal plan, maybe a clam, and it chomped on two of my finger tips. No big deal but it was a surprise!
As it turns out, later in the week I spent the day at Discovery Cove in Orlando and had a chance to feed another type of stingray, Cownose rays and their feeding style was completely different, too. Fellow cruisers Masayo and Nozomi joined me for a great day at Discovery Cove but I’ll have to save that story for another blog.
After the feeding, which lasted about 15 to 20 minutes, we were given the opportunity to snorkel. However once the feed trays were removed from the water most of the stingrays disappeared. I don't remember them talking about how to snorkel during the introduction session. I had snorkeled once and it was a long time ago so a few tips would have been helpful.
Here's some additional information about the stingray adventure provided by Disney:
Port of Call: Castaway Cay Activity Type: Beach & Water Activity Level: Moderate Duration: 1 hour Price: Adult: $35 (ages 10 and up)
Child: $29 (ages 5-9) Ages: 5 And Up Additional Information Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult 18 or older.
Castaway Rays is located by Teen Beach, at the end of Family Beach. It is recommended to leave 10-15 minutes to walk to the Stingray Hut before your ticket time.
Snorkel equipment is for use in the Stingray lagoon only.
After the stingray adventure, we walked over to the Head's Up Bar. Most of us tried the Island Specialty drink, a Konk Kooler made with light and dark rum, cream of coconut, passion fruit, orange and pineapple juices. Yummy.......
George, Ann, Carolyn, Jill and Mary Lee
Jill and Carolyn who are affectionately known as "The Screamers" because they get so excited about everything. These ladies made the cruise a ton of extra fun for me and my fellow cruisers.
It was here at the Head's Up Bar, we ran into a wedding party with a somewhat unusual theme. Go Gators!
Next we decided to have a lunch at Cookie's BBQ. This was my first time trying Cookie's because on my past visits I have always gone out to the adult's only beach, Serenity Bay. There is a small BBQ and picnic area just before you reach the adult beach.
The two places are like day and night. Cookie's is just off the family beach and it was busy, busy, busy. But on a positive note, it was a ton of fun when Lilo and Stitch came dancing by.
As I worked my way through the line, I was disappointed that they were not serving the great steak sandwiches that I enjoyed at the adult BBQ area on every past visit. I worked my way through the line and realized that I had nothing on my plate because I was waiting to find the steak sandwiches. So back in line I go again, this time I sampled the BBQ Chicken and mini Mahi-Mahi Sandwiches both were very good. After lunch I planned to go back to the ship to get ready for my spa appointment at 3 pm. In my world, plans have a way of changing quickly and at a moment's notice.........
Next up, 2 unplanned hours on Castaway Cay looking for the hiding Steve Barrett, a second lunch, the spa treatment (my first) and dinner with Masayo and Nozomi at Palo.
The previous post in this blog was Bay Lake Tower - Disney's Newest Vacation Club Model Opens - The Studio.
The next post in this blog is Haunted Mansion Meet with All Ears Team.