There are multiple opportunities to view ocean life on Castaway Cay, the private island exclusively used by Disney Cruise Line. If you want to get up close and personal with sea creatures, try one of the several snorkeling adventures. If you don’t want to get wet, the Glass Bottom Boat Excursion is an alternative.
What is the glass bottom boat excursion?
Guests board a small motorized water craft, holding about 25 people, and venture about 15 minutes out into the ocean. There are several “windows” in the floor of the boat through which you can observe sea life below. During the trip, you are accompanied by a local guide who gives some narration about the fish and other natural elements you encounter.
How long does the excursion take?
You’ll find the trip takes about 45 minutes to an hour, say 15 minutes out, 15 minutes back, and 15ish minutes “parked” at viewing spots along the reef adjacent to Castaway Cay.
What does the excursion cost?
This is one of the less expensive excursion options. Current pricing is $35 for guests ages 10 and up, $25 for all children, ages 0 to 9.
Are there age restrictions?
No. Anyone may participate. It’s something the entire family can do together.
Will you see a lot fish during your tour?
Because this excursion involves wildlife, experiences vary widely.
The highlight of the tour takes place at approximately the mid=point of the journey. Each guest on the boat is given a Dixie cup filled with approximately one ounce of oatmeal. You’re invited to toss the oatmeal overboard to attract fish. During this feeding portion of the tour, the boat was surrounded by several hundred tropical fish of various species. The guide tried to point out the characteristics of as many fish as possible. The feeding lasted approximately five minutes, after which the fish quickly dissipated. My observation of fish at other points of the tour was quite sporadic.
Does it matter where you are on the boat?
I found it easier to spot fish from the side of the boat rather than through the glass bottom. The glass bottom is recessed below where you’re standing, so take your height plus about two feet and that’s how far away your observation is, at a minimum. Looking over the side of the boat, you could actually be closer to the fish than this.
There are three rows on the boat, one in the center, between the glass bottom panels, and two along the sides. Choose one of the side for more viewing options.
Are there any physical challenges with the boat?
In order to get onto the boat, you have to descend a short ladder of about five rungs. These are rungs, not steps; you are backing down onto the vessel. There is also no real seating on the boat. There is a ledge-type area where 2 or 3 people might be able to perch, but everyone else is standing for the entire trip. During my glass bottom boat excursion, a few small children and an older gentleman with a cane were definitely uncomfortable with this situation.
There are no restrooms on the boat, so that may pose an issue for some guests. Also, service animals are not allowed onto the glass bottom boat.
Is this excursion impacted by the weather?
Yes. The tour may be cancelled if seas are too choppy or storms are in the area. Also, the roughness of the water may impact your ability to see fish below the surface.
Who is this excursion best for?
Healthy seniors or younger elementary school age children who love fish will enjoy the fish feeding portion of the trip. Others may find the relative lack of excitement not worth the time or money. If you’re an active person, consider whether a snorkel rental or stingray experience might better suit your needs.
Would you do it again?
I’m glad I did it once, just to have had the experience. It’s not something I’m likely to repeat on a future visit to Castaway Cay.
Have you done the glass bottom boat excursion on Castaway Cay? Did you see lots of fish? Did you see fish other than during the feeding? How did you feel about standing for the entire trip? Let us know in the comments below.