Disney Cruise Line has a membership rewards program called the Castaway Club which, depending on your needs, may have an impact on your cruise experience.
What exactly is the Castaway Club?
This is a method Disney uses to reward repeat cruisers. It works somewhat along the lines of a frequent flyer program in that the more you use the service (Disney cruising), the better your “status” and the more perks you get.
What are the status levels?
- If you’ve never taken a Disney cruise before, you are a First Time Guest.
- Guests who have completed 1 to 4 Disney cruises have Silver Castaway Club status.
- Guests who have completed 5 to 9 Disney cruises have Gold Castaway Club status.
- Guests who have completed 10 or more Disney cruises have Platinum Castaway Club status.
There may be some rare occasions, such as a Disney cast member cruising on business (tough life, eh?), where a voyage might not count toward your Castaway Club status, but the vast majority guests will be able to count all their Disney cruising toward their status level.
So what does having status mean?
There are a number of benefits available to all Castaway Club members, including “Welcome Back” stateroom gifts, and priority check-in at the port terminal. As your Castaway Club membership level increases, the benefits increase. For many guests, one of the chief benefits of Castaway Club membership is that the higher your status level, the earlier access you have to reservations for many aspects of your cruise including port excursions, on-board dining at the adults-only Palo and Remy, spa experiences, and some childcare situations.
What are the booking windows at each level?
- First Time Guests may make reservations 75 days prior to sailing.
- Silver Castaway Club Guests may make reservations 90 days prior to sailing.
- Gold Castaway Club Guests may make reservations 105 days prior to sailing.
- Platinum Castaway Club Guests may make reservations 120 days prior to sailing.
Does this really matter?
It might. While some port activities rarely become fully booked (bike rentals at Castaway Cay), other experiences are in short supply. For example, there are only 21 private cabanas on Castaway Cay, split between the family and adult beach areas. With several thousand guests on board your ship, competition for these private oases can be fierce, and Castaway Club members get first crack at them. If you’re traveling in the peak season, it may be all but impossible for a First Time Guest to be able to reserve a cabana. Other popular experiences are dining at Palo and Remy on days at sea, massages at Castaway Cay, and Flounder’s Reef babysitting during show times.
Does everyone in my party have to be a Castaway Club member for me to take advantage of early booking?
It depends. The Castaway Club benefits allowed for each stateroom area determined by the Castaway Club member with the highest status in that room. For example, if I’ve been on a few more cruises than my husband (lucky me) and my Castaway status is higher than his, I can make reservations for both of us at my higher status level.
However, if we’re also traveling with our neighbors, First Time Cruisers staying in another stateroom, even though they are part of our party, they can not take advantage of my higher status level. Effectively, Castaway status on any particular cruise is applied by stateroom, not by the total party.
Keep this in mind if you’re planning an activity for a large group. Not everyone will have equal access to reservations if members of the traveling party have different Castaway Club status levels.
Who do I contact if I have questions about my Castaway Club status?
Give Disney Cruise Line a call at 1-800-449-3380.
Tell us what your experiences have been with booking reservations for port excursions, spa experiences, etc. Do you think your Castaway Status mattered? Has any First Time Cruiser been able to score an elusive cabana reservations? Let us know in the comments below.