As much of America is undergoing a deep freeze, the Casual Running Team is continuing our series on running while on vacation, and, in particular, cruises. Many of you will be going on cruises this winter, and specifically Disney Cruise Line cruises thanks to runDisney’s rolling out of its new Parks to Paradise Castaway Cay Challenge. We previously brought your our Top 10 Casual Cruising Tips. Now, we want to give you some specific hints and tips if you are a Casual Runner going on a Disney Cruise Line vacation. Some of these are running specific, while others are just good to know. We hope you enjoy your sailing. And when you return, be sure to let us know how your trip was and if you have any other tips to share with your fellow Casual Runners.
1. Get to know the fleet. The Disney Cruise line fleet consists of 4 exceptional vessels. The older, “classic” ships are the Wonder and the Magic. The Magic recently received a major refurbishment and expansion. These ships are smaller than their sisters, the Dream and the Fantasy. The Dream and the Fantasy are 2 of the 5 largest cruise ships afloat today (for now at least!). The runDisney Parks to Paradise Castaway Cay Challenge sailings are being offered on the Dream
2. Deck 3. If you are sailing on the Dream or the Fantasy, deck 3 is a runner’s dream. This deck is designated for running, and it only takes 2.5 laps around the ship to make a mile. You cannot beat the gorgeous water views as your make your laps, and you will receive ample shade even on the hottest Caribbean days.
3. Secret character meet and greets. Staying on deck 3 (literally), on the Dream and Fantasy, when you are running, keep an eye out for extra magical moments as the characters utilize deck 3 to move between their dressing rooms and the main atrium, where they will make their public appearances. It is our experience that they will always offer an encouraging smile or wave as you pass by, and even allow you to snap a picture, so be sure to have your phone with you when you head out to run.
4. Share the deck. If you are used to running outside on streets and running trails, you will have to adjust and be aware to sharing the “track” deck with walkers. There are no separate instructions for walkers and runners, so everyone proceeds around the ship in a counter-clockwise direction. Some of the forward and aft passages and corners can get a little tight, so just be patient and share the deck. In the mornings, the only passengers on deck 3 tend to be walkers and runners, but in the afternoons, there will be people playing shuffleboard. Keep an eye out for loose – pucks? – well, whatever those things are that people push with the sticks, as they can be a tripping hazard.
5. Castaway Cay was made for running. The Castaway Cay 5k is offered every time a Disney Cruise Line ship docks at Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island in the Bahamas. So, even if you are not signed up for the runDisney Parks to Paradise Castaway Cay Challenge, or it is not offered on your sailing, you can still take advantage of this special fun run…FOR FREE. Just sign up before your ship arrives on the island and enjoy the gorgeous Caribbean vistas and flat terrain.
6. Bring a Bubba. The passenger beverage stations are all located on deck 12 (where the pools are). If you get a drink anywhere else you will have to pay for it. Make it is easier on yourself (and your wallet) and bring a large insulated cup or bottle, such as a Bubba or Thermos, so you can fill up and cut down on the number of trips you need to make to the beverage stations (it will also keep you from walking by the ice cream stand and filling up on those cones multiple times). Additionally, as there is no drinking water available on deck 3, you can use these to bring water with you so you can stay hydrated when you run. Remember our Top 10 Casual Cruising Tips? Staying hydrated is key.
7. Speaking of Hydration. All cruise lines have different rules for bringing outside adult beverages on board ships with you. From our experience, Disney Cruise Line seems to have the most generous policies, and it is common to see passengers bringing their own bottles of liquor, wine, and even case sof beer and bottled water. This can save you a significant amount of money over the course of a sailing. While piracy may be alive in well in the Disney universe, just make sure to check the rules for your specific ship/cruise line prior to dropping a lot of money at the local liquor stores.
8. Characters Welcome. It would not be a feature for Casual Runners if we did not discuss costumes. Costumes are of course welcome, and you will have several opportunities to wear them during your cruise. For the littlest Casual Runners, Disney theme park rules apply: there will be opportunities each day for character meet and greets, so they should feel free to dress up as they want for these priceless family photos. For the more advanced Casual Runners, you can certainly opt to do the Castaway Cay 5k as a costume race if you want. Just be aware, when planning your costume, that temperatures on the island during the race routinely top 80 degrees, regardless the time of year. And of course, for the whole family, there is Pirate Night. So feel free to grab your eye patches and fake dread locks, and remember to study up on the Pirate Code.
9. Fuel up. Especially if this is your first cruise, you may be overwhelmed by the amount of food, it seems to never end. There are always food options available (including free room service), so be sure to pace yourself. But remember, this is not like the meal plan at Disney parks, you can order anything you want. If you want a second entrée? Order it. If you want to try two deserts, go for it. If you want to ask for escargot at every meal? Yeah, you see where we are going with this. You can always ask if you want something, the worst they can say is “no,” but in our experience, that rarely happens.
10. Hidden Mickey Bars. If you are a Disney fan, you are most likely a fan of the Mickey Bars from the Disney parks (the delicious chocolate-covered vanilla ice cream bars on a stick). Did you know that they are available on Disney Cruise Lines, but that they are hidden? Hidden Mickey Bars! You will not find them at the buffet, the ice cream stand, or on the desert menu at dinner. To get them, you have to order them from room service (but they are still free). Do not be dismayed when you look at the room service menu and do not see them on the menu, after all, we did say that they are hidden Mickey bars!
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