This weeks “PMV Travel Tips” article will be focusing on Disney Cruise Line’s Castaway Club, please note I originally wrote this article for TMSM’S Explains series. Those new to cruising on Disney Cruise Line sometimes find this program to be bit confusing because unlike other cruise lines it doesn’t work on a point system. Being a Castaway Club member is free, and your membership number will be assigned to you by Disney Cruise Line after your first Disney Cruise Line cruise has been completed.
There are only three levels in the Castaway Club. Once you have completed your first Disney Cruise Line cruise you are a Silver member, and will stay silver until you complete your 5th cruise. At the start of your sixth Disney Cruise Line cruise you will board the ship as a Gold Castaway member, and at the start of your eleventh cruise you will board as a Platinum member.
What Cruises Count?
Currently all completed cruises count towards your Castaway Club membership level. Full price, sale, military rate, travel agent rate and CM rate paid for in cash and cabins paid for in Disney Vacation Club points all count. Also ‘specialty’ sailings like Star Wars Day at Sea, Halloween, and Christmas cruises count. Even “chartered” sailings like the Disney Vacation Club Member’s Cruise applies towards your Castaway Club level progression. Regardless of where your cruise starts and ends it will count. But remember Disney Cruise Line’s program rewards you the same progression in the Castaway Club whether you do a 14-night Trans-Atlantic or a 3-night to Nassau and Castaway Cay.
All Castaway Members receive access to the online member portal which lets you track the number of cruises you have completed, hosts PDFs of Disney Cruise Line recipes and Disney Character-filled coloring pages. All members also get to use the special Castaway Club-exclusive phone number for Disney cruise reservations. Also don’t forget all returning Castaway members receive one in cabin gift per family each sailing. Recently the gift has been a bag that matches your Castaway Club level, but the gift can vary.
Members get a special lanyard at check-in that shows other cruisers their Castaway level. This lanyard is used to hold their Key to the World card which also shows if you are a Silver, Gold or Platinum Castaway member. Members receive this lanyard at the general and “Castaway” Check-in desks (another perk!) Castaway Members also get advance booking of shore excursions, child care at Flounder’s Reef Nursery, fine dining at Palo and pampering at Vista Spa & Salon, this advance booking is based on the level you are on. Early booking is as follows:
- Platinum is 120 days prior to sailing
- Gold is 105 days prior to sailing
- Silver is 90 days prior to sailing
Gold and Platinum members receive additional perks that Silver level members aren’t offered. Gold and Platinum members receive 10% off select items. Also, on 4-night or longer cruises also get invited to a special reception.
One of my Star Wars Day at Sea cruise friends, Jennifer Fry, was nice enough to share some details on this perk. “Once you are gold status and above you will receive an invitation to a special meet the officers reception, which includes hors d’oeuvres and complementary wine, champagne, Kir Royale, Mimosas, etc. If you have kids with you they get sparkling drinks as well. The ship’s officers mingle for a bit, then the big cheese himself comes in for pictures with a nice Castaway Club background. At the end of the event you usually get a goody to go, like a Mickey rice krispy treat. It’s about an hour long, in the morning of a day at sea usually. You get the invitation delivered to your room the day before.”
There are only three perks that only Platinum members get to take advantage of that Silver and Gold don’t get to use. Platinum Members and concierge level guests receive priority check-in and boarding. Platinum members also can have Palo dinner delivered to their cabin for free as one of their perks.