What are the Castaway Club Benefits for repeat Disney Cruisers? Once you have sailed on a Disney Cruise you automatically become a member of the Castaway Club.
But what does this mean and what perks do Castaway Club members have?
And scroll down to see information about the new tier.
Disney Castaway Club Levels
The Castaway Club is the Disney Cruise Line loyalty club.
There are four Disney Castaway Club Levels of membership:
- Silver – Begins after your first completed cruise
- Gold – Begins after your fifth completed cruise
- Platinum – Begins after your tenth completed cruise.
- Pearl – Begins after your twenty-fifth completed cruise.
Termination of Benefits
This one shows you that you really must read the fine print.
I usually do. My legal training means that I often really do read all the terms and conditions! However, I admit I did not read the Castaway Club members rules.
To remain in the program, Castaway Club Members must book or sail on at least one eligible cruise within 5 years of their last Disney voyage.
DCL made this major change to their Castaway Club eligibility back in March 2023. This change only came to light for the majority of Disney cruisers when the FAQ section of the DCL website was changed.
If you read the terms and conditions they have a wide open discretion:
“Membership in the Program will automatically terminate without notice if Member does not book or complete an eligible DCL cruise within the “Activity Period.” The Activity Period shall mean the five (5) year period after debarkation day of the Member’s last eligible DCL Cruise. However, DCL may (but is not required to) extend the Activity Period and/or continue making Program Benefits available to Member if Member does not book or complete an eligible DCL cruise within their Activity Period; such decisions shall be in DCL’s sole discretion”.
So what does that mean?
It means that DCL has left it open to change this requirement. Again, not sure why they added this as they can’t change the rules at any time without notice. And it seems they just have – or that they did in March 2023 and no one actually noticed!
New – Pearl Level of Membership
For 2023 there is a new level of Castaway Club membership.
Beginning on May 1, 2023, if you have sailed 25 Disney Cruises you will be awarded the new level of membership – Pearl.
This level introduces a very valuable perk – a complimentary Unlimited Photo Package.
DCL also announced that there will be new Welcome Back Aboard gifts for all levels.
For anyone who has so many of those sling backpacks and luggage labels they don’t know what to do with them, this is good news.
No announcement yet on what the gifts for other levels will be, but Pearl will find these drinking tumblers in their stateroom.
Note that you move up a level after you have completed your first, fifth, tenth, and twenty-fifth Disney Cruise.
In other words, if you are sailing on your 10th cruise, you are still at Gold Castaway Club level. When you sail again on a Disney Ship you will move up to Platinum Level.
What are the advantages of moving up the levels?
There are 2 types of benefits – those before you sail and those during your sailing.
How to Pack Like a Cruise Travel Expert
Castaway Cay Club Benefits – At Home
Perhaps the most valuable of the Castaway Club perks are these first two.
Early booking for the actual cruise itself and early booking for activities once you are actually booked on the cruise.
Disney Cruise Early Itinerary Booking
As there are five Disney ships right now (soon to be seven with the Disney Treasure and the as yet renamed Global Dream that Disney purchased) the competition for cruises, particularly certain sailings, can be fierce.
For instance, the Disney Magic European cruises tend to sell out in days and the Disney Cruises to Hawaii sell out extremely quickly.
Also, usually, the prices for Disney Cruises tend to go up over time.
As a general rule, the cost on the first day of release is the lowest you will see it.
We have been following Disney Cruise price changes for some time now and it is interesting how much prices change.
Of course, there are exceptions to this, and military and Florida resident discounts are offered (usually for the Disney Dream).
However, unlike some other cruise lines that discount unsold staterooms closer to the time of sailing, Disney tends not to have a lot of unsold staterooms – so very few discounts.
So it is a very definite perk that once the new Disney Cruise sailings are released, all Castaway Cay members can book them earlier than the general public.
This is usually the pattern for the release of sailings for Castaway Club Members.
- Silver Castaway – 1 day prior to sailings being released to the general public
- Gold Castaway – 2 days prior to sailings being released to the general public
- Platinum Castaway – 3 days prior to sailings being released to the general public
- Pearl Castaway – 4 days prior to sailings being released to the general public
Disney Cruise Early Activities Booking
Another one of the major Castaway Club benefits is being able to book activities on board the ship earlier than non-members.
Some activities are extremely popular and get booked very quickly.
I know that people do get very concerned that they have not been able to book certain activities online prior to their Disney Cruise.
However, don’t despair!
Often, there are still spots available once you board the ship as not all activities are released prior to sailing. The best example of this is Palo Brunch.
Every sailing, guests are concerned prior to boarding that they haven’t been able to get a reservation for Palo, particularly brunch.
However, not all of the available reservations for Palo are available online prior to boarding – they always hold some back.
So when you board the ship, always check to see if Palo or whatever other activity was “sold out” online is available. You can do this at guest services, or by going to the designated place where the dining room team will be there to help you.
Here are the priority dates for online reservations according to which level of Disney Cruise Castaway Cay member you are.
- First-time Guest – 75 days prior to the sail date
- Silver Castaway – 90 days prior to the sail date
- Gold Castaway – 105 days prior to the sail date
- Platinum Castaway – 120 days prior to the sail date
- Pearl Castaway – 123 days prior to the sail date
Concierge guests always had priority over Platinum as they could request reservations and activities 5 days prior to Platinum members.
I assume that now Concierge will be 5 days prior to Pearl members.
The activities are released on the same day, but in reality, Concierge will have priority over Platinum.
So, if you want to book a Castaway Cay Cabana you really need to sail concierge to maximize your chances.
Disney Cruise Port Arrival Time
Another great perk for Gold and Platinum Castaway Club members is Early Access to Select Port Arrival Times.
When you check in online you are allocated a port arrival time. If you are a Gold Castaway Club member you can select your port arrival time online.
This is subject to availability – the earlier times may all have been allocated, so you may still get a late boarding group.
It used to be that Platinum Members had the excellent perk of automatically being allocated the earliest Port Arrival time and having a Group 3 boarding group.
Now you have to be Pearl to enjoy early boarding times automatically. Pearl Members do not need a port arrival time. They can arrive at the port and go into the terminal as soon as it is open. They will be allocated an early boarding group.
Here is a Complete Guide To Embarkation on a Disney Cruise so you can see how the boarding process works and what to do on your first day.
At the port, Castaway Cay members will also have a dedicated check-in line. This is a nice perk as the lines are usually quite a bit shorter than the general line.
Platinum Members have the same line as Concierge, so this usually goes pretty quickly.
It remains to be seen if Pearl will replace Platinum or if they will have their own separate line.
Castaway Club Disney Cruise Phone Number
The final pre-cruise benefit of being a member of the Disney Cruise Castaway Club is the dedicated helpline 1-800-449-3380.
Disney Castaway Club Benefits Onboard
Castaway Club members also have benefits available once they have boarded their Disney Cruise Ship.
Every Castaway Cay Member gets a welcome back aboard gift. These gifts vary according to your membership level.
Over the years I have had some really useful gifts, although it became a little disappointing when you already have the exact same backpack and luggage label you have been given for the previous years!
Fortunately, DCL has now updated the gifts.
The last time I sailed I did get a new gift of a cool bag and a towel which was a welcome change.
Gold, Platinum and Pearl Discounts
Discounts in the store are a very nice perk. This is usually 10% discount on most goods in the store.
Gold Platinum and Pearl Onboard Reception
In days past they used to have these on all sailings which are 7 days or more.
However, in recent years this has been cut to just holding the reception on cruises that are 8 days or longer.
What this means is that these Castaway Club Receptions don’t happen very often anymore! Most sailings are 7 nights or less, so they don’t have a reception.
I have attended them on Panama Canal sailings and they were held around the Goofy Pool on Deck 9. There were plenty of free drinks and some nice snacks available.
The Captain and the Officers attended and you get a great opportunity to talk to them and ask any questions that you have.
Platinum and Pearl Complimentary Dinner at Palo
This is one of my favorite Castaway Club perks. Once you reach Platinum status you can get one complimentary dinner or brunch at Palo.
The official Castaway Disney Cruise site only mentions dinner, but I have used it for Brunch.
This is a good saving of the $45 cover charge.
Always make sure that you tip your Disney Server though – they work very hard and deserve to be rewarded.
All adults in your stateroom will also get the free Palo benefit even if they are not Platinum or Pearl members.
After 50 Cruises
Disney Cruises has added an additional benefit for those who have sailed 50 cruises and more.
Now Pearl Members who have completed 50 or more sailings will also be given the opportunity to display their family (last) name at Disney Castaway Cay.
This is a limited-time offering, and some restrictions apply. It will certainly be interesting to see how many names are displayed!
Disney Cruise Castaway Club Questions
- How do you access your Castaway Club account?
There is a dedicated site at Disney Cruise Castaway Club where you can log in with your Disney account. This shows you a summary of all the benefits, which cruises you have sailed on, and which membership level you have reached.
- If I am at Castaway Cay Platinum level, but my partner in the same stateroom is only Gold, will we both get a complimentary Palo Dinner?
Yes. A Castaway Cay membership is personal to the individual and is not transferable, but the exception is that every adult in a stateroom with a Platinum Member will receive a complimentary meal.
- I am a Castaway Cay Pearl member so I can board the ship early, shortly after concierge. Can my partner, who is only Gold, board with me?
In that situation, you can board with your partner even though they do not have Platinum status.
Which Disney Cruise Castaway Club Benefits do you enjoy most?
Should Disney Up Their Game?
Whilst the perks of the Castaway Club are nice to have, it really isn’t until you reach Platinum Level that you get any kind of benefit, which is the free Palo Brunch or Dinner.
Disney does not compare favourably to other cruise line loyalty programs.
Let’s look at the Princess Cruises Loyalty Program
There are four tiers to the Captain’s Circle program where there are 4 levels. Princess uses a system of the amount of cruises, or cruise days. Disney just uses number of cruises.
- Gold (after your first completed cruise)
- Ruby (from your fourth cruise credit, or 31 to 50 cruise days)
- Platinum (from your sixth to 15th cruise credit, or 51 to 150 cruise days)
- Elite (from your 16th cruise credit on, or 151-plus cruise days)
I have Elite Status with Princess Cruises and the benefits are far in excess of those offered by Disney for Pearl Members. You will get Elite Status after 15 cruises with Princess, but you need to sail 25 cruises with Disney to get your Pearl status.
Here are the Captain’s Circle Elite Benefits:
Gold Tier Benefits
- Invitations to members-only onboard events
- Access to a Captain’s Circle onboard host
- A members-only magazine
- A recognition pin
- Captain’s Circle Launch Savings discounts on cruises
- Preferential Pricing Offers
So you will see that you only have to sail on one cruise with Princess to get discounts on future cruises.
Ruby Tier Benefits
- An upgrade to Princess’ Platinum Vacation Protection plan when you purchase their insurance
- Priority boarding
- 50% off MedallionNet internet packages
- 10% off spa treatments
- 10% off photos taken by ship photographers
- Early access to Dine My Way reservations
After just five cruises you will get the internet package discount. And the internet whenever I have sailed on Princess cruises is excellent.
Additional Elite Benefits
- 10% discount on shore excursions
- 10% discount at The Shops of Princess
- An exclusive window to preview and book new itineraries
- Priority access to ship-to-shore shuttles
- Priority disembarkation
- A complimentary minibar setup
- Complimentary shoe shines and laundry
- In-room canapes on formal nights
- Complimentary afternoon tea in your cabin (schedule this at least six hours in advance)
- Free admission to an onboard wine-tasting event (one per cruise)
- An Elite member pin
There are some really excellent benefits here. You can get your laundry done for free! This is a huge perk, particularly on longer cruises. There is nothing quite like returning to your stateroom and seeing all your clothes beautifully laundered and ironed!
Priority for the tender boats is also another excellent perk.
If only DCL would add some more benefits to their loyalty program.
But somehow I really don’t think that will happen.
Alison Meacham is the founder of EverythingMouse Disney Blog. For over 15 years she has shared her love of Disney Parks, Disney Cruises and Universal Orlando. In over 30 years of Disney Travel she has spent countless months in Disney Parks and has sailed on over 45 cruises. A British native and now a United States resident she splits her time between California, Florida and the UK. And spends a serious amount of time sailing the seven seas. She helps over 200,000 people per month follow their Disney travel dreams.