Disney Claims Castaway Cay Crew Safe After Hurricane Dorian; Cast Members Did Not Evacuate From Island

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UPDATE: According to the Orlando Sentinel, Disney has reached out to correct that shelter was in fact designed to withstand Category 5 speeds. Disney has also stated that the employees were able to leave the shelter late Sunday night and return to their housing area, which saw no damage. Today’s winds remain around 40 mph on the island.



There may be trouble in paradise after Hurricane Dorian. Many readers have been asking us about the state of Castaway Cay, Disney Cruise Line’s private island in The Bahamas, just off the southern end of Great Abaco Island, where Dorian first made landfall yesterday as a Category 5 major hurricane.

Many assumed, given the multiple evacuation orders that were issued for the island, that the Cast Members who live on Castaway Cay year-round had also evacuated, but according to official statements from Disney Cruise Line, it appears they were actually left to ride out the storm on the island:

Granted, Disney Cruise Line claims the Crew had access to a storm shelter “designed for these types of situations and has restrooms, power, and is well stocked with food and water”, but specifics on what types of hurricane speeds and conditions it was “designed” to withstand have not been divulged. A DCL representative stated that it was designed to sustain up to Category 4 conditions, but given that Hurricane Dorian is on pace to outrank even Category 5 speeds, one has to wonder.

A piece by The Miami Herald’s Monique O. Madan, unveiled some Tweets, now removed, by concerned family members of the Crew left at Castaway Cay:

“My sister is stuck in the middle of a Cat 5 hurricane. We were told they would evacuate and they didn’t. Left them behind!! Why??,” Meg Green posted on Twitter.

In another tweet, she wrote: “Remember that time [Disney Cruises] left 97 employees on a tiny island in a Catagory 5 hurricane? I do.”

According to The Herald, Disney’s vice president of communications and public affairs, Kim Prunty, responded to Green’s Tweet on Sunday night:

“I understand your concern, as they are our co-workers. Castaway is south of the more significant weather. [Disney Cruise Lines] is in regular contact with island leadership and all are safe. Forecast calls for tropical storm force winds, which is what is there now. There are extensive measures in place to keep crew safe. A shelter on the island houses all crew and is stocked with a plentiful supply of food and water. “

Green’s response was: “Why risk the lives of 97 staff members? They had plenty of time to evacuate, but the decision was made to stay.” Green has since deleted the Twitter thread and did not respond to messages from The Miami Herald.

With many upcoming cruises modified, canceled, or otherwise not making it out to Castaway Cay in the first place, keeping Crew there seems somewhat unnecessary. Disney told the Herald evacuating the staff would have required a boat ride followed by a flight out of the area, and that the evacuation process was therefore deemed “too difficult” to carry out.

According to Disney Cruise Line’s official fact sheet, approximately 60 Disney Cruise Line crew members live and work full-time on Castaway Cay.

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Jessica Figueroa

Jessica lives in South Florida with her 15-pound cat Gordo and a small army of Tsum Tsums. You can contact her, ideally with photos of your cats, at [email protected]

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Anthony
Guest
Anthony

According to what I was told, they had a choice of leaving or staying. They chose to stay and help out

david
Guest
david

bad leadership

david
Guest
david

boss gave you an option to stay at work or leave early.. wink wink… who wants a Christmas bonus and who doesnt.. etc..

Kay
Guest
Kay

Not happy with Disney over this….:(

Kate
Guest
Kate

This makes me mad. See it’s stuff like this that makes it hard to like Disney anymore. Disney corporation has no heart or soul anymore. It’s all greed and what’s best for them not their cast members or guests. It’s was too inconvenient to rescue their cast members? To make sure they are safe and with their families? Ridiculous

Aaron G.
Guest
Aaron G.

Also, I hope you understand that businesses that don’t care about their guests don’t survive, this is historically accurate. Disney has only grown because they continue to prioritize their guests’ experiences. And of course they care about their Cast Members

Cathy
Guest
Cathy

Try again. I have family that works for the Cruise line and Cast Members decide to stay. That shelter is a fortress. Those ride out crews prepare and work hard during weather conditions such as this.

Nasdaq
Guest
Nasdaq

Cat 5 storm surge proof bunker? interesting

Charles William Lange
Guest
Charles William Lange

They needed to stay so they could get the island cleaned up and ready asap for business to resume.

Amy
Guest
Amy

Honestly, if I were a cast member on CC, I’d choose to stay and ride it out in a shelter over evacuating to the mainland or going to a different island(which would involve being on a ship in pre-hurricane waters and end up in a place with a possibly less-than-adequate storm shelter). I’m quite sure that the storm shelter was more than adequate, especially since the category of a hurricane is determined by the strength of the winds on the eyewall, which is not necessarily the strength of the ENTIRE hurricane (which is why Disney can say that the winds… Read more »

Nick
Guest
Nick

So…. to all you trolls, would it have been better to send the Castaway Cay island cast members to Abaco (the nearest populated island and is where all the sub-contractors live) which now is completely devastated. God help those people there. Disney is pledging 1 Million dollars in aid immediately. Stop being armchair quarterbacks. The cast members made the right choice, their decisions probably saved all of their lives. We pray that Terrence & the rest of the crew members from South Abaco Adventures and their families are all safe!