Disney Cruise Line has announced that its new private island destination at Lighthouse Point, located on the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas, will welcome guests for first time during its opening season in Summer 2024. This post covers everything we know about DCL’s new counterpart to Castaway Cay.
Created in close collaboration with local artists and advisors, Disney Cruise Line’s vibrant island retreat at Lighthouse Point will be a unique celebration of Bahamian culture brought to life with the quality and service of a Disney vacation.
Keep reading to discover all the latest details about this relaxing beach escape designed with families in mind, infused with the color and energy of Bahamian artistry, and developed with a commitment to conservation at its core.
When Disney Cruise Line guests arrive at Lighthouse Point, they’ll be greeted by distinctive, sweeping architecture in bright, saturated hues. This style was inspired by nature and created in partnership between Walt Disney Imagineering and local artists.
The curvilinear buildings will at first appear as Bahamian shells scattered along the shoreline. Upon closer inspection, guests will discover artistic expressions of the native flora and fauna of The Bahamas and the pageantry and history of Junkanoo parades. Throughout the destination, references to playful folklore characters will evoke the warmth and charm of the local culture.
Respect for the environment is at the heart of the design at Lighthouse Point. At least 90 percent of the destination’s electricity needs will be met by an onsite solar array, the pier was designed to avoid the need for dredging and elevated walkways will help limit impact on the landscape.
Disney Cruise Line’s visitors to Lighthouse Point will have the opportunity to be surrounded by the wonders of nature and get a glimpse into the efforts taking place to conserve wildlife and their unique island habitats.
At Lighthouse Point, families will enjoy a day of fun in the sun as they relax on pristine beaches, embark on active adventures and discover authentic Bahamian storytelling alongside favorite Disney characters. As with DCL’s other private island, Castaway Cay, Lighthouse Point will offer activities and areas for every age group.
Families can relax and play along white sandy beaches and turquoise waters at the expansive family beach on the east side of the Lighthouse Point, which will be centrally located near market-style dining, recreation and other amenities.
A Bahamian art and culture pavilion featuring special programs and local artists will provide DCL visitors to Lighthouse Point opportunities to learn and celebrate the traditions and natural beauty of The Bahamas.
Lighthouse Point’s interactive family water play area will include two slides, water drums, fountains and more. This play area will also feature a dedicated space for toddlers.
North of the family area will be Lighthouse Point’s adult beach. This stretch of sun-drenched serenity will offer Disney Cruise Line guests a dedicated dining area for convenient access to food and drinks throughout the day, plus six private cabanas available by reservation.
Children ages 3 to 12 will splash and play at a kids’ club under the care of Disney Cruise Line counselors. The kids’ club will offer a splash pad inspired by favorite undersea creatures from “The Little Mermaid,” plenty of shade, as well as a dedicated dining area.
Set away from the activity of the main family area, a peaceful beach along Lighthouse Point’s southwestern shore will be lined with 20 premium family cabanas available for DCL guests to rent, including four double cabanas that accommodate larger groups and offer massage services.
Additional recreational activities will be available for guests of all ages, including a covered gaming pavilion, volleyball court, gaga ball pit, watercraft and bicycle rentals, nature trails for hiking and biking, and more. New Port Adventures developed in partnership with local tour operators will take guests beyond Lighthouse Point to explore the rich culture and breathtaking beauty of Eleuthera.
Lighthouse Point is being thoughtfully designed to provide a hassle-free experience for families, including complimentary beach essentials (towels, chairs and umbrellas and lunch), and tram transportation.
In terms of commentary, I don’t have a lot to add. The concept art makes this look really nice, like a cross between Castaway Cay and Aulani. We love both Castaway Cay and Aulani, and I’m sure this will be awesome. Having the private island lean more towards authenticity is great, even if I do enjoy the Imagineered vibe of Castaway Cay. (That reminds me a bit of Typhoon Lagoon, whereas I suspect this will not.)
All in all, we expect Lighthouse Point to be a great destination for Disney Cruise Line guests. Based on the description, it sounds like DCL and Imagineering have learned lessons from what worked and didn’t with Castaway Cay, and this is essentially the next generation of that. It appears that practical improvements have been made, giving Lighthouse Point a greater sense of fun and luxuriousness, along with the increased emphasis on authenticity. That’s just my impression based on the concept art and press release, though.
I stopped paying close attention to the Lighthouse Point saga a while ago, but have nevertheless been expecting an update on this for the last couple of years. You might recall that ex-Imagineer Joe Rohde was the face of the Lighthouse Point project when it was first announced almost 4 years ago.
Renowned for his culturally-respectful work on Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Aulani Resort & Spa in Hawaii, Villages Natures in Paris, and a variety of other independent projects, Joe Rohde was unquestionably Disney’s best ambassador when it comes to conservation and projects that highlight cultures.
When Lighthouse Point was announced, Joe Rohde shared how he was embarking on an in-depth cultural tour of the Bahamas meeting with local artists and cultural experts. He explored cultural sites across New Providence and Eleuthera, from Junkanoo shacks to noted art galleries, gathering samples, hearing from locals, and determining the best approach for telling their stories.
If anyone could “sell” a project like this to conservation groups or those otherwise opposed or on the fence, Joe Rohde is that person. He has an effortless way of passionately speaking about pretty much anything, doing so in an earnest and engaging way. He comes across as genuine and easy to trust. Unlike some stuffed shirt, if he says Disney will focus on culture and conservation, you believe him. Or at least, you want to believe him.
At that time, Lighthouse Point was a controversial project that was still awaiting an Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Management Plan, along with approval by the Government of The Bahamas and public consultation. There was a lot of backlash pre-pandemic, but the plan was to open Lighthouse Point by last year or this year. Obviously, construction delays were an inevitability with the border closures and cruise industry essentially pausing for over a year.
There was also Joe Rohde’s “retirement” in late 2020. At that point, all of the design work and assessments would’ve been completed, but it seemed like Rohde was still important as the face of the project–just as he had been with Aulani until (and even after) its opening. That along with everything else led us to wonder whether Disney Cruise Line had abandoned Lighthouse Point.
Disney Cruise Line aggressively proceeding with its fleet expansion (not to mention the surprise acquisition of another partially-completed ship) made it likely that Lighthouse Point was going forward. Still, we hadn’t heard anything about it and were surprised when no updates were offered at the most recent D23 Expo.
Ultimately, Lighthouse Point looks like it’ll be a fantastic destination for Disney Cruise Line guests. The environmental issues it poses do give me pause, and I hope Disney wasn’t just paying face to these issues in order to secure approval. While the company’s track record with Aulani is good, this is a bit different in nature. Hopefully Disney is sincere in its statements that Lighthouse Point will be minimally disruptive to the natural environment and that the island destination will be used in an environmentally-responsible way.
Again, Lighthouse Point will open for Disney Cruise Line guests on select sailings in summer 2024. Stay tuned for more details about inaugural itineraries, signature entertainment, dining, retail and excursions, and additional information.
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What do you think of the Lighthouse Point? Does this new private island destination look better or worse than Castaway Cay? Did Joe Rohde’s involvement make this more interesting to you? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!