Thursday, June 10, 2004

What is the Platinum Castaway Club?

The Platinum Castaway Club is the name of my website, which I've decided to expand by blogging some of my content. It comes from the name of Disney Cruise Line's club for returning cruises, which is called the Castaway Club. My husband and I have been sailing on DCL since September of 1998, and since that time, we've racked up 38 cruises on their two ships, the Wonder and the Magic. Since I figure that we must be the record holders, or close to it, I decided that we should be Platinum Castaway Club members.

Meanwhile, a year or so before our first Disney cruise, my employer instructed me to learn web design. This involved dabbling in HTML on my own, so as practice I created a personal website that included many of my favorite passions. Disney World is one of them, and once we started cruising, Disney Cruise Line quickly joined the ranks. As we cruised more and more, my content started slanting towards DCL. That was also the area that the majority of my site visitors found to be most useful, so I made the decsion to make my website all Disney Cruise Line, all of the time.

Ironically, Disney had not purchased the URL, so I immediately bought it myself. Since I fancied myself to be a Platinum Castaway Club member, it seemed only fitting. That's how I got my URL and how my website got its name, The Platinum Castaway Club. I eventually acquired a couple of other URLs ( and, but is my favorite. I only got the others because my site started back in the heady days of the Internet Bubble.

Because my site was so popular, my free web host (remember all those great freebies?) offered to buy me a URL. I chose of the top of my head, because I couldn't think of anything else. Shortly thereafter, the bubble burst, but I was able to retain ownership of the domain. Once the .info domain extension became available, my husband (who is also my assistant web master) decided that he liked it, so he added to our stable of intellectual properties.

At this point, we had grown way beyond free hosting services, which were almost impossible to find anyways, and we had also grown beyond our first paid hosting site. Our traffic kept exceeding our alloted bandwidth, resulting in way too much downtime. We ended up moving the site and purchasing a hosting plan aimed at small businesses, even though our site was just a hobby. We had grown from a few dozen unique visitors a day to an average of six hundred. While that might be small potatoes to a big, professional site, to me it seemed to be a lot for a site that started out as a practice exercise.

Now, the Platinum Castaway Club is a pretty well known site in Disney Cruise Line circles, and the traffic continues to grow. We continue to cruise an average of 6 to 8 times a year, which allows us to keep the content fresh and up to date. In between our cruises, other kind souls provide activity lists and other information.

For each trip, I do a lengthy and detailed trip report, and I used to mirror the reports on Epinions. However, they stopped allowing multiple reviews on the same topic. I like to have backup copies of my content, but I couldn't do it there anymore. Now I've found a new home for my trip reports...after all, what are they but blogs of my onboard experiences?

I will be posting all of my reports, from trip #13 (November of 2000) to the most recent trip. Sadly, reports #1 to 12 have been lost to the ages, but if you read the others, it show a fascinating glimpse of how Disney Cruise Line has evolved over the years.

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