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Everything you need to know about cruise private islands

Set sail to a private island

Cruise Line Private Islands

Posted on

04 Jun 2021

Many cruise lines own or lease their very own private islands. From giant ziplines to private marine reserves, each island offers its exclusive guests something different. So, next time you’re looking to set sail to a private island, consider taking a cruise with one of these cruise lines.

Which cruise lines have private islands?

Castaway Cay, Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line has one private island, Castaway Cay. In 1996, The Walt Disney Company purchased the island, creating a Caribbean paradise complete with sprawling beaches, sparkling lagoons, water play areas, scenic walking trails, open-air barbecues, shops and free transport. It was the first private island in the cruise industry where a cruise ship could dock, therefore eliminating the need for guests to tender.

Castaway Cay

Winner of the ‘Best Cruise Line Private Island,’ at Cruise Critic’s 2019 Destination Awards, Castaway Cay “invites cruisers to enjoy balmy tropical weather and world-class recreation on a Bahamian oasis with signature Disney hospitality.”

Where is Castaway Cay located?

Castaway Cay is located in the Bahamas. The port features on Bahamian and Caribbean cruises and is reserved exclusively for Disney Cruise Line guests.

Top things to do on Castaway Cay

  • Character Greetings: Meet and greet your favourite Disney characters at the Post Office, Gazebo and gangway.
  • Serenity Bay: An adults-only oasis where those 18 and over can treat themselves to open-air cabana massages under the swaying palm trees or speciality drinks at Castaway Air Bar.
  • Snorkelling Lagoon: Be enchanted by the undersea realm of marine life off Castaway Family Beach as you snorkel around the lagoon.
Half Moon Cay, Holland America Line

Holland American Line

Holland America Line has one private island, Half Moon Cay, also known as Little San Salvador Island. When the cruise line signed a 99-year lease agreement for the island in 1996, it had no facilities. Holland America Line invested more than $16 million in “building mechanical systems, adding a marine for safe tender operation and creating the infrastructure to turn the island into a private beach resort.” Half Moon Cay was officially opened as a port of call in December 1997.

Half Moon Cay

Half Moon Cay has won Porthole Cruise Magazine’s ‘Best Private Island’ award for 20 consecutive years. Holland America Line’s island boasts “true bucket-list excursions, secluded cabanas and stunning beaches.”

Where is Half Moon Cay located?

Half Moon Cay is located in the Bahamas. The port features on Caribbean cruises and is reserved exclusively for Carnival Corporation guests.

Top things to do on Half Moon Cay

  • Horseback Riding: Explore Half Moon Cay horseback.
  • Kayaking: Learn about the island’s mangroves and bird species as you kayak around Half Moon Cay’s lagoon.
  • Nature Walk: Hike to Half Moon Cay’s ridge for incredible views of the island and the chance to spot wild birds.
Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, MSC

MSC

MSC has one private island, Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve. The island is “a sustainable destination where guests can connect with nature,” which differentiates itself from other cruise lines private islands. Ocean Cay’s guiding principles include sustainable operations with an on-island solar farm and an island-wide ban on single-use plastics. Guests can join the eco-revolution while visiting by signing up for dedicated programs about ocean sustainability and coral preservation.

Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve

MSC invites guests to connect with the natural world, feel the warmth of the Bahamian spirit and immerse themselves in an eco-friendly environment while visiting Ocean Cay.

Where is Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve located?

Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve is located in the Bahamas. The port features on Caribbean cruises and is reserved exclusively for MSC guests.

Top things to do on Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve

  • Paddleboarding: Explore the waters around Ocean Cay as you test your abdominal strength on a paddleboard.
  • Shipwreck Snorkelling: Take a short, scenic boat ride to the shipwreck before snorkelling in discovery of colourful and exotic marine life.
  • WaveRunner Tour: Set off on a WaveRunner to enjoy a fully guided and narrated tour of the area.
Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line has two private islands, Great Stirrup Cay and Harvest Caye. In 1977, the cruise line purchased Great Stirrup Cay. Over the years, Norwegian Cruise Line has made vast improvements to the island’s infrastructure, putting it on the map as one of the best private islands. In 2016, the cruise line welcomed guests to its second private island, Harvest Caye. “Designed to showcase all that Belize is known for, Harvest Caye is filled with native plants and trees that play a part in the eco-system and indigenous hardwoods are used in local buildings to keep that authenticity.”

Great Stirrup Cay

Great Stirrup Cay is an “idyllic private island paradise exclusive to Norwegian guests.” Situated among the Berry Islands in the Bahamas, the island is a 25-acre tropical oasis where guests can discover a slice of paradise.

Where is Great Stirrup Cay located?

Great Stirrup Cay is located in the Bahamas. The port features on Caribbean cruises and is reserved exclusively for Norwegian Cruise Line guests.

Top things to do on Great Stirrup Cay

  • Eco Boat Tour: Hop aboard a 40-foot long pontoon catamaran for a scenic, relaxing guided tour of marine life.
  • Parasailing: Soar 400-feet above the ocean in tandem while being towed by a parasail boat for a bird’s eye view of paradise.
  • Stingray City: Experience stingrays at this unique encounter. Pet, feed, play and snorkel with the stingrays in the turquoise Bahamian waters.

Harvest Caye

The development of Harvest Caye is part of Norwegian Edge™, a programme that is “set forth to bring higher standards to the high seas.” The private island features the world’s second-largest barrier reef.

Where is Harvest Caye located?

Harvest Caye is located in southern Belize. The port features on Caribbean cruises and is Norwegian Cruise Line’s premier island destination.

Top things to do on Harvest Caye

  • Lagoon: Saltwater lagoon for watersports such as kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and electric float boats.
  • Shopping Village: Expansive shopping village featuring popular name-brand retailers as well as local Belizean crafts.
  • The Flighthouse: A thrilling 136-foot high venue for aerial activities including 3,000 feet of postcode lining across the island, quick jumps and an observation deck with mainland views.
Princess Cays, Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises has one private island, Princess Cays. Situated on more than 40 acres, the island offers half a mile of perfect white-sand shoreline. The award-winning Princess Cays was purchased by Princess Cruises in 1992 and the cruise line has been working to preserve the area ever since.

Princess Cays

Princess Cays boasts outstanding amenities while carefully preserving this natural paradise. Princess Cruises invites guests to “take in the views from the observation tower, enjoy a complimentary beach barbecue or sip a cool drink.”

Where is Princess Cays located?

Princess Cays is located in the Bahamas. The port features on Caribbean cruises and is reserved exclusively for Princess Cruises guests.

Top things to do on Princess Cays

  • Banana Boat Ride: Zoom around the island on a neon yellow banana boat.
  • Beach Clamshell: A private retreat situated on the sandy shore. Perfect for a relaxing escape - take in the island’s natural beauty while lazing on a comfortable beach chair.
  • Rock Sound: Princess Cays’ town is known for its pristine beaches, sparkling blue water, spectacular views and colourful island buildings.
CocoCay, Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean has two private islands, Labadee and CocoCay. In 2019, the cruise line revealed that it would be opening four ‘Perfect Day’ private islands over the next five years in Asia, Australia and another in the Caribbean. Royal Caribbean acquired Labadee in 1986 and have been the top contributor of tourist revenue to Haiti ever since. In 1988, the cruise line assumed the lease of CocoCay later investing $250 million to transform the island. Perfect Day at CocoCay was opened in 2019.

Labadee

There’s nowhere quite like Labadee. Chase adrenaline on an alpine coaster one minute and relax in perfect paradise on a picture-perfect beach the next. Whichever you choose, your time at Labadee will be unforgettable.

Where is Labadee located?

Labadee is located in Haiti. The port features on Caribbean cruises and is reserved exclusively for Royal Caribbean guests.

Top things to do on Labadee

  • Dragon’s Breath Flight Line: Soar along the Dragon’s Breath Flight Line, the world’s longest zip line over water and see Labadee from 500 feet above the ground.
  • Dragon’s Café: Once you’ve worked up an appetite, you’ll find all kinds of food served complimentary at Dragon’s Café.
  • Dragon’s Tail Coaster: Catch some of the best views of Labadee while coasting down a mountainside at 30 miles per hour on the Dragon’s Tail Coaster.

Perfect Day at CocoCay

A private island like no other, Perfect Day at CocoCay offers fun for all the family. CocoCay features the tallest waterslide in North America, the largest freshwater pool in the Caribbean, a giant wave pool and plenty of other attractions including a helium balloon and a 1,600 ft. zipline.

Where is CocoCay located?

CocoCay is located in the Bahamas. The port features on Caribbean cruises and is reserved exclusively for Royal Caribbean guests.

Top things to do on CocoCay

  • Chill Island: Crystal clear tropical waters and powdery sands await on Chill Island. A private slice of paradise, Chill Island is perfect for doing just that, chilling.
  • Thrill Waterpark: Towering slides and rushing tides will greet you at Thrill Waterpark. A drench a minute thrill-a-thon for every adventurer, Thrill Waterpark will have you giggling all day long.
  • Up, Up and Away: Take your vacation adventure to the skies aboard a helium balloon and see the private island like never before — from the highest vantage point in The Bahamas.
Bimini, Virgin Voyages

Virgin Voyages

Virgin Voyages has one private island, Bimini. It isn’t just the impossibly neon turquoise water, or the seemingly unperturbed beaches that coyly dance with the waves that make Bimini so enticing. Sitting on the westernmost part of the Bahamian Islands, Bimini is the far less-visited port home to a decidedly more intimate and visceral heartbeat.

Bimini

For such a small place, there’s an impressively long list of things to do. From underwater tours to exploring blue holes, these are a handful of the very best bookable experiences on (and technically off) the islands.

Where is Bimini located?

Bimini is located in the Bahamas. The port features on Caribbean cruises and is reserved exclusively for Virgin Voyages’ guests.

Top things to do on Bimini

  • Bimini Heritage & Cultural Tour: Head off on a tour through history on the Bimini Heritage & Cultural Tour.
  • Guided Two-Tank Scuba Dive: Discover Bimini’s shallow reefs as you scuba diver in search of life underwater.
  • The Beach Club at Bimini: A private, resort-like experience, The Beach Club at Bimini is ideal for when you’re not out exploring the rest of the island.

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