Everyone in the family will love the over-the-top experiences available on some Caribbean cruises and Bahamas sailings – an eventful stop at one of the private islands owned by the cruise line. Visits to these exclusive destinations, referred to as a caye or cay (pronounced “key”), typically begin when the ship docks in the morning so you can stay until late in the afternoon and enjoy an array of fun activities. Entertainment runs the gamut from almost every water sport you could think of — snorkeling, paddle boarding, jet skiing, parasailing and more, to beach barbeques and visits to local outdoor markets. If a peaceful laid-back day on the beach is what you desire, secluded areas will provide an enclave of serenity on most of these islands.
CocoCay, Bahamas (Royal Caribbean)
CocoCay is a 140 acre Bahamian island. This environmentally-friendly destination offers hour of exhilaration and relaxation, depending on your mood and interests. Take a wave-runner down the coast to Caylana’s Aqua Park. CocoCay boasts several bars and beaches, with self-explanatory names such as Snorkel Beach and Watersports Beach. If a Zen space is what you crave, spend the day in a serene beach hammock. Snorkel to sunken wrecks, see a rainbow of multi-colored fish and stunning coral reefs. Several cabanas are offered for rental at various prices some of which are exclusive to suite guests, complete with loungers, a delicious lunch buffet, snorkeling equipment and more. Current upgrades include bowling, a large “life-sized” pool table and cabanas with direct waterfront beach access. Slated for completion by summer 2018, a convenient new pier will let ships dock, replacing the need for tendering.
New attractions are also to be added in 2019 along with the debut of the Perfect Day Island Collection to ensure the entire family has the most memorable vacation. Just a few highlights of A Perfect Day will begin with live music to greet them upon arrival with a 30-foot water cannon spraying water over 80 feet in the air. Exhilarating experiences will be offered at Splashaway Bay with a 1,600-foot-long zip line crossing the harbor with a thrilling water landing. An immense freshwater pool will have three distinct coves; one for families with a kid-friendly beach-style entry area, another will offer adults chilled drinks at a swim-up bar and a third will boast private cabanas. Adrenalin rushes await the adventurous at Thrill Waterpark with 13 slides from huge water towers. Soar 450-feet in the air in helium balloons and retreat to the private beach club with the only over-water cabanas (bungalows) in The Bahamas, with slides transporting you directly into the water. Relaxation at its best!
Labadee, Haiti (Azamara Club Cruises, Royal Caribbean)
Visit the many “neighborhoods” on this private resort on the north coast at of Haiti. Thrills include a rollercoaster at the aptly named Adrenaline Beach and the action-packed aqua park. Several cabanas provide a lovely retreat for those seeking a quiet getaway. Exclusive to suite guests and Pinnacle Crown & Anchor Society members, Barefoot Beach is a private sanctuary. Get a rush of adrenaline on Dragon’s Breath zipline and the Dragon’s Tail Coaster — an exhilarating 30-mile-an-hour ride with jaw-dropping beach views. Kids of all ages will have the time of their lives at Arawak Aqua Park featuring a waterslide, rolling log, trampolines and more exciting features.
Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas (Norwegian Cruises)
Great Stirrup Cay was the first cruise line private island. Located just off the coast of Florida, the tiny Bahamas island has become a favorite of cruisers. Along its10 acres of beaches, you will be able to find your perfect spot. Crystal clear water is ideal for snorkeling and swimming as you enjoy the tropical sun. An underwater sculpture garden is sure to be an unforgettable treat . Your taste buds will appreciate a recently added eatery, Abaco Taco, while the main buffet, Jumbey Beach Grill, serves delicious barbeque fare. Relax in plush cabanas overlooking two serene beaches, with a new boardwalk. The resort-like island also has its own new medical center and a new pier means no tendering from the ship. Additional enhancements are expected to be completed by summer 2018 including upgraded bars, wider and palm tree lined beaches for shade, delicious new restaurants, a zip line and an upscale lagoon area for the exclusive use of Haven guests.
Harvest Caye, Belize (Norwegian Cruises)
Award-winning Harvest Caye is actually located outside of the Caribbean in Southern Belize. Norwegian’s private island is a 75-acre oasis of delightful serenity. Here you’ll discover an immense pool, complete with a swim-up bar and a salt-water lagoon for various water sports. Other highlights include an exclusive pristine seven-acre beach, as well as several shore excursions ranging from snorkeling in the second largest barrier reef in the world, to a thrilling zip line across the island. Explore saltwater mangrove estuaries, home to many marine animals and rent a poolside cabana for a peaceful experience.
Half Moon Cay (Holland America)
Situated between beautiful Cat Island and Eleuthera in the Bahamas, Half Moon Cay is named for its two-and-a-half-mile crescent of powdery white sand. Popular activities include kayaking and jet skiing, swimming with stingrays and an indulgent beachside massage. Bird-watchers will be delighted as the tiny island is filled with stunning specimens. Luxury cabanas dot the pristine beachfront. Half Moon Lagoon Aqua Park features water slides and playgrounds, making it a family friendly favorite and a visit to Stingray Cove lagoon enclosure will delight everyone.
Amber Cove, Dominican Republic (Carnival, Cunard, Holland America, Costa)
Located near Puerto Plata, beautiful and posh Amber Cove boasts chic bars, a stunning pool, complete with swim-up bars, fabulous shopping, private bungalows and even an electrifying zip line – something for everyone in the family. This stunning 30-acre island does not have a beach, but you won’t miss it because of its gigantic pool and comfy loungers which are the perfect place to sit back, soak up the sun and sip on a chilled tropical drink. Fans of the movie Jurassic Park will be interested to know this was the setting for one of its scenes. While here, delight your taste buds with local flavors on a culinary tour, take a cable car ride up to Mount Isabel and choose from a myriad of water sports or eco-tours.
Ocean Cay, Bahamas (MSC Cruises)
Due to open by 2019, MSC Cruises’ Ocean Cay in the Bahamas will be the world’s largest private cruise resort at 95 acres. The immense area will have six beaches, two lagoons, shallow blue waters and an area for surfing. Unique features will include a lighthouse, a yacht club, a marine reserve and a romantic wedding pavilion – an ideal setting to say your “I dos” or renew your vows. Adventure-seekers will want to try the zip line, while indulgent treatments will be offered at a spa and wellness center exclusive to MSC Yacht Club guests. Distinguishing itself from other islands, Ocean Cay will also have exciting nightlife that including a 2,000-seat amphitheater for live shows, as well as several bars and restaurants. Because ships will dock pierside, guests will be able to easily go back to their stateroom to change for dinner after a day at the beach.
Castaway Cay, Bahamas (Disney Cruise Line)
Families love Castaway Cay, a magical 1,000-acre island with something for everyone. Water-balloon battles, a waterslide, Disney character appearances and much more make this an unforgettable port of call. Snorkelers will be greeted on a trail that includes a Mickey statue as well as a replica of the submarine used in the movie, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Film buffs may be surprised to learn that scenes from the film Splash were also made here. Supervised activities for kids and tweens provide lots of fun as you recharge with some “me” time at an adults-only beach, aptly named Serenity Bay.
Princess Cays, Bahamas (Princess Cruises)
Welcome to Princess Cays, on the island of Eleuthera, where the fun never stops, including a private beach party. Situated on more than 40 acres, this exciting resort boasts over a half-mile of powdery white beaches. From a complimentary beach barbeque, snorkeling and shopping at a local craft market, this tropical paradise has it all. Whether sipping an ice cold drink, playing volleyball, taking advantage of the many water sports or soaking up the sun on the glorious beach, you will never want to leave this tropical paradise. Several upgrades were added in 2018, including the addition of MedallionNet WiFi, allowing you to stay connected even while in paradise and a wonderful new marina. Shopping options now include a “pick-a-pearl” jewelry section within the Bahama Treasure shop. Thrilling shore excursions have been introduced, such as biking tours, stingray encounters and clear-bottom kayaking, sure to keep adventure-seekers happy.
Enhance your memorable cruise vacation as you visit one of these tropical destinations and melt away your cares while enjoying endless fun in the sun, or the shade, on an exclusive private island.
For more information on these exciting Cruise Line Private Islands and our cruise deals, visit us at Cruise.com or call our cruise experts at 1-888-776-0659.