Dive Into The Best Cruise Line Private Islands
Private islands and beaches in the Bahamas and other tropical locales are owned or leased by cruise lines for the private use of their passengers. On these scenic patches, the idea is to give guests a perfect day at the beach.
You can frolic in soft sands, dip your toes into clear blue water, lounge in the sun or under a swaying palm tree, partake in watersports such as snorkeling and kayaking, indulge in an open-air massage or hangout at beachside bars and BBQs. Your cruise card serves as cash.
Check out these cruise line-owned locales.
Castaway Cay: Disney Cruise Line’s 1,000-acre Bahamas island has been carefully configured to please kids and adults alike, and is the line’s most popular port of call. Wet fun includes a floating play area decorated with faux flotsam and jetsam, with two water slides and water canons. Grownup allure includes an adults-only beach — away from the separate family and teen beaches.
Half Moon Cay: Holland America Line maintains a two-mile, crescent-shaped stretch of perfect beach on the Bahamas island formerly known as Little San Salvador. The rest of the island is an international bird sanctuary. That means those who can pull themselves away from beach hammocks and water activities can hike, bike or horseback ride on a network of bird-watching trails.
Great Stirrup Cay: Norwegian Cruise Line purchased this historic, 250-acre Bahamas hideaway in 1977. While pirates once roamed the sands, the focus now is on fun in the sun, whether snorkeling around sunken cannons, interacting with sting rays, hanging out in private cabanas, whizzing down a 175-foot-long inflatable slide or imbibing at a first-of-its-kind Bacardi rum bar.
Coco Cay: Formerly known as Little Stirrup Cay, this island is tiny at 140 acres, but owner Royal Caribbean has been creative with the space. Passengers will fun a fun-filled environment where they can snorkel around a replica of a Blackbeard ship, lounge on three beaches, walk nature trails or enjoy wet fun at an Aqua Park. A separate area for tykes has a Power Wheels track.
Motu Mahana: Play “Gilligan’s Island” or “Lost” on this romantic islet in French Polynesia, reserved for passengers cruising the islands with Paul Gauguin Cruises. Indulging here means the luxury of a cold drink served in a coconut shell and sipped as you stroll a patch of perfect beach fronting turquoise sea, no other people in sight. Paradise found.
Labadee: On an isolated peninsula on the north coast of Haiti, Royal Caribbean’s 260-acre retreat serves up beach fun and green mountain views. A 2,600-foot zipline is the main attraction along with five beaches — the less crowded sands the farthest from the pier. Kids will delight in a pirate-themed water fun area, while another popular activity is shopping for arts and crafts at the Haitian markets.
Princess Cays:Princess Cruises serves up a beach party on the southwest coast of the Bahamas island of Eleuthera, where the cruise line’s 40-acre retreat has a half-mile of white sand beach and the advantage of shallow water out for about 100 feet — meaning you can easily view colorful fish. Catch island views from the observation tower or on a dune buggy tour of the back roads.
Isla Catalina: Costa Cruises leases this UNESCO-protected barrier island, about five miles off La Romana, in a long-term deal with the Dominican Republic government. Christopher Columbus found the place in 1492, but today an attraction is that topless sunbathing is allowed in quieter beach areas.
Mahogany Beach: Part of a cruise center co-owned by Carnival and a Honduran businessman, this tiny, 10-acre island is accessible from the cruise pier via a 5-minute chairlift ride or walking path. Passengers can relax on an 825-foot-long white sand beach or get active on a beach volleyball court.