What to Do on a Cruise Line’s Private Island
Many of the major cruise lines have private destinations that they’ve designed to provide a hassle-free beach day. With two exceptions (Labadee and Harvest Caye), they are all located in the Bahamas, where the water is turquoise and the sand is soft and white. Without the traffic jams and crowds, these private islands deliver a day to craft your own experience whether it’s zip-lining, snorkeling, or building sandcastles and floating in the water. No matter what you choose, a day at a private island is sure to be the highlight of your cruise vacation.
Half Moon Cay
Half Moon Cay’s 2-mile arc of white sand, combined with a wide variety of activities — including horseback riding and snorkeling with stingrays — make it a top pick among cruisers for private islands. Kids love the aqua park and playground, while parents dig the air-conditioned cabanas and two-story villas (complete with hot tubs), where you can order drinks and massages.
Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island, is well suited to travelers of all ages offering separate beaches for adults and families, and private cabanas for rent. You can sign up to swim with stingrays, fish, rent bikes, play volleyball in the sun, try your hand at ping-pong, or swim in the pool alongside shaded pavilions. Families will love the water playground with a slide, a supervised drop-off play area, and a teens-only section.
Located on the southern tip of Eleuthera, Bahamas, situated on more than 40 acres with half-mile of white-sand shoreline, Princess Cays boasts outstanding amenities for adults and children. Water activities are a big part of a visit to Princess Cays, with options including fishing, banana boat rides, snorkeling, kayaking, and sailing. Princess Cays' adult-only Sanctuary area is a serene destination featuring private, air-conditioned cabanas for rent as well as massages for an additional cost. Note: Since much of the seabed is rocky on Princess Cays, we recommend bringing water shoes.
Great Stirrup Cay
Live calypso music serenades you as you play volleyball on one of the island’s many sand courts, snorkel through the underwater sculpture garden, or get the best views of the island as you soar down a zipline. Unwind at Silver Cove, the island’s newest area featuring a private villa area. Each Villa offers A/C, a TV with complimentary on-demand movies, access to the upscale Silver Cove buffet, a full private restroom, a retractable glass wall providing unobstructed views, and access to the beach.
Perfect Day at CocoCay
Perfect Day at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s island located right next to Norwegian Cruise Line’s Great Stirrup Cay — is home to numerous beach clubs and pools, and an aqua park that is home to Daredevil's Peak, the tallest waterslide in North America. The island also features ‘Up, Up and Away’, a helium balloon ride soaring 450 feet over land. Once you’ve taken in the sights from high up in the air, hop over to Chill Island for snorkeling and relaxing in your own private beach cabana.
This peninsula on Haiti’s north coast is home to rolling jungles and sparkling beaches. Labadee's water park offers floating trampolines, water seesaws, and inflatable slides; there’s also Dragon’s Breath Flight Line, the world’s longest zip line over water, spanning 500 feet above the ground. In addition, performances by Haitian musicians and dancers offer a taste of the island’s culture.
Harvest Caye, Belize
Harvest Caye is Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest private destination, located in Southern Belize. The 75-acre oasis features an expansive pool with a swim-up bar, salt water lagoon for water sports, and a 7-acre beach. Activities on Harvest Caye include a 3,000-foot zipline spanning across the island, and the opportunity to snorkel over the world's second-largest barrier reef. Luxurious beachside cabanas at Harvest Caye can accommodate up to 6 guests and feature food and beverage service, lounge chairs, private bathrooms, air conditioning, and access to golf carts for easy transportation around the island.
Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve
Ocean Cay, MSC Cruises’ newest destination, is an authentic Caribbean Marine Reserve. The island features six beach areas, a food court and coffee bar, and a marina area. Excursions on the island include snorkeling adventures, scuba diving, paddleboard tours, deep-sea fishing, and more. Those looking to relax can enjoy a relaxing massage in a cabana or even rent a floating beach mat.
Join the discussion
Which private island is your favorite?