If you are headed on a cruise you’ve probably checked out your itinerary a few times. When sailing on certain itineraries you may have the opportunity to visit the cruise line’s private island. What’s a cruise line private island and which belongs to who? Keep reading to find out.
What’s a Cruise Line Private Island?
Cruise Line Private Islands are areas or islands that belong exclusively to specific cruise lines. That means that these Private Islands are only open to guests who are sailing on that cruise line. Sometimes sister cruise lines share islands, for example, Celebrity can sometimes be seen at Royal Caribbean’s Labadee. Usually the experience at these islands is more seamless, since it’s essentially an extension of your ship. On most of these islands you can use your room card to charge, you can use your drink plans and your dining is included like ship. Plus, you’ll probably only see 1 or 2 ships docked at one of these islands at a time which adds an element of exclusivity.
Which Island Belongs to Who?
Now that we’ve talked about what a cruise line private island is, let’s take a look at which island belongs to who.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Line- CocoCay, Bahamas & Labadee, Haiti
Perhaps the biggest news in Private Island chatter is Royal Caribbean’s CocoCay. Boasting a 5/5 rating on Cruise Critic, Perfect Day CocoCay is open for business. Recently redone and relaunched, Royal Caribbean has made Perfect Day CocoCay a destination for their guests to visit. Perfect Day CocoCay offers guests 2 different experience tracks: thrill or chill. If you are a thrill seeker you can dash down water slides, jump on obstacle courses and zip line. Keep in mind that some areas in the Thrill Waterpark do require either a day or ½ day pass to utilize. Pricing ranges from $44-$99 for full day passes and $39-$74 for ½ day passes. If chilling is your thing, then you can hang out on Chill Island and relax at the beach, rent a Cabana or swim in the largest freshwater pool in the Caribbean. The island is home to many complementary dining experiences that are also new. Plus, no need to ride a tender boat again. The line has recently added a pier so that their ships can dock and guests can easily get on and off the ship. Guests on Royal Caribbean and Celebrity have a chance to visit CocoCay.
Royal Caribbean offers not one but two private island destinations for their guests. The second is Labadee, Haiti. While this is technically part of Haiti and not a separate island, it is considered a private island due to the exclusivity of the area for RCCL guests.
Like CocoCay, Labadee offers cabanas (which are amazing- I’ve rented one before), zipline and a water park for guests. Plus, you can have some complimentary lunch as well. There are a few shopping opportunities on the island and you can use your room key for drinks here.
My recommendation for Labadee: try a Labadoozie, which is the island’s signature cocktail. While they will make it for you on the ship, it’s pretty cool to have a Labadoozie in Labadee. Guests sailing on Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Azamara may visit Labadee.
Norwegian Cruise Line- Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas & Harvest Caye, Belize
Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas
An island in the Bahamas, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Great Stirrup Cay is an oasis for guests. Located next to Royal Caribbean’s CocoCay and just south of Disney’s Castaway Cay, Great Stirrup Cay offers cabanas, multiple beaches, bars and restaurants.
Plus, guests can book different unique experiences such as swimming with the stingrays, snorkeling and jet skiing. Norwegian has recently upgraded amenities on the island for guests. Guests visiting Great Stirrup Cay do arrive via tender boat.
Harvest Caye, Belize
The newer of NCL’s private islands is Harvest Caye in Southern Belize. Like Labadee, Harvest Caye is connected to a greater island but is privately owned by NCL. Guests visiting Harvest Caye can swim in a pool, hit the beach, zip line and even snorkel. The island also has shopping opportunities for guests.
Norwegian, Oceania and Regent Cruises have itineraries that stop in both great Stirrup Cay and Harvest Caye.
Carnival Corporation- Half Moon Cay, Bahamas & Princess Cays, Bahamas
Holland America- Half Moon Cay, Bahamas
Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas is owned and operated by Holland America (Carnival Corporation). While it is owned by Holland America, guests on Holland America’s sister lines, aka Carnival or Princess, might visit here as well.
Here guests can kayak, horseback ride in the ocean, hike, swim with stingrays and snorkel. The island is also home to a straw market, a Captain Morgan’s Bar, which is located on a ruined pirate ship and a 2 mile long beach. Guests visiting this island must take a tender boat to visit port.
Princess Cruise Line- Princess Cays, Bahamas
Like Harvest Caye and Labadee, Princess Cays is not an island but a “resort” on the southern end of Eleuthera in the Bahamas. Guests arrive into Love Boat Marina (of course named for the beloved Love Boat) and experience an adventure. There is complimentary dining, as well as a private beach, and dune buggies for guests to enjoy. As I mentioned above, even though this is a Princess owned island, guests on other Carnival Corporation ships may have the opportunity to visit here as well.
Disney Cruise Line- Castaway Cay, Bahamas
Of course a blog post about cruise line private islands would not be complete without mention of Disney’s Castaway Cay in the Bahamas. Guests often specifically sail on certain Disney cruises so that they can experience all that Castaway Cay has to offer. Aside from unique and amazing character meetings, guests have access to multiple beaches including Serenity Bay, which is an adults only beach. Plus, there are multiple buffet options on the island, bars and shops to occupy your time. But the real beauty is in the island. You can take a bike ride around and explore the old airplane runways, go parasailing, swim with stingrays and snorkel. And everything on the island works with your room key. As a point of reference, like Royal Caribbean’s CocoCay, Castaway Cay receives a 5/5 on Cruise Critic. This island has been around with Disney for a long time and yet guests find it just as magical as ever.
Have you ever visited one of these cruise lines private islands? Let me know in the comments below!
Head over to @thehappiesttravelsonearth on Instagram and follow me to see more!