The coolest private islands you can visit while cruising this summer
Picture yourself sitting oceanside on a private tropical island. One of the best parts of any Caribbean cruise is the opportunity to visit these havens that are only accessible through certain cruise lines—a slice of exclusivity in paradise.
Here’s a closer look at some of our favorite private islands:
1. Perfect Day at CocoCay with Royal Caribbean Cruise Line
Nearly every cruise line has its own private island, but few are as elaborate, fun, and thrilling as Royal Caribbean’s Perfect Day at CocoCay—an exciting, one-of-a-kind destination.
This hidden island features activities catering to families, solo cruisers, couples, and pretty much every type of traveler.
Anyone looking for adrenaline-pumping experiences should visit the Thrill Waterpark and plunge down the tallest waterslide in North America, or rise 450 feet in the air in the “Up, Up & Away” helium balloon ride. For those looking to unwind, Perfect Day offers miles of white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters, dotted with an array of loungers, private cabanas, and lavish exclusive retreats.
It’s easy to overlook one of the island’s best features: a concrete docking apron where two Royal Caribbean ships can tie up at one time. Thanks to this system, ships can come alongside even when conditions are less than perfect, eliminating that long tender process and getting people to the fun faster than ever!
You can book your next cruise to this gorgeous destination aboard the Adventure of the Seas or the Vision of the Seas.
Read more about the endless options for how to spend the Perfect Day at CocoCay.
2. Harvest Caye with Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, and Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Another hidden gem in the Caribbean is Harvest Caye, Norwegian Cruise Line’s private island located in the southern part of Belize. NCL’s sister cruise lines Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises also make stops at the island.
Similar to Perfect Day at CocoCay, Harvest Caye is another docking port and has everything you need for an unforgettable shore day in the Caribbean. An expansive pool area with a cascading waterfall, a salt water lagoon for water sports, a large marina area with plenty of food and bar options, luxurious beachside cabanas, are just some of the many options this island has on offer.
One of the signature activities takes place at the Flighthouse platform, the take-off point for different aerial activities from 3,000 feet of zip lining across the island, quick jumps, and an observation deck with mainland views.
If you’re visiting this island with your children and are looking to keep it easy, Harvest Caye also features a splash park for kids, a walk-through animal habitat and butterfly garden, and other activities that everyone in the family can enjoy.
Harvest Caye also offers shore excursions on Belize. You can visit the Mayan Temple at Nim LI Punit, go on a rainforest river tubing adventure, or simply take a boat ride to the mainland.
You can book your cruise aboard one of the biggest ships of the NCL fleet, the Norwegian Joy, as early as August 2021.
3. Ocean Cay with MSC Cruises
Located in the Bimini chain of islands about 65 miles south of Miami lies Ocean Cay, MSC’s private island. Ocean Cay is a recently developed island that started receiving guests in December 2019.
Ocean Cay is more than a cruise line’s private island, it is also a marine reserve. MSC started developing this destination in 2016. Since then it has removed tons of scrapped metal and other toxic elements from the ocean. One of the biggest purposes of MSC is to make Ocean Cay “A sustainable destination where guests can connect with nature.”
Around the island, you’ll find eight white sand beaches, two of them on a calm lagoon and the other six open to the ocean. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to simply soak under the Bahamian sun, relax, and witness the diverse marine life that calls the surrounding waters home.
The island is easy to navigate and you’ll find a restaurant or bar within walking distance to any one of the beaches. One of the landmarks of this island is the Lighthouse. Explore it during the day, climbing up the 165 steps for a spectacular view, or wait until night for the light shows that take place there.
The docking in this port is also right on the island, giving you more time to explore. You can upgrade your experience at Ocean Cay by renting a cabana, visiting The Spa at Ocean Cay, or choosing one of the exciting water activities.
MSC is planning its return to the Caribbean with cruises stopping in Ocean Cay as early as June 2021 with MSC Meraviglia and MSC Armonia sailing from Miami, or MSC Divina sailing from Port Canaveral.
Want to learn more? Check out the four things you need to know before visiting Ocean Cay.
4. Great Stirrup Cay with Norwegian Cruise Line
Great Stirrup Cay is another one of Norwegian Cruise Line’s private islands, located in the Berry Islands in the Bahamas. This island has been part of the NCL family for over 40 years and in 2017, the cruise line decided to invest in a complete makeover that included adding new restaurants and extensive landscape improvements.
Great Stirrup Cay has something for everyone. You can design your perfect day, whether that’s getting your toes in the white-sand beaches, swimming with friendly ocean pigs (it’s a thing), disconnecting from the busy world in your private cabana, or kayaking in the clear blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
One of the major improvements of the last renovation was adding over 3,500 beach-front chairs, making it easier for you and your group to secure a spot with an ocean view, even on the busiest days.
As Norwegian proudly says, at Great Stirrup Cay you can do it all—or nothing at all—the choice is yours.
NCL offers a wide variety of itineraries that visit Great Stirrup Cay. You can choose from three-, four-, five-, and seven-night sailings from different departure ports. One of the first available sailings takes place in September 2021 aboard the classic Norwegian Sky. The next ship to visit this paradise is the Norwegian Escape, leaving from Port Canaveral on a seven-night cruise in November 2021.
*Please note, conditions to board vary per cruise line and per country of residence. All travel is subject to frequently changing governmental restrictions—please check government advisories before scheduling trips.
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