Credit: Royal Caribbean

Cruise ship private islands: Which lines have their own island?

Author: Susan Johnson

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Cruise ship private islands are a huge draw for many holidaymakers when trying to decide which cruise line to sail with. But what can you expect?

Cruise ship private islands do indeed exist, with certain cruise lines including these hotspots in their itinerary, often in the Caribbean.

This is because while cruises offer everything from staterooms and over-the-top service to high-end amenities, the one thing that they lack is a long sandy beach.

Most passengers purchase day passes to island resorts to get their fix. But that means battling it out with the registered hotel guests for beach cabanas, umbrellas, and towel space.

To remedy that, various cruise ship private islands are surfacing these days. Norwegian Cruise Line gave rise to this trend in 1977 by buying Great Stirrup Cay from Belcher Oil Company. But there exist several cruise lines with their own isles, including Royal Caribbean, Holland America Line, and Disney Cruise Line.

If you are looking to jump on a voyage, here are the best cruise ship private islands you should know about.

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Royal Caribbean, Perfect Day at CocoCay

If you want to feel the adrenaline rush, Royal Caribbean’s newest Perfect Day at CocoCay (PDCC) is one cruise ship private island you shouldn’t miss.

Spreading across a 140-acre island, this is where you can race down the tallest waterslide in North America and ride the tide of the Caribbean’s largest wave pool.

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The distant views of the Bahamas from the helium balloon that hovers 450 feet in the air are complete with the largest freshwater pool in the Caribbean and a swim-up bar. If you are on a romantic getaway, why not rent an overwater villa for the day?

Experience the Caribbean's largest wave pool at Royal Caribbean's Perfect Day at CocoCay. Credit: Royal Caribbean

Holland America, Half Moon Cay

There is a reason why Holland America Line’s sun-drenched Half-Moon Cay was entitled the best cruise ship private island in the Caribbean by Porthole Cruise Magazine.

From the peaceful environment to its location in the heart of an international bird sanctuary, this cruise ship private island will offer you an experience of a lifetime.

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Half Moon Cay’s 700-acre lagoon is home to stingrays and features a wide array of water sports, including a buoyed personal watercraft course. The Lobster Shack is where you can enjoy Caribbean dining and drinks while other highlights include private butler service and beachside cabanas.

Experience the Caribbean from Holland America's Half Moon Cay. Credit: Holland America

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Norwegian Cruise Line, Harvest Caye & Great Stirrup Cay

Norwegian Cruise Line offers not just one but two best cruise ship private islands for their guests.

The Harvest Caye is located in Southern Belize, Western Caribbean is a 75-acre island that highlights several activities, including a water sports lagoon, a 15,000 square foot pool, a seven-acre beach with private cabanas, and a massive Flight Tower that acts as a launching point for zip lining, free-fall jumps, and suspension bridges.

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Similarly, the Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas’ Berry Island chain in the Eastern Caribbean is all about gorgeous beaches.

The island also features several private spots around the island where you can go marine life-spotting and paddle in the warm water.

The water sports offered include paddleboats, parasailing, snorkelling, parasailing and sailboats.

Immerse yourself in beach living while at Disney's Castaway Cay in the Bahamas. Credit: Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line, Castaway Cay

If you think Disney is for kids, it’s time you think again. Disney Cruise Line ships are excellent for adults, with adult-only dining options at the romantic Remy and Palo restaurants and the Disney cruise ship private island Castaway Cay.

Located in the Bahamas, the Castaway Cay holds an entire side of the island made exclusively for grown-ups—Serenity Bay.

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You can rent a private cabana, sip a tropical cocktail at the Castaway Air Bar or get an open-air massage under the palm trees.

Nevertheless, if you wish to indulge your inner child, the family side of the island has plenty of fun activities going on, including a water slide that launches straight into the pristine ocean.

Relax on the sand while at Princess Cays. Credit: Princess Cruises

Princess Cruise Lines, Princess Cays

Resting on the southern portion of Eleuthera Island, Princess Cays features half a mile of sugar-white beach surrounded by turquoise waters that are great for swimming and snorkelling.

Unlike the other luxurious cruise ship private islands, this cruise ship private island is a low-key getaway with a wide array of spots to stretch out, feel the sand under your feet, and relax.

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You can even soak in the sun, swaying in a rope hammock under the palm trees. When here, don’t forget to try out aqua bikes, sailboats, banana boats and kayaking.

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