FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Enjoy a Private Island Retreat, Accessible Only by Cruise Ship

by Susan B. Barnes

May 10, 2024

CocoCay © Pressfoto | Dreamstime.com

Leisure Lifestyle 2024

Setting sail on a cruise is, for the most part, an all-inclusive experience, providing myriad opportunities for traveling someplace new and exotic. More than a dozen cruise lines sweeten tropical itineraries by calling upon their own private islands, giving guests exclusive access to uninterrupted stretches of sandy beaches and calm waters. Here we take a look at some of the private islands to which it’s worth charting a course.

Nearly 50 years ago, Norwegian Cruise Line became the first cruise line to call upon its own private island when it opened Great Stirrup Cay in The Bahamas in 1977. Today both NCL and Regent Seven Seas Cruises visit the 270-acre uninhabited Bahamian island. Not only can guests relax on hammocks beneath swaying palm trees, but they also can snorkel reefs teeming with marine life and underwater sculpture gardens, kayak and paddleboard, and go zip lining. The brand-new Silver Cove infinity pool within Silver Cove offers an exclusive oceanfront area with villas, Moët Bar, Silver Cove Restaurant and Bar, and Mandara Spa.

Turn a day at the beach into a day at The Beach Club at Bimini with Virgin Voyages. The adults-only Bahamian island club has something for every guest, from practicing yoga and meditation in the morning to high-energy, DJ-led pool and flotilla parties in the afternoon. Laze the day away in hammocks or meet up with friends at any of the six bars, dive into watersports or retreat to a private cabana. Disney Cruise Line’s Castaway Cay in The Bahamas makes the perfect destination for a family-friendly day at the beach filled with all kinds of watery fun. In addition to the 12-acre snorkeling trail featuring a submarine and Disney characters underwater, there are water slides, sea kayaks, sailboats and more. Or choose to relax on the beach or in a private cabana, while adults can retreat to Serenity Bay. Guests can even stretch their sea legs and run or walk a 5K, complete with medals at the finish
line.

castaway camp

Disney Cruise Line’s Castaway Cay in The Bahamas © Lucy Clark | Dreamstime.com

Both Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean International call upon CocoCay in The Bahamas. Not only are there plenty of sandy spots on which to soak up the sun but also more than a dozen waterslides at Thrill Waterpark that kids can’t get enough of. Earlier this year the brand-new Hideaway Beach opened, an all-day, adults-only beachfront experience with a private beach and pools, exclusive dining options and cabanas, live music, and more.

From swimming, snorkeling and kayaking to horseback riding, nature walking and splashing about in a family-friendly waterpark, Holland America Line and Carnival Cruise Line guests find plenty of ways to enjoy their time on Half Moon Cay in The Bahamas. Everyone is invited to enjoy the island in whichever ways suit them best, whether adventuring island-style or relaxing under the sun. A beachfront barbecue satiates lunchtime appetites before toasting the day at the I Wish I Could Stay Here Forever bar.

In addition to Great Stirrup Cay, select Norwegian Cruise Line and Regent Seven Seas Cruises itineraries call upon Harvest Cay in south Belize. The 75-acre island boasts 7 acres of sandy beach; a huge pool with swim-up bar and poolside cabanas; and the opportunity to go paddling, zip lining or to learn about the local culture. Owned in partnership with the Belizean government,
all on-island shops, restaurants and bars are entirely Belizean-operated. MSC Cruises’ private island in The Bahamas, Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, is more than an exclusive getaway: It’s a restored habitat designated as a Hope Spot by Mission Blue. MSC planted 75,000 plants and shrubs; 5,000 trees and palms; and began its first coral nursery as part of its Super Coral Program. Time spent at Ocean Cay is more than a day at a private beach — it’s an opportunity to learn more about Bahamian ecosystems. Eleuthera, in The Bahamas, is where you’ll find Princess Cruises’ private island, Princess Cays. The 1.5-mile stretch of white-sand beach certainly proves a draw, but so do the island’s water activities, steel drum band and shops. Guests on Princess Cay can enjoy air-conditioned bungalows accommodating up to four guests or adults-only Sanctuary Bungalows. Make the most of your personal space with a gourmet picnic lunch delivered right to your bungalow.

Bora Bora

© Paul Gauguin Cruises

SOUTH SEAS SERENITY
If a deserted island is in order, look no further than Paul Gauguin Cruises’ Motu Mahana in Bora Bora, French Polynesia. While there’s a full barbecue and bar in the middle of the island and a floating bar in the lagoon — and you can take part in activities like snorkeling, kayaking, volleyball or an overwater massage — when you get to the beach you’ll find a few beach chairs … and that’s
it. Choose the perfect spot to enjoy the peace and quiet, disturbed only by rustling palm fronds in the trees overhead and the soft sounds of the water breaking over the reef.

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