CRUISE LINES COMPETE to outdo each other with the most extravagant amenities, luxuries and resort activities aboard their ships these days, and they do the same in certain ports by stopping at their own lavishly outfitted private islands. While Paul Gauguin Cruises calls at a private isle in French Polynesia and MSC Cruises recently opened a proprietary port near Abu Dhabi, most cruise lines established their exclusive hideaways in the Caribbean.
Leased or owned outright by a cruise line, a private island in the Caribbean provides passengers a chance to use a full range of recreational facilities ashore unfettered by the hordes of hawkers and tourists found in most ports of call. For many passengers, a cruise line’s private island is the highlight of a sailing. Not everything on a private island is free, however. Cabanas, sports gear, island tours and some activities do come at an additional cost.
Norwegian Cruise Line pioneered the private island concept in 1977 with the purchase of Great Stirrup Cay in The Bahamas. Upgraded and enhanced this year, Great Stirrup Cay added a new bar and grill, party room, spa, basketball and volleyball courts, zipline, sculpture garden for snorkelers and 22 air-conditioned luxury beach villas.
Not to be outdone, Holland America Line’s private island in The Bahamas, Half Moon Cay, added three new beachfront “satellite” bars, a rebuilt entertainment stage, glass-bottom kayaks, stand-up paddle boards and new facilities for its popular horseback riding tours. Disney Cruise Line’s private island, Castaway Cay, also in The Bahamas, offers separate beaches for children, teens and adults, as well as an underwater snorkeling trail with submerged Disney statues. Princess Cruises has its own private Bahamian retreat, too — Princess Cays, with a beach barbecue, crafts market, water sports, boat rides and cabanas.
Royal Caribbean International equipped two private islands for the exclusive use of its guests. CoCo Cay in The Bahamas has three fine beaches, an aqua park, parasailing and an inwater trampoline for kids. Labadee in Haiti offers Royal Caribbean passengers private access to the world’s longest overwater zipline.
The newest private Caribbean getaway, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Harvest Caye, is home to Belize’s only cruise-ship pier. Passengers are treated to the full array of private island facilities, from ziplines to cabanas, along with a crafts market, butterfly garden, water sports lagoon and guided eco-tours.
Of course, a private island is not for everyone. Such ports of call can’t offer the cultural experiences or the shopping and dining possibilities of a Nassau or a Freeport. But curmudgeons who stay behind are free to enjoy the run of the ship, with uncrowded pools, lounges and dining spots to themselves. So either way, on board or on an exclusive beach, a cruise line’s private island is a port to savor.
Once you’ve boarded Regent’s Seven Seas Grandeur, it is immediately apparent this recently launched cruise ship delivers what the name promises. Jewel box opulence dominates in most of the public areas, while quiet luxury teamed with clever function defines the cabins (save for the individually decorated top-tier suites). The ship, designed by internationally acclaimed Studio DADO and constructed by Ancona, Italy, ship builder Fincantieri, holds up to 746 guests and is serviced by a staff of 548 for optimal passenger-to-staff service.
Learning more about our readers’ travel habits and preferences ensures Global Traveler delivers the content you desire. As the travel industry has adapted and changed over the last few years, it’s more important than ever to connect. To best meet your short- and long-term travel content needs, please help us!
The St. Regis San Francisco recently debuted a Lunar New Year-themed The Art of Tea to celebrate the Year of the Dragon. Available for only a few more days, through Feb. 25, the afternoon menu boasts Asian-inspired sweet and savory items, a selection of tea and a complimentary welcome toast with Champgane Lallier R.018.
The Saronic or Argo Saronic Islands of Greece call travelers to explore its seven small islands and islets brimming with history, natural sites and more. With most easily accessible by boat, the islands’ proximity to ports of Athens make the Saronic Islands an ideal destination for those preferring shorter boat rides. In fact, trips from Athens ports to the islands take only between 10 minutes and two hours, depending on the island you choose, making them perfect for day or weekend trips. From Piraeus port, you can access Hydra, Spetses, Aegina and Poros directly. Come explore these stunning islands with us and find the inspiration to plan your next trip to these islands. Hydra Hydra town curves around a slope overlooking the Argosaronic Gulf like an amphitheater and is considered one of the most romantic destinations in Greece. Most unique to the island is its lack of vehicles. People on the island get around on mules and donkeys as well as water taxis, making for a peaceful and laid-back day. Hydra lies a two-hour ferry ride from Piraeus port in Athens.
After a stressful pre-holiday season and a busy work schedule, there was no better time for a relaxing spa experience than during my recent trip to Pasadena with the FXExpress Publications, Inc. team. We headed to The Langham Huntington, Pasadena for the 20th anniversary of the GT Tested Reader Survey awards, which meant a jam-packed trip, but I managed to carve a little time out of our busy schedule to visit Chuan Spa at the hotel.
Whether it's the people, the craic (fun) or the coasts, travelers always find something to love about the island of Ireland. What fills your heart?
Keep New Year’s resolutions going with a stay at The Westin Tempe. The hotel recently launched a wellness stay offer in partnership with Lululemon. The limited-time Lululemon In-Room Fitness Experience includes accommodations in a guestroom equipped with a Lululemon-branded yoga mat and yoga block.