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.
The Luxury Collection again teamed with artist Sofía Sanchez de Beta to unveil an exclusive capsule collection, this time with 54 pieces inspired by the Arabian Desert and Emirati culture. The ready-to-wear line includes an array of separates created with Dubai’s climate in mind, such as lightweight blouses and tunics, flowing jumpsuits, long skirts and dresses.
United Airlines announces a number of new routes.
Hawaiian Airlines will relaunch its service between the island of Maui (OGG) and Las Vegas (LAS) with flights set to begin in December.
Welcome to Rhodes, a medieval treasure beautifully preserved throughout the centuries. Rhodes is the capital of the Dodecanese, an island ideal not only for those who want to relax, but also for those looking for an action-packed holiday! With its bright green hills, rich green valleys and uninterrupted line of golden beaches, Rhodes is truly a blessed place. “The sun island” has more sunshiny days and milder temperatures throughout the year than any other location in Greece. It is, after all, one of the country’s easternmost places and among the first to welcome summer on its impressive beaches. Add in the excellent facilities for tourism, the island’s special blend of cosmopolitan and traditional, and numerous cultural and archaeological sites, the most important being the Medieval (Old) Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and you’ve got the perfect holiday destination. While on Rhodes, don’t miss a daytrip to nearby Sými. An island of sponge divers and seamen, Sými used to have 30,000 inhabitants before the Second World War and was the richest island in the Dodecanese, despite its small size. Today, Sými attracts many visitors thanks to its beautifully preserved Neo-Classical buildings and the famous Archangel Michael monastery at Panormitis.
British Airways launched a new in-flight entertainment channel in honor of its year-long centenary celebration. The new channel, christened Celebrate BA100, highlights the best of British in-flight entertainment.
For those without accessibility issues, going to the beach can be simple. There’s nothing to do but pack up your gear, head to the shore and walk out onto the sand. For those who may be inhibited, however, the beach poses more of a challenge.
European hotel brand Kempinski is expanding into the Americas with a new luxury property in Dominica. Slated for an Oct. 14 opening, the Cabrits Resort & Spa Kempinski will be Dominica’s first 5-star hotel on the island and the brand’s second in the Caribbean.