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7 Private islands you can get to on a cruise holiday

07 Jul 2016 | by Akemi Bunce

Updated: October 2023

If island hopping between tropical hideaways sounds like your idea of a dream holiday, then consider visiting one of the many incredible private islands now accessible via cruise ship. As part of many itineraries, a stop at these stunning destinations is often included in the cruise fare.

Keith & Glenn on Private Islands



No longer just tropical playgrounds for the super-rich and Instagram-famous, exclusive islands in the Caribbean and beyond are being snapped up by major cruise lines wanting to give their guests the best taste of luxurious island life. Not sure where to start? Here's some of our favourites!

Castaway Cay, Disney Cruise Line

Guests cruising with Disney Cruise Line on Bahamian and Caribbean cruises can look forward to a day at Disney Cruise Line’s private paradise, Castaway Cay. Castaways can enjoy crystal turquoise waters and pristine sandy beaches against a backdrop of swaying palm trees. Activities range from water sports to shopping, bike or boat rental, luxury spa treatments and educational diving ventures with stingrays. Iconic Disney characters add an element of magic and charm for kids and families, while Serenity Bay creates a luxurious adults-only paradise.



What Cruise Line Goes to Castaway Cay?

Castaway Cay is Disney Cruise Line's private island and is reserved exclusively for guests that are on either a Bahamian or Caribbean cruise.

How Long Does Disney Cruise Stay at Castaway Cay?

Disney Cruise Line ships will stop off in Castaway Cay for one day, and will not stop there overnight. Although it can vary, on average, a Disney ship will stop at the resort for around 8 hours.

Is Castaway Cay Owned by Disney?

Castaway Cay is a private island that has been owned by Disney since 1997, when they signed a 99 year lease on the island in partnership with the Bahamian government.

See our blog - All About Disney Cruise Line’s Castaway Cay for more information!

Half Moon Cay, Holland America Line

Award winning Bahamian utopia Half Moon Cay is a must see on any Caribbean cruise with Holland America Line.


Also known as Little San Salvador Island, this private island escape was purchased by the cruise line in 1996 and serves as a heavenly port of call for cruise guests. White sandy beaches, fun-filled activities and bright sunshine make this an ideal day out, whether you’re a family, a couple or going solo. Activities include horse riding along the sea edge, children’s pirate ship water park, sailing, snorkelling or simply unwinding with your favourite ice-cold beverage.



Which Cruise Line Stops at Half Moon Cay?

Those who have opted for a Caribbean, Panama Canal or Bahamas sailing on a Holland America Line cruise may have a stop off at Half Moon Cay. However, the island can also be visited by Carnival Cruise Line ships.

Are Drinks on Half Moon Cay Free?

There is the option to buy a drinks package on the island at an additional cost for Holland America Line guests. Unfortunately, drinks packages that are purchased onboard (and are used onboard) can’t be used on the island.

Is there Internet at Half Moon Cay?

Wi-Fi is not available on the island.

Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, MSC Cruises

Part of the Bimini chain of islands in the Bahamas, this unique island has become an environmental haven thanks to MSC Cruises.

On what was once an industrial site, this island is now home to six expansive beaches, a Bahamian village and a beautiful lagoon, as well as many opportunities for water sport activities. Explore the marine reserves ecosystem, or simply relax at a tiki bar – whichever you choose, you’ll be in paradise!

Is Food Free on Ocean Cay MSC?

Throughout the island there is lots of free food available, including seafood and sweet treats throughout the different cafes and restaurants.

Is MSC Ocean Cay a Tender Port?

No, the MSC ships will dock directly at Ocean Cay, meaning that no tendering is required; you can simply step off the ship and onto the island!

What is Included in the MSC Ocean Cay?

There is a wealth of activities, restaurants and more available on MSC Ocean Cay. A day spent on the island is included in your MSC cruise, along with entertainment, regular activities and relaxing on the beach, cabanas, float equipment, kayaks, bicycles, snorkelling equipment, pedalos and paddleboards can be rented for an additional cost. Drinks on the island are included if you have purchased a drinks package onboard. Complimentary drinks are also included if you’ve offered for the MSC Yacht Club experience.

In terms of food, there is a complimentary buffet, food trucks and an ice cream parlour on the island. Wi-Fi is available at an additional cost, as is spa treatments and use of the massage cabanas.

Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian Cruise Lines

Great Stirrup Cay provides an exclusive island escape for Norwegian Cruise Line guests and has something for every family member to enjoy. On Berry Island in the Bahamas, this private paradise welcomes cruise guests with glistening white sandy beaches, tepid turquoise water and the promise of a great day out. For those hungry for adventure, Great Stirrup Cay offers kayaking, snorkelling and even a 1000-foot-long zip line, but for those moments of tranquillity grab a sun-lounger on the beach and relax. Alternatively, if you’re just plain hungry, check out one of their many indulgent dining options, from beach BBQs to tantalising tacos.



Which Ships go to Great Stirrup Cay?

  • Norwegian Breakaway
  • Norwegian Encore
  • Norwegian Epic
  • Norwegian Escape
  • Norwegian Gem
  • Norwegian Jade
  • Norwegian Jewel
  • Norwegian Joy
  • Norwegian Pearl
  • Norwegian Prima
  • Norwegian Sky
  • Norwegian Sun
  • Norwegian Viva

Is Food Free on Great Stirrup Cay?

There is no additional cost for food on Great Stirrup Cay. On the island you can enjoy a buffet, hot dogs, hamburgers, fresh fruit and more.

Does Norwegian Drink Package Work on Great Stirrup Cay?

Whilst on the island, you can use your drinks package purchased on the ship.

Princess Cays, Princess Cruises

Princess Cays hugs the southern tip of Bahamian island Eleuthera and is a frequent port of call for Princess Cruises’ guests sailing Eastern, Western and Southern Caribbean itineraries.

Snorkelling, shopping and water sports are all on the agenda here, but if you simply want to lie back and chill island style, private cabanas and hammocks are also available.

What Cruise Lines Go to Princess Cays?

Princess Cruises and Carnival Cruise Line.

Does Princess Cays Have Free Food?

A complimentary beach barbecue (or an alternative in the island’s restaurants) is available to all guests visiting Princess Cays.

What is Available at Princess Cays?

  • Stingray encounter
  • Private & Sanctuary Bungalows
  • Snorkelling
  • Outdoor adventure activities
  • Banana boat ride
  • Fishing
  • Water sports rental activities

What is Princess Cays Known For?

Princess Cays is known for fishing and its beautiful sandy beaches.

CocoCay, Royal Caribbean & Celebrity Cruises

CocoCay, or Little Stirrup Cay, sits just north of Nassau in the Bahamas and gives Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises guests an exclusive tropical retreat to enjoy on their Caribbean cruise.

With countless ways to spend your time, this is a destination for the adventurous. Zip line across the island, slide down North America’s tallest waterslide, dive with vibrant marine life and experience the holiday of a lifetime. Finally, when it’s time to wind down, kick back in an overwater cabana and admire the view.

Royal Caribbean also boasts another private island, Perfect Day at Lelepa. Situated on the stunning Vanuatu, Oceania, this island is the first carbon-neutral private cruise destination in the world. Designed with sustainability in mind, Lelepa will do more than just protect the vibrant ecosystem and will also be a haven of adventure and relaxation.




Alongside Perfect Day at Lelepa, Royal Caribbean has another private destination - Hideaway Beach. Royal Caribbean's Hideaway Beach, an adults-only beachfront paradise that opens in January 2024, is located on Perfect Day at CocoCay and offers a huge variety of excellent facilities.

A tropical getaway in the breathtaking Bahamas, Hideaway Beach has something for everyone, whether you want to chill, party all day or tuck into some delicious cuisine! Highlights include the Hideaway Swim-Up Bar, Hideaway Cabanas and Snack Shack!

Do Celebrity Ships go to CocoCay?

Celebrity Cruises’ ships also visit Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Can You Use Your Royal Caribbean Status on Celebrity Cruises?

The Royal Caribbean Group Loyalty Match program grants membership perks for guests on both Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises getaways. This shared status gives you access to extraordinary benefits.

Do Other Cruise Lines go to CocoCay?

CocoCay is a private destination exclusive for Royal Caribbean cruise and Celebrity Cruises’ guests.

The Beach Club, Virgin Voyages

Virgin Voyages’ ‘secret destination’ located in Bimini, the Bahamas, will create the ultimate luxury private island experience. This adults-only island offers six bars to choose from and locally-sourced dining, private cabanas and lounges, and the opportunity to dive to the SS Sapona shipwreck. After dark, dance the night away at wild pool parties where a DJ will provide your favourite tracks. Virgin Voyages encourages all their guests to ‘retox and detox’ to the fullest, so don’t forget to enjoy some yoga, meditation and acoustic tunes beside a beach bonfire at dusk.


 

Is Bimini Beach Club Free with Virgin Voyages?

Situated within Bimini, the Bimini Beach Club is used exclusively by Virgin Voyages ships.

Can Anyone go to Bimini Beach Club?

Reserved for the exclusive use of Virgin Voyages passengers, this extraordinary resort includes a wealth of activities, from water sports to relaxing spots.

Do You Need a Passport to go to the Beach Club at Bimini?

You will need a passport to go to Bimini, but not to get into the beach club.

Do other cruise ships go to Bimini?

There are a variety of cruise lines that visit Bimini, such as Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean but the beach club within the island that’s owned by Virgin can only be accessed by Virgin Voyages guests.

Upcoming Cruise Line Private Islands and Destinations

Disney Lookout Cay at Lighthouse Point - Disney Cruise Line (summer 2024)

  • Location: Eleuthera, Bahamas
  • Dock port
  • ‘Island retreat destination’
  • Bahamian culture reflected throughout the resort
  • Created in partnership with local artists
  • Environment and sustainability at the forefront - e.g using solar energy to provide 90% of the resort’s power, no dredging required at the pier, elevated walkways to protect environment
  • References to folklore characters
  • Picturesque beaches, including a family beach
  • Activities available for every age group - there is a gaming pavilion, a volleyball court, deck games
  • Bahamian art and culture pavilion - special programmes, local artists, celebrating the beauty and history of the Bahamas.
  • Family water play area - two slides, water drums, fountains and more; including a toddler area.
  • Adult-exclusive beach with eateries/bars, six private cabanas (available by reservation)
  • Themed kid’s club - for kids aged 3-12, inspired by undersea characters - like The Little Mermaid
  • Another beach with 20 premium family cabanas that can be rented - including 4 x double cabanas for bigger groups; these offer massage services.
  • Watercraft & bicycle rentals
  • Nature trails for hiking and biking
  • Port Adventures- developed in partnership with local tour operators - excursions throughout the island.
  • Includes complimentary beach essentials - towels, lunch, umbrellas, chairs, tram transportation.

Royal Beach Club - (Resort) - Royal Caribbean (2025)

  • Location: Paradise Island, Nassau - Bahamas (on the tip of the island)
  • 17 acres
  • Dock/water taxi
  • Beaches and signature ‘Royal Caribbean’ experiences
  • VIPO beach cabanas
  • Beach Bar
  • Game + Towel hut
  • Beach hammocks
  • Snack Shack restaurant, dining pavilion
  • Swim up bar
  • Pool
  • Artisan huts, pool cabana
  • Feature food venue (1), Feature food venue (2)
  • Kids water play area
  • Designed to showcase the Bahamian spirits and culture
  • Live music
  • Local artists
  • Local food

Celebration Key - Carnival Cruise Line (July 2025)

  • Location: Grand Bahamas
  • Dock
  • Opening July 2025
  • Pier can accommodate 2 Excel-Class ships (Carnival Celebration, Carnival Mardi Gras, Carnival Jubilee)
  • Carnival’s first private destination
  • Ability to welcome 2 millions people a year
  • Bahamian experience
  • One-mile stretch of white-sand beach
  • Shore excursions
  • leisure/recreational activities for families and adults - watersports, etc.
  • Bahamian-operated retail, food and beverage options

Why you should cruise to a private island

Visits to private islands are a once-in-a-lifetime experience to explore exclusive, vast sandy beaches and waterparks without the hustle and bustle of other tourists. Activities, excursions and events have all been carefully selected with you in mind to ensure there is something for all ages and interests. What’s more, the Caribbean has so much to offer in itself that whichever cruise line takes your fancy, you’ll make memories to last a lifetime!


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