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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
CocoCay, Royal Caribbean & Celebrity CruisesCocoCay, 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.
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, on exclusive dates, Grammy award-winning DJ Mark Ronson 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.
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!