Cruise Ship Private Islands: A Great Travel Story, “Next Level” Adventure and Living Like a Rock Star All In One Place
5 Incredible Things That Happen While Relaxing on an Exclusive and Secluded Paradise Island
One of the greatest indicators of luxury is exclusivity, and most vacationers long for an experience that is set apart from all others. A visit to a private island certainly fits the bill. In fact, according to cruise experts at CruiseCompete, the cruise lines’ private islands are the “Number One” port of call for their consumers. What makes these private island experiences so special, and what are the amenities of each?
Following are the top five amazing things that will happen when you visit a private island:
- You will come to a state of total and complete relaxation. A visit to a private island affords a unique opportunity for relaxation; one that whisks you away from all the pressures of everyday life. Gone are routines and obligations, replaced by beach umbrellas, cabanas and shady spots to relax. Take these moments to treat yourself to a beachside massage, or gain a little extra privacy in the seclusion of one of the islands’ quieter beaches … whatever it takes to let yourself totally unwind.
- You will find out what it means to “Live like a rock star”! On a private island like Holland America’s Half Moon Cay, the staff sees to it that your wish is their command. For a fee and in advance, cruise passengers can reserve a private cabana, including an outdoor freshwater shower/misting station and indoor dining room and changing area. Once on site, guests are attended to by private butlers that they fill beverage glasses, prepare hot and chilled appetizers, and even offer cool cucumbers to soothe eyes against the tropical sun. So Hollywood!
- You’ll go “next level” on the adventure scale. For the active crowd, there are a multitude of options for guests, including island explorations, shopping and water sports activities. The choices will easily keep an energetic group going all day long. Tour the island in a jeep, snorkel with stingrays or take a kayak lagoon tour. Or perhaps parasailing, beach Olympics or the floating aqua playground are more to your liking. Whatever your preference, options abound. And don’t worry about keeping children busy—families are more than welcome, with plenty to do for all ages.
- You’ll live the plot of your next great travel story. Take your ordinary life, then add the mystique of the Caribbean, the beauty of the island, and the once-in-a-lifetime experience of luxury—and you’ve got a travel story people want to hear! Keep a journal of the experience because there’s nothing commonplace about time spent on a gorgeous beach in a foreign land. And don’t forget to take lots of pictures … friends will want to see the slide show that goes with this story.
- You will be stunned by the beauty of our planet and leave with a better appreciation of the world around you. If there is a paradise on Earth, this has to be it. The Caribbean islands offer some of the world’s most visually stunning locales, with dazzling blue waters, unique coral reefs, gorgeous beaches and native wildlife. Natural beauty abounds in the most remarkable ways, and it all adds up to an experience that makes you realize the full richness of what our world has to offer.
Each cruise line has its own set of luxury amenities, so here’s what you can expect when you visit one of these vacation oases:
Costa Cruises – Costa Cruises voyages stop at Catalina Island, located just 1.5 miles from the southeast corner of the mainland of the Dominican Republic. The line has a private beach on this island that features activities such as volleyball, snorkeling, “beach Olympics” and massages. Vacationers can also rent jet skis, go for banana-boat rides or simply relax on the beach. Day tours that explore the island are popular. It’s a treasure trove of culture and relaxation, with local musicians and exclusive shopping that add to its charm.
Disney Cruise Line – Disney’s Castaway Cay provides plenty of magical fun for people of all ages, and caters to guests in true Disney style, with all the conveniences. A major bonus of Castaway Cay is that the island features cruise ship-docking capabilities (versus shuttle boats between the ship and island), which allows guests to easily travel back and forth to their ship. Attractions include the Castaway Family Beach, Serenity Bay for adults, a teens-only activity area called The Hide Out and supervised programs for children at Scuttle's Cove. There are also numerous water sports, biking, snorkeling parasailing, fishing and various water tour excursions.
Holland America Line – Holland America’s Half Moon Cay has been ranked “Best Private Island” by Porthole Cruise Magazine for many years’ running, and is located on Little San Salvador Island in the Bahamas. (The island must remain 98% undeveloped as an international bird sanctuary.) The Cay’s 700-acre lagoon allows guests to feed stingrays and enjoy various water sports, a children's aqua park and a buoyed personal watercraft course. Other features include private beachside cabanas with private butler service, showers and misters and eco-tours by glass-bottom boat.
Norwegian Cruise Line – Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian’s private island, is located approximately 120 nautical miles east of Fort Lauderdale in the Berry Island chain of the Bahamas, Great Stirrup Cay features snorkeling, paddle boats, sailboats, kayaks and parasailing.
The beachfront area has been smoothed and expanded, enhanced the vegetation to make it greener and shadier, and added a new Tender Pavilion (which makes getting on and off the island easier) and new dining facilities. The island also has “Cabanas on the Cay” (private beachfront cabanas) which offer exclusive amenities–and the line reports that they are already completely pre-booked.
Norwegian also intends to include a new winding river and additional nature trails and beaches to this already-impressive island. The Hippo Water Slide, the world’s largest inflatable waterslide – 40 feet high and 175 feet long– remains a visitor favorite. (This feature does incur a separate cost, but families report it’s not to be missed.) Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Oceania and MSC Cruises will also sail to Great Stirrup Cay in 2016.
Norwegian also offers a private island experience at Harvest Caye. Harvest Caye is located in Belize and features an exclusive beach, a pool, watersports lagoon, and private cabanas.
Paul Gauguin Cruises – Paul Gauguin visits Motu Mahana, part of the Society Islands. This lovely island offers a world of culture, with local crafts and cuisine, along with music and vanilla plantation tours. There is also waterskiing, kayaking and windsurfing available for the sports-minded crowd.
Princess Cruises – The line visits Princess Cays, which is located on the southern portion of Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas, approximately 80 miles from Nassau. This lovely island features white-sand beaches and turquoise waters that make for great snorkeling and swimming. Water lovers can also rent aqua bikes, seaboards, paddleboats, clear-hull kayaks, sailboats or float rafts. Guests looking for pure relaxation can do some shopping, taste the island cuisine and exotic cocktails or just soak up the warm Caribbean sun. There are plenty of beach umbrellas, tiki huts and hammocks hung beneath dozens of shady trees.
Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises – CocoCay, which features the 20,000 square-foot aqua playground Caylana’s Castle Cove, is an island designed exclusively for Royal Caribbean and Celebrity passengers.
It’s a perfect spot for water lovers, featuring a white-sand beach, wave runners and snorkeling among coral reefs with vibrant tropical fish and sunken wrecks. Perhaps the most popular activity on Coco Cay, however, is parasailing, where guests ascend to 400 feet and get a bird's-eye view of the island.
Additional phases in the works will include a craft market, shore excursion building, rentals of bikes and other outdoor equipment and then a series of such adventures as ropes course, zipline, water park, cabanas and pools. Target date coincides with debut of the Symphony of the Seas in spring 2018.
The lines’ second island getaway, Labadee, has seen recent enhancements, and now features seven different “neighborhoods” (Buccaneer’s Bay, Dragon’s Plaza, Labadee Town Square, Adrenaline Beach, Columbus Cove, Nellie’s Beach and the Barefoot Beach Club) that have individualized offerings. Ride a rollercoaster at Adrenaline Beach, play at the aqua park in Columbus Cove or lounge in one of 20 private cabanas at the Beach Club (an experience exclusive to guests residing in a Grand Suite or above).
MSC Cruises and Carnival Cruise Line are investing in private beach destinations as well. MSC’s will be in the Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, near Bimini in the Bahamas. Carnival is working on a private beach on the eastern part of Grand Bahama Island.
All About Azamara Cruises
If there is a destination you’ve always wanted to experience, there is a good chance you can get there on one of Azamara Club Cruises' various immersive itineraries, taking you to both famous destinations and hidden gem locales. The lie seldom repeats ports, so you can Cruise Global, Connect Local℠ in a variety of destinations, all on one voyage. Go farther, travel deeper, and bring your boutique hotel with you every step of the way.
Sit back and relax. Or get out and explore. We’ll be here a while.
Azamara Club Cruises Specials
Azamara Club Cruises Shore Excursions
Azamara Club Cruises Reviews
Azamara Club Cruises Deck Plans
About Azamara Club Cruises:
Azamara is unique among cruise lines in that it was created to offer luxury and destination-rich itineraries at a price point lower than those of competitors, as well as access to less-traveled ports. The line's ports of call are carefully selected, to include culturally rich cities and exceptional natural wonders.
Azamara Club Cruises has been described as a "sophisticated yet relaxed" luxury line with an immersion in destination cultures and traditions. The line's two 694-guest ships feature European hotel ambiance and provide outstanding service, fine cuisine and wines, and wellness programs.
Because of their smaller size, the Azamara ships travel to destinations that larger ships can't reach, in Europe, Asia, South America, Panama Canal and the less-traveled islands of the Caribbean. They also offer more overnight and late-night stays than large ships. Whenever possible, itineraries are planned around popular events – for example, visiting London for the Chelsea Garden Show or Monaco during the Monte Carlo Grand Prix.
Azamara Club Cruises is best for:
Seasoned, sophisticated travelers, who are destination-oriented and are looking for a small ship, boutique-type of experience; Those seeking a floating country club experience with upscale surroundings and amenities and a relaxed atmosphere.
The atmosphere and experience onboard Azamara Club Cruises:
The ships have the feel of small boutique hotels, with an international staff focused on service. The dining fare is eclectic regional and American cuisine, and room service is available 24/7 (the breakfast menu is far more elaborate than those on other room-service menus).
Azamara's higher-than-average number of overnight port stays allows passengers to enjoy the nightlife in the cities the ships visit. The company's philosophy is "Destination Immersion," so that guests may more fully enjoy the rich historical and cultural experiences in less-explored regions.
Every Azamara voyage (except transatlantic) includes a complimentary AzAmazing Evening, a memorable "Wow" event relating to the destination visited. Some examples: A D-Day Liberation Party on the Shores of Normandy, a party at Francis Ford Coppola's winery in California, a Greek wedding in Chania, Greece.
Also included in the ticket price: self-service laundry; complimentary shuttles in many ports; gratuities; selected spirits, house wines, beer, soft drinks, specialty coffees and bottled water. Suite passengers have English butler service.
Both ships have a small but full-service Astral Spa and a small but well-equipped fitness center.
Dressing up is at a minimum, with most passengers adhering to a "resort casual" or "elegant casual" style. Though there are no formal black-tie events, occasionally the diamonds and designer clothes come out to shine.
The clientele of Azamara Club Cruises:
Azamara attracts an international clientele, though the majority of passengers are Americans, followed by Canadians and citizens of the U.K. Though a large number of (relatively active) seniors are to be expected on any given cruise, Azamara gives their age demographic as between 55 and 57 years of age – probably due to the younger families with children (from babies to teens). As the line offers port-intensive itineraries (with the ships sailing mainly at night), it attracts those who value destination-immersion over an oceangoing experience.
Regarding children onboard Azamara Club Cruises:
While Azamara does welcome guests of all ages, there are no formal children's programs or facilities. Minimum age requirement to sail Azamara is 6 months; on transoceanic cruises, as well as other select cruises/cruise tours, children must be at least 1-year old.
All About Celebrity Cruises
Celebrity Cruises Specials
Celebrity Cruises Shore Excursions
Celebrity Cruises Reviews
Celebrity Cruises Deck Plans
About Celebrity Cruises
The stylish ships of Celebrity Cruises feature high-end decor, modern technology, excellent enrichment programs, superior dining options and outstanding spas.
The Solstice Class ships have larger staterooms than those on previous classes; 80% have verandas. Highlights of these ships are: the Lawn Club (with a half-acre of manicured lawn), multiple dining venues, a multi-million-dollar art collection, a large theater and the spa-inspired AquaClass suites and the AquaClass signature restaurant, Blu.
Celebrity is the first cruise line in the world to offer SPE-certified dishes in their main restaurant on the Reflection (but likely to follow on other ships). This newest designation means that culinary experts have vetted the dishes and certified that they are not only nutritious, but also delicious.
On the newer ships, passengers can seek a little privacy by booking a fee-based "Alcove," where they'll have chilled towels, fresh fruit and use of a pre-loaded iPad. An Alcove Butler can arrange spa treatments, food and other services.
Many of the line's Millennium Class ships have been "solsticized," meaning that they have received Solstice Class upgrades.
The line sails in Alaska, Bermuda, California, Canada/New England, Europe, the Pacific Coast, Panama Canal, South America, Caribbean and the Galapagos Islands (the small Celebrity Xpedition sails luxury expeditions to the Galapagos).
The line offers Cruisetours, land-based extensions of their cruises to Alaska, Canada, Europe and South America.
Celebrity Cruises is best for:
Families with young children;
Families with teen-agers;
Family reunions, multi-generational;
Young adults looking for soft adventure and sports activities;
Boomers looking for a cruise with lots of enrichment at sea;
Travelers who want a taste of luxury at a premium cruise price.
The atmosphere and experience onboard Celebrity Cruises:
Celebrity is an upscale line that offers some of the small luxuries (like welcome champagne and mimosas) associated with the luxury lines. The ships have elegant public areas featuring high-end artwork, sophisticated modern decor, spacious staterooms and multiple dining choices.
There is no shortage of onboard activities and entertainment. During the day passengers can choose culinary classes/events, language classes, yoga classes, cultural enrichment by distinguished lecturers – or lighter fare, like dance classes, games and competitions. At night, expect Vegas-style revues, comedians, talent shows, etc.
As is the case on some mid-size mainstream ships, there is a dress code. Shorts, flip-flops are fine during the day, but not in the evening. Swimsuits, tank tops, bare feet, etc. are not allowed in the restaurants. Smart-casual prevails for dinner; formal wear (suits, tuxedos, cocktail dresses and gowns) is recommended during formal nights.
The clientele of Celebrity Cruises:
Generally moderately affluent and well-educated adults with an average age of 50+. The line also attracts families, especially during school holidays. On European cruises, the passenger mix is more international. Most are experienced travelers who are looking for an above-average mainstream cruise line experience.
Regarding children onboard Celebrity Cruises:
Infants sailing on a cruise must be at least 6 months old as of the first day of the cruise/Cruisetour. However, for Transatlantic, Transpacific, select South American cruises/Cruisetours and other select cruises/Cruisetours, the infant must be at least 12 months old (as of the first day of the cruise/Cruisetour). For the purposes of this policy, any cruise that has 3 or more consecutive days at sea will require infants to be 12 months old on the first day of the cruise/Cruisetour. Children's programs and babysitting are available on board.
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Azamara Club Cruises
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