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October 31, 2005

Butler Service on a Private Island?

Picture yourself in an air-conditioned, open-air cabana a few steps from the warm, blue, pristine waters of a secluded Caribbean beach. A private butler is nearby to meet your every need. Is this heaven? Not quite, but Holland America's private island in the Bahamas - Half Moon Cay - is but the latest example of how many cruise lines continually look for outrageous ways to pamper their guests.

During the past several years, cruise lines have purchased large tracts of land and developed exclusive tropical getaways on some of the Caribbean Sea' s most picturesque islands. Turquoise waters, stunning coral reefs, beautiful beaches and native fauna and wildlife draw the awe of visitors disembarking from their cruise ships for the day.

Several of the larger cruise lines offer private island stops:

Holland America - Rated "Best Private Island" by Porthole Cruise Magazine.

Royal Caribbean - Coco Cay is located on a secluded 140-acre private island in the middle of the Caribbean Sea. The tropical paradise was recently updated with new aquatic facilities, nature trails and tons of places to relax.

Norwegian Cruise Line - Travelers set foot on Great Stirrup Cay, located 120 nautical miles east of Fort Lauderdale in the Bahamas. There are two maintained beaches on the island, plus several more isolated beaches.

Disney Cruise Line - Disney's Castaway Cay provides plenty of magic for people of all ages. Only ten percent of the three-mile long island has been developed, providing plenty of opportunities for guests to enjoy its natural beauty. Attractions include the Castaway Family Beach, Serenity Bay, Teen Beach and Scuttle's Cove for kids.

Most of the private islands offer:

Island fun includes seaboards, aqua bikes, Hobie Cat sailboats, paddle wheelers, banana boats and transparent hull kayaks. For those who just want to relax, there are plenty of beach umbrellas, tiki huts and hammocks slung between shady trees. Other popular activities include wave runner tours, snorkeling and parasailing.

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