7 Private Islands You Can Visit on a Cruise

by Lisa Cheng

7 Private Islands You Can Visit on a Cruise

by Lisa Cheng

For cruisers who dream of long stretches of white sand, the cruise lines' private islands are a Caribbean dream come true. These resorts have everything you could want for a day at the beach, from elaborate water parks and adrenaline-inducing adventures, to swaths of soft sand and hammocks swinging under palm trees. Here, the seven cruise line-owned private islands we wouldn't mind being stranded on for the day.

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Lounging on Great Stirrup Cay / NCL
Private cabana
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1. Castaway Cay, Bahamas

Who Sails There: Disney Cruise Line

This patch of paradise in the Bahamas is the onshore version of what you’d find on Disney’s ships, with trams that shuttle guests around the island. There are family-friendly areas populated with costumed characters, including play zones with geysers and bucket dumps, and a snorkeling lagoon with underwater surprises. Bonus: For the adults who want to escape from the overstimulated tots and tweens, there’s a no-kids-allowed beach that’s blissfully serene (and, it's aptly named Serenity Bay).    

Who Sails There: Disney Cruise Line

This patch of paradise in the Bahamas is the onshore version of what you’d find on Disney’s ships, with trams that shuttle guests around the island. There are family-friendly areas populated with costumed characters, including play zones with geysers and bucket dumps, and a snorkeling lagoon with underwater surprises. Bonus: For the adults who want to escape from the overstimulated tots and tweens, there’s a no-kids-allowed beach that’s blissfully serene (and, it's aptly named Serenity Bay).    

Great Stirrup Cay
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2. Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas

Who Sails There: Norwegian Cruise Line

Once a pirate hideout, this 250-acre island — popular for its stingray encounter and inflatable water slide — recently underwent major renovations. Here, you can choose from an array of shore excursions (think kayaking, snorkeling, and even swimming with pigs!). You'll also find six bars and restaurants (from tacos and tequila to burgers and beers). Large groups can rent private cabanas and enjoy sweeping ocean views, fresh fruit, bottled water, and other luxe amenities. 

 

Who Sails There: Norwegian Cruise Line

Once a pirate hideout, this 250-acre island — popular for its stingray encounter and inflatable water slide — recently underwent major renovations. Here, you can choose from an array of shore excursions (think kayaking, snorkeling, and even swimming with pigs!). You'll also find six bars and restaurants (from tacos and tequila to burgers and beers). Large groups can rent private cabanas and enjoy sweeping ocean views, fresh fruit, bottled water, and other luxe amenities. 

 

CocoCay
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3. CocoCay, Bahamas

Who Sails There: Royal Caribbean

This 140-acre island just underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation and is now home to a massive water park, where you can find the tallest water slide in North America. Here, you'll also find a new beach club, the Caribbeans’ largest freshwater pool, and private overwater cabanas (the only ones in the Bahamas!). Additionally, there are bars and restaurants, along with a hot air balloon and a play area for little ones.  

Who Sails There: Royal Caribbean

This 140-acre island just underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation and is now home to a massive water park, where you can find the tallest water slide in North America. Here, you'll also find a new beach club, the Caribbeans’ largest freshwater pool, and private overwater cabanas (the only ones in the Bahamas!). Additionally, there are bars and restaurants, along with a hot air balloon and a play area for little ones.  

The 100-Foot-Long Beach
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4. Princess Cays, Bahamas

Who Sails There: Princess Cruises

This resort is located on the southern tip of Eleuthera, which means that you have the choice of swimming on one end of the island or venturing further afield on excursions to the Tarpum Bay fishing village or Rock Sound, known for a bottomless blowhole. You can also rent noodles, floats, and aqua chairs back at the resort, or hop on a coastal cruise. Don't miss the opportunity to take in the sea breezes — and the views — from the isle's wooden observation tower.

 

Who Sails There: Princess Cruises

This resort is located on the southern tip of Eleuthera, which means that you have the choice of swimming on one end of the island or venturing further afield on excursions to the Tarpum Bay fishing village or Rock Sound, known for a bottomless blowhole. You can also rent noodles, floats, and aqua chairs back at the resort, or hop on a coastal cruise. Don't miss the opportunity to take in the sea breezes — and the views — from the isle's wooden observation tower.

 

Harvest Caye's Pool
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5. Harvest Caye, Belize

Who Sails There: Norwegian Cruise Line

This island in southern Belize offers an expansive pool area, luxe beachside cabanas, a salt water lagoon for water sports (think kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and electric float boats), a large marina where you'll find bars and restaurants, and an expansive shopping village where you can find big-name brands along with local handmade crafts. The island is also home to the 136-foot-tall Flighthouse, where you can zipline and take in sweeping views from the observation decks. Popular excursions include mangrove tours, river tubing, and parasailing. You can also visit the ancient Mayan archeological site of Nim Li Punit.

 

Who Sails There: Norwegian Cruise Line

This island in southern Belize offers an expansive pool area, luxe beachside cabanas, a salt water lagoon for water sports (think kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and electric float boats), a large marina where you'll find bars and restaurants, and an expansive shopping village where you can find big-name brands along with local handmade crafts. The island is also home to the 136-foot-tall Flighthouse, where you can zipline and take in sweeping views from the observation decks. Popular excursions include mangrove tours, river tubing, and parasailing. You can also visit the ancient Mayan archeological site of Nim Li Punit.

 

Horseback riding in Half Moon Cay
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6. Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

Who Sails There: Carnival Cruise Line

The focal point of this Bahamian port is a crescent-shaped stretch of sparkling sand, where passengers can go for a dip, soak in the sun or even go horseback riding. Other popular activities include kayaking, snorkeling, biking, and boating. Kids and adults alike will love Stingray Cove, where passengers can get up-close and personal with the magnificent creatures. There's also an onsite water park. 

Who Sails There: Carnival Cruise Line

The focal point of this Bahamian port is a crescent-shaped stretch of sparkling sand, where passengers can go for a dip, soak in the sun or even go horseback riding. Other popular activities include kayaking, snorkeling, biking, and boating. Kids and adults alike will love Stingray Cove, where passengers can get up-close and personal with the magnificent creatures. There's also an onsite water park. 

Labadee Rental Cabana
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7. Labadee, Haiti

Who Sails There: Royal Caribbean 

A typical day at this 260-acre beach resort, which his located on a secluded peninsula on Haiti’s northern coast, can be as relaxing or thrilling as you want it to be. If you like heights and fast speeds, make a beeline for the Dragon's Tail Coaster that twists and turns against the backdrop of a rainforest. Then, get your gear on for the Dragon’s Breath Flight Line, where you can zoom down a cord suspended a vertigo-inducing 500 feet over the water. You'll also find several bars and restaurants, private bungalows, and lots of shopping in the onsite Artisan's Village.

 

Who Sails There: Royal Caribbean 

A typical day at this 260-acre beach resort, which his located on a secluded peninsula on Haiti’s northern coast, can be as relaxing or thrilling as you want it to be. If you like heights and fast speeds, make a beeline for the Dragon's Tail Coaster that twists and turns against the backdrop of a rainforest. Then, get your gear on for the Dragon’s Breath Flight Line, where you can zoom down a cord suspended a vertigo-inducing 500 feet over the water. You'll also find several bars and restaurants, private bungalows, and lots of shopping in the onsite Artisan's Village.

 

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