Embarking on a cruise is not merely a journey across the open seas; it’s an immersive experience that extends beyond the confines of the ship. Cruise lines have mastered the art of creating paradisiacal escapes, owning and developing private islands and ports that serve as exclusive havens for their passengers. With the azure waters of the Caribbean, these destinations offer a blend of natural beauty, luxury, and a plethora of curated activities. In this article, we invite you to set sail with us as we explore the enchanting islands and ports owned by various cruise lines, uncovering the unique and thrilling activities that await travelers.

CocoCay (Perfect Day at CocoCay) – Royal Caribbean
Location: The Bahamas

CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s private island destination in The Bahamas, is known for its innovative and extensive offerings, making it stand out in the world of cruise line private islands. The uniqueness of CocoCay lies in several key features, as CocoCay is part of Royal Caribbean’s “Perfect Day Island Collection,” emphasizing a commitment to providing guests with an exceptional and memorable experience. 

One of the (literally) bigger highlights of the island is the Thrill Waterpark, featuring a variety of exciting water slides, including the tallest waterslide in North America; for those seeking adrenaline, it’s a must-have experience. However, For those wanting a more relaxing time in the water, the island also boasts the largest freshwater pool in the Caribbean. Oasis Lagoon offers a relaxing escape with swim-up bars and various other water activities.

The Coco Beach Club is an exclusive beach club that provides a more luxurious experience with overwater cabanas, an upscale restaurant, and a dedicated beach area, offering a serene and elevated atmosphere. And if you get hungry, CocoCay offers a diverse range of dining options, including complimentary beachside BBQ, specialty dining venues, and snack shacks, ensuring that guests have a variety of culinary experiences.

For those seeking even more relaxation, Chill Island provides pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and numerous beachside activities, creating a  serene and tranquil retreat for guests.

Of course, it wouldn’t be complete without excursions and adventures. CocoCay offers a range of exciting activities such as a helium balloon ride (Up, Up and Away), zip-lining, and a freshwater obstacle course (Splashaway Bay), making sure guests with all preferences can be entertained. The island provides a diverse array of shore excursions, allowing those interested to explore the natural beauty and culture of The Bahamas– beyond the cruise ship. 

These unique features collectively contribute to CocoCay’s reputation as a standout private island destination amongst cruise lines, providing Royal Caribbean passengers with a perfect blend of thrill, relaxation, and upscale amenities while on vacation. 

Labadee – Royal Caribbean
Location: Haiti

Labadee, Royal Caribbean’s private paradise on the northern coast of Haiti, stands out for its natural beauty, diverse attractions, and exclusive experiences. Like CocoCay, there are many features that make this island stand out, the first of which being situated in a picturesque location with lush landscapes, beautiful beaches, and crystal-clear waters. The natural beauty of the surroundings creates a tropical haven for cruise passengers. And as a private destination, Labadee is exclusive to Royal Caribbean guests, providing a secluded and secure environment for a variety of activities and relaxation.

The island also offers a range of thrilling activities, including the Dragon’s Breath Flight Line – one of the world’s longest zip lines; an exhilarating experience with stunning views of the coastline. Labadee also features an inflatable water park, the Arawak Aqua Park, where guests can enjoy bouncing, sliding, and climbing on a floating playground in the ocean for a fun and unique water experience.

Guests can explore the island’s coastline on the Labadee Coastal Cruise, taking in the scenic beauty and the surrounding waters– an opportunity to relax while enjoying the natural splendor this island is well-known for. Taking it a step further, Labadee allows visitors to experience the local Haitian culture through the Artisan’s Market, where local craftsmen showcase their handmade goods and give a taste of the true local culture. 

For those seeking a more exclusive and private retreat, Labadee offers private cabanas right on the beaches, providing a shaded and comfortable space with personalized service, perfect for a relaxing day in paradise. And it isn’t hard to do so with the multiple pristine beaches that Labadee offers, room for plenty of guests to relax on the sand, swim in the inviting waters, and soak up the Caribbean sun.

Great Stirrup Cay – Norwegian Cruise Line
Location: Bahamas

Great Stirrup Cay is a private island in the Bahamas that stands out for its natural beauty, exclusive amenities, and a variety of activities tailored to enhance the cruise vacation experience. The island is surrounded by pristine turquoise waters, soft sandy beaches, and lush tropical vegetation, providing a stunning backdrop for visitors looking to unwind in a truly beautiful setting.

Thrill-seekers can experience the island from above with a ziplining adventure that offers breathtaking views of the coastline and crystal-clear waters, or take a swim with marine life during their offered Stingray Encounter activity. Additionally, any fans of history and snorkeling are sure to have a good time with the Fate of the Fancy Snorkel Adventure, where guests can dive to revel at a sunken ship from 1696, rumored to have encountered a creature named Lusca sailing from Nassau, Bahamas.

The relaxers in your group looking for a more elegant experience can rent private beachfront cabanas equipped with comfortable furnishings, personalized service, and stunning views, creating a more exclusive and relaxing atmosphere.

The island also provides excellent opportunities for more surface level water activities such as kayaking, paddleboarding, and even swimming with pigs. And for those seeking to be even higher on the water, Great Stirrup Cay provides island tours and eco-boat tours, giving their guests the opportunity to explore the overall natural beauty of the Bahamas.

And of course, with plenty of options for beachside dining you’ll never be hungry– or thirsty. The island is home to NCL’s Bacardi Bar, Abaco Taco, Patron Bar, Jumbey Beach Grill, and more. 

Overall, Great Stirrup Cay provides just enough fun and relaxation for any eager traveler, making it a serene, respectable staple amongst cruise line owned private islands.

Princess Cays – Princess Cruises
Location: Bahamas

Princess Cays is an exclusive port located on the southern tip of Eleuthera in the Bahamas, surrounded by pristine white-sand beaches, crystal-clear waters, and lush tropical landscapes. The island’s natural beauty provides a serene and picturesque backdrop for all visitors. As a private destination, Princess Cays is reserved for Princess Cruises guests, ensuring a more intimate and secure environment for those seeking a relaxing and enjoyable day ashore.

For even further exclusivity, Princess Cruises offers its MedallionClass perks while on Princess Cays, allowing passengers to enjoy a seamless and personalized vacation with features like keyless stateroom entry, touchless payment, and on-demand services– even on the beach! 

Like many of the beaches on this list, guests can rent private beachfront cabanas equipped with comfortable furnishings, dedicated service, and stunning ocean views for a more luxurious and secluded retreat. Also similar to our past islands, Princess Cays offers a variety of water-based activities such as snorkeling, paddleboarding, and kayaking through a lagoon, allowing anyone onboard to explore the vibrant marine life and enjoy the warm Caribbean waters. 

You’ll also find the aforementioned Stringray Encounter as well as Banana Boat Rides, and outdoor adventures that allow you to see the island of Eleuthera on a coastal cruise.

Lastly, Princess Cays boasts great fishing opportunities for any guests looking to cast a line into the colorful waters surrounding the port. 

With its combination of breathtaking landscapes, exclusive amenities, and a variety of activities, Princess Cays provides a unique and memorable destination for Princess Cruises passengers, offering a perfect blend of relaxation and exploration in a tropical paradise.

Half Moon Cay (Little San Salvador) – Carnival Cruise Line
Location: Bahamas

Nicknamed after its distinctly round and symmetrical shape, Half Moon Cay is celebrated for its pristine and unspoiled natural beauty, featuring powdery white-sand beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and lush greenery. The island’s untouched landscapes create a serene and idyllic atmosphere, making it a haven for relaxation. 

Carnival offers not only private cabanas on Half Moon Cay but villas as well, providing guests with an upscale and secluded retreat away from any crowds. These cabanas, like others, come with personalized service, comfortable furnishings, and stunning views, enhancing the overall island experience. You’ll also find the very familiar Stingray Adventure on their beaches as well! 

What’s more exciting is Half Moon Cay’s distinctive Horseback Riding Experience, where you’re able to ride horses into or along the beautiful ocean waves while the sun sets. This activity is considered impressive even to the well-traveled guest, and not to mention makes a perfect date night. 

The island’s fan favorite (especially to the rum lovers) would be the Captain Morgan on the Rocks Bar, a themed bar named after the infamous pirate. This adds a touch of whimsy and charm to the island’s ambiance and comes in the form of a beached pirate ship, carved from wood with diners propped right on the deck– arrgh! 

Along with kayaking, paddleboarding, and snorkeling you can expect all the typical water sports on Half Moon Cay as you could any other private beach, port, or island. Don’t pass up a chance next time to see the beautiful beaches of this small but mighty destination.

Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve – MSC Cruises
Location: Bahamas 

Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve stands out as a unique and environmentally conscious private island destination in the Bahamas. There are several aspects to this island that set it apart from others you may come across on your sailings. Ocean Cay is positioned as a marine reserve with a strong emphasis on environmental sustainability and marine conservation. MSC Cruises has undertaken extensive efforts to restore the coral reefs and marine ecosystems around the island, making it a great destination for eco-conscious travelers.

Ocean Cay offers guests a chance to experience Bahamian culture through local arts, crafts, and cuisine. The island’s design carefully and intentionally incorporates traditional Bahamian elements, providing an authentic and immersive experience for those looking to dive into their inner local.

To regulars the most iconic scene on Ocean Cay is a red and white lighthouse that serves as a symbol of the island. During the day, you’re able to take a guided tour to the top of the lighthouse and take in a 360 view of the island and surrounding waters. In the evening, the area around the lighthouse transforms into a vibrant hub with live music, performances, and entertainment, creating a unique atmosphere for guests. 

Ocean Cay features exclusive seaside villas with overwater platforms, allowing guests to enjoy panoramic views of the ocean from just inches above. These upscale accommodations offer a luxurious and picturesque escape, perfect for any facebook or instagram! Of course, you’ll find all the typical water adventures mentioned before like kayaking, paddleboarding, and snorkeling. As an added bonus, MSC provides beachside stargazing for any astronomy enthusiasts. 

While being beautiful and fun, MSC Cruises actively engages in marine conservation programs on Ocean Cay and takes this project seriously for the benefit of all marine life and those around it. These efforts include coral restoration projects, educational programs, and collaborations with marine scientists, contributing to the island’s unique commitment to environmental stewardship.

The combination of environmental sustainability, cultural immersion, and exclusive amenities makes Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve a distinctive and forward-thinking private island destination. Its commitment to marine conservation and responsible tourism sets it apart as a model for eco-friendly and authentic cruise line experiences.

Harvest Caye – Norwegian Cruise Line
Location: Belize

Harvest Caye is a private island destination in Belize that stands out for its distinctive features and diverse offerings. Being located in Belize and providing visitors with an opportunity to experience the rich cultural and natural heritage of the country, the island incorporates Belizean elements in its design, architecture, and offerings, offering an authentic taste of the local culture.

To a smaller degree than MSC’s Marine Reserve, this island emphasizes sustainability and eco-friendliness in its design and operations and underlying benefit. From the use of local materials to energy-efficient practices, Harvest Caye is committed to minimizing its environmental impact, making it a safe choice for those that don’t want all the fun to affect the planet’s health. 

One of the unique features of Harvest Caye is its large saltwater lagoon. This expansive body of water offers guests the chance to enjoy water activities, including kayaking and paddleboarding, in a unique and picturesque setting. The island also features an observation tower that allows guests to take in panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes. It’s an excellent vantage point for observing the diverse flora and fauna native to Belize, especially for those with love and curiosity for plants– even just the ones at home!

Ready for a little more history and exploration? Take a boat to the mainland to visit the Mayan Temple at Nim LI Punit. Explore the lifestyle, practices, and rituals of the ancient Mayans through the depictions and inscriptions found at the Mayan Ruins and delve into the rich history of the Mayans as you uncover the details preserved at this remarkable site.

In summary, Harvest Caye’s commitment to sustainability, its Belizean cultural integration, unique features like the saltwater lagoon and observation tower, and the availability of private villas contribute to making it a distinctive and memorable private island destination within the cruise industry.

Balmoral Island – Norwegian Cruise Line
Location: Bahamas

Located in the Bahamas, Balmoral Island offers a unique blend of luxury, relaxation, and aquatic adventures. Balmoral Island distinguishes itself through its focus on marine encounters, luxurious amenities, and a diverse range of activities, creating a unique and memorable experience for visitors.

Along with the popular Stingray Encounter, one of the standout features of Balmoral Island is the opportunity for guests to engage in the Dolphin Encounter. The island offers programs that allow visitors to interact with these intelligent marine mammals in a few different ways, curating both a memorable and educational experience with guests. 

As expected Balmoral Island is one of many islands that are homes to beachfront cabanas for those seeking an elevated and private retreat. Equipped with comfortable amenities and personalized service, these cabanas provide a luxurious escape with stunning ocean views. The island provides a variety of water-based activities as well, including snorkeling, paddleboarding, and kayaking, catering to both your active friends and those seeking a more laid-back experience in the crystal-clear Bahamian waters.

Many guests have found oasis in Balmoral Island’s infinity pool and beach club for guests looking to unwind in a sophisticated and stylish setting. This chic area provides a perfect blend of relaxation, modernism, and entertainment. Additionally, The island offers diverse dining options, ranging from casual beachside eateries to more upscale restaurants for travelers looking to indulge, all of which having beautiful beachy views. 

In summary, Balmoral Island distinguishes itself through its focus on marine encounters, luxurious amenities, and a diverse range of activities, creating a unique and memorable experience for visitors.

Amber Cove – Carnival
Location: Dominican Republic

Amber Cove stands out with its vibrant atmosphere, diverse offerings, and unique design. Amber Cove prioritizes an authentic Dominican experience, showcasing the rich culture, music, and crafts of the Dominican Republic. Visitors have the opportunity to engage with local artists, sample Dominican cuisine, and experience the warmth of the island’s culture. The port’s architecture is inspired by the Victorian era, creating a visually striking and unique atmosphere. The colorful buildings, cobblestone streets, and architectural details contribute to an aesthetically pleasing and memorable environment. 

A highlight of Amber Cove is its expansive pool area with water features, providing a resort-like setting for relaxation. Visitors can enjoy the pool, water slides, and other aquatic amenities, creating a lively and enjoyable atmosphere. Amber Cove also includes a shopping and dining village with a variety of shops offering local crafts, jewelry, and souvenirs. Additionally, there are numerous dining options, allowing visitors to savor both local and international cuisines.

While Amber Cove is a destination in itself, it also serves as a gateway to explore Puerto Plata, a nearby city with historical sites, museums, and scenic landscapes. This allows cruise passengers to extend their exploration beyond the port, especially with the option of a private van!

For those in need of a little more adventure, you can conquer the beautiful, natural waterfalls during the Damajagua Falls excursion. This waterfall adventure has it all — from hiking through breathtaking scenery and canyoneering through narrow passages to sliding down natural water slides and swimming through caverns. Or if you’re searching for something thrilling and fast-paced, go on a Buggy Adventure and off-road through river crossings and mud, exploring local villages along the way. Lastly, if you’d like to top it all off with some animal companionship, enter the tropical jungle and feed squirrel monkeys on the Monkeyland adventure. Careful, though, these cheeky creatures are known to have an affinity for all things shiny! 

In summary, Amber Cove distinguishes itself with its emphasis on Dominican culture, Victorian-inspired architecture, diverse activities, and a well-designed port layout. The combination of these elements creates a unique and vibrant experience for cruise passengers visiting this privately owned cruise port.

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