Several cruise lines with Bahamas/Caribbean itineraries feature a “private island” (also called an “out-island”). This is a small island close to Nassau in the Bahamas outfitted with all the ingredients to make an all-day beach party a “nice day out.” Also available are water sports, scuba, snorkelling, crystal-clear waters, warm sands, even a hammock or two, and, possibly, massage in a beach cabana. There are no reservations to make, no tickets to buy, and no hassles with taxis. But you may be sharing your private island with more than 5,000 others from a single large resort ship anchored for a “beach barbecue.
One bonus is that a “private island” will not be cluttered with hawkers and hustlers, as are so many Caribbean beaches. And, because they are private, there is security, and no fear of passengers being mugged, as occurs in some islands.
Private island beach days are not all-inclusive, however, and attract premium prices for snorkel gear (and mandatory swim vest), rental pleasure craft, and “banana” boat fun rides; it has become yet another way for cruise lines to increase revenue. But then it does cost a lot of money to develop a private island. Examples: Disney Cruise Line spent $25 million developing and outfitting Castaway Cay (formerly Gorda Cay), while Holland America Line spent $16 million developing Half Moon Cay.
Although private islands sound attractive, remember that many items are at extra cost. Examples: Sunfish sailboat rental, $40 per hour; snorkel gear rental, $10 per hour; floating foam mattress, $6; bottle of water, $2.50–$4; ice cream, $1.50–$3; water bicycle, $5–$10 per 15 minutes; use of hammock, $2.50–$5.
Name of Island
(out of 10)
Disney Cruise Line
Holland America Line
Half Moon Cay
Norwegian Cruise Lines
Great Stirrup Cay
Royal Caribbean Intl.
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