The 12 Best Cruise Line Private Islands (And Who Owns Them)

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Cruise line private islands are extensions of the ships themselves – featuring larger versions of onboard splash parks and the same great food you’ll find on the ship. You may even find that cruise ship drinks and wi-fi packages are able to be used on land, at no extra cost.

Just as some people book a cruise solely to experience the ship, cruise line private islands are becoming so good that people are booking short two- or three-night cruises just to visit a private island.

But, which islands should you put at the top of your wish list? I’ve rounded up the best.

1. Perfect Day at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean

Perfect Day at CocoCay
  • Cruise line: Royal Caribbean
  • Location: Bahamas
  • Size: 140 acres
  • Tender or dock: Dock

Widely regarded as the best cruise private island in the world, Royal Caribbean’s island underwent a huge $200 million revamp in 2019. This project saw the addition of many Instagram-worthy features including the tallest water slide in North America, the largest freshwater swimming pool in the Caribbean and a 1600-foot-long zip line.

To take in the views of this incredible island, cruisers can head up in a helium balloon to snap photos from 300 feet in the air. The Coco Beach Club includes Maldives-style private overwater villas and an exclusive infinity pool overlooking the private beach.

Perfect for children of all ages, on CocoCay children can enjoy a huge Splashaway Bay water park with slides and tipping buckets, as well as Captain Jill’s Galleon, which is a large pirate ship with cannons that spray water. Unlike the main Thrill Waterpark on the island, these children’s facilities are all available to enjoy without an extra charge.

Read more: Tips for Visiting CocoCay with Young Kids

2. Ocean Cay Marine Reserve, MSC Cruises

Ocean Cay Marine Reserve
  • Cruise line: MSC Cruises
  • Location: Bahamas
  • Size: 95 acres
  • Tender or dock: Dock

MSC Cruises’ private island resort, Ocean Cay Marine Reserve is part of the Bimini chain of islands. This paradise island has a focus on connecting with nature and sustainability.

Motorised water sports are forbidden here, in order to protect the delicate coral reef. Instead, activities to enjoy include kayaking, paddle-boarding or, if that sound too strenuous, you can rent an electric pedalo. Scuba diving and snorkelling are also popular.

Ocean Cay is a place not just to appreciate nature, but also to enhance your own personal wellbeing, and a range of yoga and fitness classes are available, alongside relaxing spa treatments and massages. Late-night stays on the island are possible, giving guests the option to gaze at stars in an area that’s relatively free of light pollution.

Children will love the Family Lagoon Beach with shallow water for little ones to splash around. There’s also a 100-foot lighthouse which you can climb for some amazing views.

Read more: 26 Secrets You Must Know Before You Visit Ocean Cay

3. Half Moon Cay, Holland America Line & Carnival

Aerial view of Half Moon Cay
  • Cruise line: Holland America Line and Carnival
  • Location: Bahamas
  • Size: 2,400 acres
  • Tender or dock: Tender boat

The largest of all of the cruise line private islands, Half Moon Cay has been voted ‘Best Private Island’ by Porthole Cruise Magazine every year for the past 17 years.

Unlike some other private islands, development has been kept to a minimum, meaning guests can enjoy unspoilt nature trails and a relaxing time exploring the ten miles of white sandy beaches either on foot, on a bicycle or on horseback. You can even go swimming with horses should you wish.

Although 95% of this island hasn’t been developed, there’s still lots for kids to enjoy. The Half Moon Lagoon Aqua Park has slides and a pirate ship that shoots water from its cannons. There’s also a dry playground with slides, swings, see-saws and more pirate ships.

Continuing with the pirate these, Half Moon Cay also has a huge three-storey pirate ship with fantastic views from the top level; the other two levels are a bar.

Suggested read: 18 Things To Know Before You Visit Half Moon Cay

4. Castaway Cay, Disney Cruise Line

Castaway Cay
  • Cruise line: Disney Cruise Line
  • Location: Bahamas
  • Size: 1,000 acres
  • Tender or dock: Dock

Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay is, as expected, a fantastic place for children of all ages. But did you know that there’s lots for adults to enjoy too?

The island has distinct beach areas for various ages – the Family Beach, the Sports Beach and the adults-only Serenity Bay. The Family Beach is the closest to the ship and here you’ll find loads of child-friendly activities such as a 2,400-square-foot floating platform with two water slides, spray cannons and a giant tipping bucket.

There’s also a Snorkelling Lagoon with a path to follow to see not only tropical fish, but special buried treasure!

The Sports Beach is popular with teens and is the place to enjoy a wide variety of sporting activities such as volleyball and tetherball. Serenity Bay is a lovely quiet spot for adults to relax, enjoy the views or enjoy a massage in one of the open-air cabanas.

If you visit Castaway Cay, keep an eye out for Goofy, Olaf and other characters who are known to enjoy a visit to the island too.

Read more: 19 Secrets To Know About Castaway Cay

5. Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian Cruise Line

Great Stirrup Cay
  • Cruise line: Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Location: Bahamas
  • Size: 268 acres
  • Tender or dock: Tender boat

Located in the Berry Islands, Great Stirrup Cay offers the ultimate in blissful relaxation. It’s a snorkellers paradise with crystal-clear waters where you can see turtles and tropical fish – there’s even an underwater sculpture garden.

Should you wish to swim with the famous Bahamian swimming pigs, they can be found on Treasure Island which is just a ten-minute boat ride away. You could also take an excursion to nearby Stingray City to swim with the friendly stingrays.

Great Stirrup Cay has three beaches: Bertrams Beach, Cabana’s Beach and Fiesta Beach. Bertram’s beach is named after the British naval commander who settled on the island in the 18th century (and who could blame him!) It has lots of beach loungers, hammocks and shady palm trees.

A little further along is Cabana’s Beach where you’ll find cabanas to hire. Furthest from the pier is Fiesta Beach which is a quieter spot away from the hustle and bustle of the other beaches,

Norwegian Cruise Line also offers private villas in the exclusive Silver Cove area of the island. These come with air conditioning, a TV and on-demand movies. Personally, if I wanted to watch TV in a cold room, I’d turn off the heating and do that at home. There’s no way I’d be wasting the day in a villa on a private island!

Read more: All About Great Stirrup Cay

6. Harvest Caye, Norwegian Cruise Line

Harvest Caye

Cruise line: Norwegian Cruise Line
Location: Belize, Central America
Size: 75 acres
Tender or dock: Dock

Harvest Caye was opened in 2016 as part of a massive investment program by NCL, and is part-owned by the cruise line (the other part is owned by the Belizian government).

The bars, shops and restaurants are all run by the government so while it’s an island that only NCL ships will visit, it’s not really a totally cruise-line owned island. It’s a more authentic destination.

It’s also the only destination in the entire of Belize where there’s a pier for cruise ships, so you don’t need to take a tender.

There are plenty of exciting things you can do on the island, including a river tubing adventures through the rainforest and parasailing along the coast. You can also visit a Mayan temple, or take a serene sightseeing tour among the mangrove estuaries to see the native manatees.

Or you can, of course, just chill by the side of the pool. It’s up to you.

Read more about Harvest Caye.

7. Labadee, Royal Caribbean

Labadee

Cruise line: Royal Caribbean
Location: Haiti
Size: 260 acres
Tender or dock: Dock

Not so much a private island, but a private resort on a much bigger island, Labadee has been leased to Royal Caribbean until 2050 and has been used by both Royal Caribbean and sister line Celebrity Cruises in the past.

It’s a resort that’s cut off from the rest of Haiti, with a private security force keeping anybody else out (and stopping wandering cruise guests from leaving the resort too, in theory). Not that you’d want to, since there’s plenty to see and do already.

The best attraction is the Dragon’s Breath zip line which runs from the top of the mountain and reaches speeds of up to 50mph – definitely one for the thrill-seekers.

If you want something a little more laid back, then you can choose from a couple of different beaches, with Columbus Cove being the quietest since it’s the furthest from the port (though there is a free ferry to take you there). Passengers in a Grand Suite or above also have access to the private Barefoot Beach.

There’s a kids splash park too, as well as a couple of other water play areas with slides so the little ones will love the day too. And any drinks package you have onboard carries over onto the island as well.

Read more about Labadee, Haiti.

8. Princess Cays, Princess Cruises

Princess Cays

Cruise line: Princess Cruises
Location: Bahamas
Size: 40 acres
Tender or dock: Tender

The island of Eleuthera is pretty special – it’s 100 miles long and only 2 miles wide. At the southern tip, Princess Cruises has exclusive access to the Princess Cays resort including over half a mile of the gorgeous white sands.

There are a ton of different sporting activities you can try both on land or in the water, or you can climb the observation tower to enjoy some amazing views in all directions.

And if that all sounds like too much effort, just grab yourself a lounger, pick up a cocktail and take it easy, making sure you stop off at the free beach barbecue when you’re in need of a bite to eat.

Read more about Princess Cays

9. Motu Mahana, Paul Gauguin Cruises

Cruise line: Paul Gauguin
Location: French Polynesia
Size: Approximately 4 acres
Tender or dock: Tender

One of the smallest islands on this list, Motu Mahana really is a tranquil tropical escape. Both because of the size of the island and also the style of the cruise line, don’t expect massive shopping markets or a huge range of planned excursions.

That doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do, but it’s a more gentle approach to island life. You can still try some watersports or a game of volleyball, and swim and snorkel amongst the coral and colourful fish.

You can enjoy a massage or learn how to open a coconut, and when you’re ready for a drink there’s a floating cocktail bar that just sounds heavenly.

10. The Beach Club at Bimini, Virgin Voyages

Cruise line: Virgin Voyages
Location: Bahamas
Size: 4.5 acres
Tender or dock: Tender

Another destination that is not a private island but instead a private resort on part of a larger island, The Beach Club is a beautiful escape where you can enjoy a tranquil getaway on a beach that’s reserved for cruise guests.

From there, things can get a little more exciting if you want them to – you can take a guided scuba dive through the shipwrecks, and even go shark-diving if you feel like your heartrate has been a little too relaxed for too long.

Plus there’s the chance to get out and explore the historical sites of North Bimini, with a ton of authentic culture to discover that, to date, has been preserved from the huge tourist numbers that visit other parts of the Bahamas.

Read more about Bimini Beach Club.

11. Catalina Island, Costa Cruises

Cruise line: Costa Cruises
Location: Dominican Republic
Size: 2,400 acres
Tender or dock: Tender

“Isla Catalina” in Spanish, this is a popular cruise destination for a number of different cruise lines, but only Costa Cruises has its own private beach on the island. Motor vehicles are banned on the island despite its relatively large size, which really makes you feel like you’ve escaped from everyday life to a paradise.

You can explore the picturesque village of Altos de Chavon, or take a boat excursion up the river to see the local wildlife from an exciting perspective.

Of course, with a private beach just for your ship, you might be tempted just to take the day to soak up some sun – I wouldn’t blame you on these gorgeous sands.

12. Portuguese Island, MSC Cruises

Portuguese Island, Mozambique

Cruise line: MSC Cruises
Location: Mozambique, Africa
Size: Approximately 500 acres
Tender or dock: Tender

This small, uninhabited African island offers six kilometres of beaches that you can easily walk around in an hour, letting you sample the peaceful sights of this calm escape. Just make sure you’ve got footwear on as it gets very hot on the sands.

Your ship will dock at nearby Maputo and you can take a tender to the island from there. Local food and drinks are available including Tipo Tinto rum, and there are beach sports you can join in with if you’re feeling energetic.

The best tip is to make sure you do wander a little distance from the tender port if you want to relax on the beach. With the island being so small, it won’t take long for you to explore and you should be able to find a more secluded spot for some private relaxation time.

Future Private Islands

1. Lookout Cay at Lighthouse Point

Lighthouse Point

Cruise line: Disney Cruise Line
Location: Eleuthera, Bahamas
Size: Unknown
Tender or dock: Dock

Lighthouse Point is set to be the next private destination for Disney Cruise Line guests, with confirmation at the D23 Expo in 2022 that work had started on the island.

There’ll be water play areas, restaurants, stores and plenty of spots to unwind. The official press release from Disney describes “a vibrant beach retreat infused with the colour and energy of Bahamian artistry”.

It was unveiled in November 2023 that a lot of the activities on the island will bring that artistry to life, particularly through live performances of music, singing and dance.

There will also be a Little Mermaid-themed splash area for kids.

Guests will be able to visit the island from the summer of 2024 – great timing for the debut season of the new DCL ship, Disney Treasure, in 2024.

Read more about Lighthouse Point.

2. Royal Beach Club

Cruise line: Royal Caribbean
Location: Paradise Island, Nassau, Bahamas
Size: 17 acres
Tender or dock: Dock and water taxi

Royal Beach Club

Royal Caribbean is developing a private destination in Nassau called Royal Beach Club. It will be located at the tip of Paradise Island.

The new destination experience was originally announced in early 2020. Put, plans were put on ice due to global events and it’s only now in 2023 that the project has been given the go-ahead by the Bahamian government.

The private resort is scheduled to open in 2025. It will combine the island’s stunning beaches with the cruise line’s signature experiences to create the ultimate beach day.

Read more about Royal Beach Club.

3. Perfect Day at Lelepa

Cruise line: Royal Caribbean
Location: Vanuatu, South Pacific
Size: Unknown
Tender or dock: TBC – likely dock

Perfect Day sign on CocoCay

In 2019, Royal Caribbean announced plans to develop another private island, Perfect Day at Lelepa in Vanuatu, which was scheduled to open in 2022.

As expected, the development island was delayed, but it’s not off the cards completely. The last updates came in March 2022, giving no concrete date for completion but confirming the island was still being worked on.

The plans for the island are to be less thrill-based than Perfect Day at CocoCay, instead celebrating the local cultures of Vanuatu.

4. Celebration Key

Cruise line: Carnival
Location: Grand Bahama
Size: Unknown
Tender or dock: Dock

Carnival Celebration Key

While it was believed that Carnival may revamp Half Moon Cay to make it easier to accommodate more ships, it was instead announced in 2022 that a new destination was being worked on.

The destination will take up part of the south side of Grand Bahama, and will have a pier built that can accommodate two of the newer Excel-class ships at once.

It will include an interior pool and a nature reserve, as well as several restaurants, bars and shops themed around the Bahamas for guests to enjoy. There will be five different ‘portals’ that guests can enjoy, along with cabanas and villas to rent. The villas even have their own waterslides into the lagoon!

The resort’s name was unveiled in August 2023 – Celebration Key – and we now know it will open to guests in July 2025, with cruises open for booking from September 2023.

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Cruise Line Private Islands Compared

Great Stirrup Cay Vs Coco Cay

Great Stirrup Cay and CocoCay are two popular destinations in the Bahamas, each offering unique experiences for visitors.

Great Stirrup Cay, owned by Norwegian Cruise Line, is a private island located in the Berry Islands. It features stunning white sandy beaches and crystal-clear turquoise waters, making it a perfect spot for sunbathing and water activities.

Great Stirrup Cay
Great Stirrup Cay

On the other hand, Perfect Day at CocoCay, owned by Royal Caribbean International, is known for its thrill-seeking adventures. CocoCay boasts the tallest water slide in North America, the Daredevil’s Peak, and an impressive wave pool called the Oasis Lagoon.

CocoCay
CocoCay

Both islands provide visitors with an unforgettable tropical getaway, however, Great Stirrup Cay offers a more serene and relaxed atmosphere, while CocoCay caters better to those seeking adrenaline-pumping activities.

Half Moon Cay Vs CocoCay

Half Moon Cay and CocoCay are both known for their stunning natural beauty and unique experiences. Half Moon Cay, also known as Little San Salvador Island, is owned by Holland America Line. It boasts pristine white sand beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and lush tropical vegetation.

Half Moon Cay also offers a range of activities such as horseback riding, snorkelling, and kayaking, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the island’s natural wonders.

half moon cay
Half Moon Cay

CocoCay, which belongs to Royal Caribbean International, is another private island located in the Bahamas. It features a variety of thrilling water slides, a massive freshwater pool, and a floating bar for guests to enjoy. With its vibrant atmosphere and numerous adventure-filled activities, CocoCay is a favourite among adrenaline-seeking travellers.

CocoCay
CocoCay

Half Moon Cay and CocoCay both offer idyllic Caribbean getaways, but the former focuses more on serene natural beauty while the latter provides a lively and adventurous experience for visitors.

Ocean Cay Vs CocoCay

Ocean Cay and CocoCay both offer breathtaking ocean views and a wide range of activities for visitors to enjoy.

Ocean Cay, owned by MSC Cruises, is known for its pristine white sandy beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and vibrant marine life. The island offers various water sports such as snorkelling, scuba diving, and kayaking.

Ocean Cay
Ocean Cay

CocoCay, however, is best known for its water park, known as Thrill Waterpark, which features numerous exhilarating water slides and a massive wave pool. CocoCay also offers a range of activities for all ages, including snorkelling, jet skiing, and paddleboarding. The island also provides relaxation areas with pristine beaches and luxurious cabanas.

CocoCay
CocoCay

Each island offers a distinct experience for cruise ship guests. Ocean Cay is best known for its tranquil beaches, vibrant marine life, and Caribbean cuisine, while Coco Cay stands out for its thrilling water park, adventure activities, and relaxation areas.

Whether visitors prefer a serene beach getaway or an adrenaline-pumping water park experience, both Ocean Cay and Coco Cay provide unforgettable moments in a breathtaking Caribbean setting.

The Bottom Line

A visit to a private island is often the highlight of a Caribbean cruise. While all of these islands are beautiful, some are all about relaxation, while others offer much more than that with a variety of activities you can enjoy.

Have you ever cruised to a private island? What did you think? Please let me know in the comment below, I’d love to hear your opinions.

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Cruise Mummy

Jenni Fielding is the founder of Cruise Mummy. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and has taken over 30 cruises. Now, she helps over 1 million people per month to plan their perfect cruise holidays.

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2 thoughts on “The 12 Best Cruise Line Private Islands (And Who Owns Them)”

  1. *different

  2. All of those deferent island destinations, made me feel like I am already there. Love this. Thank You
    ~Carmen

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