Ten beautiful islands that you can only visit on a cruise

Finding a peaceful haven to call your own is often all you need for an idyllic holiday but when you're sharing a ship with 2,500 other passengers it's no easy feat. That's where the private islands come in. Offering exclusive access to cruise passengers, there are paradise islands in the Bahamas, French Polynesia and Abu Dhabi that are reserved for just you and your fellow cruisers.

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The beautiful islands offer all the luxuries you could seek from a tranquil beach getaway, from crystal-clear waters and coral reefs for snorkelling, to massages on the beach. Then there are the activities for those after some action. Swim-up bars for cocktails in the sun, zip lining across the islands and 4x4 excursions all make for an exciting island experience.

Eating in these remote locations is a treat too, with delicious barbecues on the beach, restaurants with views and even an 8,500 square-foot beach buffet.

There's plenty to keep you occupied when you're not sunning yourself on the glorious beach. On Norwegian Cruise Line's Harvest Caye, for instance, you can browse the shopping village, which features popular name-brand retailers as well as local Belizean craftsmen. And Disney Cruise Line's Castaway Cay is a haven for families, with its floating platform featuring water slides and water cannons, beach parties and hammocks for relaxing.

Be inspired by these tropical island retreats that are only open to cruisers.

Beautiful places you can only visit on a cruise
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Beautiful places you can only visit on a cruise

Holland America Line has its own private island in the Bahamas, with many of its Caribbean itineraries stopping at beautiful Half Moon Cay. The 1700-acre island, which is only two per cent developed, features a huge interior lagoon and a two-mile crescent of perfect beach. It also has luxury beach cabanas for rent, water sports centres with kayaks, aqua-cycles, floating foam mats and sailboats, along with the Half Moon Lagoon Aqua Park for children. Cruise passengers can benefit from beachside massages, horse riding in the sea and swimming with stingrays. Bliss!

This 1.5 mile-long stretch of land with 36,000 square metres of golden beaches on a natural island just off the southwest coast of Abu Dhabi is a beach oasis that MSC Cruise passengers can enjoy from December 2017. While the island is not just for guests of the cruise line, MSC Cruises passengers do benefit from exclusive access to the beach on the day the ship calls to the island. Sir Bani Yas is one of the region’s largest wildlife reserves, home to more than 13,000 indigenous and endangered animals at the Arabian Wildlife Park, including giraffes, hyenas and cheetahs. Visitors can also experience tours to the ruins of an early Christian monastery site from 6th century AD and 4X4 expeditions.
Sunbathing, snorkelling, shopping, live music and barbecues... Princess Cays offers passengers everything they need for the ultimate day at the beach. The resort, located on the southern tip of the island of Eleuthera in the outer Bahamas, is reserved exclusively for Princess Cruises' guests booked on the Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries and features more than a mile and a half of pristine, white sand shoreline. You'll find everything you need on an island escape, with highlights including a lookout tower, a shopping marketplace, rental gear for exploring the island’s coral reef and tours to experience the local culture.
Launching in November 2016, Harvest Caye in Southern Belize will allow Norwegian Cruise Line passengers to immerse themselves in natural beauty and culture on the 75-acre oasis featuring an expansive pool with a swim-up bar, salt-water lagoon for water sports, exclusive seven-acre beach and exciting shore excursions, ranging from zip lining across the island to snorkelling the world's second largest barrier reef. The Landshark Bar & Grill is a two-story restaurant with a scenic second deck and visitors can also browse the shopping village, which features popular name-brand retailers as well as local Belizean craftsmen.
Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian Cruise Line’s idyllic private island paradise, invites its guests to unwind on white-sand beaches and snorkel with sea turtles and colourful fish in warm turquoise waters. Cruisers can peacefully glide along the coastline in a kayak or soar over the island on the 1,000-foot-long zip line, or grab a bite to eat at the 8,500 square-foot beach buffet before simply relaxing in their private beachfront cabana or luxury villa.

For a private island getaway in French Polynesia, look no further than Paul Gauguin Cruises' Motu Mahana, a private islet off the coast of Taha’a, where you can enjoy sunbathing, swimming, Polynesian activities, a full-service bar and a floating lagoon bar, as well as a delicious barbecue. The Gauguin hosts will demonstrate how to open a coconut and tie a pareo, and you can treat yourself to an overwater massage and be serenaded by traditional Polynesian songs.

Located in the tropical waters of the Bahamas, Castaway Cay provides the ultimate escape for Disney Cruise Line passengers, whether you're seeking adventure, relaxation or quality time with the family. Just like the Disney ships, the 1,000-acre island is designed with unique activities and areas for every age group, providing an exceptional experience for all. Pelican Plunge is a floating platform featuring water slides and water cannons for family fun, while the children and adults will love Castaway Family Beach, with its hammocks and tube and float rental for the swimming lagoon. For adults only, Serenity Bay is a pristine stretch of beach that can be enjoyed while the kids spend time at Scuttle’s Cove, a hub of youth activities, from water play to beach parties.

Located in Haiti, Royal Caribbean's exclusive destination offers pristine beaches, awe-inspiring scenery and fun activities. On the island of Labadee, cruise passengers can enjoy the Aqua Park, snorkelling safaris and the 2,600 feet-long zip line, as well as tours to Paradise Cove. When you step foot on Labadee Beach, the first thing that comes to mind is paradise. The white sandy beach stretches out for miles, with crystal-clear waters that lap at the shore invitingly. Other highlights include the Dragon's Tail Coaster for thrill-seekers, the beach cabanas at Nellie's Beach for relaxing and the wave jet tours for water-loving travellers.

Ocean Cay is MSC Cruises' 95-acres island in the Bahamas, home to a pristine beachfront spread across six distinct beaches and unique offerings, such as live music and entertainment at a 2,000-seat amphitheatre, plus many restaurants and bars. All installations and experiences on the island are fully sympathetic to the culture and traditions of the Bahamas, while getting around the island is a breeze thanks to a network of walking and running paths, bicycle rentals and other stress-free options. Highlights include a family beach with a kids' restaurant and play areas, a charming inland lagoon and a pavilion for weddings and celebrations.

In the heart of the Bahamas lies the paradise island of CocoCay, Royal Caribbean's very own private resort which offers a slice of heaven, with Ocean View Cabanas, snorkelling sets, fresh fruit and more. Active travellers can explore the coast on the Wave Jet Tour or experience the view from 400 feet on a parasailing adventure. With miles of crystal-clear ocean and colourful fish, going underwater is a treat too. For the children, there is a floating Aqua Park, where they can speed down slides, bounce high into the air on the water trampolines and climb the inflatable icebergs.


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