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Sunday, April 29, 2018

Cast your cares away on a cruise ship "private island"

   Out to Sea for April 28/18

   (c) By Jim and Barb Fox

   Here’s a chance to play “Gilligan” and escape to an uninhabited exotic island far from the hustle and bustle.
   No traffic, hustling cries of “taxi, taxi” or “I know what you’re looking for” as the popularity of cruise ship “private islands” grows as a hassle-free day at the beach.
   It’s not exactly like being marooned as in the Gilligan’s Island TV show and its doomed charter boat, the S.S. Minnow.
Beach day at a private island with Holland America Line’s Westerdam off shore. (Jim Fox photo)

   This is chilling out in style with pampered service including all-you-can-eat beach barbecues, bar service – both in and out of the water – sifting sand on pristine beaches and adventures in the aquamarine waters.

   Most of the large cruise lines own a deserted island or have access to one, largely in the Bahamas and Caribbean, and are busy adding special features.

   Escape hideaways
   - Half Moon Cay, Holland America Line/Carnival/Princess, Bahamas
   Consistently ranked “Best Private Island” by Porthole magazine, this half-moon-shaped land mass was formerly known as Little San Salvador Island.
   The private sanctuary owned by Holland America is also used by passengers on parent company Carnival Cruise Line and Princess Cruises.
   Largely an international bird sanctuary with large lagoon, guests can feed the stingrays, take eco tours by glass-bottom boat, snorkel, kayak, ride horses in the surf and play at an aqua park.
Bar service on land and sea on a cruise ship island stop. (Jim Fox photo)
   Private cabanas offer butler service, unlimited food and drink while new is the Lobster Shack eatery (extra charge) to complement the free beach barbecue lunch.
   - Harvest Caye, Norwegian Cruise Line, Belize
   There’s no shortage of lounge chairs here, with 2,700 of them along an expansive beach and huge pool with swim-up bar.
   Off the mainland, this spot offers snorkeling around a barrier reef, kayaking, paddle-boarding and ziplining.
   A bonus is a pier where ships can tie up instead of dropping anchor off shore and tendering passengers in smaller boats.
   There’s a nature centre, Mayan ruins, rainforest river tubing and even shopping, food and drink.
The Carnival Pride at anchor at Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas. (Barbara Fox photo)
   - CocoCay, Royal Caribbean International/Celebrity/MSC Cruises, Bahamas
   The big news here is that RCI is spending $200 million U.S. for a major upgrade of facilities.
    Located between Freeport and Nassau, it will include one of the Caribbean’s largest water parks to open next spring, boasting the “tallest water slide in North America.”
   There will be a zip line to deposit guests into the water, helium balloon rides, wave pool and private cabanas.
   - Labadee, Royal Caribbean/Azamara, Haiti
   This beach resort in the densely forested north coast has water sports, beach barbecues and the new Coco Beach Club with overwater cabanas, water slides to the sea and attentive service.
   It’s distinct “neighborhoods” (Buccaneer’s Bay, Dragon’s Plaza, Labadee Town Square, Adrenaline Beach (with rollercoaster), Columbus Cove, Nellie’s Beach and the Barefoot Beach Club) have their own vibes.
Wasting away on a cruise ship private island. (Jim Fox photo)
   Drop anchor here
   - Princess Cruises docks at Princess Cays on Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas with its white-sand beaches and turquoise waters with plenty of beach umbrellas, hammocks and tiki huts.
   - Disney Cruise Line’s Castaway Cay in the Bahamas is where actor Tom Hanks finds his mermaid (Daryl Hannah) in “Splash.”
   It includes the Castaway Family Beach, Serenity Bay for adults, a teens-only activity area called the Hide Out and supervised programs for children at Scuttle’s Cove.
   - Costa Cruises visits Catalina Island in the Dominican Republic while Paul Gauguin Cruises stops at Motu Mahana in the Society Islands, and Norwegian Cruise Line also goes to Great Stirrup Cay in the Berry Islands of the Bahamas.
   Amber Cover on the outskirts of Puerto Plata, Dominica Republic hosts Carnival, Holland America, Cunard and Costa ships while MSC Cruises will open its Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve in the Bahamas this fall.


Jim and Barb Fox can be reached at outtosea50@hotmail.com
For more Out to Sea trip tips: http://outtoseatravel.blogspot.ca

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