Did you know that some cruise lines' have their own private islands? A stop at these islands serves almost like a sea day with a twist -- you get off the boat at a private beach resort with only your fellow cruisers sharing the space.
But you can spend the day any way you want. In solitude in a beach lounger, hammock or cabana. Or engaging in active pursuits like volleyball, snorkeling or even a 5K race, for examples.
The islands feature bar areas, barbecue buffet lunches and thrilling activities like ziplines and bike rides. Your ship is always within sight as you enjoy your day on the sands and in the waters, and you can go back onboard fairly easily if you've had enough sun or if youâve forgot something.
You don't need to bring any cash ashore because -- like on the ship -- your stateroom key card serves as your credit card.
These islands are attractive to the lines because they get all the revenue for the excursion activities such as the ziplines, paddle boards, snorkel gear, cabana rentals, etc., as well as any drinks you buy while ashore.
Holland America runs Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas. Norwegian Cruise Line offers Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas. Royal Caribbean has Labadee in Haiti and Coco Cay in the Bahamas. Disney's Castaway Cay in the Bahamas is a wonderful outing, and the stop includes the chance to participate in the Disney Castaway Cay 5K run.
Now, Carnival Cruises says it will build a port in Haiti after it signed a deal to develop a new facility in Tortuga, an island just off the northern coast of Haiti.
It's not yet clear whether the development will be a private-beach-type stop for Carnival ships, but indications are that it will be similar to that or a facility developed like those in Costa Maya, Mexico, Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos, and Roatan, Honduras, that serve exclusively as cruise centers.
"The development will create an exciting opportunity for our guests to enjoy a new, secluded and stunning destination on the island of Tortuga that the company expects will become a highly popular place for guests to enjoy for years to come," Carnival says.
Australis, a expedition line that offers adventures to Cape Horn and Patagonia, is offering a four-day cruise that begins in Ushuaia, the world's southernmost city, located on the island of Tierra del Fuego at the tip of South America. The Great Canadian Travel Company created an excursion onboard the Via Australis cruise from Ushuaia, Argentina. The voyage goes through the Beagle Channel to explore one of the most breathtaking wilderness regions in the world: southern Patagonia, which includes the Tierra del Fuego archipelago.
The ship will visit Garibaldi Fjord, where passengers can disembark for a hike through the forest up to a glacial waterfall to enjoy spectacular views. If you stay onboard, the captain will point the bow toward the blue Garibaldi Glacier so you can enjoy the panoramic view from the upper decks. Then, the ship navigates along the northwest arm of the Beagle Channel to reach Pia Fjord. A short hike takes you to a panoramic view of the Pia Glacier, which extends from the mountaintops down to the sea.
The sailing continues through the Murray Channel and Nassau Bay to Cape Horn National Park, where, weather permitting, passengers will go ashore. Cape Horn, discovered in 1616, is a sheer 1,394-foot-high rocky promontory. For many years, it was an important navigation route between the Pacific and the Atlantic and is referred to as the "End of the Earth." The park was declared a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2005.
The Australis will also stop at historic Wulaia Bay, originally the site of one of the region's largest Yamana aboriginal settlements. Charles Darwin landed there in 1833 during his voyage on the HMS Beagle. The ship then sails back to Ushuaia.
There are several departure dates for this program from October 2014 through April 2015. The cost is from $1,486 per person, based on double occupancy. Included are shipboard accommodations, all meals, drinks, and tours while cruising. Not included are transportation to and from Ushuaia and gratuities. Book by August 31, 2014, however, and the cost is $1,189 per person with a free cabin upgrade. Check out www.australis.com for details.
Crystal Cruises is installing a "Fitness Garden" along with indoor fitness center equipment upgrades during the drydock of its Crystal Symphony ship this fall. The outdoor fitness garden will exist as a circuit of fitness equipment laid out on three decks on the aft of the ship.
Another nice way to keep ship shape, right?
Thanks for reading,