As you may have noticed, cruising with the major cruise lines is experiencing a bit of a renaissance. Lines like Royal Caribbean and Carnival are consistently creating larger and more extravagant ships that are packed with excellent luxuries for entire families.
When on these ships, whether you’re sailing north to places like Alaska or cruising in a southerly direction to visit vacation hotspots like the Bahamas, as a parent, you may wonder whether the location is kid-friendly. You may have even heard stories of cruisers running afoul of locals or the criminal element causing trouble with vacationers, so what’s a good way to avoid these issues while on your trip? Well, in my opinion, this is where cruising to the cruise line’s private islands really shines.
The Cruise Line Private Islands in a Nutshell
All of the major cruise lines have their own private islands for their customers. These islands are typically relatively small, have dedicated cruise personnel working and living on them, and are only serviced by that line. As a result, these island oases really provide a top-notch experience for those looking to get away from the standard cruise port experience.
Each of the private islands has its own power plants and water treatment facilities; some even have cruise line run bars and stores for you to visit. Each has a veritable ton of activities to take part in, and I’ve found that these excursions are usually much more organized than the local-run excursions that you can take part in at places like Cozumel and Nassau.
Some Great Private Island Locations
CocoCay, Bahamas – Royal Caribbean
This is a beautiful location for kids to enjoy. Not only is the island a great spot to see some genuine Caribbean wildlife such as a myriad of tropical fish and birds, but you also have traditional theme park style fun; the island has an Aqua Park that is fun for the whole family.
When I visited this place a few years back, I was even able to meet one of the island’s non-native denizens: a friendly great cat that seemed to love anyone it met.
What Makes it a Great Kid-Friendly Island: The beaches of CocoCay are spectacular; once out in the water, you WILL see many beautiful fish and other forms of ocean life. This is a great opportunity to really satisfy a child’s natural curiosity.
Added Benefit: CocoCay’s waters are very calm, and during most of the cruising season, you can go far out into the ocean without the need to swim.
Labadee, Haiti – Royal Caribbean
Labadee is one of the islands in Hispaniola that has an intense natural charm that really can amaze. One of my favorite places on this island is Columbus Cove; it’s a beautiful, mostly waist-deep cove that has beautiful blue water, soft beaches, and even has a Splash Zone attraction.
What Makes it a Great Kid-Friendly Island: Even as an adult, I absolutely LOVED the island’s Dragon Tail Coaster. This coaster zips along a track that winds through the more mountainous areas of Labadee. You can even control you speed as you fly along the track, which gives a young rider a feeling of control.
Added Benefit: I can’t gush enough about the zip lining on this island. Your kids will absolutely adore the Dragon’s Breath Flight Line; you can see the entire island and a good chunk of your trip is over open water!
Half Moon Cay, Bahamas – Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival is one of the largest and most popular cruise lines in the world, and Half Moon Cay is packed with fun for the entire family. If your kids like ocean life, then I definitely recommend this island for things like the Stingray Adventure.
In addition to this, the private island has some excellent food, absolutely stunning vistas, and more than enough room to go on a very individualized adventure. When I visited this island last year, my son just wanted to spend all of his time at the pirate ship water park.
What Makes it a Great Kid-Friendly Island: In addition to features like the Stingray Adventure, there are plenty of swimming and snorkeling activities for adventurous families. If you and your family crave a unique adventure, then book the Horseback Riding by Land and Sea excursion.
During this excursion, you will ride a horse that will wade in the ocean and show you some of the most picturesque locations on the island.
Added Benefit: Half Moon Cay has simpler pleasures that your family will love as well. There are rafts to float on, surfing opportunities, and miles of beautiful beaches to veg out on.
Catalina Island, Dominican Republic – Costa Cruises
I loved Catalina Island because it has some great simplistic activities that will please kids and adults alike. On this beautiful tropical island, you can play volleyball, snorkel, or just catch some rays. You can even rent jet skis when you want to go for a high-speed adventure.
What Makes it a Great Kid-Friendly Island: Unlike some other private island locales, Catalina Island has locals that can help you get delicious coconut milk and some of the local delicacies for cheap.
Added Benefit: Like to float away in bliss? Then, you’ll love the fact that Catalina Island lets you grab a floating beach mat for free (these usually cost money).
I love the family-friendly experiences that are offered by the private islands. Not only are there a myriad of cool activities to do, but all of them also have plenty of beach furniture to relax on while the kids play. Eating is also usually top-notch on these islands as the food is oftentimes prepared on-ship and is usually cooked to the same high level of quality as most cruise dishes.
Some Other Great Cruise Line Private Islands:
• Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas – Norwegian Cruise Line
• Castaway Cay, Bahamas – Disney Cruise Line
• Princess Cays, Bahamas – Princess Cruises
If you’re looking for a new cruising opportunity for your family, then I suggest selecting a cruise itinerary that features one of the private islands that I’ve covered in this guide.
Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who writes for Documents International LLC, a leading apostille service for individuals and businesses.