Cruise Line Private Islands

| October 6, 2008

Cruise line private island beach experiences (also known as "Out Islands") in the Caribbean and Bahamas had traditionally been a welcome retreat for adults to kick back and relax since there's nothing else to do other than simply swim in the azure water, relax on the warm sandy beach, or nap under a shady palm tree.

These days, though, there are plenty more active options for kids and those young at heart to do when calling at one of the many private islands in the Caribbean and Bahamas. From water sport rentals to water slides, feeding stingrays, and zip lining, there's a plethora of things that families can enjoy together in idyllic settings. (Many of them - but not all - do cost extra however.) A few private islands - such as Disney's and Princess' - also offer complimentary youth programming on the beach too.

Read on to discover all that private islands have to offer your family. Note that all islands/beaches have to be tendered to (a small boat takes you from your ship that's anchored at sea to the small pier on the island/beach) except Disney Cruise Line's Castaway Cay.

Since Catalina Island is located five miles south of La Romana, Dominican Republic, tender boats are necessary. Family friendly activities include volleyball, jet skis as well as scooter rentals to explore the island. Costa offers a few excursions from the island too, including a catamaran snorkeling cruise and horseback riding at the Casa de Campo estate.

For families with little ones and strollers, it's a pleasure getting to/from Disney Cruise Line's private Bahamian island since the ship docks right on the island. There is a short walk from the ship to the tram that takes guests further down island.

Another unique aspect of the island is that there are separate beaches for families, teens and adults. This allows passengers to choose the noise and activity level that suits them best. The teen and adult beaches are further afield than the family beaches but certainly are less populated.

Right next to the teen beach is Castaway Ray's Stingray Adventure where, for a fee, you and your family can feed the stingrays as well as snorkel with them in an enclosed lagoon. This is a much gentler alternative than Stingray City in Grand Cayman because the stingrays at Castaway Cay tend to gravitate to the feeding apparatus and are not swimming right at your ankles as at Stingray City; the latter which can intimidate young kids. (Minimum age is five years old.) Also, the potentially harmful part of the stingrays have been taken out of the creatures since they swim in an enclosed lagoon.

Offshore from the family beach is a play apparatus replicating a sunken ship in the water for kids to climb and swing from. Note that kids need to be able to swim a little bit to reach the sunken apparatus. Additionally, there are plenty of water sports rentals on the island.

Parents can bring their children for supervised youth programming to Scuttle's Cove located in a central spot on the island. There is a shaded area for organized play; sunny, sandy area for supervised water games; and a pretend whale vertebrate for kids to excavate bones.

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