Island Country Owner Passengers (2012)
Castaway Cay Bahamas Disney Cruises 346,000
Coco Cay Bahamas Royal Caribbean Cruises 573,000
Half Moon Cay Bahamas Holland America Cruises 450.000
Labadee Haiti Royal Caribbean Cruises 520,000
Princess Cay Bahamas Princess Cruises 207,000
Great Stirrup Cay Bahamas Norwegian Cruises 392.000
Catalina Island Dominican Republic Costa Cruises 80,000
Private Islands in the Caribbean Owned by Cruise Lines
The acquisition of Great Stirrup Cay by Norwegian Cruises in 1977 marks the beginning of a trend where large cruise shipping lines are securing private islands (or beaches) for their exclusive use. This has particularly taken place in the Caribbean. The main reasons the cruise lines have developed such amenities are as follows:
  • Beach experience. Many cruisers have the expectation of a beach experience, particularly since the Caribbean are known as a region offering a wide variety of beaches. However, many port of calls along Caribbean itineraries are cities and towns that do not have high quality beaches in close proximity, or require transportation (an excursion) to access. As such the private beach is advertised as part of the experience where cruisers can simply disembark right at the amenity with minimal effort. The amenity is also comprehensive with a wide array of services and entertainment options being offered.
  • Alternative port call. The majority of the private islands are located in the Bahamas, a night sailing away from the major Miami cruise hub, for which they can conveniently be used as first or last port of call during a cruise and as an alternative if the itinerary needs to be modified. They can thus be easily included in cruise itineraries.
  • Revenue capture. Private islands are part of the trend pursued by cruise lines to internalize their sources of revenue. Since all the amenities of the private island are owned by the cruise line, they are able to capture all the revenues generated by these amenities (e.g. food, drinks, activities, etc.). They thus try to include their private island as a port of call in as many itineraries as possible.
  • Exclusiveness. Private islands are effectively marketed by the cruise lines as exclusive locations that can only be accessed by their customers and which are closed to the general public (or the local population). There are thus perceived as less crowded and safe locations, which has an appeal to many cruisers.