Cruise Lines Upgrade Private Island Retreats

According to Disney, construction is being done on the days Disney ships are not in port, and news amenities will open as they are completed so that guests can begin enjoying them right away.

Holland America's Half Moon Cay

Best New Addition: Compared to the other two islands, Holland America's changes to Half Moon Cay are on a much smaller scale, albeit to what was already a mighty fine island. Pathways to explore the island are probably the best addition, since only two percent of Half Moon Cay (a 2,400-acre Bahamian island) has been developed -- much of the remainder is a migratory bird reserve. Now you can walk or jog past the lagoon, horse corral and stingray park on a new 5K (3.1-mile) loop that begins and ends at the marina. Cyclists can pedal along newly resurfaced roads while learning about the history of the island and checking out native birds as part of the Guided Tour by Bicycle, a recently added shore excursion.

Added Island Improvements: A new pirate-themed play area for kids has two large, wooden pirate ships for climbing. There are also new wheelchair ramps at the water sports center and a wheelchair path to the beach.

Cabana Bonanza: While many cruise lines have added cabanas for couples and families, Holland America already had them available on Half Moon Cay and, instead, added "Private Oasis" this year to accommodate small groups. Private Oasis is home to 15 new, air-conditioned cabanas, a hot tub, water slide, private meals and bar service, plus massage and priority tender services. Packages start at $1,195 and include cabana use for up to 12 guests, nonalcoholic and alcoholic beverages, fresh fruit and snacks, a barbecue lunch buffet, a butler, and a personal chef and lifeguard.

Old Favorites: The Half Moon Lagoon aqua park offers large water toys in the shape of whales, octopi, sharks and dolphins, as well as a pirate ship water slide that sprays water from its cannons. Sipping frozen drinks at the "I Wish I Could Stay Here Forever" bar remains an island highlight. Birdwatchers will appreciate that the island is a nesting area for waterfowl, including 10,000 sooty terns, noddy terns, shearwaters, Bahamian pintails and more. For fun with animals you can touch, take a horseback ride that ends with a dip in the surf.

Renovation Status: All of the above improvements are already complete for Half Moon Cay.

Norwegian Cruise Line's Great Stirrup Cay

Best New Addition: NCL is keeping mum on the details of its 22-month, $20 million renovation of Great Stirrup Cay. But, we already know what the best new addition will be -- a kid's play area. Currently, NCL's private beach area has no dedicated facilities for kids, and a new play place will be greatly appreciated by tykes and parents alike.

Added Island Improvements: Other new additions include more bars and eating areas, a bandstand, a straw market, beach-volleyball courts, an aqua park and WaveRunners. Kayak tours on manmade rivers, an eco-cruise and an interactive stingray experience will round out excursion offerings. Plus, a new entrance channel will be created for ship tenders, as well as a new welcome pavilion, and the beachfront will be expanded.

Cabana Bonanza: Ten private beachfront cabanas will be added, but NCL has not released details on amenities or pricing.

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