Perhaps the most famous occupant of Great Stirrup Cay -- located in the Bahamas' Berry Island chain, 130 nautical miles due east of Fort Lauderdale -- was Captain Bertram of the British Navy, but Native Americans, pirates and members of the Spanish and American armed forces have also inhabited the cay throughout its history.
Norwegian Cruise Line purchased the 250-acre island from the Belcher Oil Company in 1977. A string of significant improvements was made in 1988, followed by a second $25 million two-phase renovation, which is slated for completion in early 2012. The retreat is now outfitted with a new tender channel, dining and bar areas, welcome pavilion, band stand, private beachfront cabanas, children's play area, straw market, Aqua Park and marina basin, which has increased the available beachfront space for visitors. (The island has five beaches, but four are unmaintained.)
Simply relax on the beach with a chair or umbrella, nap in a hammock, get a massage, or choose from one of many activities and shore excursions that include snorkeling, stingray adventures, eco-tours, kayaking and personal watercraft trips, and parasailing. Visitors can also play beach volleyball and Ping-Pong, check out the Aqua Park, rent water floats and take a ride down the Hippo Slide.
One main bar and two smaller bars are located at the east end of the beach. Norwegian has also partnered with Bacardi to open a Bacardi Rum Bar on the island; it's touted as the first permanent Bacardi bar location in the Caribbean.
A straw market features several stands that sell T-shirts and other standard Caribbean souvenirs.
An island barbecue -- offering chicken, hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, fruit and various other items -- is offered for free to all visitors.
Alcohol, souvenirs and shore excursions will cost extra. Onboard accounts can be used by passengers to purchase beverages and shore excursions.