Norwegian Cruise Line's newest port, Harvest Caye, has plenty of attractions including a private beach, zipline, enormous swimming pool, lagoon for boating and cabanas for rent. The cabanas cost nearly $600 to rent for the day, which is more than most cruisers want to spend on a beach day. We tried out the cabanas on an Oceania cruise (Norwegian's sister lines Oceania and Regent both visit the island), and discovered they might be a better value than you'd expect.
If you're curious about the cabanas, here are eight reasons why they're worth a splurge on Harvest Caye.
The $600 price tag is per cabana, not per person. If you're traveling with family, or if you're a couple and want to go in with two other couples you meet on your Cruise Critic roll call, the per-person price drops to as low as $100 if you can fill the cabana to capacity. You'd probably pay similar (or more!) for a beach break shore excursion in some ports. And with plenty of indoor and outdoor space, it's not like the cabana will feel crowded at maximum capacity.
All of the cabanas are lined up in a row at the farthest end of Harvest Caye's beach. This waterfront area is roped off from the main beach, so instead of fighting the crowds or sharing the water with hordes of screaming children or drunk party people, you get a quiet slice of beach to share with only the other cabana residents.
If you love the beach, but overheat quickly, your cabana offers an indoor retreat with air conditioning, comfy couches and a dining area. You can cool off without going back to the ship -- or even have a place to nap tuckered out toddlers, while you continue to enjoy the island life. The indoor space is also stocked with beach towels and a mini-fridge filled with water. The first six bottles are included in the price; after that there's a per bottle charge.
On the main beach, which offers little shade from the intense Belizean sun, thousands of Norwegian passengers will jockey for prime lounge chair real estate and have to shell out if they want a clam shell shade. Cabana guests have their choice of places to chill, including four padded loungers on the cabana's ocean-facing deck, a shady hammock strung between palm trees (one per cabana) and six lounge chairs on the beach with umbrellas.
If you or your spouse can't survive without checking work email or your teen must immediately post that selfie of herself on the beach, you are covered, without having to resort to using your cruise ship's pricy onboard plan.
One complaint we hear about Harvest Caye is that, unlike other private islands, there is no complimentary beach barbecue and drinks aren't included in your beverage package. In fact, all food and drink on the island has to be paid for with cash or credit card. Food isn't free for cabana guests either, but if you get hungry, you don't need to trek over to the Landshark Bar and Grill. Just give your food or drink order to the cabana butler, and he or she will return with your meal -- often in as little as 10 minutes. All food and drink for cabana occupants comes from the nearby Horse Eye Jack's Bar and Grill.
Let's be real -- going to the bathroom is a hassle on the beach. You have to dry off, put shoes on and trek over to a sandy-floored, somewhat-grimy hut that's likely running out of toilet paper and hot water. Rent a cabana and you get a private bathroom attached to your cabana that also has a full shower if you want to clean off when you're finished swimming. (Each cabana also has a beach shower for rinsing off sandy feet before going back in inside.)
The cabanas are quite a trek from the cruise ship pier, as they're located at the farthest end of the beach area. But don't think you have to schlep back and forth. Shuttles (think oversized golf carts) run back and forth from the cabana check-in area to the cabanas and back to the ship. It's no limo, but it's better than walking in the heat.
Updated August 21, 2018