Nibble on fresh fruit and enjoy the soft ocean breezes from the plush sectional inside your very own private cabana on Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas. Owned by Norwegian Cruise Line, the 250-acre Great Stirrup Cay is an exclusive destination for NCL passengers.
To make your experience even more serene, book one of the small or large beachside cabanas, stocked with plenty of extras to make it a worthwhile splurge. Read on for more information about each cabana to help you choose the right one for your group.
You'll have your choice of 22 Cabanas on the Cay: 10 large cabanas situated on Cabana Beach, next to the main beach area, and which can fit up to eight people; and 12 small cabanas, accommodating up to six people each on Fiesta Beach. Both beaches are available to the public and offer beach chairs closer to the water.
The cabanas are open-air style with an open wall facing the beach and windows on each side. You can pull the curtains closed for privacy. Inside, there's a ceiling fan, a cushioned sectional-style couch, a mini-refrigerator and a table. There are also electrical outlets for charging your electronics.
Your Great Stirrup Cay cabana will be stocked with towels, fresh fruit, chips and salsa, and bottled water, and you can order additional food and drinks to be delivered directly to your doorstep by a cabana attendant. A specialty cabana menu is available featuring items such as a charcuterie platter, a seafood platter with chilled shrimp and lobster, sushi, as well as beer, wine and bottle service.
Each cabana includes a deck in the front with landscaping surrounding it; each comes with a ramp entrance (though the cruise line notes that cabanas are not wheelchair accessible). There are lounge chairs and patio chairs on the deck for enjoying the sun. Behind the cabana, you'll find four floating mats for complimentary all-day use in the ocean and a private shower to rinse off, as well as your very own hammock.
Pricing is per cabana (not per person) and can vary based on your individual ship and itinerary, but daily rates start at $445 for the small cabanas and $495 for the large cabanas; fee includes a $50 credit for use toward food and beverages. You may add up to two additional people for an additional $30 per-person charge, for a maximum of eight people in the small cabanas and 10 in the large cabanas.
With your cabana reservation, your party will receive priority tender tickets, which allow you to disembark the ship quickly so that you can maximize your beach time. NCL used to offer tram service for transporting cruisers from the tender point to their cabanas, but currently it is not offering that service.
The smaller-sized Cabanas on the Cay are located just west of their larger counterparts on Fiesta Beach, considered by some to be quieter and more laid-back than Cabana Beach, which is closer to the action and the crowds. You'll be close to the lagoon area, a part of the island currently under construction. These cabanas offer all the same amenities as the larger ones, just in a smaller format.
Big cabanas are well-suited to large groups or families traveling together. The location is at Cabana Beach, closer to the main beach (Bertram's Cove) than the smaller cabanas. You'll have a view here of the cove, since these cabanas are perched on top of a small hill. The advantage of this location is your proximity to the main dining venue, Jumbey Beach Grill, as well as live music from the main stage.
Additional food and drinks, beyond bottled water, fresh fruit and chips and salsa, will incur an extra charge, though you will receive a $50 credit to use toward beverages and food. (As with all Great Stirrup Cay visitors, you can help yourself to food from the island's complimentary buffet while it is running.) If you have a beverage package onboard the ship, it is valid for use on the island.
The cabanas are not air-conditioned and do not include private restrooms. (There are public facilities within walking distance.) Additional water equipment beyond the floating mats (such as snorkeling masks or stand-up paddle-boards), as well as beach umbrellas or shaded clamshell-style beach loungers, must be rented for an additional charge.
Cabanas on the Cay book up fairly quickly, several months in advance of a cruise, so early booking is strongly recommended. Only one person from your party should make the reservation. You can make your reservation online, booking it as a shore excursion.
Didn't book early enough? Check onboard with the shore excursions desk to see if there are any cancellations.
Though both cabana types are situated at the farthest end of the island and face quieter beaches than the bustling main beach area, the smaller cabanas offer a slightly more laid-back experience. Cabana No. 11 is a highly requested small cabana for its ideal location near the bar, beach and bathroom.
However, if you want more space to stretch out and relax, the minimal upcharge to the larger cabana offers a great value. And if you'd like to be closer to the buffet, the large cabanas are best. Visitors should note that current construction underway at the far end of the island near the lagoon is creating some noise and dust, so keep that in mind when selecting your cabana.