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Cruises to Half Moon Cay

Half Moon Cay (Photo:Holland America Line)
Half Moon Cay (Photo:Holland America Line)

About Half Moon Cay

Half Moon Cay is a 2,400-acre private island retreat for passengers on Holland America Line's (HAL) Caribbean, Bahamas and Panama Canal sailings. (Carnival ships sometimes visit as well, since HAL is owned by Carnival Corporation.)

Located less than 100 miles southeast of Nassau, the island (previously known as Little San Salvador) was purchased in 1996 for $6 million. The line initially invested $16 million to spruce up Half Moon Cay, with island-wide upgrades in 2017 to mark its 20th anniversary. Nearly 100 employees who reside on nearby islands handle day-to-day operations.

The island boasts a dreamy, 2.5-mile-long crescent-shaped beach (the source of the name Half Moon Cay). But, those looking for some solitude needn't look far -- There's plenty of this heavenly beach to go around.

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8 Night
Cruise to Half Moon Cay

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
Visiting:
Half Moon Cay, Grand Turk ...
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Cruise Line:
Carnival Cruise Line
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DAY 1: Galveston

8 Night
Cruise to Half Moon Cay

Leaving:
Galveston
Visiting:
Key West, Freeport ...
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Cruise Line:
Carnival Cruise Line
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DAY 1: Charleston

5 Night
Cruise to Half Moon Cay

Leaving:
Charleston
Visiting:
Nassau, Half Moon Cay ...
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Cruise Line:
Carnival Cruise Line
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8 Night
Cruise to Half Moon Cay

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
Visiting:
Half Moon Cay, Grand Turk ...
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Cruise Line:
Carnival Cruise Line
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14 Night
Cruise to Half Moon Cay

Leaving:
Baltimore
Visiting:
Half Moon Cay, Ocho Rios ...
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Cruise Line:
Carnival Cruise Line
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4 Night
Cruise to Half Moon Cay

Leaving:
Port Canaveral
Visiting:
Nassau, Half Moon Cay ...
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Cruise Line:
Carnival Cruise Line
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14 Night
Cruise to Half Moon Cay

Leaving:
Baltimore
Visiting:
Half Moon Cay, Ocho Rios ...
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Cruise Line:
Carnival Cruise Line
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5 Night
Cruise to Half Moon Cay

Leaving:
Charleston
Visiting:
Half Moon Cay, Nassau ...
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Cruise Line:
Carnival Cruise Line
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8 Night
Cruise to Half Moon Cay

Leaving:
Galveston
Visiting:
Key West, Nassau ...
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Cruise Line:
Carnival Cruise Line
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4 Night
Cruise to Half Moon Cay

Leaving:
Miami
Visiting:
Half Moon Cay, Nassau ...
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Cruise Line:
Carnival Cruise Line
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7 Night
Cruise to Half Moon Cay

Leaving:
Baltimore
Visiting:
Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay ...
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Cruise Line:
Carnival Cruise Line
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11 Night
Cruise to Half Moon Cay

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
Visiting:
St. Maarten, St. Lucia ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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7 Night
Cruise to Half Moon Cay

Leaving:
Charleston
Visiting:
Nassau, Grand Turk ...
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Cruise Line:
Carnival Cruise Line
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Cruise Critic Favorite

7 Night
Cruise to Half Moon Cay

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
Visiting:
Grand Turk, San Juan ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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6 Night
Cruise to Half Moon Cay

Leaving:
Port Canaveral
Visiting:
Half Moon Cay, Grand Turk ...
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Cruise Line:
Carnival Cruise Line
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21 Night
Cruise to Half Moon Cay

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
Visiting:
St. Maarten, St. Lucia ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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7 Night
Cruise to Half Moon Cay

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
Visiting:
Grand Turk, San Juan ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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10 Night
Cruise to Half Moon Cay

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
Visiting:
Aruba, Curacao ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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21 Night
Cruise to Half Moon Cay

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
Visiting:
Bonaire, Curacao ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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Cruise Critic Favorite

22 Night
Cruise to Half Moon Cay

Leaving:
Vancouver
Visiting:
San Francisco, San Diego ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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11 Night
Cruise to Half Moon Cay

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
Visiting:
St. Maarten, St. Lucia ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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10 Night
Cruise to Half Moon Cay

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
Visiting:
St. Maarten, St. Lucia ...
see more
Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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14 Night
Cruise to Half Moon Cay

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
Visiting:
Half Moon Cay, Santo Domingo ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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8 Night
Cruise to Half Moon Cay

Leaving:
Galveston
Visiting:
Key West, Freeport ...
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Cruise Line:
Carnival Cruise Line
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8 Night
Cruise to Half Moon Cay

Leaving:
New York
Visiting:
Amber Cove, Grand Turk ...
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Cruise Line:
Carnival Cruise Line
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Why go to Half Moon Cay?

Pros:

Holland America Line's private island is home to one of the Bahamas' top-rated beaches, which has garnered numerous awards

Cons:

Currently, cruisers must tender to the island

Bottom Line:

From ecotours to multiple bars to sunbathing, there are an array of options for beach bums and adventure-seekers

Good to Know?

The use of reef-safe sunscreen (as well as bug repellent) is encouraged and available for purchase on the island. While all your other purchases can be charged via your keycard, you should bring cash (U.S. dollars) for the local straw market.

What Sets It Apart?

Just 6 percent of Half Moon Cay has been developed, with passenger facilities taking up less than 50 acres. Much of the remaining land serves as a nature preserve and wild bird sanctuary, with the Bonefish Lagoon on the east side of the island.

Amenities?

Rentals:

Free beach lounge chairs are available around the island, umbrellas can be rented and it's recommended that towels be brought from the ship. Cruisers can rent gear, such as floating beach mats, paddleboards, kayaks, snorkeling equipment and water tricycles. Bikes are available but only as part of an excursion.

Transportation:
  • On Foot: Despite the fact that Half Moon Cay is essentially a deserted island when ships aren't in port, it's extremely hard to get lost here. Signage is readily available and marked trails and brick pathways lead from the main square to the dining pavilion and the beach. A 5K loop (which is a little more than 3 miles) is also offered for those looking to run/walk/bike around the island. Another safe bet is walking along the flawless shoreline until you reach a quiet spot on the beach, or closer to the welcome center. If one were to wander off trail, you would encounter thick underbrush.

  • By Tram/Golf Cart: There is continuous tram service running from the terminal to various points on Half Moon Cay throughout the day. (Transportation is included when you book an excursion, such as horseback riding.) Guided tram tours of the island are offered and last about an hour for $24.95 per person (and there are no kids' rates).

  • By Bicycle: A 75-minute bike tour around the island is offered for about $29.95 (and there are no kids' rates). It's a nice way to explore the 3-mile loop.

  • Tendering: There's a departure pavilion -- a thoughtfully designed covered structure equipped with misting stations -- which provides plenty of signage indicating where and how to return to the ship. As passengers gather here to board the next tender, ice-cold towels and water or lemonade are usually on hand while you wait.

Kids Club:

There is a Club HAL kids club on the island, for parents who want to make sure their kiddos are enjoying some supervised time on shore, while they lounge one-on-one (or visit the massage cabana).

Kids will flock to the Half Moon Lagoon Aqua Park's fun and free "spray ground," conveniently located just behind the main beach. As attendants help keep an eye on the kids, a shipwreck slide leads to other water-filled parts of the playground, including squirting water cannons, dolphins and other sea life. A dry playground is also located nearby the Bahamian church.

Wedding Packages:

A small but picturesque 20-person chapel is located on the island to host weddings and vow renewals. HAL offers multiple wedding packages, from elegant vow renewals to destination weddings that can be held on Half Moon Cay.

Wi-Fi:

Holland America's internet service does not extend ashore on Half Moon Cay.

Accessibility:

Beach wheelchairs are available for rent and you can arrange rental onboard the ship. Anyone who needs transportation around the island due to mobility issues can wait for a golf cart to transport them from the welcome center to a cabana or the dining pavilion, for example.


Awards and Recognition

Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice Destination

  • 2018 Top-Rated Cruise Line Private Island Destinations
  • 2017 Top-Rated Cruise Line Private Island Destinations
  • 2016 Top-Rated Cruise Line Private Island Destinations
  • 2015 Top-Rated Cruise Line Private Island Destinations

Half Moon Cay Cruise Reviews

Nieuw Amsterdam
Travel N
Sail Date: Nov 2019
Half Moon Cay We always enjoy this private island and no different this time. We were the only ship there and the beach has plenty of people on it but still don’t have a problem finding seats. We like to... Read More
Nieuw Amsterdam
ScottandAlison
Sail Date: Feb 2020
Love Half Moon Cay.. Tendering on and off the island cane be slow. In the past HAL used lifeboats to tender passengers ashore. Now they use tenders based on the island. Because they wait for the tenders to fill up... Read More
Nieuw Statendam
SnowbirdWannaB
Sail Date: Nov 2019
We LOVE Half Moon Cay. This time we rented a clamshell for about $40. I highly recommend renting one if you plan to stay on the beach all day. It gives you a nice covered spot to put your stuff, out of the way of... Read More
Carnival Ecstasy
CMP.JVP
Sail Date: Sep 2019
Half Moon Cay is similar to Princess Cays, it's Carnival owed, must take Tender / Water Taxi off the ship, everything is the same as I noted above for Princess Cays, BUT the biggest difference is, Half Moon Cay is... Read More
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