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Half Moon Cay (Photo:Holland America Line)
2017 Top-Rated Cruise Line Private Island Destinations
5.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

By Cruise Critic Staff

Port of Half Moon Cay

In 1997, Holland America Line purchased Little San Salvador from its previous owners for a cool $6 million. Today, the 2,400-acre island is known as Half Moon Cay and serves as a private retreat for passengers on the line's Caribbean and Panama Canal sailings. (Carnival ships sometimes visit, too, as Holland America is owned by Carnival Corp.)

The line invested $15 million to spruce up Half Moon Cay, but just two percent of it has been developed. Located less than 100 miles southeast of Nassau, the island houses its passenger facilities on less than 50 acres; much of the remaining land serves as a preserve for migratory birds. Day-to-day operations are handled by nearly 100 employees who reside on nearby islands.

Physically, the island boasts a 2.5-mile-long crescent-shaped beach -- the source of the name Half Moon Cay. Facilities are divided into three sections: the welcome center, Bahamian Village and Tropics Restaurant. The welcome center features an information booth, restrooms, a bar, a Bahamian straw market, an ice cream shop, a post office, a first aid station, an island shop and tram stop.


About Half Moon Cay


This private island owned by Holland America Line houses one of the Bahamas' best beaches


Shops are limited to a few by the terminal, so those on the hunt for souvenirs have slim pickings

Bottom Line

From snorkeling to sunbathing, activities abound for beach bums and adventure seekers

Find a Cruise to the Bahamas

Good to Know

You'll pay extra for alcohol, souvenirs, many activities and shore excursions, which include a new glass-bottom boat tour and horseback-riding. Passengers can also rent private air-conditioned cabanas or two-story beach villas ($550 for up to eight people) if they want to escape the crowds. Many expenses -- such as drinks, activities and souvenirs at the line's island shop -- can be put on passengers' onboard accounts. However, for purchases at the straw market, you'll need cash.

What Sets It Apart

The island offers a 25-passenger tram for easy transportation, a 5K running course and a chapel, which can accommodate up to 20 people for wedding ceremonies and vow-renewals. Half Moon Cay has also been voted "Best Private Island" 11 years in a row by "Porthole Cruise Magazine."

Half Moon Cay Awards

Cruisers' Choice Destination Awards

2017 Top-Rated Cruise Line Private Island Destinations
2016 Top-Rated Cruise Line Private Island Destinations