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Harvest Caye (Photo:Norwegian Cruise Line)
4.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

By Cruise Critic Staff

Port of Harvest Caye

Harvest Caye, a $50 million purpose-built island developed by Norwegian Cruise Line for its Western Caribbean itineraries, is a 75-acre eco-friendly port comprising two adjoining islands in the Stann Creek and Toledo districts of southern Belize.

Featuring four bars, a zipline, exclusive beachfront villas, a nature center, an outpost of Jimmy Buffett-affiliated LandShark Bar & Grill, a variety of ship-sponsored shore excursion options and one of the largest pools we've ever seen, Harvest Caye offers much that will appeal to visitors.

Less chintzy and more focused on supporting the local economy than other private islands, Harvest Caye shows Norwegian's commitment to Belize by hosting native performances, displaying pieces by Belizean artists and offering space for local businesses to sell their wares in the island's shopping area. Most materials used in constructing the island -- decorative flora for landscaping and hardwoods used for building exteriors -- were also sourced from within the country.

The construction of Harvest Caye, which was nearly four years in the making, employed hundreds of local workers for the building phase, and more than 400 will continue to work on the island in cruise passenger-facing jobs. On days when they aren't working, those employees will be paid to perform various community service projects on the Belizean mainland.

What's also interesting is that Norwegian has created a hybrid that's part port of call and part private island. For example, Norwegian plans to open the island to cruise lines outside the Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings family eventually, and a day on Harvest Caye isn't necessarily an extension of the onboard experience. Passengers will find locals manning the island, rather than ship crew, and most cruisers will have to pay for food and most activities. (Note that this does not apply to Regent passengers; everything is included in their cruise fares, with the exception of beach villas and pool cabanas, which are offered at a discounted rate.) On the other hand, visitors from Norwegian Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises -- all of which visit the island -- can still use their cruise keycards for purchases ashore, and the only shore excursions offered are those booked through a cruise line.

Regardless of how you choose to classify it, Harvest Caye is a clean, easy-to-navigate and beautifully designed island.

About Harvest Caye


Pro

Operated by Norwegian, Harvest Caye has its own dock, zip line and nature preserve

Con

Food isn't free. Passengers must pay to eat at one of the restaurants ashore or go back to the ship

Bottom Line

This Belizean port is more culturally focused than most private islands


Find a Cruise to Harvest Caye

Good to Know

The sun and heat can be brutal in Belize, and there's not a lot of shade on Harvest Caye. Although small touches -- mist-blowing fans, shade canopies and even air conditioning -- have been added throughout the island to help with the heat, be sure to bring sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat -- and seek respite indoors during the midday sun if you're prone to burning or overheating.

In addition, it's a decent trek from your docked ship down a long (but mercifully shaded) pier and through the shopping area to the beach -- farther still if you've rented a cabana. Factor in time for getting from place to place on foot, or wait for one of the golf cart shuttles to whisk you from ship to shore.

What Sets It Apart

The biggest difference between Harvest Caye and other purpose-built islands is its commitment to the local economy. It's more of a partnership between Norwegian Cruise Line and the government of Belize than strictly a business venture, which is why food costs extra and beverage packages do not carry over from ship to shore. The venture also aims to give back to the community by volunteering, donating supplies and providing jobs to mainland residents, some of whom commute more than five hours round trip to work on the island.

Another one of Harvest Caye's notable attributes is that it's more wheelchair accessible than other private islands because it's not a tender port. Although the dock is long, shuttles are offered for those with mobility issues. A small fleet of special wheelchairs with large rubber tires is available for those wishing to spend time on the beach, as are lifts for getting into and out of the pool.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

Cruisers visiting Harvest Caye on Norwegian ships can charge island purchases to their onboard accounts. Credit cards and cash may also be used; U.S. and Belizean dollars are both accepted. There are no ATMs on the island. (Note: Norwegian eventually plans to open the island to brands outside the Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings family) and tells us that passengers from those other lines will not be able to use their cruise cards for purchases on Harvest Caye.)

Language

English is the primary language spoken in Belize, including Harvest Caye.