Tuesday, February 9, 2010

NCL's Great Stirrup Cay

A short while back I had a chance to cruise for the first time with Norwegian Cruise Line. As with most major cruise lines in this day and age, the itinerary included a stop at NCL's private "island" called Great Stirrup Cay. NCL refers to it as an island, but it is really a private stretch of beach that they lease. The island itself is inhabited by locals who live and work on the island.
I was particularly interested in this stop on my cruise so I could compare it to Disney's Cruise Line's private island called Castaway Cay. Castaway Cay is an actual island owned by Disney and is the only private island/beach where your cruise ship actually docks at the island versus having to take a tender (small boat) into the island from your cruise ship which is anchored a short distance offshore.

In comparison, Great Stirrup Cay is much smaller than Disney's. Disney's Castaway Cay had a large natural area where you could bike or hike and get away from the crowds hunkered down on the beach. I took a short walk on Great Stirrup Cay on a trail that I was hoping would take me on a scenic walk through this little stretch of Bahamian paradise, but was disappointed to see most of the trail roped off with "do not enter" signs posted everywhere.

So my time was mainly spent in a beach chair which was planted on a very sloped part of the beach, but was closer to the food venues which is why I staked out this particular area. If you went further down the beach, not only did it get much more crowded, but you were a long way from the area where they serve the food and drink.

As far as scenery...Great Stirrup Cay has a pretty stretch of beach and and shoreline, and a nice grove of palm trees giving you that sense of paradise that we all hope to see when we cruise to the Bahamas or anywhere in the Caribbean. The food on the island was your typical private island cruise menu consisting of BBQ hamburgers, hotdogs, salads and fresh fruit.

The music was what I truly enjoyed. The reggae band was exceptional and made for a fun afternoon. They can be seen on this short video showing more of the highlights of the island along with view of one of the tenders that NCL uses to get you from ship to shore.

I am looking forward to my next cruise in May with Princess where again we are scheduled to make a stop at their private "island"...Princess Cay.

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