Journalist Georgina Cruz recently sailed on Zuiderdam and sent in this great post about her call at Half Moon Cay.
Somewhere, the mind knows intuitively, there is an island as easy as Sunday morning, as cool as a tropical fruit sorbet, and as fun as the playgrounds of our youth. Fortunate travelers find it at Half Moon Cay.
My husband Humberto and I had been lucky to enjoy visits to Half Moon Cay, Holland America’s private island in the Bahamas, on a half dozen occasions. But this 2,400-acre Bahamian idyll – where only 45 acres have been developed and the rest has been left pristine – with its crescent aquamarine beach and talcum-powder-quality white sands always leaves you wanting more.
We returned this spring during an 11-day Panama Canal Sunfarer voyage on Holland America’s Zuiderdam – roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale. On previous visits we had enjoyed many of the island’s activities: parasailing (for that “wow-wee” factor), glass-bottom boat excursions, horseback riding – with the horses frolicking both on land and in the water! – plus stingray encounters and nature hikes.
For this visit we wanted something extra special to live out an upscale Robinson Crusoe fantasy, so we splurged on one of HAL’s private cabanas on the sands of the beach to enjoy the day to the max. Our little home by the sea, cabana number 3, is extremely well located: steps away from the food pavilion with its steel band music, and from the pirate-galleon-like Captain Morgan On The Rocks Island Bar.
Our cabana, we quickly found, has all the comforts for a sybaritic day in the sun: a mini refrigerator and ice bucket, two super-comfy lounge chairs, café table and four chairs, fresh water shower, beach towels, and for the ultimate in comfort: an air-conditioner unit, ceiling fan and a revolving fan on the porch to redirect the cool air from the air-conditioner back into the cabana. Our refrigerator was stocked with a veggie platter, fruit platter, bottled water and our choice of sodas and there were chips and salsa to keep us happy when we wanted to munch, and well hydrated during the day.
It was a delight just to while away a morning snorkeling (equipment included) pausing every so often to drink in the idyllic scenery while sipping something tall and cool in our cabana. After a tropical lunch, serenaded by seagulls and other birds (the island is an international bird sanctuary) and a snooze on our cloud-soft lounge chairs on our porch, we spent part of the afternoon lounging on a provided float in the warm embrace of the crystalline water of the crescent beach.
For those who really want the ultimate splurge Holland America Line offers cabana butler packages and other add-ons. Half Moon Cay, by the way, recently celebrated its 15th anniversary with various enhancements, including new two-story Beach Villas with private whirlpools for the ultimate island sojourn. A Private Oasis, 1,620-foot grand cabana accommodates up to 12 guests and is complete with sundeck, covered deck with hammock and dining table, hot tub, bar, restrooms, showers, lounge chairs and iPod music system – and it is staffed with a personal chef, bartender, lifeguard and butler. Options here include a package with unlimited Russian caviar with iced vodka, jumbo shrimp, iced king crab legs, and a myriad of other delicacies including unlimited Dom Perignon. Wow! Robinson Crusoe would be green with envy!
“The fondest wish of our Caribbean guests is to return to Half Moon Cay. It’s their favorite port of call,” observed Matthew Sams, vice president, Caribbean Relations, Holland America.
Amen to that! Coming to think of it, we still have not gone sailing or gone fishing or made use of some of the water toys, like the kayaks. I guess we must simply return again and again!
Our 11-day Panama Canal Sunfarer itinerary was also highlighted by visits to two Dutch islands: Curacao, one of the most picturesque islands in the Caribbean with its Dutch-style “tropicalized” architecture that has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, and Aruba, another Dutch idyll with beautiful Palm Beach, often named to “Best Beaches” lists. In addition we enjoyed a partial transit of the Panama Canal (to Gatun Lake) an experience that always astounds when you “squeeze” through the locks on an ocean liner, no matter how many times you’ve done it. Still other delights were calls at Puerto Limon, Costa Rica for such adventures as white water rafting and zip lining; and Cartagena, Colombia, where Zuiderdam guests could time-travel to Spanish colonial times in the city’s historic quarter and San Felipe de Barajas Fortress dating from the 17th century.