Holland America Line’s top-rated port in the Caribbean is Half Moon Cay, the company’s own private island oasis. Nestled in the Bahamas, Half Moon Cay is known for its pristine beaches, diverse shore excursions, exclusive beach cabanas and kid-friendly activities.
Today ms Zuiderdam makes the first Holland America Line call of the season, and guests will be excited to see that some enhancements have been made to the island. During the off-season, Holland America Line was busy at work giving the area a little face-lift, adding new amenities and making it more welcoming, pristine and relaxing than ever before.
Matt Sams, Holland America Line’s vice president Caribbean relations, says that guests have a lot to look forward to when they visit this season:
Q: What’s new for guests at Half Moon Cay this season?
Matt: We have added a tram tour and a new snorkel tour. Additional capacity has been added to the three island tenders. This has resulted in smoother and faster tender operations.
What else has been done to Half Moon Cay? At the Welcome Center, the garden was replanted, 40 new conch shells were added to the fountain and a music system was added so guests can enjoy the rhythm and sounds of the Caribbean as they arrive at the island.
The beach cabanas and beach villas were also part of the upgrades. Both received new “welcome” signature to the outside facade, and the two-story villas will feature new refrigerators and seat cushions. The cushions in the 15 beach cabanas were freshened as well. Guests can book their day in a private cabana or villa through the shore excursion area.
This was our second time stopping at Half Moon Cay with HAL as well as our second time booking a cabana. The cabana is a great home base, great snacks and snorkel and water toys. — Guest MarkFD
Loved the beach villa!!!! I have been known to frequent the cabanas, but … I will choose the beach villas from now on. My family had the best time. If you have more than three people … this is the way to go. — Guest Racergirl24
Sams was asked about the cabanas and villas, and here’s what he had to say:
Q: What are the perks of reserving a cabana for the day?
Matt: They are in a prime, beach-front location. They are air conditioned and have a shaded area, sun deck, misting station and refrigerator. Guests also get complimentary snorkeling equipment, floating mats, and reserved lounge and dining chairs. Optional butler packages for food and beverage service is available.
Q: The cabanas and beach villas are a special experience – what might guests not realize is included?
Matt: The beach villas and the Grand Cabana all have a private restroom and changing facilities. They also have indoor and outdoor showers, wet bars, refrigerators, dining tables, hot tubes, large outdoor sun decks, lots of shaded air conditioned areas, great ocean front views and island décor that enhances the mood of being in the Caribbean.
The refurbishments go beyond the cabanas and villas. Guests will notice new furniture at the Mermaid Bar, Captain Morgan on the Rocks Bar and the “I Wish I Could Stay Here Forever” bar.
While waiting for a tender, guests will be shaded by a new tent, and guests waiting for a tram can rest in comfort in a new tram station waiting area. Bathrooms located in the Welcome Center, Dune Path and Food Pavilion also were refurbished.
Sun-worshippers will appreciate new chaise lounges, more clam shells and 75 new floating mats.
All of the roads were repaved, making for a smoother ride, and bicycle stands were installed at all designated bicycle roadside shore excursion stops. Guests on the Eco-Bike & Hike tour will notice the new stands.
For the ocean-going tours and rentals, guests can enjoy the new paddleboards, that were featured in a recent blog post, as well as new water bikes, new kayaks and new Sea Doo jet skis.
Stingray Park is a main attraction at Half Moon Cay, and on the Stingray Adventure shore excursion guests can swim and interact with these wonderful creatures.
Feeding the stingrays was an absolutely wonderful experience! I was a little hesitant at first because I’m not fond of the water so I was happy to see that there was a deck for me to stand on to watch everyone else if I didn’t go in the water. Happily, I did go in because the water was shallow enough for me to stand up in (I’m very short) and it wasn’t icy cold even though it was early April. You don’t need to snorkel because the water is so clear you can just look down and see everything perfectly. We got to pet the rays as well as feed them. One of them took a liking to me and she kept rubbing against me just like a cat. The young man guiding us explained so much and answered all our questions. He truly loves his water babies! — Guest LizCruise
Guests visiting the stingray area or taking a tour will notice that there is fresh paint, new carpet and landscaping. Additional marine life also has been procured, the sand was replenished and a new walking trail on the ridge from Stingray Park to Water Sports Rental Center #3 was added.
Sams was asked a few more question to get an insider’s perspective on Half Moon Cay, and his answers were fun and informative:
Q: Why do you think Half Moon Cay consistently gets rated the #1 Caribbean port by Holland America Line guests?
Matt: It is what guests have pictured in their mind the Caribbean should look like. The experience ashore matches their high expectations as well. And, we have the best staff in the industry.
Q: What’s your favorite thing to do on Half Moon Cay?
Matt: Walk on the beach at the water’s edge.
Q: Swimming with the stingrays, glass-bottom boat or riding a horse through the surf?
Matt: For me, horses for sure!
Q: What’s the most fun thing to do at Half Moon Lagoon?
Matt: View the reef ball trail that is in shallow water and is perfect for the novice swimmer or snorkeler.
Q: If you could stay on Half Moon Cay for a week, what three things would you need with you?
Matt: A fishing pole, matches and a good book.
Have you visited Half Moon Cay? What’s your favorite thing to do there, and what refurbishments are you most looking forward to seeing? Tell us below!
If you’re taking a Caribbean cruise that visits Half Moon Cay, the shore excursions, including beach cabanas and villas, can be pre-booked so you get the tour and retreat of your choice.