Do you have a cruise heading to Great Stirrup Cay? If so, then this guide to everything you need to know about Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas is for you. There have been some recent changes and more updates on the way. We have the most recent information. If you still have questions, drop us an anchor below and we will be happy to help make your trip to Great Stirrup Cay a memorable one.
Everything You Need to Know about Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas
What is Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas?
Great Stirrup Cay is Norwegian Cruise Line’s private island in the Bahamas. Great Stirrup Cay was the first cruise line private island when it was acquired back in the 1970’s, but it has come a long way since then. This 250+ acre retreat, which is in close proximity to Nassau, Bahamas, is reserved only for the company’s cruise ships. The only way to get to the island currently is on a cruise.
Which Ships Sail to the Island?
The list of ships cruising to Great Stirrup Cay continues to grow. Right now, Norwegian Sky offers 3 and 4 night all-inclusive cruises to Great Stirrup Cay. Norwegian Gem offers sailings to the Bahamas from New York. Beginning in May 2018, Norwegian Sun will visit Great Stirrup Cay during 3 day cruises from Port Canaveral. Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Escape, and Norwegian Epic also make calls in Great Stirrup Cay. In 2019, Norwegian Dawn and Norwegian Bliss will be added to that list. Occasionally, sister lines Regent Seven Seas and Oceania Cruises also call on Great Stirrup Cay.
Can I Walk on to the Island?
Technically, you can not walk on to the island directly from your cruise ship. To go ashore, you must take a tender boat. For those who have not cruised before, tenders are small boats used by the cruise line for transportation when a ship is unable to dock. This ride over to the island is only a few minutes. You will need to secure a tender ticket to go ashore. If you want to be among the first guests on the island, make sure to get your tender number early. Weather conditions may prevent you from tendering to the island.
Are There Beaches on the Island?
Yes, there is an expansive coastline full of sandy beaches for you to spend your day relaxing on the island. With a recent investment in updates and landscaping, there are plenty of lounge chairs available to accommodate NCL’s larger ships, newly planted palm trees for some added shade, and clamshells available for rent. Since it is a rather rocky coastline, a pair of water shoes might be helpful if you plan to take a dip in the Bahamian waters. We recommend you head farther away from the tender entrance if you want to find a quieter spot.
How Do I Get around the Island?
Walking is the easiest way to get around the island. There are even newly added paved pathways and an oceanside boardwalk for your convenience. If you are tired of walking or are unable to walk long distances, there are complimentary trams with designated stops along the stretch of the island. For individuals with mobility issues, beach wheelchairs are also available near the entrance to help maneuver over the uneven terrain.
Are There Private Areas on the Island?
There are currently private cabanas available to rent. Each cabana includes lounge furniture, a small refrigerator, and its own ramp down towards the beach. Small cabanas accommodate up to 6 guests and large cabanas up to 8 guests. Cabana rentals come with snacks, bottled water, and complimentary floating mats. There is also an associated $50 food credit to order off a special cabana menu. These cabanas can be booked ahead of time like other shore excursions through your online NCL account. The prices do vary by sailing but can be a bit steep.
A new private lagoon area is also under construction. This lagoon will offer a private retreat to Haven guests as well as guests who book a spa treatment on the island. Reportedly, a limited number of day passes will also be sold.
What Can I Eat Ashore?
Like on the cruise ship, food on the island is included. There are no additional charges for eating while on Great Stirrup Cay. The food on the island is a buffet featuring items you would typically find in the Garden Cafe. The Jumbey Beach Grill offers hot dogs, hamburgers, jerk chicken, fresh fruit, salad, a pizza station, and desserts. There are also beverage stations located nearby.
A new addition to Great Stirrup Cay in 2017 is the Abaco Taco stand. Located on the northern part of the island, this casual take-out window features beef, chicken, and fish tacos with a toppings bar that allows you to customize your lunch. Abaco Taco gets two thumbs up from us!
Are There Bars on Great Stirrup Cay?
For a small private island, Great Stirrup Cay has plenty of bar options including the Barcardi Bar, Bertram’s Bar, the Patron Bar, and the Lighthouse Beach bar located near the Cabanas on the Cay. The beverage selections are mostly the same at each of these bars. The great thing about Great Stirrup Cay is that your Ultimate Beverage Package works on the island. If your alcoholic beverages are included on the ship, they are also covered while on the island. For those without a package, you can still enjoy a cocktail with a simple swipe of your room key card.
What is There to Do on Great Stirrup Cay?
There is plenty to do on the island. Besides lounging on the beach, there are several different shore excursions that you can purchase. You can rent snorkeling equipment to survey the underwater sculpture garden at your leisure, or you can take a guided snorkel tour. There are also paddleboard rentals, kayak tours, parasailing, and jet ski tours for those with a more adventurous side. You can also take a quick boat ride over to Stingray City to swim with these friendly fishes. For a full list of options, see our best things to do in Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas.
Do I Need Money When Ashore?
Money will not be needed for food or drinks on Great Stirrup Cay. But, you may want some money to provide tips to the helpful staff on the island. You will also need some cash if you plan to purchase items from the Berried Treasures Bazaar marketplace. Although your room key card card does not work at the marketplace, some vendors may accept credit cards. We usually bring around $50 just in case we want to buy something.
What is New on Great Stirrup Cay?
The restaurants, bars, cabanas, and beaches have all recently been revamped. The underwater sculpture garden for snorkelers is also a relatively new addition to the island. However, there is still much construction underway on Great Stirrup Cay. A zipline and private lagoon area are expected to be completed in 2018. This lagoon is slated to have private villas, an exclusive restaurant, a swim-up bar, and an onsite spa.
Will I Have Fun on Great Stirrup Cay?
Most certainly, YES! Whatever you plan to do, whether it is eat, swim, shop, explore, or simply relax, a day at Great Stirrup Cay is one of the best stops on any cruise.
Did we miss anything in this latest guide to Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas? Do you have some additional info about the island? Drop us an anchor below to share your Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas tips with other cruisers.