Carnival Adds to its Private Island Resort at Half Moon Cay

Tenders conducting passenger operations for Carnival Conquest at Half Moon Cay, 2017 (social media)

Published Aug 1, 2019 7:29 PM by The Maritime Executive

Cruise line private islands have become an important mainstay of the Caribbean cruise industry, and the leading operators continue to invest in new sites and new improvements. Among the latest developments is a new berthing pier for Half Moon Cay, which will allow cruisers to access the Carnival-operated site without tendering for the first time. 

The new pier at Half Moon Cay was announced in a report from the Central Bank of the Bahamas and was first publicized by Cruise Radio. The pier is part of an $80 million expansion of the facility, which serves vessels in the Carnival Cruise Line and Carnival-owned Holland America fleets. 

The enhancements at Half Moon Cay parallel the major investments that Carnival's competitors are making at their own private island resorts. Number-two cruise operator Royal Caribbean recently finished revamping its Coco Cay site with a $250 million overhaul, including the tallest waterslide in North America, 12 smaller waterslides, a wave pool, a 1,600-foot zipline, a helium balloon ride and a luxury resort area. 

The new "Perfect Day at Coco Cay" is very popular with RCCL's customers, and it is generating returns, according to CEO Richard Fain. "I have to say that all that love from our guests is turning in a nice return for our shareholders too. Itineraries that include Perfect Day . . . are up double digits versus the same time last year," he said in an earnings call in May.

Disney Cruise Line operates a private resort called Castaway Cay, located near Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas, and it is now looking to build a second. Disney recently reached an agreement with the government of the Bahamas for a development at Lighthouse Point on the island of Eleuthera, about 110 nm to the southeast of Castaway Cay, where it has plans to build a second private cruise port. The $250 million-plus project is currently in the environmental impact assessment phase, and Disney is already consulting with local businessowners about ways that they may benefit from construction work. Though the project is locally controversial, Disney hopes to complete the new facility and bring it online in the early 2020s.