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Take a Break from the Everyday on a Private Island Paradise
by Roy Witman © 2011

Stately palms sway gently over acres of stunning white beach, freshly raked and waiting for your arrival. Waverunners stand ready to whisk you along the shore at exhilarating speeds, while in a secluded cove, beach mats float drowsily in the warm turquoise water. Welcome to your very own private island paradise, courtesy of your cruise line.

Located primarily in the Bahamas, these privately owned islands offer a variety of attractions not available on board ship, while maintaining an exclusive, pampered feel. Disney, Norwegian, Holland America, Princess, and Royal Caribbean are among the cruise lines that offer guests a day-pass to a private paradise.

Just because they're private doesn't mean they're uninhabited, though. With their own power grids, water treatment facilities, and full-time, live-in staff, you can be sure you'll find all the amenities you've come to expect from world-class cruise lines. Restaurants, cocktail lounges, and even shopping and museums can all be found on these exclusive properties. The only thing missing are the long lines and impossible-to-get reservations typical of public destinations.

Peace and Tranquility in the Tropics

Cruises are a whirlwind of activity, from dining and dancing to live shows to on-board amusement park rides. After all that fun, spending the day relaxing on shore can offer a much-needed break from the action. With exclusive access and a limit of one ship in port per day, these private islands are just the place to sprawl under a beach umbrella, far away from the crowds and the noise of other ports of call.

For an even more pampered feel, rent a seaside cabana for the day and take advantage of food and beverage services, spa offerings like yoga classes or open-air massage, private showers, and even hot tubs. Many cabana rentals include priority tender services as well a nice perk when you're on ship with 3,000 other passengers.

Don't overlook the potential for true privacy these islands offer, though. With the majority of cruise passengers disembarking for the day, consider staying aboard ship, where you'll have the pool all to yourself. The others can have their private island. You'll have your own private yacht.

Unforgettable Adventures

Of course, if your tastes lean more toward action than a lazy swing in a seaside hammock, these private islands are up to the challenge. Parasailing, snorkeling, and kayaking top the list of adult activities. Younger children will enjoy age-appropriate activities like digging for whale "bones" or climbing about on a wooden pirate ship. The older kids will love staging water-cannon fights or slipping along the slides at one of many water parks.  

You'll also find one-of-a-kind adventure as well. Royal Caribbean's Labadee features the world's longest zip line over water. Stunning views and a heart-pounding speed make this one thrill-ride you don't want to miss.

Whether you choose sunbathing on a secluded beach, dancing in the surf aboard a Waverunner, or exploring the famous Flying Dutchman of Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean, your day in paradise will be as relaxing or as thrilling as you desire.