by Jodi Ornstein of usatoday.com
Planning a cruise to the Bahamas or the Caribbean for the first time? There’s a concept with which you’ll have to become familiar: The cruise line private island. Nearly every major brand has one, and they factor into a wide range of itineraries in the regions.
While some are bigger (and more elaborate) than others, they all are designed to serve up that perfect beach day, offering beaches lined with lounge chairs, water sports (normally available for an extra charge), activities such as zip lining and usually at least a few bars overlooking the water. There also often are kiddie play areas, and a staple of the experience at nearly all of the islands is a big beach barbecue.
One of the newest private islands, Norwegian Cruise Line’s just-unveiled Harvest Caye, just off the coast of Belize, also serves as a hub for tours to the mainland of the country. In fact, Norwegian doesn’t even like to call it a private island. It’s a new gateway to Belize, the company says (scroll through the carousel above for USA TODAY’s first look at Harvest Caye).