10 Mistakes to Avoid on Cruise Private Islands

cruise private island mistakes to avoid

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If you’re embarking on a Caribbean or Bahamas cruise, there’s a good chance that you’ll be visiting your cruise line’s private island. Whether you visit Half Moon Cay, Princess Cays, Perfect Day at Cococay pr Ocean Cay Marine Reserve, this beach island just might be your favorite cruise port of call!

That said, there are some things you’ll want to know before you stop at the cruise private island. These beach days offer both relaxation and fun, but there are some common mistakes cruisers won’t want to make.

In this post, I share cruise private island mistakes to avoid and share tips to make your private island experience a day to remember!

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Things Not to Do at Cruise Line Private Islands

Half Moon Cay Bahamas with Holland America cruise ship

1. Assume All Cruise Line Private Islands Are the Same

Each cruise line’s private island is unique, offering different amenities and activities. It’s important to never assume that one private island experience represents all.

Before your cruise, research which private island you’re visiting and what they have to offer. Depending on the cruise line and private island, your food, drinks, Wi-Fi, and activities may or may not be included.

Knowing what the private island offers will help you plan your day and have the best experience possible. You’ll find that information on the cruise line’s website. YouTube videos and cruise blogs are also a great resource for cruisers.

Related: 15 Cruise Sea Day Mistakes Cruisers (Almost) Always Regret Making

2. Disregard Island Rules

Perfect Day at CocoCay

When you visit a private island, it’s important to be aware of its rules and restrictions. For instance, many private islands prohibit passengers from collecting seashells and bringing them back on the cruise ship.

Furthermore, the cruise port may have rules and restrictions against drones. On our recent MSC cruise, we visited Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, where there was a large sign letting passengers know that drones are prohibited on the island.

It’s good to familiarize yourself with these rules to avoid disappointment or inconvenience during your visit.

3. Fail to Research Activities


Before arriving at the private island, research the available activities and amenities. This includes shore excursions, nature trails, and beach options.

Booking excursions in advance can ensure that you don’t miss out on popular activities. Since you’re on the private island for a limited amount of time, popular excursions can get booked.

By planning your excursions in advance, you can better organize your day and maximize your visit.

Related: Pre-Excursion Checklist: 16 Things to Do Before a Cruise Port Day

4. Arrive at Peak Lunch Times

Perfect Day at CocoCay grill

Since most private islands include lunch, the peak lunch times will be busy. This means you’ll have to wait long lines to get your food, and it may be hard to find a table.

You can avoid these crowds by arriving at the dining areas before or after peak lunch times.

Another option is to eat on the cruise to maximize your time at the beach or enjoy activities. On our recent MSC cruise, we ate lunch in the buffet before getting off the cruise ship, giving us more time to enjoy on the private island.

Alternatively, check what other dining options are available on the island. You might find snacks and other options at food trucks, snack shacks and specialty restaurants (some may have extra charge).

5. Not Check the Cruise Drink Package Rules

cruise fashion men's tropical shirt

Ensure that your cruise line’s drink package extends to the private island. Policies may vary between cruise lines, so confirming beforehand is essential to avoid unexpected expenses.

If your drink package doesn’t extend to land, be sure to bring cash or a credit card with you off the cruise ship.

6. Forget Beach Essentials

Be sure to pack essential beach items such as sunscreen, lip balm, and towels. This way, you won’t be stuck buying these essentials at the gift shop on the private island.

Consider bringing water shoes if you’re visiting a private island with rocky areas. This way, you can enjoy the beach in comfort!

Related: What to Pack for a Caribbean Cruise

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7. Assume Everything is Included

cruise private island cabana

While many amenities are included on private islands, some extras may incur additional charges. Lounge chairs are free, but be prepared to pay extra for items like beach umbrellas, clamshells and cabanas.

Snorkel gear and other water equipment is often available to rent. However, if you want to save money during your cruise, consider bringing your own.

8. Not Bring Any Money

Before leaving the cruise ship, it’s a good idea to bring some money with you. While not always necessary, cash can be useful for tipping excursion guides or purchasing souvenirs in the shops or craft markets.

Related: How to Keep Your Belongings Safe on a Cruise Vacation

Video: 10 Things Cruisers Get Wrong on Cruise Line Private Islands

9. Overlook Safety Precautions

Be mindful of safety, especially if you’re traveling with younger children. Lifeguards may not be present at all beaches, and it’s important to supervise swimming activities accordingly.

Furthermore, private islands can be very big and take some time to get used to. Even though private islands are a pretty safe environment, taking the usual safety precautions isn’t something to overlook.

10. Stay on Board

Grand Turk Cruise Port

Although staying on the cruise and enjoying a quiet ship may be tempting, if this is your first time visiting the private island, don’t miss out! Just imagine, you’ve got a gorgeous Bahamian island with soft sand and pristine beaches.

While there’s an argument to be made for sometimes staying on the ship when in a cruise port, it can be a mistake to skip this one.

When you arrive at the private island, take some time to walk around and explore. You can even compromise by spending half a day in port and the other half on the island.

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Final Thoughts on Private Island Mistakes Cruisers Need To Avoid

By avoiding these common mistakes and following these tips, you can make the most of your cruise line’s private island experience! Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach day or adventurous excursions, you can plan for the perfect day!

What’s your favorite cruise line private island and would you do anything differently the next time you’re there? Please let me know in the comments below.

Happy Cruising!


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