HALF MOON CAY INFORMATION GUIDE
Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas is Holland America Line's Private Island. Although the island has been extensively developed by HAL, other cruise lines within the Carnival family of cruise lines anchor at this beautiful paradise.
Below is a Fact Sheet for Half Moon Cay.
BACKGROUND ON HALF MOON CAY
Acquired in December 1996, debuted in December 1997.
Built on 65 acres of the 2,400–acre uninhabited Bahamian island of Little San Salvador, a birdsanctuary. Located less than 100 miles southeast of Nassau.
Half Moon Cay is accessible only to Holland America Line and Windstar guests.
It is a destination on most Caribbean itineraries and on Panama Canal cruises sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Port Canaveral, Norfolk and New York.
The island is nine and a half miles in circumference with an exquisite two-mile crescent-shaped, beach, featuring stunning aquamarine blue seas, powder white sand beaches and exotic vegetation exemplifying the tropical Caribbean experience.
Guests rate the island very highly for its beauty, serenity and privacy. It is the highest rated port of call on Holland America Line’s Caribbean itineraries.
Accommodates up to 5,000 guests per day. There are no overnight facilities on the island.
Built in accordance with the company’s environmental conservation practices. The Bahamian National Trust designates part of the island as wild bird reserve. It is a nesting area for waterfowl, including 10,000 sooty terns, noddy terns, 200 pairs of roseate terns, shearwaters and Bahamian pintails.
Each ship anchors off the island, and ship tenders transport guests to the island’s marina. The beach and activities are easily accessible from the marina.
The name “Half Moon” came from two sources, the island’s spectacular crescent-shaped white sand beach and Half Moon is the name of Henry Hudson’s ship which also is featured on the HAL logo.
The facilities are arranged in a linear format and comprise three areas — the Landing and Welcome Center, the Bahamian Village and the Tropics Restaurant
The guests enter the Fort San Salvador Welcome Center upon docking at the marina. The Welcome Center features an information booth, restrooms, bar, Bahamian straw market, ice cream shop, post office and first aid station, air conditioned island shop and tram stop. Well-marked paths lead to the beach and water sports center and food service area.
The Bahamian Village is made up of shops and facilities that are designed with Spanish and Bahamian themes. A Bahamian–style chapel accommodates wedding and renewal of vows ceremonies.
The Tropics Restaurant operates a buffet-style with six lanes for quick service. It features 15 open-air dining shelters.
Full service bars are located throughout the island. Two large bars are in the Tropics Restaurant and the Welcome Center. The “I Wish I Could Stay Here Forever” bar is located on the main beach. A third bar, Half Moon Saloon, located near the Half Moon Lagoon Aqua Park, provides a great view of the ocean and beach. There is also a very quiet bar located on the interior lagoon adjacent to Stingray Cove.
The beach and nature trails are accessible from each facility.
A handicapped-accessible 25-passenger tram runs continuously on a separate path between the Welcome Center and the Tropics Restaurant and provides an alternative way of getting around. Wheelchairs with umbrellas and balloon tires made for use on the sand are available. There is also a paved pathway that allows guests in wheelchairs to easily navigate the main public areas.
Three Water Sports Center located throughout the island, two on the beach and one on the lagoon that rent beach gear and water sport equipment. A children’s playground is near the center and volleyball, basketball, shuffleboard and horseshoes are located at areas with rest shelters.
FUN NEW ADVENTURES
As part of its $225 million Signature of Excellence initiative, Holland America Line recently added new activities to Half Moon Cay. Guests now have more ways to enjoy themselves while experiencing the warm sun, white sandy beach and turquoise waters of this Bahamian island retreat.
The Horseback Riding by Land and Sea excursion provides an unforgettable way to explore the island’s natural beauty and ride a horse while it swims in the ocean. Guests are taken by tram to a corral where they receive a brief orientation before saddling up on these specially trained horses. Winding trails accessible only on horseback, lead to a panoramic vista at one of the highest points in the Bahamas overlooking the breathtaking shores of Half Moon Cay and the surrounding islands. During the ride, guides share insight into the Bahamian history, people and culture. Once back at the corral, horses are “dressed” for swimming in a special pad and halter. Riders then venture into the ocean for the amazing experience of riding a horse while it’s swimming. Changing rooms, lockers and rest room facilities are available.
The Stingray Adventure provides an educational encounter with the Southern Stingrays as guests swim or snorkel with these gentle and mysterious creatures. A short tram ride takes guests to the secluded Stingray Cove. The program starts with an informative session from an expert lecturer on the Southern Stingrays and some of the other marine life living in the lagoon. Guests learn about the habits, behavior, feeding and breeding of these fascinating creatures. Under the direction of guides, guests get the chance to interact with the creatures, touching their silky wings and, if they wish, hand feeding the amazing stingrays.
The Personal Watercraft Adventure allows guests a thrilling way to experience Half Moon Cay from the natural inner saltwater lagoon aboard a personal watercraft. The guided tour takes guests along the island’s picturesque shoreline, navigating around the natural reef formations, inlets, islands and sand spits, with interesting stops at the tidal outlet, the Indian village, Iguana Island and the Stingray Cove. Holland America Line has carefully selected special four-stroke watercraft machines for this excursion that have low emissions and consume 50 percent less fuel than two-stroke machines. Additionally, the course is located in an area of the beach that is removed from the island’s other activities.
Half Moon Lagoon aqua park is conveniently located on the shore of Half Moon Cay’s main beach and provides island-themed action and adventure in the sun. Guests of all ages can have fun climbing on the numerous large water “toys” in the shapes of marine life such as whales, octopi, sharks and dolphins. A pirate ship in the aqua park sprays water from its cannons to the delight of children and adults alike. Floating pads offer a relaxing way to enjoy the sun or the cooling “raindrops” from a fountain. A boardwalk leads guests to a large sundeck and the palapa-covered Half Moon Saloon, where, following some refreshments, guests can use a slide to get right back into the water.
The scenic 1.25 hour bicycle tour of Half Moon Cay discovers locations of historic significance. The guide will discuss the history of early inhabitants to present day and will point out flora and fauna and tell of its use for medicinal purposes as used by the locals. Guests will also visit lovely Bone Fish Lagoon, a 700 acre, ocean fed lagoon, and learn. This excursion is the only opportunity for guests to see the technical areas of the island, including learning how sea water is desalinated and electricity generated.
Other activities include snorkeling, scuba diving, parasailing, deep sea fishing, flats fishing, interpretive nature and birding walks, and rentals of Aqua Bikes, wind surfing boards, Hobie Cats, kayaks and beach floats.
“Massage on the Beach” services are provided by Steiner of London, operator of the salons and spas on board HAL ships. At each call, professional massage therapists attired in white shorts and T-shirts offer massage services in two air conditioned cabanas on the beach equipped with ceiling fans and massage tables. Shower facilities are also available.
Also part of the services is a “Fun in the Sun” beach workout, which includes water aerobics and a beach run/walk.
The non-denominational Bahamian chapel overlooks the sea and gives couples the opportunity to renew their wedding vows in a rustic and tropical setting. The chapel, which seats 20 guests, is constructed in an authentic Bahamian manner with a trussed roof ceiling and exotic wall tapestries complementing the hand-stained floor and wooden trim accents. A pointed steeple with a bell reflects the traditional Western influence. Champagne is offered following the ceremony and each couple is photographed with the ship in the background.
A glass–bottom–boat tour explores the coral reefs and marine life.
Please note that some activities are available at an additional fee.