Day 4 Aboard Holland America Rotterdam – Half Moon Cay, Private Island

You know our routine by now. 7:00 AM knock on the door as rolls and coffee arrive. We shower and head up to the Lido Market. More food. We sit in the sun.

The focus of today will be Half Moon Cay, the private island owned by Holland America Line since 1996.

It’s a significant sized island, looking long and narrow. While on a tour we heard the company invested $ 60 million, including about $40 million for infrastructure. Even if I’m off on the numbers, they’ve built something very impressive.

To get to the island, you tender in. Most of us think of tendering as a few motorized lifeboats ferrying crowds back and forth. Since this is a private island, they have a proper ferry service of about four boats in constant motion. At any given time, one boat is tied to the ship, another at the island’s pier, one heading towards shore and another towards the ship. A few of the ferries have a front ramp, making entry and exit much easier.

Spending time on the beach is why people visit the Caribbean. Although you can simply stretch out, Holland America has four other options. Starting at the high end, you can rent a villa for 12 guests, colorful air-conditioned beach houses for eight guests, cabanas holding four guests or two beach loungers and a clamshell covering providing shade.

Half Moon Cay Beach House, Bryce Sanders

You will want to eat. The island has a BBQ area serving hot dogs, hamburgers, grilled chicken and other lunch fare at no charge. We opted for the Lobster Shack and enjoyed seafood chowder and lobster rolls priced at $17.00. No cash in this environment because everything is done on your room keycard. You are never far from a bar serving beer and other cold drinks.

We booked a tour that drove a group of about 15 people around the island. The horseback riding operation has 47 horses, two more than the 45 full time staff living on the island. They also raise chickens and goats.

We saw the staff’s air-conditioned housing, the water treatment plant, church and basketball courts. They keep in touch with the outside world via a cellphone tower and satellite dishes.

One of our stops was at the penned portion of a lagoon where stingrays live. We saw sea cucumbers, a huge starfish, conch and sea urchins. You can swim with the sting rays, but our tour was a dry tour, so we headed back to the bus.

The island was impressive. We can see why private islands are consistently rated the most popular port stops on cruises.

Did we do other stuff?  Yes. We drank, played trivia, made new friends, drank some more during the Happy Hour, ate more food and went to shows.

We can touch on that in tomorrow’s article.


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