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Half Moon Cay, an exclusive private Bahamian island owned by Holland America. The exclusive resort is visited by their cruise ships during the majority of their Caribbean and Panama Canal cruises.
When it's not being used by Holland America, Carnival's ships make port here. Despite all appearances to the contrary, the cay really is a deserted island, save for a caretaker staff of 10 to 20 Holland America workers who live here year round. The locals who sell arts, crafts, souvenirs and knickknacks in the straw market reside on nearby Eleuthera Island, and commute to Half Moon Cay whenever a ship comes into port.
For 10 years running, Half Moon Cay has offered cruise passengers "the best private island experience," according to the readers of Porthole Cruise Magazine. Only 50 of the island's 2,400 acres have been developed. The remaining acreage includes a 700-acre lagoon, a Wild Bird Preserve and a wildlife sanctuary.
Half Moon Cay enjoys a tropical marine climate, with year-round daytime temperatures ranging from the high 70s to the high 80s F. The dry season begins in November and lasts through April, while the rainy season commences in May and extends through October, with the heaviest rains taking place from June through September.
In 1997, Holland America Line purchased Little San Salvador from its previous owners for a cool $6 million. Today, the 2,400-acre island is known as Half Moon Cay and serves as a private retreat for passengers on the line's Caribbean and Panama Canal sailings. (Carnival ships sometimes visit, too, as Holland America is owned by Carnival Corp.)
The line invested $15 million to spruce up Half Moon Cay, but just two percent of it has been developed. Located less than 100 miles southeast of Nassau, the island houses its passenger facilities on less than 50 acres; much of the remaining land serves as a preserve for migratory birds. Day-to-day operations are handled by nearly 100 employees who reside on nearby islands.
Physically, the island boasts a 2.5-mile-long crescent-shaped beach -- the source of the name Half Moon Cay. Facilities are divided into three sections: the welcome center, Bahamian Village and Tropics Restaurant. The welcome center features an information booth, restrooms, a bar, a Bahamian straw market, an ice cream shop, a post office, a first aid station, an island shop and tram stop.
Once you visit you will consider Half Moon Cay to be one of the most stunning private island of any cruise. From a sun-drenched day of swimming, sunning on the crescent-shaped beach stretching a mile in length, or just lounging around in a hammock, you will not be short of activities to choose from. For the more adventuress type there a wide variety of water sports to choose from including but not limited to swimming, snorkeling, SCUBA diving, kayaking, windsurfing, parasailing, paddle boating, "banana" boating, sailing, jet skiing, and even a deep-sea fishing expedition or a glass bottom boat ride. For the land lovers in the group, there's a marked nature trail, volleyball, shuffleboard, horseshoes, basketball, tug-of-war contests. And when you become parched and/or famished, from your days activities there are a couple of thirst quenching bars,a food pavilion and an ice-cream shop. There's even a small shopping arcade for the die-hard shopper. Even the youngest menbers of your family can fully enjoy themselves with Holland America's Club HAL program. You choose from a hunt for hidden treasure, a trip to the ice-cream bar, and even a their own roped-off section of beach.
On this remote island there are only 45 of the island's 2,400 acres that have been developed assuring all that this stop will be truly a sanctuary from the hectic world you left behind.
If you're attracted to relaxing, untroubled, tranquil day, this island is waiting for you!
The name Half Moon Cay came from Henry Hudson's ship which traveled during 1609. The island is situated about 100 miles south of Nassau.
Half Moon Cay is a very popular port for cruise ships making 3, 4 and 7-day cruises to the Bahamas from Florida ports as well as from Charleston, Baltimore and New York.
As a general rule, ships arrive at the island's tender anchorage between 8:00 am and 9:00 am, and depart between 4:00 pm and 5:00 pm.
In 2015, Half Moon Cay is slated to host 441,000 passengers sailing on 189 ships, down 14% and 16%, respectively, from 2014.
Where You are Dock
Your ship will lay anchor offshore Half Moon Cay, and the island's fleet of 4 ship's tenders will take you to the Half Moon Cay Tender Pier marina, which is a less than 1-minute walk to the island's Fort San Salvador Welcome Center. The double decked tenders take about 10 minutes to bring you from ship to shore.
Holland America Line's private Caribbean island paradise, Half Moon Cay, has won the 2003 Editor-in-Chief Award for "Best Private Island" in the cruise industry from Porthole Cruise Magazine, for the second year in a row.

Since developing Half Moon Cay in 1997, Holland America and Windstar ships have brought more than 600,000 guests to enjoy its stunning scenery and luxurious amenities. Half Moon Cay is located on 45 acres of the 2,400-acre Little San Salvador Island, which lies less than 100 miles southeast of Nassau between southern Eleuthera and Cat Island.
"Holland America has created the ultimate Caribbean experience on an unspoiled retreat where guests can both experience its natural wonders and enjoy the extensive activities and facilities offered in the resort portion of the island."
Most Holland America Caribbean cruises include a visit to Half Moon Cay, a crescent-shaped, white sand beach more than a mile long that fronts a protected bay. The site has been cited as a model visitor destination by the Bahamian government for its balance of environmental and cultural concerns. Guests may sail, swim and snorkel in the turquoise waters, bask on white sand beaches, have a beachside massage and then enjoy an array of traditional barbecue fare. The company's Club HAL children's program offers a variety of age-appropriate activities for younger visitors to Half Moon Cay.
Half Moon Cay features an aqua-sports center with beach gear and water-sport equipment, a fully-equipped Club HAL children's playground, beach chairs, volleyball, shuffleboard and horseshoes, a trail with exercise stations and a network of nature trail bridges across dunes for beach access, and a designated wild bird reserve. All facilities are accessible to persons using wheelchairs, featuring hard-surfaced pathways to connect venues. Beach and jitney trams also operate at the island.
Half Moon Cay also has a West Indies Village with shops, including an art gallery and a straw market, a post office selling a Bahamian stamp bearing a Half Moon Cay design, a Spanish-style chapel, and an ice cream shop, soda bar and frozen drink bar. The food pavilion includes 15 tropical, open-air dining shelters, a large bar and three convenient satellite bar stations, two fresh fruit and condiment shelters, and a bandstand.
Visitors can choose from massages or one of several more active pursuits. A visit to any of three on-island water sports centers will allow for the rental of snorkeling equipment, aqua bikes, windsurf boards, kayaks and beach floats. Or, you can pick from several shore excursion offerings that include horseback-riding, water-scooter rides, stingray adventures, deep-sea fishing (catch-and-release), eco tours, parasailing, and guided bike and kayak tours.
For kids, check out Half Moon Cay's Half Moon Lagoon water park. It's got large water creatures for climbing, water cannons and a pirate-ship waterslide. A playground with slides and two wooden pirate ships is also available for children to use.
Dining Out
A gratis buffet lunch is provided for island guests. Several full-service bars are located throughout the island and on the beach. There is also a quiet bar near the facility's interior lagoon. Additionally, Holland America debuted Captain Morgan's On the Rocks Island Bar in early 2011. It's positioned near Tropics Restaurant, which provides a free buffet-style barbecue for passengers. The Captain Morgan bar looks like a washed-up schooner and features outdoor rum-cask seating, cannon water misters and plenty of history on the captain and his exploits. It also includes a performance area, where a band often plays.
A straw market and island shop are both situated near the welcome center. They each offer typical Caribbean souvenirs.

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