Great Stirrup Cay
This 250-acre island in the Bahamas was the first to be purchased by a cruise line (Norwegian Cruise Line bought it in in 1977) and remains a private paradise. Lounge on the sparkling beaches or go for a walk and wade into the warm turquoise sea. The more adventurous can try out parasailing, hit the water on a WaveRunner, or grab flippers and goggles for a snorkeling treasure hunt. A beach barbecue is complimentary to cruisers, and Great Stirrup Cay has a Straw Market full of local products for shoppers.
What We Love
Beachfront Cabanas: If you want to upgrade your beach time, rent one of these private retreats. Food and drink and use of a float are included.
Pirate History: The island was once a pirate hideout. As a deterrent, the British erected an 80-foot-tall lighthouse here in 1863. It still shines a light visible for 20 miles. Check it out and practice your pirate speak — arrgh.
Best Known For
The Hippo: Great Stirrup Cay is home to what is billed as the world’s largest inflatable waterslide. At 40 feet high and 175 feet long, the Hippo is a must-do wet and wild thrill ride.
Stingray Encounter: Get cozy with stingrays in a special enclosed area, where you can safely feed and pet them.
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Who It's Best For
Party Crowd: Those seeking a beach party scene will find one. There are rum and tequila bars, and an outpost of Jimmy Buffet's 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar is due in 2016.
Families: Despite the carousing, all ages will find their fun. Kids will love the aqua attractions (including the enormous waterslide) and there's also a children’s play area.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
One Fish, Two Fish: Those seeking a colorful array of fish may be disappointed with what they see from the beach. You'll need to head out on an excursion to spy a wider variety of sea life.
Tenders: The island can’t accommodate large ships right at the shore. Small boats are used to ferry passengers back to cruise ships, which involves waiting in lines.
Fran Golden is a Cleveland-based contributor to ShermansCruise who also writes for USA Today.