Private Islands Sailing Full Steam Ahead
he cruise industry is investing heavily in innovations ashore, such as new ports, longer stays and new shoreside experiences, meaning cruise guests get to experience destinations in entirely new ways. One significant trend within the industry is the investment in land-based attractions, such as privately-owned islands. With holidaymakers increasingly seeking more adventurous, immersive and unique experiences, cruise lines are investing in new sets of islands or upgrading old ones, with several of the cruise industry’s largest operators pledging to spend millions, sometimes even hundreds of millions of dollars into building and enhancing private island resorts. New versions of private islands have better bars, acres of lounge chairs, more shade, improved landscaping, deluxe beach pavilions and easier accessibility. Some islands, such as Princess Cruises’ Princess Cay, has seen the addition of WiFi to meet the guests demands of always being connected. MSC Cruises’ new island development in the Bahamas scheduled to open on November 9, Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, is also equipped with Wi-Fi, along with over two miles of white sandy beach shore surrounded by 64 square miles of
58 SECOND QUARTER 2019 | TRAVEL & CRUISE
protected, crystal blue waters – and a robust activity lineup that not only features the picturesque sand and water and local ecosystem, but also the destination’s and company’s focus on sustainability and protecting the oceans and coral reefs with dedicated edutainment programs and a marine laboratory that will research climate change-resistant coral. Royal Caribbean is attracting adventurers through a $250 million transformation of its private island in the Bahamas. The first in its Perfect Day Island Collection of next-level private destinations around the world, freshly opened on May 6 and what Chairman Richard Fain called a “game-changer” for the industry, Perfect Day at CocoCay has a combination of first-of-their-kind thrills and one-of-a-kind ways to chill, from plunging down North America’s tallest waterslide and soaring 450 feet in a helium balloon to lounging in an overwater cabana and dipping in the Caribbean’s largest freshwater pool. Travelers are also increasingly seeking luxury experiences on their holiday. As such, cruise lines are investing in upgrading their private island’s ‘luxury’ areas, such as Norwegian Cruise Line expanding
its spa areas by building more than 30 new private villas. Virgin Voyages will also provide an exclusive experience, one fit for a rock star, on all Scarlet Lady Caribbean sailings: The Beach Club at Bimini. Designed with Miami-based architects, overlooking the ocean and cascading down to the sea with a lagoon-style pool, it will spotlight the island flavor and culture of Bimini and its turquoise waters, while turning up the volume with programming rivaling the best beach clubs in Ibiza and Saint-Tropez—like DJ-led pool and flotilla parties—and giving with a dose of Vitamin Sea with quiet spots and yoga and meditation sessions. With 30 million guests set to take a cruise globally this year and 24 new ships launching in the market increasing capacity by over 42,000, investing in onshore attractions such as private islands means that cruise lines can drive demand—and capacity—for both repeat and new-tocruise guests. Cruise lines constantly up their game by adding unique amenities and luxury enhancements both onshore and onboard, tailoring the experience to what guests desire.