It was 1977 when Norwegian Cruise Line became the first cruise line to offer an uninhabited tropical island experience exclusively for its guests and much of Great Stirrup Cay looks just as it did when NCL acquired it. Only 120 miles east of Fort Lauderdale in the Berry Island chain of the Bahamas, the “grand-daddy” of private islands offers magnificent white sand beaches, majestic palms, and calm, pristine waters where an abundance of colorful marine life inhabits the surrounding coral reefs. While not much has changed over the years, Great Stirrup Cay is about to get a makeover. NCL has announced that it will make major enhancements to the 250-acre island in a two-phase renovation over the next 22 months. At a cost of in excess of $20 million, the work is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2011.
“We have one of the best private islands, particularly for swimming and snorkeling. With these improvements, we can provide an even more enjoyable island experience for the more than 9,000 guests who visit Great Stirrup Cay weekly during the height of the season,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s chief executive officer. “Highlights of the enhancements include an expanded beach front, exciting island excursions, additional dining facilities, private beachside cabanas, and a new kid’s area.”
The first phase of improvements to Great Stirrup Cay is already underway. This includes the excavation and formation of a new entrance channel for tenders, marina basin, and arrival area with welcome pavilion that will be the site for new tender landings and docks. Once this is complete, the island’s current beach front will be expanded significantly to accommodate more guests.
New infrastructure and landscaping to enhance the guest experience is planned in the second phase including new dining and bar facilities; several comfort stations; a band stand; cruise program activity area; private beachfront cabanas; a kid’s play area; straw market; and beach volleyball courts. Several new island activities and shore excursions will be added including wave runners, a floating Aqua Park with a variety of water toys, kayak tours through man-made rivers within the island, an eco-cruise, and a stingray encounter experience. These are in addition to the existing snorkeling; floats; inflatable hippo slide; and parasailing that are currently offered.
Norwegian Gem, Norwegian Jewel, Norwegian Sky, and Norwegian Pearl regularly call on Great Stirrup Cay throughout the year. For more information on NCL or to book a cruise, call 866-234-7350, visit NCL.com, or phone a travel professional.
Cruise Diva will be sailing aboard Norwegian Pearl and going ashore at Great Stirrup Cay in a couple weeks, so watch for first-hand reports.