One of Norwegian Cruise Line’s most successful innovations—and one that’s been copied by other cruise lines—was the acquisition of Great Stirrup Cay, an uninhabited out-island in the Berry chain to provide passengers with a day ashore at a private beach. While many are content to relax in a beach lounger or work on their tans atop a float in the turquoise water of Bertram Cove, others can choose to snorkel, parasail, kayak, play beach volleyball, or sign up for an eco tour. Watersports and attractions include a 100-ft inflatable slide, paddleboats, and rafts.
Vendors in the Bahamian Straw Market only accept cash, but bar purchases and water toy rentals are handled with your ship charge card. There isn’t a lot of hardscape in the developed area and the use of strollers is problematic. However, passengers with mobility issues may use special sand wheelchairs on the island.
Over the years the facilities at Great Stirrup Cay have been expanded, but a huge renovation is in the works that will relocate the tendering operation to a sheltered cove and restore the beach area where tenders now perform dry landings right on the sand. While more attractions are planned for the pleasure of passengers, crewmembers haven’t been overlooked in the planning. New storage facilities will make their jobs easier when they no longer have to carry all their supplies—even including ice—to the island.
Two of the huge tenders that carried us from Norwegian Pearl to Great Stirrup Cay today offer a bit of nostalgia, and NCL history. They are Little Norway 1 and Little Norway 2, custom-built for and originally carried on the bow of the iconic SS Norway.