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Carnival’s Half Moon Cay Like You’ve Never Seen It Before [PHOTOS]

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Half Moon Cay is known to the locals in the Bahamas as Little San Salvador Island. The island is located 100 miles northeast of Nassau and is a popular stop for Carnival Cruise Line and Holland America Line voyages.

Only 50 acres of the 2,400 acres have been developed; the rest is a nature preserve. The island has a lot more than just beaches and an outdoor grill; it takes a team of shipboard staff and locals to make your day on the island enjoyable.

MORE: 9 Cruise Line Private Islands 

If you ever wondered what the island looks like from above, here are 15 drone pictures of Half Moon Cay.

When the ship arrives at the island, it will either drop anchor in a dedicated anchorage area or use its global positioning system to stay centered on a certain coordinate, using the thrusters to keep the vessel in the same place. Carnival Horizon dropped the starboard anchor the day we visited.

Long before you get to experience a beach day on Half Moon Cay, a supply boat pulls alongside the ship to take provisions, camera equipment for photos, crew, food, and alcohol to the island.

When it comes time for guests to head to the island, they are taken on water shuttles from the ship to the island.

The ride is about 15 minutes, and they use a man-made canal to bring guests to the island.

The white sandy beaches are a big draw for visitors, and it’s two miles from point to point if you wanted to walk get your steps in. Once you pass the last cabana, it’s nothing but you and the sand for as far as the eye can see.

The point of Half Moon Cay is on the southwest side of the island and is undeveloped.

READ MORE: Bimini Cruise Port: Everything You Need To Know


This photo shows perspective if you were to walk the beach from point-to-point of the island. Notice that the beach forms a giant horseshoe.

One of the popular excursions on Half Moon is horseback riding. Guests normally don’t see the pasture located right off the beach, where the horses have plenty of space to run throughout the day.

There are also eco-tours that guests can do on the island that are offered around some of the lagoons on the island. The big lagoon that runs down the middle is called Bone Fish Lagoon.

All around the island are a network of roads that lead to different areas. These are primarily used by the island staff operating the golf carts, trams, and heavy equipment when guests aren’t on the island.

Snorkeling off the coast is also popular on Half Moon Cay, where you will see all kinds of tropical fish that love to be fed. Bring some crackers or a plain cereal like Cheerios with you to bring all the fish to the surface while snorkeling.

There are lifeguards set up along the beach to ensure you don’t venture out too far; there are also ropes to keep you in the swimming and snorkeling zone.

The island also is home to essential workers who take care of the island when guests aren’t there. Living quarters and maintenance warehouses are behind the canal where the water shuttles drop guests off to keep the island in tip-top shape.

The Private Oasis seen above usually sells out pretty quickly and has an open bar, a meal prepared by one of the chefs from the ship, and an exclusive dock with bathroom and shower facilities.

MORE: The Private Oasis on Half Moon Cay

The island has planned upgrades in the coming years, but they could be delayed due to the cruise industry being shut down for the majority of 2020. Now more than ever, the island has proven to be an asset for Carnival Corporation, and for the purchase price of $6 million back in 1996, it was a steal.

READ NEXT: 25 First Time Cruise Tips

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drone photos: carnival and holland america's island half moon cay

America's trusted voice on cruise vacations. Editor of Cruise Radio and producer/host of Cruise Radio Podcast and CRN audio briefs.

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