Are you thinking about or have already booked a Caribbean cruise with Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL)? If so and you are leaving out of Florida, there’s a good chance you’ll be visiting Great Stirrup Cay, the cruise line’s private island. This page will give you everything you need to know about your visit to Great Stirrup Cay. From the things you can do, to what to expect–we are here to get you prepared to get the most out of your stop to this Bahamas island paradise.
Norwegian Cruise Line is always adding new things to great Stirrup Cay to make the experience more enjoyable for their cruise passengers, so we are going to be updating this guide each year. As Caribbean bloggers, Crystal and I want you to have the most up to date information so you can have a better Caribbean vacation.
Our Great Stirrup Cay Podcast Episode
We know that people consume content and information in a lot of different ways. So if you are on the go, you can listen to our podcast episode that tells you all about Great Stirrup Cay as well. Just click the player below.
Where is Great Stirrup Cay?
Great Stirrup Cay is part of the Berry Islands in The Bahamas. The Berry Islands are a beautiful collection of small islands and sandbars located directly east of Miami (140 miles) and to the northwest of Nassau. Great Stirrup Cay is the northernmost island in the Berry Islands and is 250 acres of paradise.
The back story is that Great Stirrup Cay was bought from Belcher Oil Company in 1977 and was the first island ever to be transformed into a private island cruise port for a cruise line.
Great Stirrup Cay is not Coco Cay. They are two different islands. Coco Cay is Royal Caribbean’s private island and located just to the west of Great Stirrup Cay.
Great Stirrup Cay Weather
The Bahamas like to say, “It’s better in The Bahamas.” I tend to agree with that. To go with all that beautiful water, they also have wonderful weather throughout the year.
The Bahamas typically have great weather all year round, but there are some things to consider. Being on the same line of latitude as Miami and in the northern part of The Bahamas, the Berry Islands can see some cooler weather in the winter when cold fronts move through. Then in the summer, tropical storms and hurricanes can sweep through the area. All though it’s possible, it’s not probable.
The average yearly temperature is 77°F with the warmest months being May through October. Even in the summer, you won’t be cooked by hundred degree temperatures, you’ll be sitting on the beach enjoying highs between 86°F and 92°F. The ocean water surrounding the water varies around the year. During the summer the water temperature can be 86°F.
It can get cooler during the winter months, so it’s a good idea to bring a lite jacket.
Getting To Great Stirrup Cay
Unlike nearby Coco Cay, Great Stirrup Cay does not have a cruise ship dock. The cruise ships anchor just offshore and use smaller boats called tenders to bring you to shore. It’s a pretty easy process and it’s nice to have a short boat ride on the blue water.
The tender ride takes about 10 minutes and they run continually throughout the day so you can come and go from the island as you wish. These rides to shore don’t cost anything and no reservations need to be made. Just walk to the designated area and jump on.
There are plans in the works to build a cruise ship dock in the future.
What To Do On Great Stirrup Cay?
What isn’t there to do! You will have no shortage of things to on the islands. Below is a quick list of things you can do on Great Stirrup Cay, I’ll be expanding on some of the lower in the guide as well. Some of the things to do listed below are excursions that cost extra, so keep that in mind.
- Relax on the Beach
- Rent a Cabana ($299-$319)
- See the Underwater Sculpture Garden ($29/adult, $15/child excursion)
- Go Parasailing ($99 excursion)
- Swim with the Stringrays ($69/adult, $49/child excursion)
- Snorkeling and Sandbar ($59 excursion)
- Jet Ski Tour ($99 excursion)
- Eco Boat Tour to See Marine Life
- Kayak and Paddleboard Tours
- Go Shopping
- Eat, Eat, Eat
- Fly Down the Zipline
- See Swimming Pigs (not the original Exuma swimming pigs)
As you can see there is plenty to do on Great Stirrup Cay. No matter if you are looking to indulge in relaxation with a Bahama Mama in hand, or if you want non stop action–you’ll find exactly what you want.
Do I Need Money When Ashore?
As part of your cruise, you will not need money for food or drinks when visiting Great Stirrup Cay. But as you know, excursions are extra. They can be purchased ahead of time with your cruise, on the boat, or on the island. If purchased on the money you’ll need cash or preferably a credit card for that. It’s also a good idea to bring some cash with you to tip any of the island staff. Then, who doesn’t want a souvenir to two, there is the Berried Treasures Marketplace if you wish to do some shopping for which you will need money for.
Great Stirrup Cay Restaurant & Bars
There are lots of options when it comes to food and drink on Great Stirrup Cay. You’re not going to go hungry, because like on the cruise ship, food on island is included. Enjoy tropical flavors and traditional favorites while you explore the island’s different food options. Here are the places you can eat:
- Abaco Taco Bar – Build your own tacos
- Tropic Like It’s Hot – Tasty food truck option. Located near Silver Cove, it offers pork, chicken, or fish sandwiches that are cooked to order.
- Jumbey Beach Grill – Food and drink restaurant
- Bacardi Bar – Mojitos, rum punch, and more
- Bertram’s Bar – Good times and good drink here
- Patron Bar – yes, the margaritas are good
- Lighthouse Beach Bar
Did you order the drink package for your cruise? We always recommend it! If so, then your drink package will include drinks while on Great Stirrup Cay as well. If you do not have the drink package, you can still enjoy all the rum drinks you like, you will just need to swipe your cabin key card.
Getting Away From The Crowds
Crystal and I are not big on crowds, we like to search out the quiet places and soak in the beauty. If that sounds like you, Great Stirrup Cay has several coves that run the length of the developed part of the island.
Typically the first cove or beach you’ll see closest to where the tender lets you off will be the busiest as most people just want to grab a chair and begin their day on the island. To get away from the crowds a bit, follow the path down the island to the other beaches. But if complete privacy and luxury are what you are after, then you are going to want to be in Silver Cove.
If you are looking for the luxury experience during your visit to Great Stirrup Cay, the Silver Cove is where you need to be. Located on the far west end of the beach and cruise area, Silver Cover offers high-end villas, a private lagoon, the Mandara Spa, private restaurant, private Moet Bar and exclusive beach area.
The villas range in pricing from $349 per person for the studio lagoon villas, to $1,100 per person for the 2-bedroom villas.
What To Bring
The cruise line makes it easy for you and has most of what you need on the island. So no need to worry about packing big bags and hauling tons of stuff with you.
What you will want to bring is your cabin room card and a photo ID. This is so you get drinks on the island if you don’t have a drink package and so the crew can scan you as you get off and on the boat. They don’t want to leave anyone behind. Although being left behind on a gorgeous island in The Bahamas might not be so bad.
Towels are provided on every lounger chair, so no need to bring them from the ship. Bring money if you plan on shopping and tipping.
Then of course you will want to bring anything you’ll want when at the beach. Things like sunglasses, sunscreen (here is some reef safe sunscreen we recommend), hats, and a swimsuit.
Great Stirrup Cay Video
Here is the promotional video for Great Stirrup Cay from NCL. It gives you a great look at the island and does a good job of getting excited to go. Heck, I just watched it and now I want to go!
Who doesn’t love a good photo spot when on an island vacation. NCL has created several fun photo opportunities around Great Stirrup Cay for you to use. The cruise line knew what they were doing when they were planning these areas out, because social media is a great tool to show off your vacation and inspire others to go as well. Gold star to the NCL marketing team.
One of the most popular photo spots are the over-the-water swings. There are a few sets around the island for you to grab that perfect photo that makes all your friends jealous.
Another good photo opportunity is while you are on the tender, coming and going from the ship. This gives you fantastic views of the ship up close from the water with no obstructed views.
Does Wi-Fi Work on Great Stirrup Cay?
Unfortunately no it doesn’t. So if you purchased the internet package on the ship, it does not reach the island.
The island doesn’t have cell service either. So if you are wanting to post photos to social media or get a hold of someone, you’ll have to wait until you are back aboard the ship.
Pin It To Pinterest!
The bottom line is that you are going to have a great time on Great Stirrup Cay. There are tons of activities, plenty of beach area for everyone, great food and drinks, and the water glows blue in true Bahamian fashion.
If you’re ready to book your cruise to Great Stirrup Cay in The Bahamas on Norwegian Cruise Line, click this link to see all the packages and trip options. We like Cruise Direct to book cruises because they have great deals and the services is perfect.
We will be updating this post periodically so that you have the most up-to-date information about the island. NCL is always adding new amenities and improving the guest experiences. With the competition from Royal Caribbean’s Coco Cay right next door, it’s an arms race to see who has the better private island. In the end, the winner is you.
If you are interested in exploring more islands in The Bahamas. We highly recommend you think about Bimini. It’s a small island with some much character. The north of the island has a nice resort area, while the south is full of local bars, conch stands and lots of fun. Here are a few stories that will help you get to know the islands.
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Cheers and never stop exploring!
Ryan – RumShopRyan
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