GREAT STIRRUP CAYE- NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE'S PRIVATE ISLAND
Line to NCL's information about their island:
HISTORY OF GREAT STIRRUP CAY
Great Stirrup Cay is located in the Bahamas and is part of the Berry Islands. NCL purchased this island from Belcher Oil Company in 1977 with the intentions of developing the island as a private getaway for their cruise passengers. NCL was one of the first cruise lines to offer this exclusive island experience for its passengers.
In 1988-89, NCL constructed 4 new buildings and the Dive center. In addition to this, a seawall was built to help reduce beach erosion.
In 2010, NCL embarked on a 2-year, $25 million construction program to make several enhancements to the island. The first enhancement was the constrution of a new marina basin with 4 docks for island tenders, a new 8,500 sq ft dining facility with 2 bars and 4 picnic pavilions. The next phase is expanding the beach areas, installation of private cabanas and a new straw market.
There is a lighthouse, constructed in 1863, that still remains on the property and is fully automated and solar powered. It stands almost 80 feet tall and the light is visable for over 20 miles away.
There is also a helipad located on the island and there is around 250 acres of land here.
GSC has a daytime average temperature from December to April of around 75 degrees and from May to November it is around 85-93 degrees.
The average sea temperature from May to November is 81-86 degrees and around 77 degrees from December to April.
So on with the review. I had came to GSC back in 1989 and remember it being a white sandy beach with volleyball, a hut for drinks and trinkets to buy and you could also rent big water 3 wheeled bikes. You could also go out on a snorkeling trip, swimming from the shore and following a guide.
This would be my first time back to the island in over 23 years. It has really changed a lot.
We found a spot to the right at the beach area after walking in and pretty much stayed there most of the day (other than a little shopping and over to the food area for lunch). I couldn’t wait to get into the water and start snorkeling.
The water was cold that day, but the weather was sunny and very nice out. So, I wasn’t about to let a little cold water keep me away. After getting in, you got use to it.
Before we did venture into the water we were kind of walking up and down the beach area and we saw several sting rays swimming around. They were exploring everyone around them. I ran back to our beach chairs to grab my camera and of course, my luck, they were gone and we didn’t see them the rest of the day.
I have to say I was very amazed at the amount of fish and snorkeling to be done here. I wasn’t expecting much and figured it was mostly a sandy bottom type area. There seem to be a little of everything there from just sandy areas in the water to sea grass, to rocks with plenty of fish. You could swim really far out (going toward the huge rocks that stick up out of the water) and it was still fairly shallow (where you could still touch the bottom in most places). Most of the fish were out that way (or at least more of a variety of them). You will find coral here, anemones, sea urchins, sea worms and tons of fish. Just make sure you are looking under some of the huge rocks out there and in the nooks and crannies and you’ll find things most people don’t see. I didn’t swim all the way to the huge rocks but spoke with another couple on the ship that did and said they ran into a 4 foot barracuda out there.
At one point I went out toward the rocks and then decided to swim diagonal across toward the other side to see if there was anything different in that area. I found several different “things” (not sure what they were remains of) but they were like bars/metal and to my surprise, I seen my first Lion Fish under one of them. It was the first time that I’ve ever encountered one and I was completely thrilled!!!
We did see people parasailing there as well. It looked like fun.
We went over for the lunch buffet and the lines were long. We stood in line for probably about 20 minutes before making it to the food…which was VERY good. Then when I made it to the end of the line, I THEN noticed that the food started over. Geesh, I stood in this long line, like others, when they had several different places to get the same food and it repeated. (Putting hand up to forehead and banging it about that time). So hint…don’t just get in the line at the beginning of the tables.
They have a huge covered area that you can sit at or you can opt to sit at the tables out in the sun. There was a lot of room.
My little one had decided that she wanted to try the hippo slide and had been begging all day long to go. So we went over to investigate. We ask the rep there if it was ok for her to go down or if there was an age or height regulation. He told us anyone could go down. He ask if we wanted to do just 1 slide for $4.99 or if we wanted to buy the all-day pass for $20. The thing is huge. We talked him into letting my husband go down with her (free of charge) just to make sure she would be ok. Then we talked him into holding off on the charge and if she liked it and could do it by herself then we would pay the $20. If not, then we would pay the on time rate. He agreed and let them go. She was able to climb it by herself and they slid down together. At a certain point almost toward the curve at the bottom they went a little sideways and it seemed as though they hit an area that brought them up a little. Not air borne but you could tell it was different. You could also tell by BOTH of their faces that it kinda freaked them out. So, that pretty much made up my mind that it would be her only time of trying it out. I don’t think I would trust her going alone on it.
The beach does have a lot of rocks/pebbles in the sand, so it’s a good idea to wear sandals or water shoes if you want to go easy on the feet. I’ve always ran around bare-footed since I was a kid, so it didn’t bother me but it did my husband. You could see the staff working hard at raking up the rocks and hauling them away during the day.
After awhile, we decided to do a little more snorkeling and playing in the water before heading back to the ship.
We did a little shopping at the stores before getting back on the tender and was able to barter with one of them on a dress for my daughter and a tee for me so I was happy.
I really didn’t explore around like I thought I would. I seem to get wrapped up in something exciting and then forgot to wonder off and look around. I didn’t even see where the lazy river was going to be and we didn’t go over past the adult beach either. I’ve seen many reviews about people walking to the lighthouse and I saw the arrow pointing which way it was, but when you are on the ship and you look at the tender area, and then look over to the lighthouse…holy crap it looks really far away. I felt like we’d spend a lot of time just walking there and back. So, we decided not to go.
The only complaint I would have is they have the chairs so packed that you are basically sitting on top of each other. We were the only ship there that day and it wasn’t too crowded that you had to sit within hand-holding distance with someone in the chair next to you, but still…wow. The beach is huge and they need to spread things out some more or make the beach bigger. I like people, but not so much that they can hear me whisper. LOL
We had a wonderful day and I hope to make it back again someday. We really enjoyed it and thought it was just beautiful there.