Great Stirrup Cay is part of Berry Islands (Bahamas). The small island (size 270 acres / 0,4 ml2 / 1 km2) was purchased by NCL-Norwegian Cruise Lines in 1977 from Belcher Oil Company. Later, the property was developed into a private island used as port of call exclusively for NCLH-owned ships (from the fleets of NCL, Oceania and RSSC-Regent). The nearest large island is Great Harbour Cay.
NCL private island Great Stirrup Cay (Bahamas)
In June 2016, NCL announced the company's plans to do an extensive makeover of its Bahamian private island. The project is part of "The Norwegian Edge" (USD 400 million fleet renovation program) and includes adding new attractions, eateries, private villas, zip-line course, underwater sculpture garden, new lagoon (suite-exclusive area), boardwalk (connecting the beach with the new entertainment complex).
Great Stirrup Cay's new landscaping works alone cost over USD 1 million. The private island destination was closed for refurbishment between August 25 and October 20, 2016. However, due to damages caused by Hurricane Matthew, the opening was delayed until November 20. The closure mostly affected the short itineraries of Norwegian Sky, which instead visited Nassau and Freeport (Grand Bahama) / Key West FL.
The new zip-line course (length 1000 ft / 305 m) has 2 parallel lines. The new underwater sculpture garden is a snorkeling / diving attraction (waterproof maps are provided). The half-mile (800 m) long boardwalk (connecting the beach with a new complex) is also a scenic walkway (100,000 ft2 / 9,290 m2) of new pathways) with shaded areas and rest stops with bench seating.
The half-acre sized new entertainment complex has sports facilities (basketball-volleyball courts, tennis tables), a stage for live performances, shaded picnic area, air-conditioned reception center (board games rentals, reservations, locker rooms), complimentary food bar, new lounge area. Abaco Taco is a complimentary food bar near the new complex. LandShark Bar & Grill is another new (a la carte priced) eatery with indoor-outdoor seating.
All the island's existing eateries and bars were updated (decking, shaded areas, stools in all bars). Dining venues' seating capacity was increased by 50%. The current buffet restaurant was redesigned and increased in seating capacity. In the ship tendering area were added new lockers and restrooms.
The new Lagoon Retreat is an adults-only private beach area with its own restaurant, covered area, air-conditioned private villas (1x 4-room Spa Villa, plus 22x villas / studios, 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom accommodations). The lagoon complex features a new swim-up bar, a dedicated to families shallow water beach, kids playground / picnic area, Silver Palm restaurant (complimentary, indoor-outdoor seating, rooftop terrace), private room (capacity 75 seats, used for private events / special occasions, with catering service).
Silver Cove is a 270-acres (23 km2) exclusive resort-style complex with a total of 38 beachfront villas, Mandara Spa (premium wellness facility), Moet Bar, Restaurant and Bar-Lounge.
- Each Silver Cove Villa is fitted with power outlets, air-conditioner, HDTV with infotainment system (on-demand movies, Internet), full en-suite bathroom, daybeds, club chairs, retractable glass wall (for unobstructed beach views), spacious veranda (outdoor terrace with premium garden furniture). Other complimentary amenities and services provided to Silver Cove Villas include private beach access, buffet-style dining (at Silver Cove Restaurant). Six of the 1-Bedroom Villas are with wet bars and separate bedroom. 2-Bedroom Family Suite Villas additionally have separate indoor dining area, larger bedrooms and second bath (with whirlpool tub).
- The types of villas available for rent are Studios (2-4 people), 1-Bedroom (4-6 people, with hot tub), 2-Bedroom (10 people, with hot tub, 2 bathrooms). All villas are with an open-air terrace, en-suite bathroom, living room (dining area). Food and drink services are also offered.
- All villa rentals are price inclusive of air-conditioned shuttle transportation from the tender dock to Lagoon's reception.
- The new Lagoon Retreat is an exclusive area for "The Haven" and all suite cruise passengers, and also for passengers with purchased on-land Mandara Spa treatments. A limited number of passes for all passengers are available for purchasing on each NCL Bahamas cruise with Great Stirrup Cay.
The island's renovations and upgrades were scheduled for completion by 2017 spring. The private cabanas were available for 2017 summer. The beach getaway was spruced up with revamped and new food and drink venues, rebuilt cabanas, expanded sand beach areas, more lounge chairs (now 3000, up from 1200 prior to the refurbishment).
NCL's private island now offers a total of 38 private villas, a 2-story restaurant, swim-up bar, a new spa area. The new landscaping resulted in over 1,000 trees, which expanded the island's shaded areas. Pathways were paved and additional seating was added around the outdoor venues.
Jumbey Beach Grill (the island's main buffet restaurant) was extensively refurbished and redesigned. Not it has 4 food lines (instead of 2), cutting down on crowds and speeding up service. The buffet restaurant's upgrade alone cost around USD 0,75 million. The beach bars were enlarged. Jumby Beach received upgrades that resulted in food being cooked faster and staying fresher and hotter.
Other island improvements included Patron Bar and Bertram's Bar (new machines for frozen drinks and other equipment to speed up service). Bacardí Bar (serving mojito- and daiquiri cocktails) received more tables and umbrellas at its outdoor seating area, plus a live music band stand.
The above photo shows the island's adults-only area Lagoon Retreat.
Great Stirrup Cay cruise terminal
Below you can see the island's map showing its best attractions and amenities.
- The island's northern part has snorkeling areas and a surrounded by rocks sandy beach.
- The island's southern part has a helicopter field (signed "Great Stirrup Cay International Airport") as part of a former US military installation for satellite tracking.
- There is an original lighthouse (constructed in 1863).
- The most common tree is the coconut palm, which milk and meat is used in most of the drink recipes.
- As wildlife, the island has different varieties of lizards and land crabs, seagulls and sanderlings (waders / shorebirds).
- Climate is tropical. Average temperatures are 75 F / 24 C (December-April) and 85–93 F / 29–34 C (May-November). Average sea water temperatures are 81–86 F / 27–30 C (May-November) and 77 F / 25 C (December-April).
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