Half Moon Cay
Half Moon Cay is a beautiful private island that Carnival sails to and we just had the chance to stop in and spend the day. Though the hurricanes recently went through the area, you wouldn’t be able to tell on this small island of paradise. Now, I didn’t quite know what to expect when heading to Half Moon Cay. I knew that it was a small, private island. And I was sure it would be beautiful. But it wasn’t explained to me, even once we were on the ship, what exactly sailing to a private island would entail. I later found out that Carnival basically moves the whole ship to the shore.
That’s right, the crew, the food, the music and the fun. Half Moon Cay is a tender port, so all those luggage carts that load our luggage also bring the ship to shore. Everything we would need loads up on those tender boats. The tender boats can hold a couple hundred people and they were running two at a time. You start the day with getting tender tickets. Then, as your zone is called, you head down to the gangway to tender over. The tender is very short, maybe 5 minutes. Once docked on the island, you are welcomed into a port, similar to most others. They have a few cash only shops, then you are kind of just left to your own devices.
Once we were on the island, everyone just disperses. There are nice brick walkways that don’t seem to lead anywhere but to more beach area. They were lined with lush greenery and palm trees. They had multiple bath houses that were very nice and clean. We eventually picked some chairs close to the water to set up camp. Slowly the whole ship emptied out on to the beautiful white sandy beach. Hundreds of chairs lined the glass clear water. There were these blue tent like covers that you could rent to cover your chair. They also have floats that you can rent, all using your sail and sign cards. The green mat type floats sold quickly, then you were offered a yellow innertube. I believe we paid $20 to rent it for the day, but you could easily bring your own to relax in the water.
And what about the water? It was beautiful! It had such an amazing blue color and you could see straight down to the bottom. It was definitely a little cold when you first get in, but it was wonderful once you got used to it. The water does start getting deep pretty quickly, but that is where the float came in handy. It was so nice to just lounge in the water and soak up some rays. While the water was beautiful and clear, there wasn’t much to see right off the shore. It was not a good snorkeling destination.
Around lunch time, we decided it was time to search for some food. We saw others with plates full of food, so we started our hunt. This was one of the things that wasn’t made very clear to us. They brought a whole buffet out onto the island! And the best part was that it was completely free. That’s right, lunch included compliments of the carnival cruise ship. After a little wondering through the vast sets of pathways and past a bunch of patios with picnic table on them, at last we reached the food pavilion. And just like on the liddo buffet, you get in line and start making your way through. They were grilling up hotdogs and hamburgers. They had all the fixins to go with it as well as sides for you. They had veggies and potato salad. They even had a dessert area! Now, I never found it, but I saw others had cheese for their burgers. Haha They had crew members bussing the tables and they even had the water and lemonade available in a soda dispenser. Now, the one thing we discovered was that the drink packages do not work on the shore. You had a limited selection of soda and alcohol available and it all could be paid for with your sail and sign card, but you still had to pay.
A little after lunch, the Fun Squad showed up and brought some Liddo Deck fun to the beach. There was a big pirate ship, with a bar inside, that was the meeting point for the fun and games. And games they delivered. Lots of fun to watch just like on board. They had the DJ out there and eventually even our Cruise Director showed up. We did notice that the music wasn’t heard very well past the pirate ship area though.
Along with the hundreds of chairs that lined the beach, were also cabanas for rent. They were cute little house looking things that you could pay for, they had a table to sit at and offered a more comfortable, shady place to hang. They were very nice looking, but we were just fine out on the beach with most of the ship.
Eventually, it was time to head back and reload the ship. They had us go through the metal detectors there on the shore before we boarded the tender boats, to help smooth the embarkation process. Back to the ship went all the guests, as well as the luggage carts attended by crew members. We even saw our head waiter on our tender as we returned. Once everyone was back on board, we were able to sail away to a beautiful sunset and a small little rainbow playing in the clouds. It was a perfect ending to a wonderful day in Paradise.