Great Stirrup Cay - NCL's Private Island in the Bahamas
Great Stirrup Cay
It is home to lizards, seagulls, neon-colored fish and... a few very fortunate guests of NCL. Here you can snooze in a hammock under a shady palm tree or learn to snorkel in a peaceful cove where tropical fish weave around equally colorful coral and sea fans. You can dance the limbo and enjoy a beachside barbecue, or circle the island in a kayak or sailboat. This is the life on NCL's Great Stirrup Cay.
LOCATION AND HISTORYNorwegian Cruise Line's Great Stirrup Cay is the northern most island in a chain of islands known as the Berry Islands in the Bahamas. It is situated in an area along the Northwest Providence Channel. As sailing vessels gave way to steamships, shipping traffic increased through this channel. As a result, in 1863, the Imperial Lighthouse Service erected the lighthouse on Great Stirrup Cay. Although it was manned for many years, it is currently timed and solar-powered.
The first known settlers on the island were Lucayan Indians, relatives of the Arawaks who populated the Caribbean around 600 A.D. The Spanish arrived in 1492 followed by the British in early the 1600's. The well-protected cove at Great Stirrup was also frequently visited by pirates and offered them safe anchorage in between plunders of the gold-laden Spanish vessels returning from South America. The island was used during the Civil War as a landfall for provisioning by Federal troops. During World War II, American troops utilized the island for defensive purposes to guard the eastern shores of the U.S. and the US Air Force later erected a satellite tracking station. One of the best-known settlers of more recent times was Captain Bertram of the British Navy, after whom Bertram's Cove is named.
NCL purchased Great Stirrup Cay from Belcher Oil Company in 1977 and became the first cruise line to have a private "out island." Improvements to the island and existing structures were made in preparation for NCL's passenger's first "island experience."
Since 1988, NCL made numerous major improvements to the island, which included construction of four new buildings; the main bar and deck, a water sports hut on the west beach, another bar at the main beach and the Dive-in Center. Additions were made to the Straw Market, the beach area was extended and a sea wall erected to reduce beach erosion.
GREAT STIRRUP CAY FACTS
- Owner: Norwegian Cruise Line
- Location: 120 Nautical Miles east of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida in the Berry Island chain of the Bahamas.
- Size: 2.5 x 1.5 miles
- Base: Coral & Limestone
- Beaches: 2 main (North Shore); 1 un-maintained (West shore). 3 un-maintained (South shore)
- Average Temp: 75 degrees Fahrenheit
- Vegetation: Coconut Palm; Sea Grape, and the beautiful Bougainvillea are among the abundant regional foliage.
- Animals: Variety of lizards, land crabs, iguanas, seagulls, frigates, sanderlings, great snowy egrets, and Arctic terns can often be spotted on the island
- Marine Life: An abundance of marine animal and plant life surrounds the island. In addition to the numerous coral formations, sponges, sea urchins and sea stars, many colorful varieties of parrotfish, wrasses, angelfish, grouper, snapper, jack, grunt, triggerfish, butterfly fish, and sergeant majors live at Great Stirrup Cay.
GREAT STIRRUP CAY FACILITIES
- Bars: One main bar and one smaller bar are located at the east end of the beach.
- Food Service: An island barbeque of chicken, hamburgers and hot dogs with pizzas, salads, fresh fruits and all the trimmings is cooked and served buffet-style on the island.
- Restrooms: Full facilities located on site.
- Beach Chairs: 1,000 beach chairs & 800 umbrellas
- Straw Market: T-shirts and souvenirs from the Bahamas are available at stands located in one small section of the island.
GREAT STIRRUP CAY WATER SPORTS
The following is available through NCL's Dive-In Program:
- Snorkeling: Snorkeling instruction and equipment is available for 300 passengers.
- Paddle Boats: Catamaran style with efficient paddle and view windows, which allows the passengers to see underwater.
- Stingray Vu-boards: Resemble a "boogie board" but have a view port at the head area to see underwater.
- Floats: Two types of floats are available. These include soft foam "Sun Float" mats and inflatable "Fun Island" party rafts.
- Sailboats: "Kis Kat" two person, fiberglass catamaran style sailboats with bucket seats, a single sheet line and joystick steering.
- Kayaks: Two person kayaks are "Zuma II" models made of molded polyethylene plastic.
- Parasailing: Sail aboard the pristine waters of the Bahamas either solo or in tandem while being towed behind a brand new parasail boat off the beach of Great Stirrup Cay.
MISCELLANEOUS RECREATIONThere are three deep sand volleyball courts, and two ping-pong tables. There is also a walking path on the island for jogging or casual sightseeing. NCL "Olympic" competitions are frequently held on the island as well as a limbo contest for prizes. A live Calypso band plays island favorites for listening or dancing throughout the day.