Norwegian Cruise Lines acquired Great Stirrup Cay as the first private island in 1977. Since most major cruise lines have acquired or leased private islands for their cruise guests. Some private islands are true islands, others are bays or peninsula’s fenced off from the surrounding area.
MSC will be the latest to add a private island adding Ocean Cay in the Bahamas. MSC also have a private island in the UAE – Sir Bani Yas Island.
To date no cruise company has added a European Private Island. With cruise lines moving ships out of Europe in chase of higher margins elsewhere it does surprise me that non have considered adding a European private island to raise margins.
Cash strapped European governments could be convinced to leasing out private islands that could provide jobs for locals. Greece and Italy are obvious candidates for their need to raise both cash and employment opportunities for their citizens.
European cruises can be destination intensive – Barcelona, Monte Carlo, Rome/Pisa, Nice, Venice, Naples – some the many exhausting ports of call. A private island would slow down the pace and even reduce the cost of a cruise holiday.
Northern African countries such as Morocco and Tunisia are keen to grow their tourism industries and are relatively stable, they could also provide opportunities on their northern shore for private islands or bays. Royal Caribbean’s Caribbean private island ‘Labadee’ is a bay leased from Haiti until 2050. This has made Royal Caribbean the largest contributor to Haitian tourist revenue.
It wouldn’t have to just be around the Med, the canary islands or islands in the Baltic or around the UK and Ireland could offer a different private island experience. Colder environments would probably suit more exhibition type cruises but would expand the unique selling point for these lines in an increasingly busy market.
I also believe that European passengers can tire of the same intensive port routine that a standard Mediterranean cruise can be, and adding relaxing stops at a private island and sea days can really calm the pace. I think this is an idea who’s time has come.
Have you visited a cruise lines private island? Would you be interested in a European Private Island? Please comment below.