Port of Call Review: Princess Cays

The Caribbean is known for its beautiful beaches. Cruise lines have taken full advantage of what the Caribbean has to offer by creating their own private islands that are accessible only by cruise ship. One of the most beautiful of those private islands is Princess Cays. In August 2017, I visited this port of call for the first time on a 5-day cruise on Carnival Ecstasy.

Welcome to Princess Cays

The Beach at Princess Cays
The beach and rocky outcroppings at Princess Cays

Princess Cays is a private “island” owned by Princess Cruises. Because Princess Cruises is part of Carnival Corporation, other cruise lines under the Carnival banner call here as well. You’ll notice I put the word island in quotes. I wasn’t aware when we called here that Princess Cays is part of a larger island in the Bahamas. Princess Cays is located at the southern tip of Eleuthera, an island about 200 square miles in area. Situated about 50 miles east of Nassau, this is a close and convenient port for Bahamas cruises.

A Day at Princess Cays

The main attraction at Princess Cays is its beach. You’ll find plenty of beach chairs to soak in some sun on this palm tree-lined beach. Take a dip into the crystal clear waters that provide a great view of your cruise ship anchored just off-shore. Rocky outcroppings that line the coast make for great snorkeling spots. I didn’t do any snorkeling on our visit to Princess Cays, but I heard others mention the plethora of sea life surrounding the rocks.

Carnival Ecstasy docked off-shore at Princess Cays
Carnival Ecstasy docked off-shore at Princess Cays

As I mentioned, cruise ships anchor off-shore at Princess Cays. This is a port that requires use of a tendering system. Small boats (tenders) carry guests and supplies ashore and back to the ship. The wait for a tender can get long, so I recommend going ashore and heading back to the ship early. This will minimize your time waiting in lines for the tenders.

Once ashore, a small shopping area awaits. Just past the shopping area you will find the beach. If you don’t want to walk too far, you can settle in at the close end of the beach. This part of the beach can get quite crowded. The further down the beach you go, the less crowded it will be.

As you make your way inland, you’ll find the buffet lunch area, with plenty of covered seating. (Note: I did not eat lunch on the island, so I can’t comment on the food.) Throughout your walk, take notice of the flora that lines your path.

Shore Excursions

Bungalows at Princess Cays
Private bungalows line the beach at Princess Cays

There is more to Princess Cays than a beach and buffet. If you’re feeling adventurous, there is a dune buggy excursion that will take you further inland than most cruise guests will go. If water activities are your thing, check out the snorkeling and glass-bottom boat excursions offered.

Like Half Moon Cay, Princess Cays offers private beach-side bungalows available for rent. Accommodating up to four people, these bungalows provide you with a private retreat right off the beach. All bungalows are air-conditioned, include beach furniture, and a private shower. No kids and looking for a more peaceful retreat? There are bungalows available for rent in the adults-only area “The Sanctuary at Princess Cays” as well. (All guests must be 18 or older to enter The Sanctuary.)

My Experience at Princess Cays

An overhead view of Princess Cays
An overhead view of Princess Cays

Over the past few years I have grown to enjoy beaches more than I ever did in the past. Princess Cays — in my opinion — offers a very nice beach, with plenty of picturesque views both on-shore and off. The sand is nice (although not as soft as the sand at Half Moon Cay). The water is great: very clear and beautiful to look at. As mentioned earlier, the rocky outcroppings offer an opportunity for snorkeling enthusiasts to catch a peek at some sea life, including lobsters and crabs. The overall design of this private island is similar to Half Moon Cay — with a small shopping area, a beach, bungalows/cabanas, buffet lunch, etc. I would certainly love to return to Princess Cays on a future cruise.

How about you? Have you ever visited Princess Cays? What was your experience like, and would you want to visit again? Share in the comment section below!

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