Princess Cays is the private beach resort in the Bahamas for Princess Cruise Line and Carnival Cruise. If you’re looking for family beach fun, be sure to check these reviews to learn about the water sports and how to get a great beach chair.
What You Need to Know About Princess Cays
During my family’s recent Caribbean cruise on Princess Cruise Line, part of our itinerary visited Princess Cays, Bahamas. If you’ve heard of Princess Cays with Carnival Cruise lines, it’s one and the same. Both Princess and Carnival are sister-lines owned by Carnival Corporation. No concerns though; it will be a private resort for your trip, as only one cruise ship visits at a time.
Princess Cays offers a variety of excursions that will fit every family’s travel style. You can choose to explore Princess Cays and see Eleuthera Island with a tour. On the other hand, you can have a perfect relaxing beach day and just enjoy the water sports. The good news is that you can do both; you’re only limited by the number of hours in a day.
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Something I didn’t recognize before our trip is that Princess Cays is actually a private beach resort on the Bahamian island of Eleuthera. This means that unlike other cruise destination private islands, you can actually experience the culture of the Bahamas and the comfort of a cruise line’s private island.
TravelingMom Tip: There aren’t opportunities to hire a private car or taxi, and all excursions must be booked through Princess. There are local vendors located inside Princess Cays selling gifts and souvenirs. They only accept cash, so plan accordingly.
Shore Excursions on Princess Cays
The easiest way to see Eleuthera by land is riding an air conditioned bus to several locations while learning the history of the island. This guided tour allows you to see the schools, churches and markets of the island. A more adventurous way is to jump into the dune buggy and drive yourself on a guided tour around the island to see all the sand beaches up close.
Rock Sound is an area known for Ocean Hole. This is a saltwater lake connected to the ocean in the middle of the island. The water rises and falls with the tide. We met a couple who took this adventure, and they couldn’t rave enough about how fun it was. They said they came back covered in dirt but also said it was a great experience.
In my humble opinion, the best way to see and enjoy the island is via a boat tour. My family booked a glass-bottom boat cruise that not only allowed us to see the beaches but the coral reef and tropical fishes below. Our guide was very knowledgeable about the history, from the original indigenous communities to the current highlights. The guide even passed around currency and shared personal stories.
Water Sports and Beach Fun on Princess Cays
There is no limit to the beach fun on Princess Cays. The Princess Cays beach is a beautiful white sand shoreline with very few rocks, so it’s a great place to play. There are three different beach areas. The first is the main shore area. The less crowded is the Little Bay area, which is just a 100 foot walk over the Love Boat Marina from the tender landing.
The final beach area is the adults-only The Sanctuary at Princess Cays. The good news is that all three offer the same amenities. You can rent a private bungalow or beach clamshell if you want to enjoy the shade on the beach. For lunch, the menu is a casual grilled buffet at Grill Crazy or the Sea Breeze Grill.
Princess has done a great job of bringing water sports to your family. At the main shore area, there are opportunities to rent snorkel equipment, beach noodles, paddle boats, aqua bikes and paddle wheelers. My sons talked me into a paddle wheeler rental which was a serious workout. Because the water is relatively calm and sheltered within the cove, I felt comfortable letting them even take the paddle wheeler out for themselves. It also helped that there are several staff members who will assist you in/out of the water and require you to use the free life preservers.
Princess does offer water based excursions, like a stingray beach encounter or surf fishing. Unfortunately for us, you have to be 15 to participate in the stingray encounter. It is located near the main shore area, so you’re able to observe it.
What to Know Before Visiting Princess Cays
- The first and biggest tip that I can give you is get in line early for the tender boat ride to shore. Unlike most places, you can’t just walk off the cruise ship to the port. For Princess Cays, you’ll need to get on a tender that will ferry you to the shore. For my family, it actually added another level of adventure and fun for the day because it is a different experience. If you have an early morning excursion, Princess will provide priority tickets for you.
- Bring beach towels from onboard the ship. There will be several reminders along the way but just remember to do so.
- There is a very small kids club area on Princess Cays where you can check your children in. This fenced-in area is covered with shade and offers a playground. If you’re looking for a fresh water pool, there is a small wading pool (1 foot deep) here as well. Children can only use the pool with their parents around. Skip this pool and head back to the ship instead.
- Getting a chair in the shade was really never an issue. Princess says there are more than 3,000 beach chairs and I believe it. Even late in the day, we were able to snag beachfront chairs under palm trees with no problem. In addition to the beach chairs, there were plenty of shaded picnic tables to sit and have lunch at.
- Be prepared to wait at the end of the day to get back on the tender. Because there is no ticketed system for getting back on the tender, the wait can be more than 20 minutes. The crew will keep you entertained and bring you water, so it wasn’t the worst thing. It was fun to hang out and talk with other cruise passengers in line.