February 19, 2013 -

John Heald

Many years ago when Heidi and I first met and when we thought about nothing but rumpy pumpy and traveling we flew to the other side of the world to have rumpy pumpy in a place that the brochure called a “paradise.” It wasn’t. It was one of those destinations where everyone — from the airport staff to the taxi driver — gave us a necklace of flowers so that by the time I arrived at the hotel I smelt like the perfume counter at Macy’s and was walking like the hunchback of sodding Notre Dame.

We were staying for a week in a shack on stilts and after delivering the Carnival Destiny in 1996, Heidi’s first contract it seemed the perfect way to get rid of the stresses that this had brought. I wanted some sun and as I wasn’t the size of an aircraft carrier back then I had no problem with exposing my near-naked body to the rest of the people on the beach and had no worries about some wanker trying to slide me back in the water. However, I hated the place right away and while the flowers round the neck had been a bad start, the question of if we would like our breakfast delivered to our room in a canoe was a sign that this was not going to be my cup of tea.

I hated sharing my nightly bath with three hundred petals most of which ended up imbedded deep inside my scrotum and a butler called Ozzie appeared in the tightest of shorts and a smile in his canoe every time I wanted something to eat or drink. There was no TV but you could see fish through your glass coffee table. OK, some may say I am lucky to have gone there and it sounds amazing and maybe it was but I hated it.

Yep, this may be the idea of paradise to some but for me and countless others paradise exists and it has a name — and that name is Half Moon Cay. For those of you who have been hanging upside down from the roof of a cave and have no idea what Half Moon Cay is…..it’s the breathtakingly beautiful destination developed by Holland America Line and currently a popular stop for several Carnival ships. Recently, the destination has added a stunning private villa that would be right at home for the tanned and famous. This is truly one of the cruising’s most incredible destinations not to mention one of my personal favorites.

But enough of my rambling, here are some details on this idyllic island from the man in charge of paradise……….Holland America Line’s Vice President of Caribbean Relations, Mr. Matt Sams

Half Moon Cay, located less than 100 miles southeast of Nassau is an award-winning island and our highest-rated port call not only in the Caribbean but in the world. Half Moon Cay represents the quintessential private island image for most travelers — sandy beaches, aquamarine waters, and best of all you have the island to yourself. It was officially opened on December 12, 1997, by Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham.

Amenities that were required to support ship visits included food and beverage facilities, shops, restrooms, etc. and the offerings have steadily expanded to include a beachside water park for children, private beach cabanas and shore excursions such as horseback riding by land and sea, personal watercraft adventures and swimming with stingrays.

In addition, guests can enjoy excursions including catch-and-release deep sea fishing trips, eco- tours by glass-bottom boat, kayak trips and parasailing. Or they can simply relax on the crescent-shaped, white sand beach, swim, snorkel and sail in the turquoise waters, indulge in a beachside massage, enjoy traditional barbecue fare and play volleyball.

Half Moon Cay also features a walking trail and a designated wild bird reserve, along with an open-air market, ice cream parlor, shops, first aid station, several bars and beverage stations, sports area, and a chapel for wedding vow renewals, and an array of water sports equipment for rent.

And for anyone wanting to have a real exclusive experience on the island, there are 15 beachfront cabanas for rent, and one Grand Cabana. The beachfront cabanas have air conditioning, misting station, dining table and four chairs, lounge chairs, changing room, refrigerator, dry bar, fresh water shower, and sun deck. Optional butler and drink packages are also available. The Grand Cabana accommodates 24 guests and is perfect for a large family or small group with a hot tub for eight, two changing rooms, his and hers rest rooms, water showers, misting stations, dining room, wet bar, BBQ grill, covered and outdoor seating, and massage table. Optional food and beverage packages are available for the Grand Cabana, as well.

We’ve also expanded the on-island amenities to include a deluxe two-story beach villa. For your comfort, you will find your villa outfitted with air-conditioning, a five-person capacity hot tub, refrigerator, ceiling fan, air conditioner, dining area with table and chairs inside, misting station, and private sun deck. You will be provided with fresh fruit, vegetables with dip, and chips and salsa to snack on, as well as an assortment of soft drinks and bottled water. Floating mats and snorkel gear are also included for use throughout the day. Price is $549.95 for up to eight guests or roughly $70 per person. We have many friends and family members who share the cost of the villa and enjoy what can only be described as an unforgettable day in paradise.

Thanks, Matt. Now if you are sitting there now thinking ummm, mmmmmmmmm, possibly, maybe, should we, shouldn’t we…………maybe these photos will help you turn your indecision into a definite yes.

 Half Moon Cay Aerial

Half Moon Cay Beach Villas

Interior of Half Moon Cay Beach Villas

Jacuzzi room in the new Beach Villas at Half Moon Cay

Half Moon Cay Beach Villas Balcony

Well, for obvious reasons, it has been interesting watching the news over the last few days. And in between watching BBC and Sky news I have also had the American channels. Yep, thanks to the wonders of the satellite, we in the UK can now watch the North American channels and there are some differences. While news readers in the UK are rather plain-looking, in America you seem to have only soap opera men with perfect teeth and women with blonde helmets sitting side by side at the news desk, having giggling conversations with each other in between commercials for heartburn pills and laxatives. It is easy to criticize the news when the lead story is about the company you just happen to be the brand ambassador for and there is nothing wrong with making the news entertaining, lively and open to debate. I just wish they would lose the smug, condescending attitude and stop writing the headlines before the facts are in place. When did news stop being about news and about opinionated personalities?

I do though love American local news stations. They operate on a tiny budget that means they can only respond to fires, and traffic jams. And that when there’s a helicopter involved, they’ll stand under it so they have to shout. There’s always an anchor lady with huge hair and teeth so white that when she smiles small animals are blinded. She will tell you something about the environment, a murder, a cute animal, possibly on a skateboard and a local government official who has been caught wearing stockings and suspenders.

So as a new week of news starts I send my thanks to Wolf Blister and Greta Van Shoutalot for their brilliant reporting and from now on I shall get my news from the Italian news stations. Not because their reporting is factual and unbiased but because the female news anchors are topless.

Your friend,

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  1. Tammy says:

    One of my favorite places on earth ~ couldn’t help but notice the Sunfish sailboat that nearly killed my daughters. I wish Carnival would operate the amenities on the island and not “locals” … they put the rudder on the sailfish with a screwdriver before launching it into the ocean for my girls. That should have been our first clue. Said rudder fell off in my daughter’s hand ~ the Sunfish headed out to sea. Thankfully, they tipped over on the far side of the island past {well past} the horses…someone parasailing heard them yelling for help, thank goodness! Still love to go to the island though. We sit our arses in the sand and don’t move except to get wet and to eat now, though!! =)

  2. Tamela Freeman says:

    I’ve been to Half Moon Cay once and it was GORGEOUS! Unfortunately, I had come down with a horrible case of bronchitis during the cruise and by the time we got to Half Moon Cay, I was praying for death. Literally. So what did I do during my time at Half Moon Cay? I laid on my beach towel face down on the sand and again prayed for death. Luckily I survived and all is well now – but I am so sorry I did not get to enjoy this stop and am SO looking forward to going back someday!

  3. The Cruzin2some says:

    Dear John and Bloggers,
    Having been to HMC on our last cruise with the boys I can tell you that it is absolutely gorgeous. From the time you leave the boat to be tendered ashore and the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean hit your eyeballs and you can’t believe that there is such a place. Ashore we enjoyed the beach for awhile and snorkeling in the clear waters before getting on the truck to go to the stables for a ride around the island and then taking off the saddles and splashing down the beach up to your waist in the asure blue waters. Jeremy our son has always wanted to ride a horse down the beach ever since the movie the black stallion. The smile still hasn’t left his face. If you all get a chance don’t miss the chance to visit one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen. Half Moon Cay is numero uno!
    The Cruzin2some

  4. Frances Vickerstaffe says:

    Wish all the ships would stop here and by pass Nassau. Sounds perfect.

  5. se[ says:

    I agree with you on these. First, Half Moon Cay is my most favorite place in the world! I tried to take 15 of my friends there in January 2013 but unforunately high winds kept us from tendering. I had promised them the beach day of their lifetime, so it was tough when we didn’t tender. Oh well, it happens and it’s not Carnival’s fault…they can change alot but not the weather! My only complaint at Half Moon Cay is it is so hard to book the “oasis tiki hut”, haven’t gotten it yet! But we will keep trying…I welcome the new cabanas and hope I get to see them soon – as Half Moon Cay is still my favorite destination!….As for the media, they did there best to make the situation worse last week. I saw many passengers attempt to support Carnival for their efforts when interviewed and the media twisted and turned their statements like a lawyer in court. Really sad when they “need to do this” to make the story sound like they want it. Do I think passengers were disappointed, you bet I do, 110% agree-they were expecting a fabulous vacation at sea not the situation they ended up with. But I also believe the passengers felt the crew did all they could do, and over time I’ll bet 85% will cruise Carnival again. At work, I was asked if I would cruise Carnival again since this happened. My answer was, I would leave tomorrow. I asked them, do you walk everywhere after your car leaves you stranded? Of course not!!

  6. Pismo Jim says:

    Well, living in a smaller community, the local news tends to be more of an amateur hour. Last night our local news had a report on the Carnival Triumph and they read a statement from Gerry Cahill, Carnival’s CEO and President. Sadly they didn’t check the pronunciation of his name and the anchor came up with Gary Caw-HILL (accent on the “hill”). The upside to this is that I think I live in paradise… 😉

  7. christy89 says:

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE Half Moon Cay!

  8. Cruiser Dave says:

    Your feature on Half Moon Cay today was a cruel irony for the passengers on Liberty, which was turned away from the island this week because of high winds. Can you arrange a return trip for us to paradise on a calm day of our choosing?

  9. Nick Buchko says:

    horseback riding by land and sea?? interesting!

  10. Steve says:

    Thanks for deleting my post. Wanker.

  11. Bryan says:

    Good news is not news so it must be all bad but still does not change my feelings toward the excellent service we have always got from Carnival. I would have to say though that the best part of cruising is the time talking and getting to know the staff. Great job Carnival staff and cant wait to see you on the next cruise.

  12. Out of the 13 Carnival Cruises my family and I have been on, we’ve visited Half Moon Cay twice. We love it! Can’t wait to go back.

  13. Philip Grape says:

    My wife and I love half moon cay. It was our favorite stop on our last cruise. I would have chose it again this time but I let our daughter pick the destination since its here HS graduation present and she picked a Jamacia. Oh well, next year we will be back at half moon without kids!

  14. Thomas says:

    CNN lost my respect last week. Was funny how they couldn’t find anyone getting off Triumph to say anything bad and the two reporters had to play along.

  15. Debby says:

    HMC is … without a doubt … heaven. I visited for the first time with my teenage daughter a few years ago. In May I will have the opportunity introduce my husband to HMC. I can’t wait to see his face when he sees this place firsthand — maybe I can convince him to follow that famous sign’s instructions, and that we will opt to stay there forever!

  16. Glen Barber says:

    The most beautiful beach we have ever been to!
    An amazing get away….can’t wait to go back.
    The ” go to place” in my mind, when winter becomes unbearable.

  17. athleticfella says:

    Going in May, can’t wait and will be snorkeling, parasailing ok no the blue water. Hopefully no winds, which cancelled Cayman

    • Patricia German says:

      We are going to Half Moon Cay TWICE in May – on Ecstasy (May 11-16 & May 16-20). Will you be on either of those sailings? These trips will be our 140 & 141st cruise since 1966. It will be our 46th & 47th time to Half Moon Cay – our VERY favorite port in alll the world (& we have been almost everywhere! Hope to see “yawl” on board……Pat & John German

  18. Donna says:

    This island is out of this world. It is the most beautiful and peaceful place I have ever been to. Pictures and words cannot capture the beauty of this island.

  19. Barb Nyblade says:

    HMC is PARADISE! The sand on this beach is amazingly soft! I put some in an empty water bottle and brought it home with me. I now have it in a small decorative jar on a shelf. Truly is the most beautiful place I have ever been too!

  20. Jean Lines says:

    We are taking our first Carnival cruise on the Fantasy April 21st and this port is the main reason we decided to book this cruise! Thank you for this wonderful blog post which has now made the waiting even harder. Can’t wait!!!

  21. Diane Cardoso says:

    Half Moon Cay is one of the closest places you’ll ever be to heaven with your eyes open! Been several times and I can tell you it has not seen the last of me! Most memorable was being in the clear, most beautiful water ever and having fish ….lots of them rush me. At first I started screaming and a man came and said “the fish just want to play with you”!….My reply?…But I don’t want to play! After a moment I got my bearings…from zero fish to tons….and I mean tons….they just frolicked in the water and did want to dart around….I did play with them!!!!! Another thing worth mentioning …..if you do any watersports….I did the jet ski….the water has a high salt concentration….bring goggles…even with sunglasses on my eyes burned so bad after just 15 minutes I had to get out and wash my eyes out. Goggles would have allowed me to stay in and enjoy longer! Sure is a fun place….I have fond memories of wonderful times spent there…..Oh…and one of the best burgers ever!!!! They cooked on an open air kitchen….grill and that burger made my my tummy oh so happy!!!! Thanks Carnival for such wonderful times remembered!!!! I look forward to many, many more!

  22. Patricia German says:

    We have been to Half Moon Cay 47 times!!!!! It is our VERY favorite place in the world! We are booked on two more Ecstasy cruises (BOTH going to Half Moon Cay). Love it – love it – love it!!!!

    • Patricia German says:

      My grandson is getting married June 1st. Our gift to them is their very first cruise – Of course they will go to HALF MOON CAY!!! (they have heard us talk about HMC for years!!!!!). We have taken 3 generations there. Is there someone out there who has been to Half Moon Cay more than us (47 times???)

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  24. Dawn Ekstrand says:

    We visited Half Moon Cay the first week in April. We did the horseback riding excursion and my mom and step dad rented a cabana. I was unsure about horseback riding with my daughter because she is special needs. I have to commend the guides for a JOB WELL DONE. They stayed right beside her the entire time and even held onto her while in the ocean. I would recommend this excursion to anyone and would gladly do it again. This island is AMAZING. white soft as flour sand.. one word PARADISE.. i cant wait to visit again.. wish we could stay a couple days here LOL.. its awesome

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