Holland America Line will mark the 10th anniversary of the opening of Half Moon Cay as a cruise ship port of call on Dec. 12 when the ms Amsterdam visits the premium line’s award-winning private Bahamian island.
In December 1996, Holland America Line purchased the uninhabited 2,400-acre island of Little San Salvador from several Bahamian owners for $6 million and debuted Half Moon Cay as a port of call Dec. 12, 1997. The line initially invested $16 million in the facility — which today is situated on approximately 50 acres — and developed it according to the guidelines of the Business Charter for Sustainable Development established by the International Chamber of Commerce.
“Dec. 12 celebrates a milestone for Half Moon Cay, and we are extremely proud of what we have accomplished on the island in collaboration with the Bahamian government,” said Stein Kruse, president and chief executive officer, Holland America Line. “Not only has the island become a favorite port of call for our guests, but we’ve also been able to positively contribute to the local economy by providing jobs and tourism income.”
Half Moon Cay, located less than 100 miles southeast of Nassau, was conceived to provide an indigenous Caribbean island experience in an authentic natural setting to Holland America Line guests on Caribbean and Panama Canal itineraries. Amenities that were required to support ship visits included food and beverage facilities, shops, restrooms and other various support facilities. The island’s offerings have steadily expanded to also provide a full beachside water park for children, private beach cabanas and an array of shore excursions that include horseback riding by land and sea, personal watercraft adventures and an opportunity to swim with stingrays.
Although only two percent of Half Moon Cay has been developed (50 out of 2,400 acres), Holland America has successfully fulfilled its goal of maintaining and enhancing the island's natural beauty. Much of the island is a migratory bird reserve and, according to Bahamas National Trust surveys, since Half Moon Cay's inauguration its water fowl population has significantly increased due to habitat enhancement. The necessary support structures were designed to be compatible with the island's topography and existing flora; plantings were selected to compliment existing subtropical foliage.
Half Moon Cay has created nearly 100 full-time, year-round jobs for Bahamian craftsmen and workers from nearby islands. The island generates more than $5.5 million in local purchases and wages annually. To date, $23 million in taxes has been generated for the Bahamas government.
Surveys of Holland America Line guests consistently reveal that the Half Moon Cay call is cited as the highest-rated port on the Caribbean itineraries, contributing to the line’s endeavor to provide the ultimate premium cruise experience. In the annual Readers’ Choice Awards from Porthole Cruise Magazine, Half Moon Cay has won six times running for “Best Private Island.”