My private island 

Norwegian Cruise Line has launched a second private island in the Caribbean, Harvest Caye off the southern coast of Belize.

click to flip through (3) PHOTO BY STEVE MACNAULL - Harvest Caye features a 5,000-square-metre pool complex with swim-up bar, the largest in Belize.
  • Photo by Steve MacNaull
  • Harvest Caye features a 5,000-square-metre pool complex with swim-up bar, the largest in Belize.
   
 

My new private island in Belize's Caribbean Sea is blessed with four hectares of palm-fringed white sand beach.

It also has a gorgeous 5,000-square-metre pool with swim up bar, the largest in this Central American country.

As well, there are four other bars and restaurants serving everything from blackened fish to classic cheeseburgers.

Diversions run the gamut from parasailing, speed boating and ziplining to stand-up paddle boarding, mangrove tours and simply lounging at the beach and pool.

Of course, I have to share this tropical paradise with 4,399 other people because it's Norwegian Cruise Line's private island called Harvest Caye.

Norwegian, famous for its freestyle cruising mantra, may technically own the island, but you're urged to treat it as your own with indulgent fantasy.

My wife, our 14-year-old daughter and I arrived for the day on the 4,400-passenger Norwegian Getaway, one of three ships the line has stopping weekly at Harvest Caye so passengers can partake in private island fun.

We book a private pool cabana so we have a concierge at our beck and call and plush sofa and lounge chairs with sun and shade options.

The enormous pool is just steps away, the beach a few more and the food and drink arrives in a steady stream.

Private islands are all the rage in the cruise industry as different lines up the ante with exclusive offerings.

In fact, Norwegian has embraced the concept so completely that Harvest Caye, which just opened last November, is its second private isle.

The other is Great Stirrup Caye in the Bahamas.

Other cruise lines with private isles include Princess' Princess Caye in the Bahamas, Royal Caribbean's Labadee in Haiti and Coco Caye in the Bahamas, Holland America's Half Moon Caye in the Bahamas, MSC's Sir Bani Yasin in Abu Dhabi and Disney's Castaway Caye in the Bahamas

Back on Harvest Caye, we're interspersing our cabana lounging, eating and drinking and stints in the pool and ocean with an incredible lineup of activities.

First it's parasailing 100 metres over the sea to get a bird's eye view of Harvest Caye.

Then ziplining over lagoons and beach.

Next we're boarding speedboats to race on the sea before entering the mangrove to follow narrow passages to a series of lagoons.

The interior salt-water bodies of water are all peace and quiet, which we enjoy with reverence to nature.

Back on the Norwegian Getaway, there are all the vacation favourites you expect from a big cruise line such as pools, waterslides and a ropes course where you can actually walk the plank over the ocean 18 decks up, attached to a harness, of course.

We eat at four specialty restaurants (Ocean Blue for seafood, La Cucina for Italian, Cagney's for steak and Le Bistro for French) and in main dining rooms.

When it's time for quiet, we find refuge at deck eight's Mojito Bar's outdoor seating and drink, what else, mojitos.

The Getaway's seven-night Western Caribbean round-trip itinerary from Miami also takes us to Roatan, Honduras to play with monkeys, Costa Maya, Mexico to snorkel and Cozumel, Mexico to lounge on the beach and nosh the freshest nacho chips and salsa.

It's worth overnighting in Miami pre-cruise at the Betsy Hotel, which we did.

The Betsy is one of those quintessentially Art Deco boutique properties in Miami's famous South Beach, the neighbourhood bisected by Ocean Drive, which has wide beaches on one side and an incredible lineup of hotels, stores, restaurants and bars on the other.

Check out NCL.com and TheBetsyHotel.com.

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