On the second day of our Caribbean cruise aboard the Caribbean Princess, we stopped at the port of Princess Cays. Princess Cays is Princess Cruises’ tropical island resort, which is actually a small section in the south of Eleuthera island in The Bahamas. Princess Cays is situated on 40 acres of land with over a half-mile of white sandy beaches. The resort provides cruise ship guests with a great opportunity for a beach day with the chance to participate in an assortment of beach activities: swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, riding a banana boat, paddle boarding, jet skiing, and parasailing. Or you can soak up the sun, park yourself at one of the thousands of beach loungers, and curl up with a good book. Many people don’t realize that Princess Cays isn’t its own island, so let’s learn a little more about Eleuthera!
The island itself lies about 50 miles east of Nassau, and it is the fourth most populated island in the Bahamas with approximately 11,000 residents. It is a very long and thin island, stretching 110 miles north to south, but only 1 mile across. The original natives, the Taino people, were deported by the Spanish and their population died out by the 1550s. Eleuthera was believed to be unoccupied until the first European settlers arrived from Bermuda in 1648. Much of the quaint New England architecture here was influenced by the British Loyalist settlers and was adopted by other Bahamian islands. It is thought that Eleuthera was the birthplace of the whole country. Eleuthera is most known for its white and pink sand beaches, lush tropical greenery, and their pineapples. Some of the sweetest pineapple in the world can be found here, and the island celebrates this delicious fruit with their annual Pineapple Festival every June.
We stopped at Princess Cays from 9:00am – 4:00pm, with the last tender leaving at 3:15pm. Unfortunately, this didn’t give us much time to explore all that Eleuthera had to offer, but we have a fantastic beach day at Princess Cays. Robyn and I took advantage of the gorgeous sunny day by swimming, snorkeling, and soaking up the sunshine.
A Day At Princess Cays
We woke up fairly early at 7:30am to get ready for our beach day at Princess Cays. The ship was anchored off the coast at the south of Eleuthera and we had to take tender boats across to the island. As there were a limited amount of tenders that went across at any given time, we took a ticket and waited in one of the dining rooms until our group was called. Before long, we boarded the tender and sailed towards Princess Cays.
Our first glimpses of Princess Cays were wonderful sights – white sandy beaches, waters that varied in shades of light turquoise to deep blue, and tall palm trees. As we were amongst the first groups of passengers to arrive at the island, we had our choice of loungers. From the main dock, we walked to the left along a path that meandered past a few small shops, the barbecue lunch area, the bar, and the snorkel rental area. Yes, a BBQ buffet lunch was included as the island served as an extension of the cruise ship! You could also use your ship card for any alcoholic drinks and any purchases in the shops. This was very convenient as we didn’t need to bring any money with us.
We found a perfect spot – two loungers in the sunshine, right by the water. It was near a small pier where people sat to observe the fish in the water below. That also happened to be a fantastic spot for snorkeling, so I’m glad that we had two chairs close by. There was actually great snorkeling in a few places along this beach. The sun was shining brightly and it was an ideal temperature for sunbathing and swimming. The water was very refreshing with that ideal “not too hot, not too cold” feeling. I really loved relaxing and enjoying the changing views. The cruise ship was off in the distance, and every so often, a boat would speed by pulling screaming girls that were sitting on rafts. There were some people snorkeling in the water, some with rented pool noodles or floatation devices, and some were just swimming around.
We went snorkeling for a little while, and Robyn ended up coming back to shore before me. When I got back to our loungers, she told me that she overheard some other people ordering a “Coco Loco” and decided that it sounded good, not knowing what it was. Within moments, our server walked over with a tray filled with wooden monkey heads and handed two of them over! He said that he had to carry the monkey heads separately from the drinks themselves, and the drinks would be over shortly. A “Coco Loco” ended up being a pina colada served inside a wooden monkey head that you could bring home with you as a coin bank! I had one already from a past cruise, so now my two monkey heads sit together on the shelf, side by side.
The day went as follows: laying in the sun, swimming, snorkeling, more sun, more snorkeling, and repeat! After a while, we decided to get some lunch. I didn’t have super high expectations for finding vegan food at the BBQ. I knew that they did have veggie burgers, though honestly, the veggie burgers served on Princess Cruises aren’t very good. I’m not sure why. I haven’t really had a “bad” veggie burger until I tried Princess’ one! It is just flavorless, has an odd mushy texture, and doesn’t really taste good. I haven’t had one of their veggie burgers in years, so I decided to give it another try, hoping that either my tastes or their recipe had changed. Thankfully, there were some other vegetarian options at the barbecue buffet, including baked beans, a corn salad, and corn on the cob.
I hate to say it, but the veggie burger was the same and I didn’t end up finishing it.
We decided to walk back to the dock where we arrived and continued beyond it to the other side of the island. There were many shaded clam shells here available for use, but we came for the snorkeling. The snorkeling here was even better than our first spot! To get to the better snorkeling spot from the tender dock, walk to the right instead of the left, and enter the water at that section of beach. Swim out to the rocks on the left side (while facing the ocean) and you’ll discover many varieties of fish!
Here are my photos taken with my GoPro from both snorkeling sites at Princess Cays. I didn’t take as many photos as I did video – the video is still to come. Stay tuned!
The clouds were starting to move in and it was getting close to 3 o’clock, so it was time to head back. We could see the tenders motoring into towards the dock as we walked back.
And what we didn’t realize until we started to walk back…that the line-up to board the tenders would be so long! Of course, everyone was trying to board them at the exact same time, so we were faced with a huge line-up that kept going…and going…and going. We nearly walked back to where we began at our first spot with the loungers, and joined the end of the line. There wasn’t anything we could do about it, so we waited patiently. After all, we were in a beautiful, tropical place, so it was easy to make the most of the wait! If you don’t like line-ups, you could try heading back a little earlier than we did. We definitely don’t regret making the most of our beach day.
We had a really great day at Princess Cays that had a mix of relaxing, swimming, and snorkeling. All in all, it was a fabulous beach day, similar to what would be experienced at an island resort. After our day at Princess Cays, we headed back to the ship for an evening of fun!