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Ultimate guide to cruise ship cabanas

Oct. 19, 2022
21 min read
Seabourn The Retreat cabana
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Cruise ship cabanas (and cabanas at cruise line private islands and port destinations) are an easy way to upgrade your cruise experience. They provide a semi-private spot to call your own for the day — or even for the length of your cruise in some cases. Having a cabana rented in advance takes some of the stress out of where your travel group will hang out during private island visits, lets you relax and chill on sea days, and can help you take cruise pampering to whole new levels.

Here, I’ll explain the differences between a cruise ship cabana and a private island cabana, then get down to the details of what each major cruise line offers and how much a day in a cabana will cost you.

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What is a cruise ship cabana?

A cabana on a cruise ship is a partially enclosed and partially covered spot available to rent (or rarely, use for free) on deck with lounge furniture inside for those who want a reserved space to hang out. On select ships, cabanas are available as a perk of your stateroom category or a spa package; in most other cases, you reserve and pay for cabanas much like you would a shore excursion or a beverage package.

Cabanas come in a wide range of designs, from simple draped awnings to permanent structures. They may provide partial or complete shade. Furnishings may be loungers that are a bit cushier than the complimentary deck seating, or may include some combination of chairs, couches or daybeds.

What is a private island cabana?

The most elaborate cruise cabanas are found on private islands or port facilities, often with enough space for multiple people to come and go. There are even eye-popping overwater cabanas with private chefs on some private islands.

Private island cabanas are often three-walled wooden huts with roofs, with the open side leading out to an open-air deck. Furniture may include couches and chairs inside, with loungers for sunbathing outside. Many include coolers or minifridges for drinks (some of which may be included in the price) and a few may also have a locking space to store valuables while you swim. Pricing is often determined by distance to the water. Thus, a hillside cabana may cost you less than one on the beach at the water’s edge, and an overwater cabana will cost the most.

Why rent a cabana?

If you're an avid beach or deck sitter, think of a cabana the same way you would first-class or business-class seats on a plane. In most cases you'll get better bar service and possibly free goodies like fruit skewers or bottled water. Some cabanas include meal service.

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Other perks might be as simple as time allowed in an exclusive area of the ship or island or as extravagant as unlimited massages and a bottle of Dom Pérignon. A few include attraction tickets, locking storage for your beach gear, portable Bluetooth speakers and plush towels.

Beyond all that, cabanas put an end to your struggle to secure loungers on the crowded deck or beach. No more battles with chair hogs. Your whole gang can sit together all day. Non-balcony cruisers may find cabanas an ideal alternative to upgrading their staterooms — possibly even a cheaper option in some cases.

Royal Caribbean cabanas


Ship cabanas

There are a handful of Royal Caribbean ships outfitted with what the line calls casitas. These are colorful awnings with a three-sided half wall and a double daybed-style lounger inside. They come with a locking safe, a call button for drink service, and USB ports for device charging and can be rented for around $200 per day onboard or in advance of your cruise in the cruise planner. Ships with casitas include Navigator of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Odyssey of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas.

On the Suite Class sun deck on Oasis-class ships, there are some semi-private covered sitting areas called cabanas. They do not require reservations and are free to use, but only for guests staying in Grand Suites or higher, or Pinnacle Crown and Anchor members who also have access to the sun deck. There aren’t really any perks that go with them, but they can be a nice spot to gather with your travel companions.

Island cabanas

Labadee is Royal Caribbean's private beach destination located on the northern coast of Haiti. Guests have an array of cabana options on Labadee. The least expensive are four-person Adrenaline Beach Cabanas. These are draped beach beds, supplying a bit of shade.

Other options are Columbus Cove Bungalows and Nellie's Beach Cabanas, both of which have an occupancy of up to eight guests per cabana. Columbus Cove is the cheaper choice, consisting of open-air units with billowy curtains and sectional sofas situated on the beach. Cabanas at Nellie's Beach are thatched roof huts open to the front with an umbrella over the open-air deck for added shade. They come in standard and overwater locations and are priced accordingly. These three cabana options can be booked in advance as “excursions” at Labadee.

Suite guests can rent cabanas at the secluded Barefoot Beach through their suite concierge. The area is exclusive to guests staying in Grand Suites and up, or those who are Pinnacle Crown and Anchor members. Options include standard (near the beach), beachfront, hilltop and overwater.

In all cases, beverage service is available from your cabana attendant, and food is nearby, but you do have to go get it yourself. All Labadee cabanas include the use of floating mats, towels and a cooler with bottled water. Prices range from $175 to around $600. Pricing is for the cabana for the day, not per person, and varies by sailing.

Perfect Day at CocoCay is a private island in the Bahamas owned by Royal Caribbean. It boasts North America's tallest water slide and the Caribbean's largest freshwater pool. That level of extravagance carries over to its cabanas. Areas open to all cruise passengers with cabanas for rent are Chill Island, South Beach and the aforementioned pool, Oasis Lagoon. These cabanas can accommodate up to eight and are curtained on three sides, with sectional seating and loungers. They include a cooler with bottled water, a private speaker for music, USB charging ports, towels, locking storage and a cabana attendant.

Related: Labadee versus CocoCay: Which Royal Caribbean beach is right for you?

Cabanas inside the island's Thrill Waterpark include admission to the park for the six guests using the cabana. Cabanas inside the exclusive Coco Beach Club area also include admission to the club. The most luxurious cabanas on the island are the Coco Beach overwater cabanas. These are complete with an overwater hammock, a minibar, a dedicated cabana attendant and a slide into the water.

All cabanas at Perfect Day at Coco Cay can be booked as excursions before or during your cruise. Prices are for the cabana for the day, not per person, and range from $299 to $1,599. Lower-priced cabana-like options include beach bungalows, clamshells and daybeds.

Carnival Cruise Line cabanas

A view of three of Half Moon Cay's five exclusive Beach Villas from the water. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Ship cabanas

Carnival Cruise Line does not have stand-alone cabanas for rent on any of its ships. However, Carnival Vista, Horizon and Panorama have an exclusive aft section of cabins that share a private pool, sundeck and bar, collectively known as Havana. Within this gated section of the ship (you need a wristband to enter), Havana Cabana cabins each have cabana-like patios that open onto the shared Havana promenade — complete with a hammock chair.

Island and port cabanas

Half Moon Cay is a Carnival Corporation private island in the Bahamas, used primarily by Carnival and Holland America ships. Standard beach cabanas include air conditioning, minifridges stocked with water and sodas, floating mats and even snorkel gear. These can accommodate up to six guests.

Two-story Half Moon Cay Beach Villas include the same amenities, but also have hot tubs, dining tables and bathrooms. The capacity is 18 guests. The one-of-a-kind Oasis overwater cabana, located on the peninsula where the tender boats dock, is an astonishing 1,600 square feet with room for 25 guests. It includes a dedicated chef, bartender and lifeguard.

All Half Moon Cay cabanas and villas are booked as excursions either before or during your cruise with prices ranging from around $300 up to around $1,600 per day. Shipboard beverage packages do not include drinks on Half Moon Cay, but all cabanas have an option to add a butler service package to their rental which includes unlimited beverages and a picnic lunch served by your butler.

Related: 5 hours for $1,000: Why a cruise line private island villa is totally worth it

Amber Cove is a port facility near Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, developed by Carnival Corporation. Cabanas at Amber Cove include poolside, hillside and ocean (overwater) varieties. These have room for up to eight guests and include floating mats, snacks, water and soda, a minifridge, deck chairs, showers, cabana attendant and Wi-Fi. The largest option is the Grand Cabana on the water. It has room for 20 guests. All cabanas at Amber Cove have televisions and air conditioning; some have hot tubs.

Zip line tickets are included in all cabana rentals. Cabana rentals are booked before or during your cruise as excursions. All Amber Cove cabana pricing is adjusted according to demand, with prices starting around $400 per day and going as high as $1,500.

Mahogany Bay is a cruise port facility in Roatan, Honduras owned by Carnival Corporation. Beach cabanas at Mahogany Bay are accessed via a five-minute chair lift ride (with tickets included in the price). Each cabana has room for four and comes with loungers, a hammock, Wi-Fi and waiter service.

Cabanas are booked as excursions, both before and during your cruise. Prices start at $350 for the day for four guests. Canopied beach daybeds are available in the Deluxe Blue Lagoon packages if you don’t need a full cabana.

Related: Best cruise line private islands for families

Grand Turk Cruise Center is a port facility in Turks and Caicos, operated by Carnival Corporation. Air-conditioned pool cabanas for four guests are available to book as a shore excursion. They feature outdoor showers and private waiter service. Prices start at $129 for six hours.

Princess Cruises cabanas

Private cabana in The Sanctuary. PRINCESS CRUISES

Ship cabanas

Five Princess Cruises ships — Royal Princess, Regal Princess, Sky Princess, Enchanted Princess and Discovery Princess — have cabanas situated within a private adults-only enclave called The Sanctuary. The cabanas provide a curtained-off, living room-style lounging space, complete with a television, and can be booked onboard for either a half day or full day.

Prices vary per sailing, but range between $150 and $220. Access to The Sanctuary includes a specialty food menu. Massages in The Sanctuary cabanas can be booked through the Lotus Spa, with customized cabana packages that include things like unlimited massages with Champagne and caviar. Prices go as high as $3,000 for a spa package for four.

Island cabanas

Princess Cays is a private island destination in the southern Bahamas owned by Carnival Corporation and used by Princess and Carnival ships. Eighteen colorful air-conditioned beach bungalows are located on the main beach area of the island, with seven more in the adults-only enclave on the island called The Sanctuary. Cabana rentals gain you priority tendering from the ship to the island and dedicated drink servers. Each bungalow is stocked with water and soft drinks, plus chips, salsa and guacamole. Floatation mats and snorkel gear are included for four guests.

Bungalows are booked as excursions before or during your cruise, with prices starting at $210 for the day for four guests in the main section; an additional two guests can join for an extra charge. Bungalows in The Sanctuary area start at $260. It's worth noting that cabanas in The Sanctuary are a bit farther from the beach and may not have a clear view of the ocean.

Norwegian Cruise Line cabanas


Ship cabanas

Four Norwegian Cruise Line Breakaway-class ships — Norwegian Breakaway, Bliss, Getaway, and Joy — have an adults-only deck area called Vibe Beach Club with cabanas for rent. Bliss and Joy cabanas are three-sided structures without much shade, each with a double lounger and very little privacy. Breakaway and Getaway have clamshell pods with double loungers positioned directly in front of the ship’s glass rail, providing a cozy semi-private spot with shade part of the day.

Vibe passes may be purchased pre-cruise online or through a travel agent and are in the $200 per person range for a seven-night sailing. Cabana rentals are an extra $500 to $600 for the same time frame but come with a food and beverage credit. Day passes may also be available if a full week is not in your budget, but the area has tight capacity controls, so don’t expect to snag day passes mid cruise, other than possibly on a port day.

Island cabanas

Harvest Caye is NCL's private island destination in southern Belize. The 75-acre facility includes seven acres of beach area, food and beverage options, zip lines and a large pool complete with poolside canopy cabanas suitable for four people. The cabanas have couches in the shade, as well as cushioned loungers on the deck in front of the canopy.

On the beach in a secluded portion of the island, Norwegian also offers Luxury Beach Villas, accommodating up to 10 guests (price includes the first six; extra charges for up to four additional guests). The wooden cabanas with exterior decks have private restrooms, a safe, Bluetooth audio, a minifridge and indoor and outdoor showers. Food and drinks are extra, but the villas include butler and concierge service.

Cabanas and villas are rented via an excursion booking, with prices ranging from $399 to $1,099 for the day. Prices may vary per sailing.

Related: Visiting a cruise line’s private island? Don't make these 11 mistakes

Great Stirrup Cay is a 268-acre private island destination in The Bahamas owned by Norwegian. Beaches, food and water sports are the main attractions, all of which can be enhanced a bit with a beach cabana rental. Choices for traditional wooden cabanas include six-person Classic cabanas at Fiesta Beach or eight-person Premier cabanas at the slightly more secluded Cabana Beach. These all come with flotation mats and can have two extra people added for $25 each.

For a real step up in style and amenities, there are the Villas at Silver Cove — a private beach. These are essentially hotel rooms with large glass doors opening to the beach. They come in four sizes (and four price ranges), but all have air-conditioning, television with on-demand movies and private bathrooms. They also come with access to the upscale Silver Cove Buffet. The smallest, called Ocean Villas, have only couches. The largest is a Lagoon Two-Bedroom Family Suite.

All prices vary by sailing and demand and are booked as excursions. Prices range from $375 for the day up to $1,199. Villas have capacities between six and 16 but may have two added guests for an extra charge.

Celebrity Cruises cabanas


Ship cabanas

The whole topic of cabanas onboard Celebrity Cruises ships gets a bit confusing because of the variables between ships. The main thing to know is that there are cabanas onboard Celebrity ships, and, in most cases, you will pay extra to use them. Prices are as low as $249 per day and go up from there. Extra perks during your rental may include selections from a beverage menu, fruit skewers or fruit plates, and water. These will all vary between the ships. Suite guests also have access to cabanas on The Retreat sun deck.

Design of the cabanas varies widely between ships. For example, on Celebrity Summit and Millennium, you'll find six rentable cabanas facing the movie screen on the aft rooftop terrace. On Celebrity Equinox, Solstice, Reflection and Silhouette, you can choose one of the Alcoves in the Lawn Club. On the line's newest ships — Celebrity Edge, Apex and Beyond — cabanas are open-front sitting areas under sweeping archways facing the ocean and come with a wide array of food and beverage options. These are less like beach or pool cabanas and more like a reserved living room for your group to gather. It makes them ideal if you are traveling with multiple friends or family members. They are situated on a walkway and lack any real form of privacy.

Island cabanas

Celebrity itineraries occasionally include stops at Perfect Day at CocoCay and Labadee, where beach cabanas are available via shore excursions.

Holland America Line cabanas

The Retreat on Rotterdam. HOLLAND AMERICA

Ship cabanas

Most Holland America ships have deck cabanas that are ideal upgrades to a cruise vacation. Volendam and Zaandam, the line's oldest ships, do not have cabanas. Vista-class ships have cabanas within the area of the Observation Deck called The Retreat. It’s for exclusive use by guests renting cabanas. Besides the rail-side cabanas, there are loungers in the sun, dining tables and chairs, a bar and a hot tub. Ships with a Retreat include Zuiderdam, Oosterdam, Westerdam and Noordam.

The two Signature-class ships, Eurodam and Nieuw Amsterdam, have cabanas either in the Retreat or in the Cabana Club, as it is called on Nieuw Amsterdam. Both also have poolside Lido Cabanas. Pinnacle-class ships — Koningsdam, Nieuw Statendam and Rotterdam — all have cabanas in the Retreat, but with less space than cabanas on the older and smaller ships.

Both poolside and Retreat cabanas have loungers and include butler service plus towels, robes and slippers. Both versions have privacy curtains, but they may block your breeze a bit. Poolside cabanas are subject to traffic and noise from the pool. Retreat cabanas are secluded; the only people passing by your hideaway will be the other cabana guests and the butlers. Retreat and Cabana Club cabanas include bottled water, as well as breakfast, lunch and an afternoon snack. You can order from a special Retreat menu, or the butlers can bring you food from anywhere on the ship.

Cabana rentals are priced by the day, with discounts for multi-day rentals. Pre-cruise rentals may be made for the full cruise by calling Ship Services. Daily bookings are only possible on board the ship. Pricing for Lido cabanas ranges from $30 to $50 per day. Retreat and Cabana Club cabanas start at $35 per day.

Island cabanas

Holland America itineraries often include stops at Carnival's private island and private port facilities where cabana rentals are possible as shore excursions.

MSC Cruises cabanas


Ship cabanas

Cabanas onboard MSC Cruises ships are available to Yacht Club guests on the pool deck within that private ship-within-a-ship enclave. Some ships offer a complimentary cabana for guests staying in Royal Suites. Extra cabanas (and even those unused by the Royal Suite guests) may be available to rent by anyone staying in the Yacht Club, with prices starting at $50 per day, varying by sailing. Other than a tiny bit more privacy, the Yacht Club cabanas don’t offer extra perks — those are pretty much already accounted for by the perks and added service level of staying in the Yacht Club.

Island cabanas

MSC's private island in the Bahamas, Ocean Cay Marine Reserve, has six-person cabanas to rent. Beach cabanas come in either standard or premium versions. Both include refreshments, mats to float on and snorkeling equipment. Prices range from $250 to $400 per day. Cabanas in the exclusive Yacht Club area of the island range from $400 to $450, depending on location. Cabanas may be booked as excursions pre-cruise.

Related: A quiet day at the beach: Why I enjoyed my visit to Ocean Cay, MSC Cruises' private island in the Bahamas

Seabourn Cruises cabanas

Ship cabanas

Seabourn takes luxury to a new level with deck cabanas in an area onboard both Seabourn Ovation and Encore called the Retreat. Cabanas within the Retreat create private lounging areas complete with televisions (with headphones) and minifridges. Butlers supply everything guests could possibly need in their cabanas, including sunscreen, snacks, Evian misters and Champagne, of course. Prices start at $250 for two people for the day and include spa credit.

Island cabanas

Seabourn is owned by Carnival Corporation, and occasionally has port calls at Carnival-owned private islands and private port facilities where cabanas can be booked as shore excursions.

Disney Cruise Line cabanas


Ship cabanas

Although the buffet restaurants onboard Disney cruise ships go by the name “Cabanas,” there aren't any individual deck or pool cabanas in the Disney fleet.

Island cabanas

Castaway Cay, Disney Cruise Line's private island destination, offers cabana rentals of various sizes. Cabanas at Family Beach for a party of six to 10 guests range in price from $590 to $856. Family Beach Grand cabanas have occupancy limits of 10 to 16 guests with a price of $966 to $1,344. Cabanas at Serenity Bay accommodate four to six guests with prices ranging from $428 to $752.

All Castaway Cay cabanas include sand toys, snorkel equipment, refreshments, snacks, sunscreen, a freshwater shower, ceiling fans, minifridges and a nifty button that summons the cabana host.

Bottom line

Private island cabanas provide shade, loungers and attentive service, in addition to relieving you of the burden of lugging things like snorkel gear and beach floats around the island all day. Plus, they are an ideal meet-up spot on the island for family and friend groups.

Onboard cabanas are more about having a luxurious, peaceful hideaway on deck to call your own, complete with extras like cooling misters and fresh fruit snacks. On-deck cabanas may also be available to rent during scenic cruises in destinations like Alaska or Canada, giving you a prime spot for watching the scenery. Whether they are on a pool deck, a secluded observation deck, a beach or perched directly over the clear blue sea, cruise ship cabanas provide a distinctive way to upgrade the experience on almost any cruise.

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Featured image by SEABOURN
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.