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jlocole

Half Moon Cay questions

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I have searched the forum but HMC seems to be a quiet topic.

I will be on a HAL ship that stops here on Panama cruise in April.  Questions:

- Does HAL have a day drink package while on the island?

- Where can I find a pdf of the layout of HMC?

- Is it worthwhile bringing our snorkel gear, and do you need an excursion to enjoy the snorkeling?

- I recently enjoyed RCCL CocoCay.  It was large and had lots of shady spots.  Does HMC have shady areas?

- Does HMC have a free tram to transport from one area to another as does CocoCay?

- Of these, which private island do you prefer: Labadee, HMC or CocoCay?

- On my port day (March 30) there will be 4 ships visiting.  Will it be extremely crowded?

 

TIA

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If you look around a bit, all your questions are discussed here pretty frequently. 

 

There is a map of HMC commonly used and discussed here.

 

HAL drink packages don't apply on the island. They have not, to my knowledge,  put a single day drink package for the island. Carnival has, and there has been discussions,  but it hasn't yet happened, as far as I know. 

 

Snorkeling is, at best, mediocre at HMC. Chances are good you will have better snorkeling elsewhere on your cruise. I definitely wouldn't bring snorkeling gear.

 

There are some shady areas at HMC, but they typically not the most comfortable surfaces. But if you move some lounges into those areas, you will be comfortable. 

 

The tram on HMC is set aside for cabanas and certain excursions. It occasionally gets assigned to assist those with mobility issues.

 

Sorry, but there absolutely won't be 4 ships there on your visit. 2 is maximum, and that probably only happens maybe 25 or 30% of the time. If you are on a HAL ship, and there is another ship there, it will only be another HAL ship.

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We were at HMC last April, so I can answer some of your questions.

 

- Drink Package: You can use your room key to pay for drinks.  I don't think there's a separate drink package for HMC.  Not sure if the regular drink package applies, as we didn't have one.

 

- Snorkeling: The main beach area is just smooth sand (no rocky areas) so does not have any good snorkeling.  It looks like the snorkeling excursion takes you off the island.

 

- Shade: There is not a lot of shade along the beach.  Some people try to move loungers near the back of the beach strip to get under trees.  The best bet is to rent a clamshell.  You'll want to do that in advance.  We didn't and they were all sold out once we got to the beach.  There is plenty of shade by the BBQ to eat and some benches along the walkways are also in shady areas.

 

- There is not a tram to transport from area to area.  I don't think it's as big as Coco Cay.

 

- With four ships it might be pretty crowded, it'll depend on the size of the ships.  We were there with the Koningsdam and the Nieuw Statendam was there too and it was fairly crowded.  We were on the first tender off our ship and the second tender on the island and were able to get loungers right along the water not too far down.  But it started getting crowded very soon after that.  Lunch wasn't too crowded, but we went to eat fairly early.  I'd get off the ship as soon as you could.  Renting a clamshell would also help, because you would be guaranteed a fairly good spot on the beach.  The clamshells are not along the water, but the beach strip is not that wide.

 

I hope this helps!

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Thanks all.  I misread something on a site - there is only 2 ships on HMC during our stop.

It's going to be great!

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Only comment I will disagree with from above it about snorkelling.  While I can certainly agree it isn’t the best spot you will likely stop on your itinerary, if you love to snorkel, and don’t have anything else planned I would bring your gear.  My wife did the horseback riding and then afterwards we snorkelled to the far left along the rocks and saw lots of interesting stuff (variety of fish and an octopus).  The water is beautiful and we wanted to enjoy spending the day in the water so why not throw on the mask and fins and explore.

2E903F50-B189-4CD8-ADC7-0CF0CC19309A.jpeg

AF1B4C5A-5BC2-445A-BBBB-B6DA8B4AF7C0.jpeg

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Posted (edited)

Double post

Edited by trophy_23
Double posted

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We agree about the lack of shade at HMC.  Renting a clamshell is best.

 

We would snorkel elsewhere-  say Bonaire or Curacao. 

 

We liked HMC better than the others, but they all have their good points.

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Just remember you can come and go whenever you want....if it gets too hot, you can retreat back to the ship for a while....but there is shade...just not next to the water!

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On 8/4/2019 at 6:35 PM, trophy_23 said:

Only comment I will disagree with from above it about snorkelling.  While I can certainly agree it isn’t the best spot you will likely stop on your itinerary, if you love to snorkel, and don’t have anything else planned I would bring your gear.  My wife did the horseback riding and then afterwards we snorkelled to the far left along the rocks and saw lots of interesting stuff (variety of fish and an octopus).  The water is beautiful and we wanted to enjoy spending the day in the water so why not throw on the mask and fins and explore.

2E903F50-B189-4CD8-ADC7-0CF0CC19309A.jpeg

AF1B4C5A-5BC2-445A-BBBB-B6DA8B4AF7C0.jpeg

 

How did you wife like the horeseback ride? I'm thinking about that for my next trip to HMC.

 

I haven't snorkeled from the beach, but I have done the excursion. I've seen a lot of different fish, got some good pictures. The equipment is excellent and the crew are great. It would be a good snorkel excursion for a beginner because it's usually smooth water. 

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, 3rdGenCunarder said:

 

How did you wife like the horeseback ride? I'm thinking about that for my next trip to HMC.

 

I haven't snorkeled from the beach, but I have done the excursion. I've seen a lot of different fish, got some good pictures. The equipment is excellent and the crew are great. It would be a good snorkel excursion for a beginner because it's usually smooth water. 

 

My wife has a horse back home so was worried about the condition of the horses prior to going on the trip, but eventually decided if she was going to do it HMC was the place.  She really enjoyed it and was pleased with the stable and the care the horses receive.  She really wanted to ride a horse in the water, so especially loved that part.  The staff were great, they even let me tag along on the ‘shuttle’ to the stables so i could get photos of them riding in the water.  

 

For the snorkelling, we had our own equipment (as we planned snorkel trips in other ports) and just got a couple chairs on the beach closest to the tender dock area and swam/ snorkelled for the rest of the day, decent variety of fish along the rocks there.

Edited by trophy_23

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52 minutes ago, trophy_23 said:

 

My wife has a horse back home so was worried about the condition of the horses prior to going on the trip, but eventually decided if she was going to do it HMC was the place.  She really enjoyed it and was pleased with the stable and the care the horses receive.  She really wanted to ride a horse in the water, so especially loved that part.  The staff were great, they even let me tag along on the ‘shuttle’ to the stables so i could get photos of them riding in the water.  

 

For the snorkelling, we had our own equipment (as we planned snorkel trips in other ports) and just got a couple chairs on the beach closest to the tender dock area and swam/ snorkelled for the rest of the day, decent variety of fish along the rocks there.

 

Thanks! I don't have my own horse, but I am an experienced rider. Reviews on the HAL excursion site are mixed--more about staff being rude to guests but not mean to the horses. Like your wife, I was worried about how well it would be run. And I, too, want to ride in the water. 

 

I do snorkel tours because I travel solo and like to have that structure rather than being in the water on my own. I did a snorkel trip in St Thomas, and their only instruction to the one newbie was "Do you like to swim? Great! You'll love this." And then they handed her off to me as a buddy, not knowing if I was experienced enough to help her! (I am) But at HMC, they're good about helping anyone who is a novice or a bit nervous about it. For anyone reading this thread and thinking about the snorkel tour, I've done it twice and it's done well.

 

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2 hours ago, 3rdGenCunarder said:

 

Thanks! I don't have my own horse, but I am an experienced rider. Reviews on the HAL excursion site are mixed--more about staff being rude to guests but not mean to the horses. Like your wife, I was worried about how well it would be run. And I, too, want to ride in the water. 

 

I do snorkel tours because I travel solo and like to have that structure rather than being in the water on my own. I did a snorkel trip in St Thomas, and their only instruction to the one newbie was "Do you like to swim? Great! You'll love this." And then they handed her off to me as a buddy, not knowing if I was experienced enough to help her! (I am) But at HMC, they're good about helping anyone who is a novice or a bit nervous about it. For anyone reading this thread and thinking about the snorkel tour, I've done it twice and it's done well.

 

 

The staff for the horses was great, they even let me have a drink (told to help myself to a water or pop from the cooler) while I was waiting there.  The drinks were there for the riders when they got back.  They also took a a few photos during the ride, my wife handed her little camera off to one of the guides, so no complaints about the staff at all.

 

Curious where did the snorkel excursion at HMC take you? was it from the beach or a boat?

 

We did do snorkelling excursions from a boat in Bonaire, and Turks and Caicos, and a snorkelled on our own during a beach hopping tour on Curacao, as well as on our own in Aruba and HMC.  Clearly we love the water and snorkelling! 

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50 minutes ago, trophy_23 said:

 

 

We did do snorkelling excursions from a boat in Bonaire, and Turks and Caicos, and a snorkelled on our own during a beach hopping tour on Curacao, as well as on our own in Aruba and HMC.  Clearly we love the water and snorkelling! 

How did you arrange your snorkeling at Aruba and on Curacao?  Beach hopping tour suits me: is it offered as a RCCL excursion?

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2 hours ago, trophy_23 said:

 

The staff for the horses was great, they even let me have a drink (told to help myself to a water or pop from the cooler) while I was waiting there.  The drinks were there for the riders when they got back.  They also took a a few photos during the ride, my wife handed her little camera off to one of the guides, so no complaints about the staff at all.

 

Curious where did the snorkel excursion at HMC take you? was it from the beach or a boat?

 

We did do snorkelling excursions from a boat in Bonaire, and Turks and Caicos, and a snorkelled on our own during a beach hopping tour on Curacao, as well as on our own in Aruba and HMC.  Clearly we love the water and snorkelling! 

 

The HAL tour is from a boat. IIRC, as we left the marina channel, we turned left and went along the coast of the island to some reefs. We were out of sight of the development, but it's hard to say how far away we were. 

 

I snorkeled in Aruba on a boat trip booked through the ship. Too many boats and swimmers in a small area. I'll be there again this winter, so I checked non-ship tours in Aruba (on Tripadvisor). They all go to the same few crowded places. Some of them claim to have the bar open the whole time, more party boat than snorkel trip. I've only seen the bar open after the snorkeling, which is how it should be. 

 

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6 hours ago, jlocole said:

How did you arrange your snorkeling at Aruba and on Curacao?  Beach hopping tour suits me: is it offered as a RCCL excursion?

Curacao we took Irie Tours Beach Hopping trip which was great fun.  We got a decent tour of the island with stops at a few different beaches, even swam with turtles.  For Aruba we just took a city bus (across the street from port) to the beach on our own, it was easy and inexpensive, plus many of the tour boats were anchored just beyond where we were snorkelling.

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Posted (edited)

I just wanted to agree with the poster about the snorkeling...I took my own gear as well and went up and down the left side and found plenty of stuff. They also even have reef balls out there as well. I found it to be a very interesting spot with enough to see that satisfied me for the day (hey, it's free).

 

Here's just a few pics...but you can find my full review LOCATED HERE (with all the pictures and the snorkeling part is toward the bottom).

 

 

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P4090199%20copy-M.jpg

 

 

P4090192%20copy-M.jpg

 

 

P4090207%20copy-M.jpg

 

 

P4090191%20copy-M.jpg

 

 

P4090188%20copy-M.jpg

 

P4090185%20copy-M.jpg

 

 

P4090120%20(2)%20copy-M.jpg

 

 

P4090063%20(2)%20copy-M.jpg

 

 

 

Edited by mitsugirly

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On 8/28/2019 at 9:30 AM, mitsugirly said:

I just wanted to agree with the poster about the snorkeling...I took my own gear as well and went up and down the left side and found plenty of stuff. They also even have reef balls out there as well. I found it to be a very interesting spot with enough to see that satisfied me for the day (hey, it's free).

 

Here's just a few pics...but you can find my full review LOCATED HERE (with all the pictures and the snorkeling part is toward the bottom).

 

 

P4090186%20copy-M.jpg

 

 

P4090199%20copy-M.jpg

 

 

P4090192%20copy-M.jpg

 

 

P4090207%20copy-M.jpg

 

 

P4090191%20copy-M.jpg

 

 

P4090188%20copy-M.jpg

 

P4090185%20copy-M.jpg

 

 

P4090120%20(2)%20copy-M.jpg

 

 

P4090063%20(2)%20copy-M.jpg

 

 

 

LOve the pics!  Thanks.

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On 8/21/2019 at 2:41 AM, trophy_23 said:

Curacao we took Irie Tours Beach Hopping trip which was great fun.  We got a decent tour of the island with stops at a few different beaches, even swam with turtles.  For Aruba we just took a city bus (across the street from port) to the beach on our own, it was easy and inexpensive, plus many of the tour boats were anchored just beyond where we were snorkelling.

 

I looked at Irie and something similar offered by HAL. It seemed like a longer day than I wanted. After looking around, I found a trip to just the turtle area with Curacao Dreams, so I'm going to try that. 

 

I did book the horse ride on HMC.

 

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