Want to experience a shore excursion that includes North America’s tallest waterslide, ziplining, hot air balloon rides, and the Caribbean’s largest wave pool? All of these and more are available only to Royal Caribbean passengers visiting the cruise line’s newly opened Perfect Day at CocoCay in the Bahamas.
The cruise line’s already-popular private island destination in the Bahamas debuted after a $250 million transformation. Royal Caribbean drew on passenger suggestions to design the island’s enhancements.
“It’s not brain surgery,” said Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley. “You’re in the Caribbean. You’re under a palm tree. It’s beautiful white sand. There’s the gorgeous turquoise sea of the Caribbean. You’re having a beer, a pina colada. You’re with your loved ones. It’s all fantastic. It’s chill… but they also told us we want some adventure, some excitement.”
On all fronts, it looks like Royal Caribbean has delivered.
Different Areas of the Island for Different Experiences
Guests can choose their own kind of Perfect Day experience. Thrill-seekers will want to visit the waterpark, which boasts 13 waterslides — including the 135-foot-tall Daredevil’s Tower. What’s so special about the Daredevil Tower is that it holds the claim of the tallest waterslide in North America. This area also contains Adventure Pool (an aquatic obstacle course) plus multi-rider slides for families at Splash Summit and a wave pool.
Passengers who want a more serene water experience can rent paddleboards or glass-bottomed kayaks or go snorkeling. Those who want to chill, sip a cool beverage, and unwind will want to head to Oasis Lagoon, which offers a massive pool with three coves, a swim-up bar and abundant loungers. Guests seeking an athletic challenge can visit South Beach to play beach volleyball or soccer.
Even with all these new features, a new section of Perfect Day at CocoCay remains under construction, with a scheduled opening planned for December 2019. The luxurious new area will feature over-water as well as beachside cabanas, plus personal attendants, a 2,600-foot beachfront infinity pool and upscale Mediterranean dining.
Not Everything Is Free on CocoCay
Just like onboard a Royal Caribbean ship, some attractions and dining/drinking options at Perfect Day at CocoCay are free to passengers, while others require an additional fee.
Free activities include Captain Jill’s Galleon and Splashaway Bay, a children’s pool play area featuring geysers, water guns and giant buckets of water. Relaxing under an umbrella in a chair is free, but upgrading your relaxation space to a daybed or cabana carries an additional fee. The Oasis Lagoon pool is also free.
Many of the more adventurous activities carry additional fees, including waterpark admission to the waterslides ($44-$99 per day), ziplining ($79-$139) and balloon rides ($39-$99 for ages 13 and up, $24-$64 for ages 4-12). Half-day options and waterpark-zipline combination packages are also available.
After working up an appetite, passengers can grab a free bit to eat at Snack Shack, Chill Grill or Skipper’s Grill. Guests can also opt for la carte dining at Captain Jack’s, which offers live music along with a menu featuring buffalo, jerk, or mango-habanero chicken wings plus other treats.
The Start of a New Cruise Trend?
Just as cruise lines have been in an arms race with bigger and better ships over the past decade or so, the introduction of Royal Caribbean’s upgraded destination may spur additional investment across the industry.
Perfect Day at CocoCay is designed to handle as many as 9,000 guests, allowing multiple Royal Caribbean ships to dock at the private island simultaneously. Eleven of the cruise line’s ships, sailing from ports in Florida and the Northeast US, will visit Perfect Day at CocoCay in 2019.
Colleen McDaniel, editor-in-chief of Cruise Critic, told CNN Travel that cruise line private islands like CocoCay may attract new cruise fans. “Beyond creating incredible experiences for your avid customers, that’s where an investment of this magnitude has the potential to really pay off — to catch the eye of those who might not have ever tried cruising but are intrigued by this exclusive new experience,” she said.
Royal Caribbean plans to build additional private island destinations in the Caribbean, Asia and Australia. Other cruise lines also offer private islands available only to their passengers, including Disney Cruise Line’s Castaway Cay and Holland America’s Half Moon Cay. That said, the upgraded Perfect Day CocoCay is definitely a step above other island in terms of amenities.