ITTN’s Shane Cullen had visiting Perfect Day on CocoCay on his bucket list for years. Onboard the 3-night cruise to launch Royal Caribbean’s latest ship, Icon of the Seas, Shane got to step onto the island and experience the Bahamas for a glorious day.
Perfect Day on CocoCay
This felt like a long time coming. Every press release, all the travel and travel trade conferences, the ship visits and even with Celebrity Cruises offering a Perfect Day on CocoCay, I was incredibly excited to experience Royal Caribbean’s private island in the Bahamas.
Did it live up to my expectations? It did more than that. Even the rich colour-saturated press release photos and videos do not do it justice. Firstly, it is colossal. Stepping off Icon of the Seas and walking the pier sheltered by a kaleidoscope of coloured canvas awnings leading the way to the entrance was impressive in itself. Perfect Day at CocoCay in giant letters welcomed guests to a tropical paradise.
There are numerous areas, the chill and the thrill sections to explore. The sea is crystal clear aquamarine and the beaches are white, fine sand. Endless blue skies with fluffy clouds finished the picture-perfect setting.
The gangway opened at 8 am and the day ahead stretched to 5.00 pm when guests had to be back onboard the ship. There are two main sections to the island, Chill Island and Thrill Island.
What to Expect on CocoCay with Royal Caribbean
For Royal Caribbean guests, it is free to visit Perfect Day at CocoCay. Most of the experiences at Perfect Day at CocoCay are complimentary. These include Oasis Lagoon (the largest freshwater pool in the Caribbean), the shipwrecked Captain Jill’s Galleon loaded with slides and water cannons (giant pirate ship and water play area for kids – Royal Caribbean’s biggest ever Splashaway Bay aqua park yet). Both Chill Island Beach and South Beach are complimentary with plenty of free beach chairs with umbrellas and beachside activities. In addition, the island offers five complimentary dining venues located throughout the island like Skipper’s Grill, Chill Grill and Snack Shack. I tucked into a fabulously tasty burger at Hideaway Hut and an ice-cold cocktail crafted by the expert bartenders at Slide of Paradise. This isn’t your typical beach-side shack, these are Royal Caribbean standards.
Chill Island – A Million Miles Away
Sunshine and soft sand between your toes, staring at turquoise waters blend into inky blue, you feel a world away from civilization. It is a million miles away from the drudge of daily life and it is uplifting. Pick your spot depending on your mood – there are pumping dance beats for a party vibe or the quiet lapping of the sea.
There are plenty of pools and beaches that are complimentary on the island. There are charges for Coco Beach Club (which boasts overwater Cabanas). Equally, there is a charge for Thrill Waterpark, the Up, Up & Away helium balloon which offers views 140 meters up in the sky and the zip line that stretches almost 500 meters through the air. Prices vary depending on the season though there are bundle prices (e.g. Thrill Waterpark and Zip Line). I would highly recommend Thrill Waterpark and did not venture on either the Balloon or Zip Line (I hate heights).
Thrill Waterpark – Not for the Faint-Hearted
Thrill Island is an adventure waterpark and a wonderland rolled into one. The slides are twisting and twirling tubes of colour, rising out of the lush palm trees that line the paths and surround the pools and beaches. This masks their size. In fact, Daredevil’s Peak has the tallest waterslide in North America at 41 meters in height (134.5 feet) – that’s almost 9 double-decker buses stacked on top of each other. My knees were wibbly at the top and while an amazing rush, my hand quivered as I stood up from the splash pool. It is worthy of the title, white-knuckle ride.
There are 13 “shriek-inducing” slides (though your voice may escape you as you descend the twists and turns), this is absolutely a Thrill Island. I can only imagine, not just how much kids would adore this but how difficult it would be to get them to leave at the end of the day. At least with Icon of the Seas, there is an impressive waterpark on the top deck to entice them back onboard.
Thrill Island is huge, there were only ever 2 or 3 people ahead of me at any slide and there were two Royal Caribbean ships docked at the pier. There are plenty of pools, poolside cabanas, sunloungers and pristine beaches to splash or soak up the Caribbean sunshine.
This is not a Beach Shack – This is Royal Caribbean Standard
Guests of the island can grab a bite at various eateries or sip a cocktail or chilled beer at the bars dotted around the island. The food is tasty and of a high standard. So too are the beverages and these (food & drinks) are included in the price. Again, there were no queues for food or beverages at any point during the day.
There are little trams to ferry people around the island though this can get a little busy and it’s nearly as easy to walk.
Perfect Day at CocoCay Cruise Itineraries
Icon of the Seas will be visiting Perfect Day at CocoCay along with her sister ships, Star of the Seas which are “doubling down on the best family holiday in the world”. Both ships are Icon Class ships. Freedom of the Seas, Allure of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas will also have Perfect Day weekend itineraries, ideal for a cruise + stay adventure in Florida. In fact, Utopia of the Seas, which will launch in the summer of 2024, will be offering 3-night and 4-night cruises with a stopover in CocoCay.
Shane Cullen’s CocoCay Tips:
- Bring your towel with you (there are several towel exchange stations around the island),
- Bring aqua shoes – makes navigating the waterpark and beach very easy
- Bring plenty of suncream
- Time really flies so make every moment count.
A big thank you to Jennifer Callister and Michelle Ryan (Royal Caribbean International, Ireland) for their tips and advice to get the most out of a truly exceptional experience.