One thing that always blows people away when I talk to them about cruising is that pretty much every major cruise line has at least one private island that only their ships can call at. Yep, it’s a thing. In fact, it’s a really big thing.
When there are only so many ports to stop at on a typical Caribbean itinerary, being able to create a brand-centric island experience is a huge differentiator for cruise lines so they go all out to make them as amazing as possible. If you’re wondering which cruise line has the best island, Royal Caribbean’s Perfect Day at CocoCay in The Bahamas is definitely a top contender—especially after its $200 million makeover in 2019!
CocoCay (formerly called Little Stirrup Cay) is so close to Miami, it’s even included in many of Royal Caribbean’s 3 and 4 night cruise itineraries, perfect for an action-packed long-weekend! There are an overwhelming number of CocoCay activities to try in a single visit, but here’s how I’d spend my Perfect Day at CocoCay.
7am – Packed and ready for the Perfect Day at CocoCay
I’ve placed my breakfast order through room service the night before, my day bag is packed, my swimsuit is on, and I’m first in line for disembarkation so I can make the most of this tropical paradise!
8:30am – CocoCay’s helium balloon experience
Taking in the island beats of CocoCay’s live junkanoo band, I groove my way ashore and head straight for the tram station outside Thrill Waterpark. The island shuttle runs every 15 minutes and should save me some time getting to my first destination: Up, Up and Away. This helium balloon takes guests 450 feet in the air for the best views in The Bahamas! I’ve reserved the first trip of the day through Royal Caribbean’s online Cruise Planner so the light should still be good to capture some amazing photos up there. Conveniently, my onboard wi-fi package works on the island too so these shots can head straight for social media! #PerfectDayAtCocoCay
10am – Sunning & snorkelling at Chill Island
Cue the relaxation! My carefully selected beach fiction and I snag a daybed over at Chill Island for a couple hours of sun, sand and snorkelling. The plane wreck just 150 feet from shore provides the best snorkelling on the island with rays, squid and thousands of fish creating a flurry of marine life around the metal remains. If I’m feeling up for it afterwards, I might rent a jet ski from Chill Island’s rental shop, or wander over to the Straw Market to browse some of the island’s locally made Bahamian crafts (cash only).
NOON – BBQ lunch at Chill Grill
I’ve worked up an appetite with my morning adventuring so I head over to nearby Chill Grill, CocoCay’s beachside bar and restaurant for some much-needed shade and a delicious BBQ lunch. While à la carte dining experiences are available on CocoCay, I’ve chosen one of the island’s five complementary eateries.
1pm – A quick dip in CocoCay’s freshwater pool
I can’t pass up the opportunity to experience the Caribbean’s largest freshwater pool, so I take a quick dip at Oasis Lagoon after lunch. I use my onboard beverage package to order a piña colada at the swim-up-bar before launching into the afternoon’s activities. I’m going to need some liquid courage for what’s coming next!
2pm – Big thrills at the CocoCay waterpark
Since half-day passes to Thrill Waterpark are only available in the afternoon, I’ve pre-booked a zip line and waterpark package for the latter half of the day to maximize time and savings. I calm my nerves with a leisurely float in the Caribbean’s biggest wave pool before taking the 135-foot plunge down the mother of all waterslides: Daredevil’s Peak. One of just 13 slides in the CocoCay waterpark, it’s North America’s tallest waterslide and yet another brag-worthy experience from my Perfect Day at CocoCay.
4pm – Grand finale: The CocoCay zip line
The adrenaline rush continues as I head over to the 1,600 foot zip line featuring the only water landing in the Caribbean! As I zigzag across the island, towering 50 feet above everything I’ve just experienced, I prepare for my final plunge of the day into the crystal clear waters.
5:30pm – So long CocoCay
As I towel off and make my way back to the ship, I can’t help but think this really was the Perfect Day at CocoCay. Word has it that Royal Caribbean has designed the island with the possibility of overnight stays in mind, so next time I may not have to leave at all!
Coming December 2019
As of December 2019 (or on my next visit), I’ll be tempted to scrap the whole plan above to spend the day at South Beach and Coco Beach Club, two additional areas to be revealed later this year.
Ultimate relaxation at the CocoCay cabanas
Move over Tahiti, Coco Beach Club is here! If money is no object, I’m definitely spending the day at this CocoCay resort in my own overwater cabana with seven of my closest friends! At $999 to $1599 per day (depending on the season), I may as well opt for full-on indulgence by lounging in my cabana’s hammock and ordering fresh, Mediterranean-inspired entrées from my private attendant. If I start to overheat, I’ll ask for a spritz or endure a few steps to my cabana’s private slide leading me straight into the cool blue ocean.
South Beach: CocoCay’s activity central
The perfect counterpart to Coco Beach Club’s relaxing vibe, South Beach next door offers a wide range of activities both on and off shore. I can choose from paddle boarding, jet skiing and glass-bottom kayaking on water, or volleyball, basketball, soccer and fitness classes on land. If that’s not enough to keep me busy, I can also go for a roll in an inflatable zorb ball! With complimentary beach chairs, umbrellas and pristine white sand to enjoy, taking it easy is also a tempting (and economical) option on CocoCay’s South Beach.
This is my Perfect Day at CocoCay, but there’s plenty more to do in this tropical paradise with activities for families and thrill-seekers alike. I hope you found this itinerary helpful in planning your own private island experience. Make sure to book your CocoCay activities ahead of time with Royal Caribbean’s Cruise Planner tool to avoid disappointment and line ups! When it comes to cruising, it pays to plan ahead.