By Cortney Fries
Royal Caribbean International recently unveiled the $250 million transformation of their private island in the Bahamas, Perfect Day at CocoCay, and my 7-year-old daughter, Fiona, and I were there to soak it all in. It was her first cruise and an incredibly memorable mother-daughter weekend. She ran between water slides, the obstacle course, pools and lounge chairs announcing that it most definitely was the perrrrrfect day. I have to say, I enthusiastically agree.
CocoCay is the first in Royal Caribbean’s Perfect Day Island Collection of exclusive private destinations. Asia, Australia and Caribbean Perfect Day Island Collection destinations will be announced at a later date. CocoCay is not far from Nassau and has been designed to provide the ultimate chill and thrill experiences. It’s kind of like a “choose your own adventure” experience on an island, with relaxing cabanas for those seeking Zen and insane water slides for those craving bragging rights. It’s a sensational eight-hour stop where you can find your own slice of paradise.
Eleven Royal Caribbean cruise ships from ports in Florida and the Northeast now dock at CocoCay. We sailed in on the revamped Navigator of the Seas, which boasts a blow dry bar and two cool water slides that jet out over the side of the ship. Stepping onto the new CocoCay pier, we were excited by the array of colorful waterslides jetting into the sky, the warm breeze and the turquoise waves lapping on the beach by the words Perfect Day and CocoCay. Dancers in jewel-toned costumes greeted guests and guided us to great fun.
My daughter immediately made a beeline to the largest wave pool in the Caribbean. Kids can bounce and dive in those waves all day, but I tore her away after an hour, promising more to explore. Next, she conquered the obstacle course of a floating lily pad, a rock climbing wall and rope swings while we pondered whether we were brave enough to take on the tallest waterslide in North America, 135-foot tall Daredevil’s Peak. We chose to glide down The Twister, a tube slide with colorful lights inside, instead.
It wasn’t long before we worked up appetites from all that fun in the sun. We enjoyed a complimentary taco bar, Cuban sandwiches with crunchy pickles and fresh, tropical fruit at Chill Grill under umbrellas while we watched zipliners soar above. Then we made our way to a tranquil lagoon to wade in the water.
We had heard that The Slingshot half pipe zero-gravity water ride was quite exhilarating; but my daughter only decided to try it after being promised by a Royal Caribbean team member that we could dump a bucket of water on his head if we didn’t like it. Getting into the round raft and barreling down the dark tunnel backwards got my heart pounding. Then my daughter shouted, “Mom, you’re about to go over the edge!” And whoosh, we shot down and up the other side so quickly you lose the feeling of gravity. Splashing out with huge grins and giggles, we were giddy we did it. There was no desire to dump a bucket of water on anyone’s head.
Soon we were onto the Oasis Lagoon freshwater pool, with a zero-depth entry side for the little ones and a DJ and swim-up bar for those seeking a party atmosphere. After several laps around the palm-tree studded pool, we moved onto the next activity, which was floating 450-feet above CocoCay in Up, Up and Away, a huge helium balloon. The views of the island and seemingly endless waters in every shade of blue below reminded us of how thankful we were for this amazing day together. After we glided down, I just had to get in those gorgeous waters.
I do have to say that Fiona put up a fight about going to the beach; but as soon as she stepped into the warm, clear water she declared we could spend the rest of the afternoon there. The skies were sunny with pillowy, white clouds. We could see straight to the bottom of the shallow waters. Our bodies immediately relaxed, like being in the most tranquil, natural, outdoor bath. It seemed like all our troubles just quietly floated away; the chaos of school and work and schedules far, far away from us. We sipped virgin Coco Locos, frozen pineapple coconut drinks, and talked about how we couldn’t imagine anything better. The smell of coconut still lulls me back to that perfect day sunning in the turquoise waters with my baby girl.
After a snack at Captain Jack’s, we headed back to our cruise ship. There wasn’t time to waste as we wanted to get our hair done, rock climb, see the ice show (which features an amazing opening scene with flying drones) and have dinner. Cruising makes an easy vacation because most decisions of where to go and how to get there are pretty simple. When you purchase a drink package, it even carries over onto CocoCay island. I was worried my daughter might get sea sick, but we used those behind-the-ear motion sickness patches and never felt sick once.
There’s plenty do on the cruise ship and even more activities on CocoCay, like a Splashaway Bay for little ones and in-water loungers for sun seekers. In December 2019, they’ll open Coco Beach Club, with the first overwater cabanas in the Bahamas. Your AAA Travel Agent can help you take advantage of exclusive amenities, the AAA great price guarantee and 24/7 member care. We’re definitely onboard with cruising, and CocoCay truly provides a plethora of ingredients to indulge in your ideal beach getaway.
(Go Magazine July/August 2019)