Our Mariner Of The Seas (OTS) cruise ship docked at Coco Cay on our eighth and final day of our Caribbean Cruise. I specifically say “docked” as this was the first time Steve (DOS) and I had been to Coco Cay since Royal Caribbean spent mega-millions upsizing the private island, and building a dock, making it so much more convenient for both passengers and crew to stop here.
Over the years we have stopped at Coco Cay many times although usually on shorter itineraries on the old Sovereign OTS and Monarch OTS, where we had to tender from the ship to Coco Cay. Not only was this time consuming and lots of extra effort for the crew, but the tendering was subject to the weather fluctuations, and a couple times we could not stop there due to the heavy tides, making it dangerous for boarding the tender boats. One of the Norwegian Cruise Line ships was anchored off the coast as they have the private island next to Coco Cay, but they do not have a dock so they still have to tender to the island.
The first thing I noticed when getting off the ship is the long dock that was added, and can accommodate two large ships at once. We were docked next to the nearly identical Adventure OTS, which we had sailed on a trans-Atlantic crossing several years ago.
Apart from design and cosmetic theming aboard the Adventure, the biggest difference I noticed was the side cabin balconies are built into the hull of the ship, while the Mariner (which was the last of the 5 ships built in this class) has side balconies that are built out from the hull, allowing for better glass views, especially when you are sitting or lounging about on the balcony.
As I walked down the long and colorfully decorated dock area, the island’s theme: “Perfect Day” at “Coco Cay” welcomed us in large letters, split-up on other sides of the dock area.
(I know, technically Cay is pronounced “key”, and the letter A is spoken before “Perfect” for “A Perfect Day at Coco Cay”, but the rhyming is much better sounding “Kay” rather than “Key”.) Some people actually correct the pronunciation of Cay on message boards and video, ruining all the fun of the rhyming phrase; too intellectual for us! 😀 Have some fun! And tell them Cay sounds better phonetically than Key for the rhyme with Day! LOL!🤣
Anyway, who needs a grammar lesson on vacation. DOS got off the ship early, around 8:30am so he could secure a couple of good beach chair locations along the beach. I didn’t make it to Coco Cay until 10:15am or so after having breakfast, debarking the ship and walking down the long dock, and then taking one of the many complimentary trams on the island to Coco Beach Club. The tram makes several stops for guests on its circular loop around the island, including Chill Beach, South Beach, Oasis Lagoon, and the Beach Club, and has a main pickup point as well near the entrance to the huge Thrill Waterpark.
While there are plenty of complimentary activities and beautiful beaches (along with complimentary self- service lunch buffet, and bar drinks can be charged to your room key card, including the drink package), the Thrill Water park, and Coco Beach Club, and cabanas are an extra charge and need to be booked ahead of time. We didn’t do the water park, but it looks huge, and judging from some of the You Tube Videos I’ve seen of it, the daring adventuresome part of us wouldn’t allow us to do those HUGE slides! (Also I can use the excuse I have a heart condition! 😀❤️). Oh to be young again, but everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and why not – it’s a Perfect Day in Coco Cay!
Here’s a link to Royal Caribbean’s Coco Cay video on You Tube showing all the fun to be had on Coco Cay! Fortunately there are maps and signs (along with the many trams) to get you around the island, where ever you want to go.
We had pre-booked our day pass at the Coco Beach Club prior to embarkation, which is basically an on-island shore excursion in a private club area of the island. The price varies based on when you book it (pre-cruise or on board the ship) and on capacity, sales, etc. We paid just shy of $200 a person, and it included a nice private beach front area (well along with perhaps 250 other people) overlooking the most beautiful beach and clear blue waters of the Bahamas.
The Beach Club is spread out over several sections, and does have a more exclusive feel to it, and even with two ships docked the day we were there, it didn’t feel at all crowded. There were plenty of chairs scattered along the beach and by the pool area, and even the birds were welcoming us to the island!
The Beach Club also serves an upgraded lunch, which is like a specialty restaurant overlooking the beach, with upgraded food and wait-staff service. The entrance itself to the club is along a quiet and beautifully landscaped circular pathway, which leads to a tiki hut where you checkin for the day.
We didn’t reserve one of the overwater cabanas, which are priced at $1,500 to as high as $2,000 (perhaps more in peak season), which seemed rather pricey for just a few hours. The cabanas do accommodate 8 people though, so if you’re with a group of 8 and each person pays the $200 a piece for the Coco Beach Club admission, the cabana would pay for itself as each admission fee is applied to the total Cabana price, which must be reserved ahead of time. For just a couple, or even four people, though, it didn’t seem worth it to us, but would consider a cabana if we had a group of friends or family going.
The Beach Club is quite large and laid out in several areas, including the restaurant, outdoor dining, pool area, and a large and long expanse of beach. There are plenty of loungers available on the beach, pool, and shaded areas, and water floats available as well. Each set of two loungers is shaded by a large umbrella, with a small drink table next to them.
The beach loungers are complimentary, but can not be reserved ahead of time, but as DOS got there early in the morning, he secured us a nice front row, oceanfront pair of loungers.
We actually preferred staying on the nice beach, under an umbrella, with closer proximity to the Coco Beach Club Restaurant, bar, and restrooms, not to mention easy access to the water without jumping off the cabana.
The cabanas do have a small slide into the water, but it’s not practical for adults, as it has a weight limit of 150 pounds. Not to be mean(ok honest), but that weight limit eliminates most of the adult cruise passengers including us! LOL! I guess the slides are intended for kids, but we only saw a couple of kids in the Beach Club area and none were in cabanas, although schools aren’t out for the summer for another couple weeks. The wait staff do provide food and drink service to the cabanas (delivered by 3 wheeled bicycles!), and there are also wait staff on foot serving the beach areas for drinks as well throughout the day.
The morning weather on Coco Cay day was delightful, until late afternoon a storm was starting to roll in shortly before we headed back to the ship around 2:30pm. We had a nice breeze throughout the day, which made it quite comfortable in our lounge chairs beneath the umbrella, and for DOS in his dips in the turquoise waters.
I didn’t wade out very deep, but even in the shallow water saw some tiny fish, while not much further out a couple people spotted a ray, and perhaps a small shark swimming by, ignoring the others swimming. At least that’s what DOS said!
We had lunch at the Coco Beach Club Restaurant at 12:30pm. When you first check-in the Club gate in the morning, you then go and reserve what time you would like your table-service lunch served. We had actually reserved the time pre-embarkation, but something got lost in the translation and it wasn’t showing confirmed. Not a problem though, we reconfirmed our 12:30pm reservation, and were promptly seated outdoors under a shaded area, per our request.
Unlike the non-Club dining which is self service and located on other areas of the island, the Beach Club was well staffed with wait and bar staff to serve everyone. There is indoor and outdoor seating, but we chose to sit outdoors overlooking the beach, with a nice umbrella overhead for shade. Definitely lunch in paradise!
We were presented with menus, which listed the three course meal, with the first course being a huge shared appetizer in two wooded boxes with shrimp cocktail, humus, pita bread, veggies and a few other things I have no idea what they were!
While they serve cloth napkins with lunch, we took a short walk up to the check-in counter to get a couple of the complimentary chilled wash-cloth towels. I had gotten a couple of those small towels on the way in to the Beach Club, and they are chilled with a divine fragrance of eucalyptus, like you get in a spa treatment.
For the main course, both DOS and I selected the lobster, as I was a bit “filet-mignon’d” out from having had so much on the cruise this week in Chop’s Restaurant! There was also a chicken or a fish entree should you desire. The lobster was a Caribbean lobster, which was huge! Unlike the Maine lobster, the Caribbean lobster does not have claws, rather pointy antennas, which are not edible, but still presented on the plate as the whole lobster. I used the knife to carve the meat out of the shell, and enjoyed it with cocktail sauce instead of the accompanying Rémoulade sauce of some sort.
We skipped the brewskis and vino for lunch, and just had Diet Cokes to drink (part of the soda package) although DOS also used one of his 5 daily drink coupons, (compliments of the Diamond Plus loyalty program) for a virgin Piña Colada. (The drink and wifi packages both work on the island if you had purchased those, and the wifi was also very good on the island. The wifi was actually pretty good on the ship as well, although not so good on the balcony or in the bedroom.) We also had a nice dessert to finish up our lunch; I had a delicious chocolate covered brownie with whipped cream, while DOS had a cool and yummy orange sorbet.
After our wonderful and leisurely lunch, we walked back to our beach chairs and sat for a while, ignoring the short afternoon rain showers that are typical here as well as back home in Florida.
By 2:30pm though, the clouds were getting dark, and lightning looked imminent, so we headed back to the ship. We took the tram which stopped right at the Beach Club, and took a loop around the opposite side of the island where I had taken it in the morning, allowing us to pick up more passengers as well as see some other sites. Along the way, we passed other parts of the island, including Oasis Lagoon, and a large outdoor billiards “table” on the sand!
We had back row seats on the open-air tram, so we had a great view of everything behind us, realizing how big this “little” private island really is, amidst the sand-covered and palm tree lined roads, intermingled with beautiful beaches and pristine landscaping.
To sum it all up, we had a “Perfect day in Coco Cay” as the RCCL slogan suggests, and really enjoyed the relaxing and quiet area of the Coco Beach Club. Coco Cay truly has something for everyone; from kids, teens, adults and family activities in the waterparks, to volleyball and sports areas, beautiful beaches, numerous beverage and snack bars. There is even a giant hot area balloon similar to the one at Disney Springs, although it wasn’t operating the day we were there.
As we approached the dock area, our tram driver drove us past the Coco Cay entrance sign, and all the way up the long dock, right up to the entrance of our ship. (When I debarked the ship in the morning, it was quite busy, so I walked to the end of the long dock and into town to catch the tram.)
Back at the dock, we re-boarded the ship on deck one, and surprisingly had no wait for the elevator up to our cabin on deck 10. And even after a Perfect Day at Coco Cay, all good things come to an end, so we had to then pack up to debark the ship tomorrow for home. I’ll end the post here on a happy note though as we prepare to sail away from Coco Cay. So long to Coco Cay for now. Yes, it really was a Perfect Day in Coco Cay!
Bye for now!