My family and I sailed on the Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas for a short 4-night cruise in order to experience CocoCay, the newly reinvented (and still in progress) private island in the Bahamas owned by Royal Caribbean.
The Key program is an add-on for priority boarding, seating at events and two special meals as well as Voom internet for one device per person. All members in your party must purchase this separately for all to enjoy the benefits. We purchased it for $20 per day during one of the numerous sales that Royal Caribbean runs throughout the year. We literally parked our car, handed our luggage over, checked in at The Key desk ,and were on the ship within 20 minutes of turning off the car. From there, we could explore the ship! If you had carry-on luggage, you could drop that at a lounge and they would deliver it to your stateroom through The Key service. The we were off to our welcome lunch at Chops Grille. Nice to have a filet mignon as your welcome meal with some excellent asparagus and desserts. As for the priority disembarkation and seating for events, we did not see a great benefit to this. On the last day, you are treated to a nice sit down breakfast if you choose, and we enjoyed steak and eggs that were quite good and a nice end to the trip. All in all, The Key is worthy of severe consideration especially if you are getting the internet package anyway. The extra perks are well worth the additional cost.
Now for the main event, CocoCay. As a lot of my clients and fellow agents are aware, I am not one for over the top overblown reactions as I know not everything caters to everyone’s taste. As for CocoCay, my main take away is WoW! Again, this is my takeaway for what I was looking for in a private island. Really nice beaches with plenty of seating for lounge chairs and umbrellas. Please note, the more adult themed areas of the South Beach area and those cabanas and beach loungers are not scheduled to open till December of 2019. The food was very good, in particular the cheese sticks and caramel salted brownie at the Snack Shack. A nice selection of souvenirs sprinkled through their version of a Straw Market without people yelling at you to buy things. This is huge if you\’ve ever experienced the Straw Market in Nassau!
The main attraction that draws a lot of people’s eyes is the Water Park which is an extra charge. We did not do that. We live by water parks and did not see the need as our focus was relaxation and snorkeling. The Water Park looks great, has some tremendous slides (13 in all), and if you are looking for a thrill component to your private island day, the fellow cruisers I spoke with enjoyed it. There is also a tethered hot air balloon option, zip lining and the array of other options typical of a cruise line private island (jet-ski, scuba, para-sailing, etc.)
The real gem that stood out for me at CocoCay, and is making me want to return again, is The Oasis. The Oasis is the largest freshwater pool in the Caribbean. Let’s face it…what is one of the biggest complaints about all cruise ships? The pools are too small! Well, here you have a pool that spans close to 34,000 square feet, is a multi-purpose pool in that it caters to families in one area, adults looking to relax in another (with lounge chairs partially in the water), and, my personal favorite, the swim up bar that caters to everyone wanting to relax to some great music and have a party with their fellow cruisers.
We enjoyed the beach and snorkeling for a few hours in the morning, enjoyed the food, and even swam out to the floating bar off of the beach for a quick drink, and then spent the rest of the time until boarding at The Oasis. If you have ever felt like you never get enough pool time on board, or it is too crowded, then the Oasis will take care of your desires to be in a tropical paradise enjoying pool time whether it is reading, sleeping, enjoying your drink package (yes, you can use your ship drink package on the island!), or dancing in the pool with people from around the world. It truly was an Oasis away from reality and a will be a welcome addition to our cruise itineraries in the future.
I know we are looking forward to seeing what the new adult areas are like when they open. We may even try the 135 foot tall water slide, but I do know I will return to the Oasis. I will be the guy in the Stetson Panama Hat sitting on the underwater bar stool at the swim up bar. Be sure to say hello!
The Laska Family are avid vacationers who enjoy trying new and exciting adventures. Based out of Williamsburg, VA, they enjoy finding the forgotten or obscure locations (you have not traveled till you have seen the World\’s Largest Ball of Twine), cruises, and even visits to the Happiest Place on Earth, Disney World!