Royal Caribbean voyages to double the fun at the private island

CocoCay's waterpark opened earlier this year.
CocoCay’s waterpark opened earlier this year.

Royal Caribbean International has added nearly 40 sailings in the coming year that will feature two stops at its Perfect Day at CocoCay private island.

The four-day cruises on Navigator of the Seas from Port Canaveral and Mariner of the Seas generally sandwich a stop in Nassau between the two visits to nearby CocoCay.

Royal Caribbean will sail three Navigator cruises that stay at CocoCay late into the night.

Entertainment will include traditional Bahamian-inspired activities, including a Junkanoo Jam Up Party, an island barbecue and performances by a calypso band and fire dancers, topped off with fireworks.

Both Virgin Voyages and MSC Cruises are preparing to offer private beach attractions in the Bahamas that provide evening activities.

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Royal Caribbean offers an augmented-reality view of CocoCay

Michael Bayley discusses the Perfect Day Island Collection. Photo Credit: Jamie BiesiadaNEW YORK — Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCL) on Wednesday night unveiled its new Perfect Day Island Collection and ship-refurbishment program at South Street Seaport here, complete with an augmented reality (AR) component so attendees could get a feel for what CocoCay, the first Perfect Day Island, will look like.

Royal Caribbean International’s Michael Bayley, president and CEO, and Mark Tamis, senior vice president of hotel operations, first introduced the changes in a room with nearly 360-degree screens displaying photos and concept art behind them.

The presentation screens opened up, revealing an augmented reality experience. Photo Credit: Jamie Biesiada
The presentation screens opened up, revealing an augmented reality experience. Photo Credit: Jamie Biesiada

Bayley said Perfect Day Islands will contain features that mix what Royal Caribbean guests have said in surveys is most important to them when spending a day on a private island: The chance to “chill,” and the opportunity for more “thrills.”

CocoCay, the line’s private Bahamian island and the first island in the collection, with features like the tallest water slide in North America, a helium balloon that rises up to 450 feet in the air, and a beach escape with daybeds, over-water cabanas and more.

“We are going to open up Perfect Day destinations literally around the world,” Bayley said.

In addition to locations in the Caribbean, Bayley said Royal Caribbean is also eyeing the Asia Pacific as a location. Each Perfect Day location may be different, he said.

Screen Time: New CocoCay comes to life (Click the image to play)

Image result for royal caribbean augmented reality

After the introduction, the screens at the front of the room opened into another space. Guests were invited to reach under their chairs where iPads were waiting. After entering some basic information, they acted as conduits for the AR experience.

Several different portals — large circles guests could walk through — were set up around the room, mimicking different parts of CocoCay, like Daredevil’s Peak, a pair of water towers with 13 slides, and Oasis Lagoon, a freshwater pool area.

An iPad ripples as the user walks toward one of several portals set up around the room. Photo Credit: Jamie Biesiada
An iPad ripples as the user walks toward one of several portals set up around the room. Photo Credit: Jamie Biesiada

As guests approached, the iPad screen would ripple, and turn into renderings of what that area of CocoCay will look like — for instance, at the Arrivals Plaza, guests were greeted by a large pirate ship to their right. As the iPad moved, the image would change, as if one was looking at CocoCay through the screen.

Mariner of the Seas getting massive makeover

Mariner of the Seas

Royal Caribbean International plans a major improvement in its short-cruise product, starting with a massive makeover of the 14-year-old Mariner of the Seas.

Speaking to a conference of Cruise One/Dream Vacations and Cruises Inc. agents aboard the Harmony of the Seas, Royal Caribbean president Michael Bayley said the line will spend over $100 million on the ship.

Plans call for a six-week drydock in Cadiz, Spain, in March and April. Bayley said it is the most money Royal Caribbean has ever spent renovating a ship.

“I’m calling it a modernization, not a refurbishment,” Bayley said. “We’re going to be adding concepts and redoing concepts,” he said.

When the work is finished, the 3,114-passenger Mariner will sail three- and four-day cruises from Miami. The ship is currently sailing in Asia.

The move will coincide with the June 2018 opening of the newly constructed dock at Coco Cay, Royal Caribbean’s private island in the Bahamas, which will play a major role in the Mariner’s itineraries.

Bayley hinted there is more reinvestment yet to be disclosed. “It is attached to the Mariner and it is attached to the idea of boosting up the shore experience,” he said.

He said that the combined ship-shore package will be a “game changer” in the short-cruise market.

In May 2016, the Empress of the Seas started sailing short cruises after a $50 million renovation. That ship is now doing four-, five- and six-day cruises from Tampa on Caribbean itineraries that include Cuba.

The only other cruise line to spend more than $100 million in a single refurbishment was Carnival, which refitted the Carnival Destiny and renamed it the Carnival Sunshine in 2013 at a cost of $155 million.