By Tanner Saunders
Updated: May 07, 2019
Courtesy of Royal Caribbean

Cruising in the Caribbean is known for its crystal-blue water and sunshine, and now guests traveling with Royal Caribbean can add new experiences — including a brand new waterpark — on the line's private island to their itinerary.

Royal Caribbean just completed a $250-million renovation of the island, and Travel + Leisure joined the first set of guests this weekend.

Perfect Day at CocoCay,” located in the Bahamas, offers guests both adventure and relaxation, and is the first in the brand’s “Perfect Day Island Collection.” On CocoCay, adrenaline-loving travelers will be most excited to hit up Thrill Waterpark, which offers 13 waterslides and the largest wave pool in the Caribbean. The crown jewel of the park is Daredevil’s Peak, the tallest waterslide in North America, which reaches a whopping 135 feet.

Courtesy of Royal Caribbean

Though Daredevil’s Peak is the tallest, my personal favorite was the Dueling Demon drop slide, where riders stand vertically in an enclosed glass shoot facing another slide in the same position. After a dramatic 3-2-1 countdown, the bottom drops from underneath you, sending you on a wild ride down the tower. If the ride itself wasn’t memorable enough for everyone I went with, I’m sure they won’t forget my boyfriend's scream echoing across the island on the way down.

One thing that sets the water park apart from most others you may have visited is that there are fewer guests than any other public water park you might find. Considering only people on Royal Caribbean ships are allowed to enter, combined with the fact that not all of those on board will visit the water park, and you’re setting yourself up for a fun day with pretty short lines.

Besides the insane waterslides, CocoCay also has Oasis Lagoon, the largest freshwater pool in the Caribbean. (Fun fact, it’s big enough to hold 106,902 beach balls.) And to get another view of the Bahamas, guests can board a helium balloon to soar 450 feet into the air. And for more heights, strap into the 1,600-foot-long zip line to soar over sunbathers and splashing kids across CocoCay.

Of course, it's not all about adrenaline. After hitting up the slides, we spent the afternoon sipping on margaritas at Captain Jack’s, a bar area where a friendly singer mellowed us out with acoustic versions of classic Jimmy Buffett tunes. A handful of dining establishments are scattered on the island and I enjoyed a seriously delicious portobello mushroom burger for lunch at Chill Grill.

Courtesy of Royal Caribbean

Perfect Day at CocoCay also seems like a great place to bring the family. For kids, there are plenty of smaller waterslides, child-friendly beaches, and an entire interactive play structure with water cannons, ropes, and splash pads. For the older bunch, maybe join a jet ski excursion, snorkle, or just call it day and nap in a cabana.

Coming in December, Coco Beach Club — a luxury expansion to the island — will bring the very first overwater cabanas to the Bahamas. Each cabana will offer its own waterslide, overwater hammock, and dedicated attendant. The club will also have a 2,600-plus beachfront infinity pool.

Courtesy of Royal Caribbean

Cruisegoers can visit CocoCay by cruising on one of 11 of Royal Caribbean’s ships on select itineraires leaving from Florida and the northeastern United States. Dates on the 3 Night Bahamas & Perfect Day Cruise on the Navigator of the Seas — the itinerary I went on — start at $317.

It’s important to note, however, that many of the activities offered on the island are not included in the standard cost of the cruise. Full-day Thrill Waterpark passes cost $44 to $99 per person, depending on the season, while the zip line ranges from $79 to $139, and the balloon ride ranges from $39 to $99 per ride. Child rates are available, as well as half-day passes and combination passes for multiple experiences.

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