Royal Caribbean has changed the definition of what passengers expect on a cruise line private island.
Royal Caribbean Group (RCL) – Get Free Report changed the basic concept when it debuted the revised Perfect Day at CocoCay in May 2019. Previously, private islands were simply beaches with bars, and a barbecue that might offer a few extras (like a zip line) but the core experience was a beach.
The old model of cruise line private islands also required people to take tenders (small ships) to the island from their cruise ship. That was a slow process and some passengers got sick riding the smaller ships, especially on days when the seas were a little rough.
With its $250 million transformation of Perfect Day at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean added a pier so two of its Oasis-class ships could dock there at the same time. That ended the need for tenders, which was already a major improvement, but that was only the start.
The cruise line also added a huge pool (the largest in the Caribbean), an added fee waterpark, an extra-charge beach club, and multiple included dining options. Royal Caribbean basically took what was just a beach and made it an island destination where you could opt for a quiet beach experience or something else entirely.
Carnival Cruise Line (CCL) – Get Free Report has not really had an answer for CocoCay, which has become a highly-valued stop for Royal Caribbean. That’s going to change in 2023 and Carnival CEO Josh Weinstein made a telling comment about it during the cruise line’s fourth-quarter earnings call.
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Carnival Has Its Own Private Destination Planned
Carnival has not spoken much about its planned CocoCay rival, Grand Bahama Port (and it certainly has never drawn a direct line between its efforts and its rival’s).
“We broke ground at a new exclusive destination, Grand Bahama Port, which will be a game changer for Carnival Cruise Line, while, at the same time, benefiting, more than ever, from our existing private islands and unique port destinations, which captured 6 million visits from our guests,” Weinstein said.
The cruise line is calling the new project a “port destination.” (It’s not an island as it’s actually a sort of gateway to Grand Bahama. Guests could opt to spend the day at the new “port destination,” or simply pass through it on their way elsewhere.
The new project, which is being developed on the south side of Grand Bahamas, “will continue to serve as a gateway to Grand Bahama while also offering guests a uniquely Bahamian experience with many exciting features and amenities, along with business opportunities for the residents of Grand Bahama,” the cruise line said.
The port will be able to accommodate two Excel-class (Carnival’s largest) ships at a time.
“The cruise port itself will also feature an area designated as a nature reserve and an interior pool feature, along with many Bahamian-operated retail, food, and beverage options for guests to enjoy,” the cruise line shared. It will offer beach access and a pool.
Royal Caribbean Has Changes Planned Too
While CocoCay has already received $250 million in improvements, Royal Caribbean has decided to add even more. The company is adding an adults-only area to the private island.
“Hideaway Beach is under construction right now,” Royal Caribbean Senior Vice President of Hotel Operations Mark Tamis confirmed while speaking on Wonder of the Seas in March.
“There were a handful of decisions that we made during the pandemic to be smarter about that construction, specifically just the movement of some of the back-of-house functions. It’s going to be an amazing adult space for about 2,000 guests [opening in] mid-to late-2023,” he shared.
Royal Caribbean has not shared whether there will be an added cost for Hideaway Beach.