Yes, the cruise line is building Icon of the Seas, but that’s not the only major change that its rivals should be worried about.
Royal Caribbean always seems two steps ahead of its family-friendly cruise-line rivals.
Oasis-class ships have made the question “where is your cruise stopping?” a lot less relevant. In many ways, the massive ships themselves are the destinations, as there’s more than enough to do on board in a week-long trip without ever setting foot in port.
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Royal Caribbean has magnified that by building out its Perfect Day CocoCay private island. While rivals Carnival Cruise Line (CCL) – Get Free Report, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH) – Get Free Report, and MSC all have private islands, they basically offer a beach day with food and drinks.
MSC, for its part, has a really sprawling and beautiful beach where some ships dock overnight, allowing for parties after dark, but at the end of the day, it’s just a beach with bars and barbecue.
Perfect Day at CocoCay goes well beyond that, offering a massive pool, multiple beaches, and a variety of food options, all for free. And for an added fee there’s a full-scale waterpark, a beach club with an infinity pool and high-end food, as well as an upcoming (likely added-fee) adults-only area.
It’s the spirit of Perfect Day at Coco Cay that has informed Royal Caribbean’s newest project, the Royal Beach Club at Paradise Island, which will open in the first half of 2025.
The cruise line hasn’t shared a lot of details about the private/public partnership with the Bahamas, but Matt Hochberg of Royal Caribbean Blog, which is not affiliated with the cruise line, was able to get some new information.
CocoCay is sort of the blueprint for the new Beach Club.
Image source: Daniel Kline/TheStreet
What We Know About the Royal Beach Club
Previously, the cruise line had shared little more than concept art, which made clear there would be beaches and pools as well as water taxis to shuttle passengers to the destination right from the cruise port.
Royal Caribbean Chief Product Innovation Officer Jay Schneider gave Hochberg some new information on the Beach Club.
He tried to explain how the Beach Club would differ from CocoCay and the cruise line’s other private islands. Perfect Day, he explained “is the destination.” The Beach Club will be one option for passengers while in Nassau, and it won’t be for everyone since unlike the cruise line’s private islands, it will come with a price tag.
“Not everybody’s going to have an opportunity to go to the Royal Beach Club. It wasn’t designed for that purpose,” he told Hochberg. “Because we then hope you sail with us again the next weekend and have that opportunity. And so that’s where it kind of fits into our strategy.”
That model is fairly similar to the added-fee Beach Club at CocoCay. That experience is dynamically priced — cost is based on demand — given that it’s an upscale experience and space is limited.
And while he did not specify pricing, Schneider did tell Royal Caribbean Blog that the price for The Royal Beach Club at Paradise Island would be all-inclusive. That includes transportation to the club as well as food and drink once you’re there.
Why This Gives Royal Caribbean a Major Edge
Nassau can host up to seven cruise ships at a time, making it a common stop for cruises sailing out of Florida.
That means many frequent cruisers have visited the island many times and may not consider it a prized port or a reason to book a cruise.
The Beach Club will give Royal Caribbean a highly desirable experience that Carnival, Norwegian, MSC, and Disney can’t match. In theory, this will make Nassau an in-demand stop even for passengers who have been there many times before.
CocoCay has become a major draw for Royal Caribbean. It’s a differentiator from its rivals — and even at a fee (assuming it’s a reasonable one) the Beach Club should have the same sort of appeal.
Price will matter here. It will have to be cheaper than a day pass at one of Nassau’s top-tier resorts (which range from all-adult to family friendly).
But Royal Caribbean likely fully understands its customers, as it sees what excursions they book. The Beach Club isn’t meant to compete with people who want a waterpark day at Atlantis or to replace other experiences people already enjoy in Nassau.
“Nassau is a great place to go. We wanted to add a Royal level service to that destination. This gave us that model to really expand,” Schneider told Hochberg.