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How to visit Royal Caribbean’s Perfect Day at CocoCay on zero dollars

March 17, 2022
9 min read
Island with tall waterslide tower and colorful balloon
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Parents, if your Royal Caribbean cruise stops at the line’s private island, Perfect Day at CocoCay, be prepared to add an extra $400 to your total trip cost — if not more.

Unlike some cruise line private islands that focus on beach time and water sports, Perfect Day at CocoCay is an amusement park on a tiny, uninhabited island in the Bahamas. It has a large water park with everything from wave pools to a waterslide that’s so tall and pink it makes the island instantly recognizable from afar when sailing past it. It’s got a zip line, a hot air balloon ride and cabanas of various shapes and sizes.

All of these attractions come with a hefty price tag. And if you have kids, they will likely beg you to try all the fun.

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On a recent cruise aboard Wonder of the Seas, I wasn’t about to drop $200 on a water park my almost-8-year-old might be too scared to try or get bored of in an hour. So I wondered – could we spend the day on CocoCay without spending any money?

We could – and you can, too. Here’s how our day played out:

Getting our feet wet: Captain Jill’s Galleon

Captain Jill's Galleon on Perfect Day at CocoCay. (Photo by Erica Silverstein/The Points Guy)

We got our feet wet — literally and figuratively — at Captain Jill’s Galleon, a pirate ship playground with rope ladders, slides and water sprayers. It’s aimed at the littlest scallywags, but was good for 20 minutes of play.

If your kids are satisfied with this level of entertainment, they’re either not old enough for CocoCay's main watery play zone, called Thrill Waterpark, or can get in free. When they tire of playing pirate, head to the beach for some sun and sand. You’ll be back on the ship by naptime.

Sliding into fun: Splashaway Bay

Splashaway Bay at Perfect Day at CocoCay. (Photo by Erica Silverstein/The Points Guy)

Heading inland from Captain Jill’s Galleon is Splashaway Bay, a miniature, complimentary water play area. “This is the best water park ever!” my daughter exclaimed, meaning I’d done a great job of shielding her from the much larger water park she wouldn’t get to see.

Splashaway Bay has three small waterslides: a large slide where two can slide together, a set of three racing slides and a tube slide. All splash you down into a 2-foot-deep pool that my kid liked swimming across as much as she liked sliding into it. Across from the slides is a play structure with so many water sprayers and dump buckets that it’s a bit like a human car wash.

Sandy patches around the play area offer adult- and kid-sized Adirondack chairs for lounging and even a little free library for borrowing books.

My 8-year-old was definitely on the upper end of the age range that would be happy at this play area. If she hadn’t stubbed her toe, we might be there still. If you’ve got preschoolers or early elementary school-aged kids, Splashaway Bay might be your ticket to free fun.

Jumping in feet first: Oasis Lagoon

Oasis Lagoon at Perfect Day at CocoCay. (Photo by Erica Silverstein/The Points Guy)

To distract from the oncoming “my toe hurts and therefore you all must suffer” meltdown, I convinced my daughter that a real swimming pool might be fun for a while. CocoCay boasts “the Caribbean’s largest freshwater pool” (a public-relations statistic not independently verified by me), and it’s certainly the largest pool I’ve ever been in.

It’s a versatile pool with different vibes in its various “coves.” We stayed in the shallow area with a sloping entry and two rows of fountains but had sightlines to the deeper cove near the cabanas and the swim-up bar blasting party music.

My daughter was happy splashing around in the shallows, bossing me around in a complicated imaginary world where I was alternatively her teacher and her mother, and we were looking for rare Bahamian dragons. I saw little ones in arm floaties splashing about, kids throwing a football with their dad and teens relaxing on lounge chairs in and around the pool.

Even with the pool taken over by the college spring break party charter on the other Royal Caribbean ship in port with us, my daughter happily played in the pool for hours. However, I did overhear some older kids grumbling about when they could leave, so your mileage may vary.

Free lunch: Skipper’s Grill

Skipper's Grill at Perfect Day at CocoCay. (Photo by Erica Silverstein/The Points Guy)

We made it to noon without swiping my cruise card and lunch on CocoCay was on the house. Yeah, you can pay for wings at Captain Jack’s bar, but Skipper’s Grill was closer, had a larger menu and was free.

The beach barbecue has burgers, dogs and chicken, but it doesn’t stop there. I grabbed a grilled portobello mushroom sandwich and a tomato-and-cucumber salad from the sandwich and salad station, and passed a taco bar on my way to pick up fruit (including papaya and mango) and dessert. The drinks stations dispense free juice and water, plus soft-serve ice cream.

Just watch out for seagulls who stare you down as you eat, making my daughter a bit uneasy. However, I’d like to see the seagull who dares to steal her gooey brownie – it will likely rue the day it dared to cross her path.

Depending on where you are on the island, you have your choice of two barbecue venues and three Snack Shack venues, all complimentary.

Saved for later: The beaches

Harbor Beach at Perfect Day at CocoCay. (Photo by Erica Silverstein/The Points Guy)

In my mind, we would finish up our day of free fun on the beach, perhaps Harbor Beach due to its proximity to Skipper’s Grill and its setting on a sheltered lagoon. But there’s sand there. And my daughter has decided, while on a Caribbean cruise for crying out loud, that she does not like to touch sand or get it on her.

No beach for us. But if you’re planning a free day on Cococay, I’d highly recommend plunking yourself down on a sandy stretch and getting some real wave action (vs. the kind in the extra-fee wave pool).

Perfect Day at CocoCay has three main free beaches. Chill Island is the sandy option all the way on the left side of the island, with its own beachside barbecue. South Beach, to the right and all way across the island from the pier, has the island’s sports court. The aforementioned Harbor Beach is the closest beach to the ship.

Bring a frisbee or sand toys and you can relax and play for hours on the gorgeous white-sand beaches, your wallet safely tucked away at the bottom of your beach bag.

Worth the splurge: Thrill Waterpark and Coco Beach Club

Thrill Waterpark on Perfect Day at CocoCay. (Photo by Erica Silverstein/The Points Guy)

Yes, I did manage to not only spend no money at Coco Beach Club, but also have fun doing so. If your clan loves a good beach day, you’ll be fine. But CocoCay may not be the port stop where you want to go all frugal.

Older kids and teens could probably spend all day at Thrill Waterpark, trying out all eight slides plus the Adventure and Wave Pools. Just know that anyone who enters needs to pay for a pass, even if you’re not going to slide, and children under age 14 must be accompanied by a paying guest older than 14. Kids pay the same as adults ($100 on my cruise, though kiddos under 4 can get in for free).

If you hate crowds, Coco Beach Club might be worth the hefty entrance fee ($190 per person on my sailing, more to rent a cabana). It’s got a private beach, infinity pool and upgraded alfresco restaurant. I got a sneak peek, and it’s gorgeous. If you do want to try any of the for-fee attractions on CocoCay, look for sales and discounts for purchasing excursions online ahead of your cruise.

But if you’re the kind of person who finds any burger delicious after a hot morning in the sun and is happy to share the waves, save your budget for an amazing tour in a real port.

On CocoCay, you can definitely have a perfect day in a total cheapskate way.

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

Featured image by Royal Caribbean's Perfect Day at CocoCay private island (Photo by Erica Silverstein/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

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  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

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Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

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  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

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  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases