I never thought I’d be someone who loved cruises, but I am absolutely a changed woman after experiencing my first adventure on the seas with Royal Caribbean. Their latest journey, Perfect Day at CocoCay, launched in May 2019 after a $250 million upgrade to their private island in The Bahamas. And with the newly refurbished ship, the Navigator of the Seas, the vacation began before even leaving the dock in Miami.
As a cruise novice, I wasn’t sure what to expect. My only knowledge of this type of voyage was, unfortunately, disaster films like Titanic and Poseidon Adventure. In fact, it was because of these movies that I avoided a cruise for so long. Of course, that is totally hyperbolic thinking and with safety and navigation engineering these days, there’s no way something like that could happen. So I sucked up my irrelevant fears and decided that this trip was going to be fabulous no matter what.
My sister and I arrived in Miami a day before the cruise. From my research, every cruiser online said it’s better to have an extra day just in case of delayed flights. We also had never been to Miami, so we thought it would be nice to get in a bit of exploring. Our first stop of the day was to the Wynwood Walls. I’ve seen this artistic district all over Instagram and had to see it for myself. It’s the best place to get colorful portraits with gorgeous backdrops. Wynwood is known as the arts district of Miami, so even outside the walls, there’s graffiti everywhere. After an afternoon of photo shooting, we walked to The Salty Donut and got some coffee and an amazing glazed donut before heading to our next spot.
Miami Beach was our next venture. I wanted to see all the art deco buildings that make Ocean Drive famous. There were so many people stunting with their fancy cars, and it was just as I imagined it to be. We also walked out to the beach where my sister had never experienced this type of soft sand before. Coming from the rocky beaches of the Pacific Northwest, she was a bit shook that this could exist. We had to get some shots with the iconic colorful lifeguard stations, before heading out to explore more.
The next morning was when we were to board the cruise and we were way too excited that it was hard to sleep. We took an Uber to the port and we finally saw the ship for the first time. The Navigator of the Seas was massive! We breezed through check-in and made our way onto the boat. We couldn’t check into our room for a couple hours, so we wandered around and tried to take it all in. There was a colorful promenade full of shops and eateries. The casino had lots of games to keep anyone entertained for an evening. The pool deck was vibrant and full of treats, hot tubs, and cool water. There was so much to do, we didn’t know where to start.
The boat set sail and we left Miami behind as we set into the tropical waters of the Caribbean. We were getting hungry, but there were so many food choices that we ended up having three dinners and we weren’t even sorry about it. We ate at the El Loco Fresh on the pool deck and enjoyed tacos and nachos, then had a lovely three-course meal experience in the My Time dining room, and we ended the evening with our first ever Filet Mignons at Chops Grille. On other days we would try the buffet at the Windjammer, small treats from Cafe Promenade, and ice cream from the soft serve window by the pool. And of course, we went all out with our deluxe drink package and tried all the tropical drinks as we hit up the different bars onboard.
On the first night, there was a balloon drop at midnight on the promenade, which was super fun (until everyone started popping the falling balloons and my ears couldn’t take it any longer). There were options to watch theatrical performances and ice dancing, but my sister and I opted to try the nightlife on the boat, so we spent our evenings at the two dance clubs. I hadn’t let loose like that in a long time, so it was really fun to just be on the dance floor doing the Cupid Shuffle with our cruise mates and enjoying the fact that at any time we could get back to our room in less than five minutes to crash.
Speaking of our sleeping space, we had a stateroom with a balcony and it was lit. My sister and I shared a queen size bed that had the most comfortable sheets I’ve ever slept on in my life. It made me realize I need to up my thread count at home if I ever want to feel that way again. The balcony was nice to sit on as the sun was going down, and there were lots of big mirrors in the room so we could make sure our outfits and makeup were on point before heading out for the day.
Day two of the cruise was what we had been waiting for. We arrived at CocoCay island for our Perfect Day experience. As we left the ship and headed down the dock, we were already getting blasts of rainbow colors everywhere and Caribbean music being played to welcome us to our day. Near the entrance, a man with a beautiful parrot named Sherman let us have her sit on our arm.
CocoCay is divided into two parts, Thrill Waterpark and Chill Island. If you want to get your adrenaline going, you head into the waterpark. If you just want to relax under the sun, head the other way. We started with the waterpark because we were eager to try their new Daredevil’s Peak slide. It’s the highest slide in North America and it took so long to walk to the top. I needed to take a couple of breaks on the way up, but I was so hyped to get there. Something to note about the waterpark is that it is fat friendly to a certain point. The weight limit for most of the slides is 300lbs, and some of them have scales to make sure this is upheld. It’s unfortunate, but if this ends up being a problem, there is still Chill Island to enjoy at least so the entire day won’t be wasted.
I am not someone who usually enjoys anything that makes my blood pressure rise, but I was jazzed to try some of the crazy slides they have. The Daredevil’s Peak was wild. I screamed the entire way down and ended up with a major wedgie when I finally made it down to the bottom. It went by so quick, but it was so fun. I ended up doing it twice. There were also those slides where you stand on a platform and it goes out from under you, making for a terrifying stomach drop. One of the funnest ones definitely had to be the Slingshot, a zero-gravity slide where you go up at a 90-degree angle in a raft.
There’s also the Up, Up, and Away helium balloon that takes you up to 450 feet so you can get a bird’s eye view of the island. I will admit, I was so scared for this because I don’t do well with heights, but it was incredible to be up there and experience my first balloon ride and see how pretty it looked from up there. The island also has a zip-line, but by the time we had done the other extreme activities, I needed a break from getting my heart rate up so it was time to head to the chill part of the day.
We spend a good amount of time in the water for the rest of the day. The wave pool made me feel like a kid again as a jumped up into the waves as they came my way. We also lounged in the Oasis Lagoon where there was a swim up bar and plenty of space to lay out in the sun. My sister and I both ended up burning because we got too cocky about not using sunscreen, but it was definitely worth it. The food on the island was also amazing. I didn’t know what to expect, but it was tasty and filling and I was in heaven.
Day three led us to the capital of the Bahamas, Nassau. We were so tired from the day before that we slept in a lot before heading out onto the island. We didn’t have much of an agenda so we wandered around a bit, making our way to the Queen’s Staircase, a historical spot in the town. We then walked around the main strip, stopped into a restaurant to try some conch (a local delicacy), and were so hot under the sun that we ended up making it a short day and heading back on the boat to enjoy our final moments with all the amenities we would miss when we were back on dry land.
After this trip, I am officially converted to being all about cruise life, and am so excited to go on another one in the future. Perhaps a lot of it had to do with how positive the entire experience felt. Everyone who worked on the ship was so kind and friendly, the other cruisers all seemed to be in a great mood, and there was always something fun to do to keep you uplifted and joyful. It was definitely a much-needed vacation in my life, and now that I’m peeling from my burn, I am glad I have a nice tan as a souvenir from the journey.
Thank you so much to Royal Caribbean for hosting Fat Girls Guide for this fantastic trip.