Day 2 - Coco Cay
|Sunday, July 25, 2021: We were up early to watch our arrival at Royal Caribbean's private island, Coco Cay. We had visited here on our very first cruise in 1997 and we were looking forward to having two days here this time.
|The island had undergone major renovations since the last time we were here in 2005.
|While we waited for the mooring process to be completed, we went to Giovanni's Table on deck 11, which was reserved for suite guests for breakfast.
|We were one of the first guests to arrive this morning and had a very nice window seat.
|Debbie had an omelet with ham, mushrooms, cheese, and bell peppers, with a hash brown and hot tomato for sides. Tom had the full breakfast, which was scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage links, hash brown, and tomato.
|After breakfast, we went up on deck to try to recreate a photo of Debbie from our 2005 visit. It wasn't quite right, so we tried again later.
|Right at 8:00 AM they announced that we could go ashore, so we gathered all of our stuff and headed to the gangway on deck 1. The elevator reminded us that it was indeed Sunday.
|Somehow, we were the first off the ship. It helps to be prepared.
|There were trams waiting to drive us to the various spots on the island, but we decided to walk. The last time two times we were here, we had to tender ashore, so it was a nice treat to be able to walk it ourselves.
|The pier is very wide and festively decorated. They have awnings stretched over it at intervals to provide some shade.
|The Junkanoo Dancers were patiently waiting and started dancing as we approached to welcome us when we got to the end of the pier. A live band in a shelter nearby played the Royal Caribbean's "Perfect Day" song, which was the first time of many that we heard it that day.
|There was a sand castle just to the left of Captain Jill's Galleon that wished us a "perfect day at Coco Cay."
|The harbor beach area looked very inviting. This is where the tenders used to come in before the pier was built.
|It was very nice to see that they had lots of wheelchairs and strollers with big, beach-appropriate wheels available.
|The straw market on the island was just starting to open but for the third visit in a row, we didn't shop there. Maybe someday.
|Royal Caribbean has a great marketing team. Everything we saw and heard used the phrase "perfect day." It is very well done.
|There were lifejackets available for those that wanted them, especially the little ones.
|Chill Grill offered beverages, ...
|... and plenty of seating in the shade. This is where our lunch came from when we ordered it later on.
|There was a bar in an Airstream trailer at the tram stop, ...
|... which was near the Wave Hut shore excursion desk, ...
|... on Chill Beach, where we had ...
|... a private cabana reserved for today.
|Twenty minutes after the announcement to go ashore, we were in our private cabana being photographed by the cabana hostess. Let's take a look around, shall we?
|There were four blue lounge chairs: two on the sand in front of the cabana and two on the cabana deck. The round blue thing between the chairs is a cooler filled with ice and water bottles. There were two pink chairs behind the lounge chairs, along with a low table with storage and a couch.
|On the couch were beach towels, a drink menu, and a food menu. The cabana attendent, Clyde, would come by at regular intervals to see if we needed anything from Wacky Seagull Jr., the bar at this end of the island.
|The low table at the back of the cabana had a bluetooth speaker for our use, and featured storage on both ends, one end of which was lockable. The lockable area was very spacious and easily fit all of our belongings. On the pillar behind the pink chair was a switch for the ceiling fan and a US-style outlet to power any charging gear that we brought.
|This will be an excellent place to spend the day!
|But first, let's do some snorkeling in the bay.
|At the southernmost end of the bay, nearest the cabanas, there was lots of turtle grass, but few fish.
|On our last trip here, there were several artificial "wrecks" in the bay, including this one. However, with the renovations on the island, the plane we snorkeled around last time is now outside of the swimming area.
|After about 10 minutes, we made it to one of the floating platforms and decided to check it out. It was a rare treat to have it all to ourselves.
|The lifeguards on duty changed every 30 minutes, with a new one arriving on a jetski to the northernmost platform, and then that lifeguard getting on their jetski and moving to the next platform to the south, and so on.
|After our brief rest, we got back in and saw this round-ish concrete structure on the ocean floor with a sergeant major swimming around it.
|A few minutes later we saw this sergeant major. The blue color indicates that this is a male in mating season. Good luck, buddy.
|We were starting to see more diversity, including this scrawled filefish and a few long-spined urchins.
|Jackpot! We were lucky enough to see a southern stingray skimming the bottom of the sea nearby and followed him a short distance. We had hoped to be able to revisit the area where we had originally seen a group of spotted eagle rays on each of our previous trips here, but that is also now outside of the swimming area.
|It's always nice to see a bluehead wrasse. They look like someone held them by the tail and dipped them in black, then white, then black, and then blue. So pretty.
|A long-limbed debicus sporting her new full-body rash guard.
|The female of the species has red trim around her facial coverings, while the male has blue trim.
|Here's another sergeant major.
|Debbie's sharp eyes spotted this Caribbean spiny lobster hiding under a rock. He was very shy about having his picture taken.
|Here's Tom with a yellowtail snapper.
|These guys were absolutely unafraid of us and at one point we thought they had adopted us. They seemed to follow us around for the rest of the snorkel.
|Here's a French angelfish on the far left and and a juvenile angelfish transitioning to an adult on the far right.
|This photogenic pair are banded butterflyfish.
|Here's a school of barjacks.
|Among the rocks, we save several very large schools of very tiny silvery fish.
|These baby sergeant majors were tiny and adorable.
|Here's another one. So cute.
|This is a baby blue tang who didn't want us to get a decently centered photo.
|Winning the award for the most syllables for the smallest fish: beaugregory damselfish.
|These needlenose swim right under the surface and are incredibly hard to photograph.
|We think this handsome guy is a cormorant.
|At the northernmost end of the beach were the beds that we initially thought about reserving. The cabana was a more expensive but much better choice.
|This barracuda was steathy and kept his eye on us as we floated by.
|This cutie is a spotfin butterflyfish.
|We caught this blue tang turning from juvenile to adult. It still has a little of its yellow coloring.
|More adult blue tangs.
|This was the only purple fan coral that we saw.
|This aluminum pylon was filled with concrete and covered with mollusks and barnacles.
|This was one of the largest school of fish that we've ever seen. The school followed the contour of the rock all the way around the corner. So cool to see.
|Here's a Nassau grouper. It's grouper, babe. It's grouper.
|After about 45 minutes of snorkeling, we returned to our cabana for some well-earned, ice-cold Diet Cokes.
|We placed our lunch order of burgers, fries, and a hot dog, and Clyde brought them to us from the Chill Grill.
|This guy, who Tom named "Dave," tried unsuccessfully to join us for lunch several times. He summoned several helper birds (all named "Not-Dave") to try to distract us, but he was still not successful. Sorry Dave.
|One other nice thing about renting a cabana was that we had our own private section of the lagoon. Only cabana guests were allowed in the section of the beach and water directly in front of the cabanas.
|After lunch, it was time to float in the ocean on the floats that came with the cabana.
|Oh, yeah, it was very relaxing.
|After about an hour of floating, and back in our cabana, we ordered a Goombay Smash (Malibu rum, Kraken run, orange juice, and pineapple juice) and a Castaway (vodka, pineapple juice, Monin guava syrup, and grenadine) to cool us off.
|Forty-five minutes later, it was time for dessert: funnel cake and brownies.
|Dave tried to help us with those as well and was vocal when he was ignored. It's not your day, Dave.
|At 2:30 PM, after 6 1/2 glorious hours, we decided that it was time to return to the ship to shower and cool off.
|It took about ten minutes to pack up all of our gear and walk to the tram station at our end of the island.
|A few minutes later, we were aboard the tram headed back to the pier.
|We passed the helium balloon ride (Up, Up and Away), ...
|... and the island dormatories for the staff, ...
|... and were soon walking back along the pier to the ship.
|Back in our room, we were showered and all of our gear was rinsed off and hanging up to dry for use the next day.
|Tom went online to make appointments for our free onboard COVID-19 tests, which was required for all guests on Day Five. We would need negative test results to enter the United States when we returned.
|We watched a rain shower hit NCL's private island next door on Great Stirrup Cay, but it was still sunny and beautiful at Coco Cay. Our amazing weather luck was in full force all week.
|Shortly after 5:00 PM, Coco Cay was completely devoid of passengers.
|We decided to try complimentary evening drinks and hors d'oeuvres at the Suite Lounge, which ran from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM.
|We placed orders for two beers and waited, ...
|... and waited, ...
|... until they finally arrived just before we had to leave for dinner, so we brought them downstairs to the dining room with us.
|On the beach during the day, we noticed that it seemed like very few people were on the island. We asked our waiter Simone how many people were on board and she said it was around 1,200 guests. That's about 30% of the designed capacity of 3,800 passengers.
|For dinner, Debbie ordered the salmon tartare while Tom had French onion soup, something he has to order at least once per cruise.
|That was followed by garlic tiger shrimp (Debbie) and the herb-crusted salmon (Tom), ...
|... and finally the tres leches cake (Debbie) and the apple blossom à la mode (Tom). Debbie declared the tres leches cake to be one of the most delicious desserts she has ever consumed.
|After dinner, we tried again, more successfully this time, to recreate the photo of Debbie at Coco Cay from 2005, which was an unsuccessful attempt to duplicate a photo of Debbie from 1997.
|We took one more picture of our cabana from today, the fourth one from the right in the front row.
|The rain storm over NCL's island had ended, bringing sun back to that island as well.
|We had noticed these cruise ships in the distance earlier in the day. We looked up the local area in a marine traffic mobile app and noticed that there was a cruise ship anchorage just west of Coco Cay.
|There are four here all parked together. We're not sure which ones these are.
|This tapestry, "Ultima Thule" (furthest north), is by Norwegian artist Gjertrud Hals. Many of the artworks in the stairwells that we had seen so far in this part of the ship were some sort of textile, which was really cool.
|Goodnight, Coco Cay, we'll see you again tomorrow.
Copyright © Deborah Schilling/Thomas Bundy