Royal Caribbean owns their own island in the Bahamas that they call Coco Cay. And they have a water park their, a hot air balloon ride, eateries, and sundry other activities. They call the overall experience “Perfect Day at Coco Cay.”
First of all, they’re pronouncing the second word of the place incorrectly and basically paying the people who live in the region and work there selling their handmade goods to “sell” themselves out by also pronouncing it “kay,” instead of “key,” (like in “Key West,” just with a different spelling). Because, well, let’s face it “Perfect Day in Coco [Key]” just doesn’t have as catchy a ring to it, now, does it?
My college best friend, Lynne, and I just got back from a 6-night train wreck, er, um, I mean, cruise on Royal Caribbean, last weekend. To say that there were lots of issues would be an understatement. I was in line at Guest Services nine times in the first thirty hours – and I slept for about eight of those hours, if that tells you anything about the experience. Our first stop was at Coco Cay, and we had paid for the hot air balloon excursion, which we knew would not go up if there was excessive wind. We’re not idiots; we understand safety protocols. What we don’t understand is why Shore Excursions couldn’t notify us ahead of arriving at the island – because we know that they had all the instruments needed to tell that the winds were going to be such that no hot air balloons were going up – and to try to help us find a different excursion for the afternoon. Instead, they never even notified us that the hot air balloon wasn’t going up. We hung out on the beach all morning, excited for our 2:30 hot air balloon ride. While we were playing in the water after lunch, we happened to mention to a wife and husband from Ohio that we were excited for our excursion that afternoon. They told us that their shuttle driver told them on the way in that morning from the ship that the hot air balloons would not be operational that day because of the winds. Talk about a downer! Now, if the shuttle drivers could hand out this information, how difficult would it have been for the actual people responsible for the excursions to break the news and try to save our day by booking us with some other activity? Instead, we went from a sub-par lunch of burnt hot dogs from the Snack Shack and sea gulls in attack mode trying to take our food from us on the beach, back to the ship, absolutely gutted that two of our three excursions for the trip had been canceled (our excursion for Labadee had been canceled before we ever even reached the ship, which was one of the things I had been in the Guest Services line about in those first 30 hours).
Before dinner that evening, I heard a woman in line talking about “Perfect Day at Coco Cay,” and more specifically the six times that she had cruised there since they had added the water park, etc. “I’ve never seen it up in the air!” she told her dining party, referring to the hot air balloon. “The winds are always too high, or the weather is too bad, or there’s a malfunction with the craft. It’s always something with that damned hot air balloon! I feel sorry for people who don’t know that and book it, actually expecting to get to do something fun while they’re on the island!”
So, I’ve learned a valuable lesson. If I ever go on another Royal Caribbean cruise – which is a huge if at this point, since I came home still fighting with them over money that they were supposed to refund to my credit card and thus far, a week later, still have not – and the cruise happens to include Coco Cay, I will not book the hot air balloon ride. In fact, I feel like it is my mission in life now to spread the news delivered in dinner line that night by the woman who has been there six times and has never seen it operational. I hate to see anyone else’s hopes dashed like ours were. I hate to see anyone else spend a rather imperfect day in Coco Cay.