Could Royal Caribbean be in the very early phases of developing a new private island experience in The Bahamas?
Royal Caribbean has a private island in The Bahamas, Perfect Day at CocoCay, but is a second destination something the line would pursue?
A Bahamas newspaper reported a team from Royal Caribbean was sent to Rum Cay to look into the island as a potential new destination for cruise ships.
When questioned about it, Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley confirmed the report.
"Our perspective us that you can never have enough great product. We are constantly looking for any opportunity where we can create a customer experience that we think the customers will love. We were approached about a potential opportunity, and sent a team to look at that opportunity."
While it sounds exciting that this may be the first step in a new endeavor, Mr. Bayley was quick to temper expectations, as the cruise line looks at new places all the time, but it's not necessarily an indication of anything more than a passing glance.
"We send teams around the world constantly looking for opportunities. I wouldn’t read too much into it.'"
We were approached, looked and it’s a great space. It was a look and evaluation. We have to look at things. Everything comes with pros and cons."
Mr. Bayley did not say if there are any plans to go beyond an initial scouting mission at Rum Cay, nor did he talk about any kind of negotiations starting.
Royal Caribbean's interest in another Bahamian private destination should come as no surprise considering how popular Perfect Day at CocoCay has been since opening.
Not only has CocoCay ranked favorably among cruise ship passengers, but it has been a revenue generating machine for the cruise line.
Mr. Bayley talked about how popular the island has been with passengers, "CocoCay is the number one destination that Royal Caribbean goes to in the world out of 100 global destinations, because it’s a curated experience designed and built to deliver a high-level experience to the customer."
"At the end of the day that’s all that matters."
In February 2023, Royal Caribbean Group talked about demand for Perfect Day itineraries.
“The demand for that product [Perfect Day at CocoCay] is exceptionally high. The demand not only is there from a volume perspective, but the rate is there and that rate has been going up again in a very healthy way," said Mr. Bayley.
Royal Caribbean Group estimates around 2.5 to 3 million guests will visit Perfect Day at CocoCay in 2023.
It’s no secret that prices for these add-ons have gone up since the restart of the cruising industry in 2021, but Bayley explained how “we’ve seen a great demand and a lot of resilience as the prices go up. So it’s a hit and it’s very successful.”
Rum Cay measures 30 square miles and is approximately 283 miles southeast of New Providence.
It's sparsely populated and is mainly flat, but has a few rolling hills rising to about 120 feet.
The report claims Royal Caribbean looked at a 375-450 parcel in the island’s north-west corner right by the sea that was recently appraised.
It is understood the site is part of a larger 1,000-acre tract that had previously been caught-up in the multiple land disputes that have afflicted the island, but it is thought all title issues and legal battles have now been resolved.
Prior to the cruise industry shutdown in 2020, Royal Caribbean said it intended to build a portfolio of Perfect Day destinations around the world to follow up on first iteration at CocoCay.
Back in 2019, the line said it would open five "Perfect Day" private islands over the next five years.
One such destination is Perfect Day at Lelepa, which is located in the South Pacific.
Update on Freeport
Royal Caribbean's other plans to build a new port in Freeport, Bahamas may also be still happening.
According to The Tribune, Mr. Bayley was "increasingly optimistic" that its Freeport port project will finally happen.
"That’s still going through its process."
"I would say we are increasingly optimistic about the timing of that. In the coming months hopefully we will be in a position to make some positive announcement on Freeport."
"Our intent is to bring more capacity into Freeport. The first step, which will be in conjunction with others, is investing in improving the port."
The exact plans have likely changed for Freeport, but Mr. Bayley said development of a water-based adventure theme park for passengers in close proximity to the port area was still the plan.