Many cruise lines call at private islands -- cruise line-owned or -leased swaths of land, used exclusively by passengers of those lines -- as part of Bahamas and Caribbean itineraries. While most lines only frequent one private island, Royal Caribbean has two -- Labadee and Perfect Day at CocoCay. How can you tell the difference between the islands when you're trying to choose the best cruise itinerary for your vacation? We compare Labadee vs. CocoCay, so you can see which is right for you.
Similarities Between Labadee and CocoCay
CocoCay and Labadee are both leased (rather than owned) by Royal Caribbean from their respective countries, The Bahamas and Haiti. Labadee is equipped with a pier, which means visiting ships can dock right at the island. CocoCay, once a tender port, debuted a pier in 2019 so that more ships would be able to dock.
Both are also big on beachy fun, offering water sports, cabana rentals in designated areas, souvenir markets selling local handicrafts and water parks featuring floating trampolines, slides, seesaws and climbing structures. You'll find bars and all-you-can-eat barbecue buffets. On both islands, you can pay for shore excursions, water sports equipment rentals and alcoholic beverages with your onboard account.
Bars are another area in which the islands compare -- you'll find plenty (at least five apiece) across CocoCay and Labadee. All bars on both islands sell the usual variety of mixed and frozen drinks, as well as beer and allow use of your onboard drinks package.
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Differences Between Labadee and CocoCay
While CocoCay is found in the Bahamas' Berry Islands chain between Freeport and Nassau, Labadee is part of Haiti, located in the Eastern Caribbean. It is also nearly twice the size of CocoCay, featuring five beaches to CocoCay's three (though not all can be used for swimming).
In addition to their geographical differences, the islands also vary in the types of activities they offer. Perfect Day at CocoCay boasts the tallest waterslide in North America, the largest freshwater pool in the Caribbean, a giant wave pool and plenty of other attractions including a helium balloon and a 1,600-foot zipline. Meanwhile, Labadee features an alpine slide and the largest zipline found over water.
Adventure Ocean kids club offers activities for kids on both islands, but while locations vary on Labadee, CocoCay has its own dedicated outpost as well as a splash park for little ones and Captain Jill's Galleon, a pirate ships replica with plenty of water features.
Finally, Labadee's beaches are known for being a bit rockier than those found on CocoCay.
CocoCay or Labadee: Bottom Line
Choose an itinerary that includes Perfect Day at CocoCay if: You can't live without a water park, enjoy getting in the water for snorkeling and other water sports or you prefer dedicated spaces for the kiddos.
Choose an itinerary that includes Labadee if: The Eastern Caribbean is your region of choice or you'd like to make the stunning Dragon's Breath zipline a part of your experience ashore.