Royal Caribbean International’s private island destination, Perfect Day at CocoCay, did not live up to its name on Tuesday, February 6, 2024 as high winds buffeted the pier and caused two ships to recall passengers early.
While one ship departed early, the other has remained alongside the pier, fighting near gale-force winds that make it impossible to maneuver safely away from the dock.
Not-So-Perfect-Day at CocoCay
While the sun was shining for much of the day at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s private island in the Bahamas, incoming high winds cut short the visit of two vessels on Tuesday, February 6.
Both Freedom of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas were visiting the island, but as a poor weather system moved into the area, strong winds forced guests to be recalled and the island to be shut down.
The call to return to their respective ships reached guests at about 1 p.m. in the afternoon, requesting that everyone reboard their vessels before the pier had to be closed for safety concerns. At the same time, the ships’ gangways were closed so no one could leave the ships onto the island.
Online videos show large crowds of guests returning to their ships, while lifeguards and crew members in rain gear provided a guideline to encourage guests to move along and make sure no one was too close to the pier’s edge. In the background, waves can be seen crashing against the island and, at times, spilling across the pier.
A short time later, additional videos showed much more aggressive waves crashing over the pier itself, with some of the colorful awnings coming loose in the fierce winds. At that time, no guests or crew members were on the pier.
No injuries have been reported, nor have either Freedom of the Seas or Oasis of the Seas suffered any reported damage during the foul weather.
Departing the Island
Freedom of the Seas was the smaller of the two vessels at 156,271 gross tons while Oasis of the Seas is 226,838 gross tons. Oasis of the Seas was docked on the pier’s west side, taking the full brunt of the winds and partially sheltering Freedom of the Seas.
This allowed Freedom of the Seas to more easily move away from the pier and depart CocoCay. Oasis of the Seas, however, remained docked but not moored – against the pier but without lines tethering her to the structure. Unfortunately, the near gale-force winds from the north-northwest have held the ship against the pier and her thrusters have not been sufficient to maneuver her safely away from the dock.
As Oasis of the Seas remains at CocoCay, wind speeds are reported at 25 knots (29 miles per hour / 46 kilometers per hour), with gusts significantly higher. It is unknown how long the ship may remain at the island, but conditions are undoubtedly being continually monitored and the ship will depart as soon as it is safe to do so.
Oasis of the Seas is currently sailing a 7-night Western Caribbean Perfect Day itinerary that departed Miami, Florida on Sunday, February 5. The ship also has visits scheduled for Nassau, Labadee, and Jamaica, but continued poor weather may impact the itinerary further before the ship returns to Miami on February 11.
Freedom of the Seas, meanwhile, is on a 4-night Bahamas sailing with visits to CocoCay and Nassau on her itinerary. She also set sail on Sunday, and is due to return to Miami on Friday, February 9.
No ships are scheduled to visit CocoCay on Wednesday, February 7, and the strong winds are expected to die down by Thursday, February 8, when Liberty of the Seas and Allure of the Seas are planned to dock at the private island.
Strong Winds Impacting Multiple Cruise Lines
The strong winds moving through the Caribbean are impacting different ships in different locations. Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Magic, for example, inadvertently impacted the pier in Ocho Rios, Jamaica due to swells and strong winds, while Carnival Sunshine had to cancel her planned visit to Princess Cays and Carnival Venezia had to cancel a stop at Half Moon Cay.
Also recently, a sudden storm in the Gulf of Mexico impacted Royal Caribbean International’s Voyager of the Seas, flooding some public areas and guest staterooms. The damage could not be fully corrected by the next sailing, leading to compensation offers for affected guests.
Winter weather can be unpredictable in the Caribbean, and any guests setting sail during the winter months should be prepared for unexpected bad storms, itinerary changes, and other impacts to their vacation plans. All cruise lines keep guests’ safety and comfort as their foremost considerations, however, and do everything possible to provide amazing vacations.