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Monday, October 25, 2021

[Day 4] Freedom of the Seas - Perfect Day Coco Cay (Round 2!)

Guest Post by Rachel Shingleton 

Time for another…lovely day, lovely day, lovely day at Coco Cay!

We started off the day by taking advantage of one of our Suite Perks – breakfast at Chops! I’m not much of a breakfast person, but this food was GOOD! Look at those eggs. Definitely not from a carton.


While eating breakfast we observed one of the Covid protocols that had been driving me and Judy crazy. As one would expect, every other table in restaurants and lounges is marked as unavailable for social distancing purposes. The unavailable tables are marked with these highly visible tents –


But the available tables are marked with a piece of paper that lies flat on the table. Naturally, our eyes always gravitated to the more visible table marker – the unavailable tables! Maybe we’re just divas, but we both wished the tables that were “Sanitized and Ready!” would’ve been easier to spot.

After breakfast we went up to Deck 11 to do a little photo tour for the blog. While not the quality that you’re all used to seeing on Victoria on Vacation, I did take a lot of pictures! So many that I’m going to save them for a separate post. Hey, when Rachel’s on Vacation, quantity > quality. Here’s a teaser to hold you over –


We didn’t have any excursions for our second day at Coco Cay, so our plan was to explore the areas of the island that we didn’t get to see on our first stop. We kicked things off at Chill Island –


We had a great view of the Freedom and the Mariner on our walk across the bridge –


There’s lots of shaded hammocks available on Chill Island


We snagged a couple of chairs on the beach and before we even had time to kick off our flip flops, we were greeted by eager bartenders wanting to get us a drink. This was another perk of the low capacity – if you wanted bar service on the beach or by the pool, all you had to do was wave at one of the friendly bartenders and they’d come running. Half the time they noticed your empty drink before you did! Here’s our set up –



Chill Island was the furthest thing from chill. It was SO HOT! There was no breeze, and even sitting in the shade of our umbrella, we could barely finish our strawberry daiquiris before needing to get in the water to cool off. There was a lot of seaweed in the water right in front of us, so we decided to walk/swim down the beach and check out the rest of Chill Island. We quickly found the floating bar –


And then did some creeping on the over-water bungalows




I thought this lifeguard was coming over to tell us to stop being creepers, but he never acknowledged us


We weren’t the only ones sneaking a peak. These guys also were not guests of the bungalows –


The over-water bungalows look awesome, but in my opinion the only way they’re reasonable is if you split the cost with another family or two. I believe for our sailing these never dropped below $999. Another downside is that if you spend that much on a bungalow, you’re probably going to want to spend the whole day there, which means you don’t really get to explore the rest of the island. There is so much to do on Coco Cay, and it’s definitely possible to have a Perfect Day without spending any extra money. For me, the over-water bungalows are probably only something I would consider on an itinerary that includes 2 stops at Coco Cay, and on a trip where I can split that hefty price tag a few ways!

Here’s the daybed setup on Chill Island –


At this point, we’d come up on Coco Beach Club, which is an additional fee area, so we got out of the water and headed over the Snack Shack to grab some cups of water before walking back to our chairs. This is when it happened. As I was waiting for the beverage attendant to fill my water cup, a lady walked past me carrying a plate of mozzarella sticks. BUT WAIT! They looked like actual mozzarella sticks, not cheese croquettes! I immediately slapped Judy on the arm to get her attention and she agreed – those looked to be authentic mozzarella sticks. So, I did what any blogger would do –




For reference, these are the “mozzarella sticks” from Day 2 –


While the cheese croquettes came from the Snack Shack located at Thrill Waterpark and the mozzarella sticks came from the Snack Shack located behind the Oasis Lagoon Pool, I don’t think that was the reason for the difference. We’d heard from several bartenders and servers that they were dealing with lots of supply shortages, from cocktail cherries to ginger beer. I’d imagine that’s probably the answer to our Mozzarella Mystery, but I guess we’ll never know for sure.

There’s a nice beach games area located right by the Oasis Snack Shack location featuring volleyball, cornhole, ping pong, and life-size pool. You can’t really tell in the picture, but the guy in the bright green shirt is spraying down the cue balls with sanitizer. He did this after every game.


After our mozzarella stick snack, we decided to grab our stuff and move over to Harbor Beach.


This was my favorite spot on Coco Cay. It had such a great breeze and the calm water was so relaxing. Look how peaceful!


We swam here for a bit before heading back to Snack Shack for lunch, where we both ordered the Shack Crispy Chicken Sandwich. Now, I already had some thoughts on the naming of this sandwich, but today confirmed it. The menu features a Shack Crispy Chicken sandwich, which has lettuce, pickles, basil aioli, and a brioche bun, and then there’s also the Crispy Chicken sandwich, which is just chicken on a plain bun. Did you catch the difference there? Literally just the word Shack. Not only is it hard to say, it’s also hard to hear. Mom received the Shack Crispy Chicken Sandwich as ordered, but I was given the plain sandwich. No problem – easy swap! But could be easily prevented by making the names a little more different. Maybe even just adding the word deluxe – Shack Deluxe Crispy Chicken Sandwich! Anyway, I digress.

Both Judy and I agreed that the chicken sandwiches were not as good today. I wish I’d taken pictures for comparison, but we noticed that they were on plain hamburger buns instead of brioche buns, and they just weren’t quite as crispy. However, the Greek Salad slapped -


I will definitely order this again in the future. You can also add chicken if you want to make it a meal instead of a side!

After lunch, we made our way over to the Oasis Lagoon Pool. You probably remember from my Day 2 post that it’s the largest fresh-water pool in the Caribbean.


We decided to hangout near the in-water loungers and order a drink from the bartenders rather than going to the swim-up bar. As one would probably guess, a pool with a swim-up bar is a PARTY POOL! We loved people-watching here both days, but today Judy mentioned that despite being such a large pool, the bar was located pretty much right in the middle, which meant the party-people expanded into most areas of the pool. Mom said she would not have been comfortable bringing me and Victoria to the Oasis Lagoon Pool when we were kids, and she would have been frustrated as a parent that it is the only complimentary fresh-water swimming option. (SIDENOTE – we later walked past the kid’s splash pad, and Mom said this counted as a kid-friendly fresh-water option.) We think the intention was to have the zero-depth entry side be the “family side,” but there’s really not much of a divide, it’s a straight shot to the bar. The more secluded area is on the other side of the bridge, but it features surrounding in-water loungers rather than a true shallow end. It’s also worth noting that there were very few children on our sailing, and both time of year and Covid protocols likely contributed to that. The bartenders and the DJs seemed to be playing to the crowd, which for us, was all adults. During the summer it’s probably more kid-friendly!

DRINK HACK – if you want a frozen drink on Coco Cay, get it from the Oasis Lagoon swim-up bar! They have much better equipment there and the frozen drinks were always perfectly blended compared to the chunky strawberry daiquiris we had at Chill Island.

After the pool, we headed over to Captain Jack’s to see our bartender friends. We planned to sit in these chairs and enjoy the view of Harbor Beach –


But this poor guy was performing to an empty venue, and pretty much begged us to come sit up front and be serenaded.


We were hoping to use our Crown & Anchor 50% off beer/wine/soda coupon, but unfortunately those can only be redeemed on the ship.

How cute are these swings at the bar?!


It was another….


Do you guys think she had fun??


We headed up to Deck 11 for our Sailaway ritual – drinks in the hot tub!


Bye-bye Mariner of the Seas!


Our plan for dinner was to take advantage of another one of our Suite Perks – complimentary room service from the Main Dining room! You can order this by phone, but we opted to head up to the Suite Lounge for cocktails and place our order with the Suite Concierge. She had us write down our order and request a delivery time, and she took care of everything!


I was kind of worried about the temperature of the food with everything being delivered all at once, but everything was perfect! I even took a risk and ordered a medium-rare steak - how could they possibly manage that when it was going to be covered for at least 10 minutes enroute from the kitchen?! I’d say they nailed it!


This is the Suite Perk that really spoiled us, but I’m eager to try and recreate it on our next cruise! There are lots of options for to-go food aside from the Suite-perk main dining room service. You could order from the standard room service menu, grab a plate from the Windjammer or Sorrentos, or order to-go from Playmakers or Izumi Sushi. We loved dining next to the sound of the waves and within the privacy of our own balcony – stay tuned to see if we can scrounge up a balcony dinner this Christmas!

We rounded out our trip with one last stop by Playmakers to say good-bye to our favorite guys!


We had a truly fantastic trip, and I’m grateful I got to experience a reduced-capacity cruise. There were definitely some aspects that spoiled me (looking at you, cheap Suite Upgrade, abundance of pool chairs, and zero lines), but there are also things that I hope will return to normal soon. I plan to wrap things up with a little Wish I Did/Wish I Didn’t/Final Thoughts post – if Victoria will let me, that is. I really managed to drag this out, didn’t I?! Thank you all for joining in on the fun, and I look forward to sharing another sailing with you all very soon - wink wink! 😉

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