Royal Caribbean just announced plans to build the world’s first carbon neutral private island destination – and the first cruise private island of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.
Vanuatu, the stunning archipelago in the South Pacific teeming with deserted beaches, colourful coral reefs, bubbling volcanoes and vibrant culture – will soon house the world’s first carbon neutral cruise destination, and the next instalment of Royal Caribbean’s ‘Perfect Day’ private island collection.
Making the announcement, Vanuatu’s Prime Minister Charlot Salwai and Royal Caribbean International’s President and CEO Michael Bayley were a united front, emphasising a partnership with the community to showcase the island’s breathtaking natural beauty and distinct culture.
A perfect day
The first of its kind in the South Pacific (and the Southern Hemisphere), Perfect Day at Lelepa is a break away from the flood of cruise private islands in the Caribbean and Bahamas, and a clearly different offering to the cruise line’s first island in the collection, Perfect Day at CocoCay.
Opened to guests in May, Perfect Day at CocoCay in the Bahamas was imagined for the North American guest, which meant a lot of really big things: the tallest waterslide in North America (135 feet), the largest freshwater pool in the continent, a 1600-foot-long zipline course, and the list goes on.
Lelepa, on the other hand, will be designed with Australians in mind. This means tapping into the island’s already-breathtaking natural beauty, with experiences like hiking through lush rainforest, exploring hidden caves and underwater wonders, and immersing yourself in Vanuatu’s unique culture and traditions, on the agenda.
“Our guests around the world all have different definitions for their perfect day — and all of them are right,” explains Bayley. “Our designers and nature have created the ideal South Pacific experience and we expect the results will be stunning.”
He goes on to add that “anyone who has encountered the tremendous natural beauty of Lelepa can understand why it is the perfect setting for ‘Perfect Day.’ Our guests who travel to the South Pacific are seeking authentic adventures and genuine relaxation, and they will find both here.”
Vanuatu Prime Minister Salwai agreed, commenting: “Vanuatu is a true paradise for both our people and the visitors we welcome to our shores each year. Today marks a major step forward in our island nation’s close relationship with Royal Caribbean and one that will support sustainable growth for future generations.”
The next evolution in eco-friendly cruising
Sustainability and safeguarding the island’s diverse ecosystem will play an important role in Lelepa’s design and construction, with Australian firm Cox Architecture serving as the lead architects and extensive consultations with the Vanuatu community planned.
“We believe our destinations should be sustainably designed,” explains Bayley. “That idea goes beyond simply protecting the ecological features of Lelepa and includes showing respect for the people and traditions that make this a special place.”
If development opportunities for the community are modelled on CocoCay and Royals’s other private island, Labadee in Haiti, then we could see locals employed to help manage the destination and opportunities for vendors to sell their handicrafts to guests.
Hardly the first sustainability initiative for Royal Caribbean, a carbon neutral private island is simply the next evolution in their environmental development. Other serious efforts to reduce waste, emissions and energy usage, are all still underway.
What a Perfect Day at Lelepa will look like is still unknown. And while both Salwai and Bayley hinted at a 2022 opening, this is likely just the first step on what will be a long journey ahead. Stay tuned!
Visit Perfect Day at Lelepa for more information. Interested in cruising, but not sure it’s right for you? Check out these 27 things a first time cruiser should know.