Published: October 11th 2011October 7th 2011
Grand Cayman is another port where you have to tender from the ship and take a smaller boat to shore, but it’s not nearly as far of a trip as the 5 miles in Belize.
We’d looked into a few excursions, but decided on booking through the ship. Jason wanted to snorkel, and we knew the thing to do was go to the Stingray City Sandbar too. I think our excursion was called “Coral Gardens and Stingray City Sandbar” through Carnival. We’d considered booking with Stingray Sailing independently, but it’s a good thing we didn’t! Our power catamaran (“Emerald Eyes”) had a roof which was very appreciated when the storm came – the sailed catamarans don’t have that luxury!
The crew was knowledgeable and entertaining. With the help of “fluffy” the stuffed stingray toy, we were given a briefing on how to handle the stingrays in the water and where to best touch them. Interestingly, their whole tail isn’t a “sting”! The barb only goes to about halfway and sits above the tail. It’s a defensive mechanism only. It turns out the freak accident the crocodile hunter experienced was because he was looming over a sleeping
stingray that was startled and arched it’s back because Steve Irwin was approaching like their predator (Hammerhead Sharks) would.
Our experience with the stingrays was very good. They come swimming in when they hear the boats because its in that area that fishermen have cleaned their fish for years. (It’s just inside the barrier reef where the water calms). The rays would bump up against you and come over like puppy dogs. I’ve never seen anything like this before!
We got to hold them and take pictures. The guides knew many of them by names, including “Frisbee” who lost her tail/barb to a shark attack some time ago. They showed us another female that was pregnant and explained that they birth 2-5 young who are on their own from birth. Very neat!
From the sandbar (which was no more than waist deep), we headed to the coral gardens for snorkeling. A storm was rolling in, and lightening was in the distance, but we were assured it was safe. I don’t know if it’s because of the dark clouds or choppy water, but I wasn’t very impressed with the snorkeling here like I’ve seen in
other places (St. Thomas for example). I wasn’t in the water too long as I was concerned with the rain and waves picking up. Eventually it was a downpour, but within 30 minutes, it was beautiful weather as we sailed back to the port.
Had a great time!
There are more photos below