grand cayman

Excursions, Captains Log

26 March 2015 - Good news, bad news in Grand Cayman

This year is shooting by, and nothing illustrates it more to us than checking on when we last posted news to our blog!

Another way of looking at the world 

Another way of looking at the world 

We seem to have gotten over the horribly moody weather experienced since November / December last year (and all the way to the first half of this month!), although having said that, we are warily eyeing some conditions towards the end of this coming week. But it has been exciting for our crew to have our island visitors enjoy some calm conditions and stunning Caribbean colours!

The last four weeks have been very busy for the island, with an enormous pressure to try and accommodate guests wanting to visit the stingrays and do some amazing snorkelling at the reef. Of all the times for Captain Mario to get sick, this was not the best! He landed up in hospital having an operation to drain a cyst in his hand, and was most definitely not a happy chappy. Even his little girl pushing buttons and moving his bed in 16 different directions did't get the full smile going. He was released early this morning and was down at the cruise terminal by 8:00am back in full swing and ready to go! Thank you to the doctors and nurses at the George Town Hospital who were responsible for his amazing treatment!

Ready for business - even in hospital! The Acquarius sign by Captain Mario's bed .....

Ready for business - even in hospital! The Acquarius sign by Captain Mario's bed .....

There was great excitement when one of snorkel guests found a new Moray Eel during a visit to the coral reef. The other two, Elvis and Physcho (aka Brutus & Beverly), are well known to us, but a new younger one has now joined the crowd! As soon as Captain Mario found this out, like a flash he was in the water and got a gorgeous photo of her!

And here "she" is ... the new younger Moray Eel found at the Reef - Captain Mario put her at approximately 4 feet and possibly 2 years of age - ain't she a beaut? The crew have not yet named her.

And here "she" is ... the new younger Moray Eel found at the Reef - Captain Mario put her at approximately 4 feet and possibly 2 years of age - ain't she a beaut? The crew have not yet named her.

More fun and delightful news was hearing back from a couple that had sailed with us in December. The lady had suffered severe motion sickness, but Captain Mario told her he suspected that it was more than just that ..... so it was awesome when they contacted us to say he had been right, she had made it safely through the her first trimester of pregnancy and they are expecting a boy! Wonder if they will call it Mario??

We also had a very special tour with the Purkey family. Their family first toured with us a couple of years back, and it was devastating to hear that shortly after they returned from holiday, their oldest son tragically passed away. We went out in search of a stingray to be his name sake, and it took us quite a while to get a "feeling" for the right one. But upon discussing the characteristics with the family, we knew we had found right stingray, and it was named "Trinton". The family made a return cruise, but oh how cruel was it that the day they anchored in Grand Cayman, the weather was beyond safe and we could not take them out to see him. That day left a whole in our hearts. So it was with mixed feelings that we accepted another booking from them for a week back, hoping like crazy that the weather would be kind, that Trinton would turn up for a visit, and that we could all share a very special moment. We won't go into it too much, but let's say that the crew were more than touched to see Trinton come visit and say hi to the family. We would not have traded that moment for anything in the world. We will look after him for you Purkey family!

Taken too soon but always remembered - Trinton Purkey

Taken too soon but always remembered - Trinton Purkey

On a less happy note, it is with great sadness that Captain Mario still reports bad treatment of our beautiful stingrays by some operators. He witnessed one picking up a stingray right out of the water and holding it over the heads of some guests for a photo - this is something we find appalling. Captain Mario was in the process of upping anchor and leaving the sandbar so was able neither to chastise the operator, nor even take a photo as proof, but it breaks our hearts that this kind of abuse continues. It is simply so wrong. He also reported finding a dead starfish at Starfish Point .... yes, anything could have caused this, but too many times we witness operators and visitors taking the starfish right out of the water! We always stress the importance of respecting our beautiful creatures to all our visitors, and we wish all operators did the same. Let's hope we can continue to educate everyone and change their attitudes and actions.

Stingray and anchor at the Sandbar in Grand Cayman

Stingray and anchor at the Sandbar in Grand Cayman

Captain Mario has reported some pretty amazing snorkelling moments of late, not least the finding of the new comer eel! Excitement has also been generated by the the large Barracudas that have been spotted, one over 5 feet! Our excursions guests have enjoyed seeing a congregation of Bermuda Chub (Captain Mario estimates there must have been over 100 of them!), a congregation of Stoplight Parrot Fish - pretty awesome and a huge Spotted Trunk fish enjoying body polish at a "cleaning station". But his favourite moment of all was spotting a Tiger Grouper - oh, he did not stop babbling about the sighting for a while!

We have included some of the photos from the last few beautiful tours, and we hope that you enjoy them. Come visit soon!

Captains Log, Stingrays

11 March 2015 - WELCOME BACK OLD FRIEND!!!!

Welcome back old friend ...... "Ray Charles" gets hugged at the sandbar in Grand Cayman

Welcome back old friend ...... "Ray Charles" gets hugged at the sandbar in Grand Cayman

They say real friends are the ones that you don't see for a long time, and then when you do, it's like there was never any time apart ...... you just pick up and carry on from where you left off.

And so it was with this beauty known as "Ray Charles". She has not been frequenting the sandbar for a very, very long time - it has been a couple of years since we last loved her up. She has very beautiful dark colouring, very close to that of Dark Vader. But where Dark Vader is frisky and youthful, Ray Charles is presumed to about 30 years old and is a lot calmer and way more stately.

Sadly, she is blind in one eye and has a huge cataract in the other, and there had been some concern about her (some had reported seeing her at the Deep Stingray City although we could never be sure). So what a delight it was to have her showing up yesterday afternoon for our private charter guests - she was amazingly affectionate, and our island visitors had a tough time leaving her behind.

We can't wait to see  her again, and she has no idea how heart warming it was for the crew to see her again. We will be catching up on kisses Ray Charles!

Excursions, private tours

9 March 2015 - From bad to better

Tour Time : 9:30am and 2:15pm

Guests from : Plantana Condos, Ritz Carlton, Discovery Point Club, Westin Hotel

Star Stingray : Frosty

Our morning excursion welcomed a wonderful group of guests who were more than willing to take on the wind and swells - they were just awesome, especially the kids! Winds reached top speeds of about 17MPH at around 10am and then slowly reduced during the rest of the day until they were around 6MPH at 9pm last night ..... not the time we go out on tour! The skies were somewhat overcast, but the sunny smiles from our visits just brightened everything up! 

The sandbar was shallow this day, although the water was quite choppy!

The sandbar was shallow this day, although the water was quite choppy!

Plenty of great snorkelling was enjoyed by our groups, and as always, the cherry on the top for the private tour in the afternoon, was watching the sunset as we made our way back to the Cayman Islands Yacht Club. Amazing how the sunset always has the power to make everyone silent and ponderous (even the kiddies) ..... penny for their thoughts anyone?

 Grand Cayman attractions

Excursions, Captains Log

2015 IS MARCHING ON ......

Today is the 9th of March .... this year is marching on way too fast for our liking. Time, please go slower ....... we have been experiencing some truly pretty conditions lately, and the photos below will amply illustrate this ...... we hope you enjoy!

Stingrays

STINGRAY SANDSTORM

During a snorkel stop on one of our recent tours, Captain Mario was fortunate enough to capture one of the stingrays going under cover ..... below is the sequence and the end result. I think they look like they are dressing up like ghosts for halloween when they do this, and it never fails to raise a chuckle from me - I find myself waiting for them to say Boo!

Going, going, gone ..... mostly

Going, going, gone ..... mostly

Stingrays do this for three possible reasons - resting, eating or hiding. At the sandbar, we often see one or two of them buried in the sand, and presume that this means they have had enough handling and want a break from the visitors. We respect this and leave them alone.

Stingrays are opportunistic eaters, meaning that they lie in wait for their next happy meal to come on by. Obviously, their food recognises them, and the stingrays create these sandstorms to cover themselves until the unsuspecting victim happens by. Shrimp, squid and other sand dwelling molluscs form a part of their diet, and the ray's mouth is perfectly situated at the underside of the body in order to suck up these tasty morsels - and quite a suck they have too!

Below is a video that the awesome Michael Maes has on his YouTube channel which shows some of the sandbar stingrays eating Lionfish heads, and it is quite clear how they suck up the food.

 

The last reason the stingrays may be doing this is to hide from predators. In the North Sound in Grand Cayman, they do not have to deal with a lot of predators, but a Hammerhead shark has been seen recently, and this shark is one of the stingray's worst enemies. The barbs are not removed from our stingrays, so they retain their natural defines system, which is only fair. Hope we host you soon!

things to do

SOAP BUBBLES AND SEVEN MILE BEACH

 Cayman Islands - Quick Facts

It is shameful to say that getting into a rut can happen anywhere, even on a stunning caribbean island. When one is constantly bombarded via news sites about atrocities occurring world wide, day in, day out, it is almost a responsibility and a duty to break the routine and make sure you get out there and enjoy the awesome life that we have. Our lives may not be perfect, we may not be 100% satisfied with what we have achieved, and we may unfairly and self-degradingly be buying into not being as "good as the next guy", but so many of us have the luxury of living without the threat of constant hunger, without constant threat to our lives and property, and instead have the luxury of living in a mostly civilised and democratic society, where we can watch awesome beauty and watch our children play, grow and develop in the middle of it all. We can still have dreams. 

And so, our little family "bust out" and broke the routine by spending a couple of hours before sunset floating in the Caribbean seas along Seven Mile Beach this past Saturday. And in this little window of time, we spied so many pieces of life going on, so much beauty, and just marvelled at it all.

Governor's beach looked quite crowded, so we opted to drive a little further down West Bay Road. There is a little path that runs down alongside Plantana Condominiums and provides public access to the beach. Children can also remind us of the fun contained in the simplest of tasks, and so, we enjoyed counting the stepping stones all the way to the coral sands with our little girl showing off her brand new counting skills. Once on the beach, it was straight into the gorgeous waters to splash around and people watch, with the first bout of giggles and laughter being brought on by a puppy gone wild in the sand (much to the delight of a watching toddler): 

 

Not more than a few metres from this delightful sight, was a gentleman putting on a display of the biggest soap bubbles we have ever seen! Complete with bucket and two fishing rods (and apparently a recipe off the internet), he was producing enormous soap bubbles which had kids and adults alike watching in awe. We immediately decided that we are going to have to master this trick so that we can become heroes to our little girl - will let you know if we get it right!

 

An awesome life was on the go all around us. Vacationers were spread out on beach beds, melting away their stress reading books or sipping cocktails. Island residents were keeping fit by either jogging, walking and swimming. The more adventurous were paddle boarding,  and some even practicing their yoga postures on boards! And all of this while watching the progress of a stunning sunset ......

When it was time to make our way home, it was with hearts full of thanks for living the lives that we have, with a little less weariness from the day of work, and a greater awe for nature. Don't forget to enjoy each moment of luck in your lives .......

 Cayman Islands - Quick Facts

Captains Log, Excursions, Stingrays

3 March 2015 - Catch up!

It has been some time since we posted news - we can't believe that the year has already hit the 3rd month! We also cannot believe how much wind we are still experiencing and since we last spoke, there have been days of triumphant tours interspersed by days of cancelled excursions (and the accompanying disappointment and grey moods)!

 Things to do on Grand Cayman

 

Cancelled tours means that we, as a family, have some time to spend together and be social - a rare and precious gift during high season, and we have greatly enjoyed the Cay Dance Festival as well as the Red Sky at Night Festival. Cayman Brac celebrated their Agricultural fair the weekend just past, and on Friday 27th, a superb fund raising evening was held at the cruise terminal to raise money to rehabilitate the enormous area of coral destroyed by the Carnival Magic's anchor. Some $27,000.00 dollars was raised during the evening, and the island has today been excited to hear that Carnival has donated $100,000.00 towards the recovery efforts which have so far been carried out by volunteers and local dive companies for free. If you would like to follow more news on the recovery efforts, the Facebook page is Cayman Magic Reef Recovery.

Monday saw Captain Mario standing on the stingray sandbar with the water reaching just up to his calves - a sure sign of turbulent weather to come. We were proven correct, with yesterday's tour being a tough one with choppy weather. The cruise ships arrived late, and this factor on top of high swells mean that we had miss Starfish Point - always disappointing for our guests. But they were awesome and soldiered on and got their fair share of kisses from the willing "girls" at Stingray City.

But we have been constantly delighted to see "Barbara" at the snorkel sites when we have managed to get out there, and she is always wearing her Mona Lisa smile. We hope that she has brought wonderful memories to our island visitors, and hope to share her with many more! 

 Things to do on Grand Cayman

things to do

QUAKERS NEST!

Captain Mario is a great lover of the sea and it's inhabitants, and assimilates facts about aquatic species like his lungs assimilate oxygen. However, he also has another great love ...... birds!

Over the past weekend when weather made tours impossible, the opportunity to have a drive around the island was greatly enjoyed, and he was delighted to spot some Quaker Parrots on a power line down South Sound. He had not seen any around the island for quite some time, so was doubly delighted by the show they put on ..... one by one they joined others on the power line. As each new Quaker joined the group, the others would side step down the line in unison until their was enough space ..... very sweet to watch.

Quaker Parrots

Quaker Parrots

Yesterday, after a very happy excursion, he went off the a camera shop in South Sound to get some advice on taking photos. Upon arrival there, he heard them again, followed the sound and VOILA - found their nest. 

Also known as Monk Parakeets, these little birds originate from South America, and are believed to have been brought to Grand Cayman as pets. Over the years, some of these have been released and they have now formed breeding groups, establishing breeding colonies mostly on the South-West side of the island. 

They breed in groups of pairs in large shared nests - the girls and boys cannot be told apart. The nests are large and consist of a series of "apartment" - each pair having a "bedroom" and "lounge" area. These birds are vegetarian and will make a meal out of any seed and vegetation.

So it was an awesome start to the week for the Captain - stingrays and Quaker Parrots - what more could he ask for?

things to do, For children

Bel Air Gardens - Whistling Ducks & Iguanas Galore!

 Things to do on Grand Cayman

When you and the kids need a break from sun and the beach, hidden away down South Sound is Bel Air Drive, where you will find a small public park called Bel Air Gardens Family Park.

Here you will find endangered West Indian Whistling Ducks, fresh water turtles and a LOT of green iguanas - we usually splurge out on a couple of loaves of bread to feed them all. Other visitors also bring along a variety of leafy vegetables which are greatly enjoyed by the inhabitants.

This is the only duck to breed on the island. Sadly their numbers were hugely depleted due to loss of habitation and over-hunting, and they are now a protected species. Breeding groups of these beautiful ducks are now only found on a few of the caribbean islands. 

The ones here are quite familiar with their human visitors, and the turtles, ducks and iguanas all jostle for front position when the snacks are being handed out.

Great fun for little and big visitors alike - come on over and enjoy a rare bird!


things to do, For children

21 February 2015 - WINGED SUNSET FROM DART FAMILY PARK

Very occasionally, we get the chance to go out and enjoy an island outing. We are so lucky to living on the beautiful island of Grand Cayman, however, like anywhere in the world, work can sometimes get in the way of enjoying what we have around us.

Grand Cayman Attractions

Tours had been cancelled for today, and our little family was lucky to have some time all together - Mandy managed to finish her work by around 11am, so a bit of fun was planned. It was a truly lovely day with our little caribbean island glowing in the sun shine and we ended our day at the Dart Family Park along South Sound.

Grand Cayman Attractions

This is situated right next door to the National Trust for the Cayman Islands off South Church Street. This little gem offers something for everyone - jungle gyms for the kids with a selection of monkey bars and slides, walks, picnic areas with seating and tables, and a gorgeous view of the caribbean ocean. Incoming flights carrying visitors to our island usually make their way right over this little park as they come in to land, and today we managed a lovely photo of one of them doing this at sunset.

A flight comes in to land on Grand Cayman at sunset

A flight comes in to land on Grand Cayman at sunset

It is always exciting to wonder if we are going to be the lucky operators who will get to take them for a visit to the Stingray Sandbar ........ here's hoping!

22 February 2015 - Sighs all round

 Best snorkel sites in Grand Cayman

Clearly, as can be seen in the photo above, even the stingrays were smiling to see things getting a little back to normal after the last few days.........

Tour Time : 8:30am

Guests from : Disney Wonder Cruise, Marriott Beach Resort Grand Cayman, Sunshine Suites Hotel, residents

Star Stingray : Snowflake

No Shows : 0

Enough already! We have been forced to cancel tours since Thursday, so it was with a sigh of relief that we managed to get out again today. We have had to console so many disappointed island visitors who were looking forward to meeting the stingrays .......

Barbara, the stingray favoured by Captain Mario, was all of the guests. Captain Mario said that at one point she seemed even to be hugging his head she was so happy to see him! Below are some photos of the stingrays who came to visit us at the snorkelling site at Coral Gardens.

Captain Mario also reported great jollity from all the other operators who were also just SO happy to be out again, and of course, the guests who had been worried they miss this awesome adventure completely were quite giddy with excitement. Very good spirits all round .....

Daughter hides behind mom, mom is bravely handling the situation......waah! Surprise when Snowflake picks up her nose for a kiss, mom ALMOST loses it. Then mom re-assesses the situation, steadies herself and BAM she goes in for the kiss! Awesome!


Captains Log, Excursions, private tours, fish

20 February and the week gone by ..... up and down like a toilet seat!

The crew spirit has gone through extremes this week .... one day absolutely elated at the conditions and dizzy with excitement at sharing it with our guests, the next day grey, grey moods to match the skies! We have had awesome sun-filled days accompanied by breezes as slow as 2 knots, only to be bullied into cancelling tours the next day by tropical squalls and howlers of up to 25 knots! Bleh!!

Thankfully, we did manage to keep our dates with a private charter on the 15th, as well as standard tours on the 17th and 18th. The cruise ships were happy to come in and off load their visitors at the beginning of the week, but kept their anchors tucked away and avoided our little island like the plague on the 19th and the 20th. Who knows what tomorrow will hold?

But as we said above, the good days were gooooooood and the bad days were very, very bad. Here, we share some of the good stuff!

The 15th saw us hosting a family for a private excursion. They had chosen to Starfish Point, Rum Point, Stingray City and Booby Cay as the attractions they wanted to visit. It was a beautiful day for these choices, with brilliant colours and skies dotted with clouds. The water was slightly choppy but beautifully clear. The tour was a full 5 hours (it never seems long enough!) and the crew truly enjoyed hosting this fun group very much.

The sandbar in Grand Cayman

The sandbar in Grand Cayman

Monday saw the boat receiving some scheduled maintenance - it was a nice day and if we could have postponed this to another day we would have. However, Tuesday and Wednesday still saw incredibly beautiful days and it was a pleasure to show Grand Cayman off to her visitors. Brilliant sunsets have been the cherry on the top for our excursions this week, and the blues, purples and golds of these moments left everyone pretty much in awe of Mother Nature, once again.

Sunset from  Starfish Point  in Grand Cayman

Sunset from Starfish Point in Grand Cayman

Wednesday was especially interesting and pretty. The morning excursions faced showers at Starfish Point and half way through the stop at Stingray City, but otherwise enjoyed sun. However, while the island was completely flooded with buckets of rain, it was a tough task to convince island visitors that the North Sound was not experiencing the same conditions and that the afternoon trip was going to be stunning. Some trusted us and came, some did not ...... and what a shame they didn't!

The Reef in Grand Cayman - what conditions!

The Reef in Grand Cayman - what conditions!

The above photo of the Reef shows you what we saw ...... mirror-like surfaces and brilliant displays of colours by the coral formations. The fish were also incredibly social and we were visited by young stingrays, Bermuda Chubs, Trumpet Fish, Needlefish, Parrot Fish, Butterfly Fish and so many more! Captain Mario had gone in search of the Moray Eel, and had found her tucked away under a piece of boat wreck - usually a sign that she wants to be left alone which he respected. However, just a few minutes later, she was playing hide and seek - popping out and going back in, and then made her way over to her "social den" where she stays when feeling sociable. Much to the delight of everyone, hide and seek was resumed and she entertained all those watching by peek-a-booing and then swimming out and back in to her hide-hole a number of times. What an experience!

The moray eel plays hide and seek at the reef in Grand Cayman - popping out, going back in ......

The moray eel plays hide and seek at the reef in Grand Cayman - popping out, going back in ......

 Best snorkeling in Grand Cayman

During our tour, we had bypassed Stingray City Sandbar in order to avoid the crowd - a lot of boats were there! Eventually, we knew we had to move in .... and luckily the majority of the others moved out .... perfect timing by Captain Mario again! The water at the sandbar was only 2 feet deep and crystal clear. Stingray whisperer 1st Mate Dwayne set off to go and find one of his "girls", and came back to the group whispering sweet nothings to Snowflake who wilted in everybody's arms - she was so relaxed and laid back and just took in all the love whilst handing out kisses to whoever wanted them! 

Dwayne flirts and plays with one his "girl" - stingray Snowflake - at the sandbar in Grand Cayman

Dwayne flirts and plays with one his "girl" - stingray Snowflake - at the sandbar in Grand Cayman

As we said at the beginning, the good was gooooooood and the bad was very bad. Let's hope we get some more of the good stuff in the next coming week ..........


Captains Log, Excursions

12 February 2015 - Speechless in Grand Cayman

Tour Time : 9:30am (standard tour) & 2:15pm (chartered private excursion)

Guests from : Carnival Dream cruise, Carnival Triumph cruise, NCL Epic cruise and resident

Star Stingray : Dark Vader

No Shows : 0

There are times when words generally fail to do justice to an experience. Times when you just have to keep the mouth shut, and let the photos do the talking. We think the photos from today's tour speak for themselves. Enjoy.

A great group photo of some visitors snorkelling  Coral Gardens

A great group photo of some visitors snorkelling Coral Gardens

A huge Barracuda joins us for the snorkelling

A huge Barracuda joins us for the snorkelling

LOVE the poses that some of our guests come up with!

LOVE the poses that some of our guests come up with!

Starfish Point was spectacular and the tour guests were mesmerised by the Sea Stars

Starfish Point was spectacular and the tour guests were mesmerised by the Sea Stars

"Big John" at anchor at  Stingray City  yesterday ...... mind boggling beauty

"Big John" at anchor at Stingray City yesterday ...... mind boggling beauty

Fragile beauty at the Reef in Grand Cayman

Fragile beauty at the Reef in Grand Cayman

The Moray Eel comes out to play for a second day in a row -  the Reef  in Grand Cayman

The Moray Eel comes out to play for a second day in a row - the Reef in Grand Cayman

Captain Mario  calls this "Mandy's heart"

Captain Mario calls this "Mandy's heart"

A symphony of blues - Parrot Fish, Blue Tangs, coral and Caribbean Ocean - Grand Cayman

A symphony of blues - Parrot Fish, Blue Tangs, coral and Caribbean Ocean - Grand Cayman

Lazy days and stingrays ...... the sandbar in Grand Cayman

Lazy days and stingrays ...... the sandbar in Grand Cayman

A stunning farewell to another day in paradise ..... 

A stunning farewell to another day in paradise ..... 

Captains Log

11 February 2015 - Like a rough diamond....

As we suspected yesterday, cruise ships were diverted to Spotts again today. Everyone took a deep breath and gave the day their best shot! Weather conditions all rough on the surface, but really quite a delightful tour to be had .....

Tour Time : 9:30am & 2:15pm

Guests from : Carnival Breeze cruise, Brilliance of the Seas, The Sea Breeze condominiums, Grand Cayman Beach Suite and Comfort Suites

Star Stingray : New comer

No Shows : 0 Whoopee!

Our guest enjoys the company of a stingray during the snorkelling stop

Our guest enjoys the company of a stingray during the snorkelling stop

The morning snorkel stop was just fantastic, with so much life happening all around us. Barbara the stingray, and two of her buddies, joined us for this section and played beautifully with our guests (the above photos show how close they come to say hi!). A large Parrot Fish also joined in the fun, and some of the other tropical fish which delighted us with their presence were the Mutton Snapper, the Spotted Trunk Fish, the Grunts. Spanish Hog Fish, Sergeant Majors, Queen Angelfish and the Blue Tangs - just a rainbow of aquatic colours!

Snorkelling in Grand Cayman - huge Parrot Fish, Blue Tang and Queen Angel Fish

Snorkelling in Grand Cayman - huge Parrot Fish, Blue Tang and Queen Angel Fish

The wind was blowing, making the waters choppy, but the colours were brilliant blue and green, a product of the glorious caribbean sun that was shining down on activities.

The glorious result of the caribbean sun shining down on the North Sound in Grand Cayman

The glorious result of the caribbean sun shining down on the North Sound in Grand Cayman

Much like yesterday's morning tour, Starfish Point had to be missed because of time constrictions due the cruise ships being in Spotts. However, this beach was very much enjoyed by our visitors on the afternoon excursion, and they were treated to a stunning amber and pink sunset on the way back to dock.

A Grand Cayman sunset

A Grand Cayman sunset

We always have to say a big thank you to our wonderful guests for choosing us for their tour. We would not be here without you all. Today we invited returning guests who were visiting us for the 4th time, and we cannot be more honoured or happy! 

Excursions, Captains Log

10 February 2015 - Spott the problem!

Tour Time : 10:30am - turned into 11am - read why below!

Guests from : Carnival Victory Cruise, Costa Luminosa Cruise, Residents

Star Stingray : Snowflake

No Shows : 6 - Independence of the Seas sailed into the horizon without stopping

(1) Our dock  (2) Royal Watler Cruise Terminal  (3) Spotts

(1) Our dock  (2) Royal Watler Cruise Terminal  (3) Spotts

Days like today are tough. Certain weather conditions mean that the cruise ships anchor out at Spotts - and chaos takes over!

The above map shows you the logistics when this happens. # 2 is where we normally collect our cruise guests from the Royal Watler Terminal downtown George Town. The coastal stretch from # 2 to # 1 is the route we cover to collect guests from hotels and/or condos on route to "Big John" berthed at the Cayman Islands Yacht Club. # 3 is Spotts, where, on days like today, the cruise ships set anchor. Hoo boy .... fun and games!

To start off, the ships would usually have set anchor later than scheduled. Next problem is that  the collection at Spotts adds at least 20 minutes travel time, one way. Added to that, the public buses that help transport guests from George Town are restricted from running this side of the island - so the hunt begins for reliable transport. The cherry on the top? There is no WIFI at Spotts which means that the instant communication that we tour operators rely on to stay available to their guests is now not so instant. You can imagine the knock-on effect this has for all the tour operators on island! They all look pretty haggard by the end of the day .......

But our crew is a robust and tough one, and there is not much that can prevent them from having a good time on excursion with visitors. They appreciate the fact that their guests have come a long way, and have probably been saving for a long time, for this experience. Starfish Point had to be missed due to the ensuing time constrictions, however, Stingray City with Snowflake the stingray was a huge success, and the snorkelling at Coral Gardens greatly enjoyed. Best spot of the day (excuse the pun)? A large Barracuda lazily drifting through our snorkelling crowd ...... 

We have a niggling suspicion that tomorrow will offer a repeat of today, but can only hope not. Either way, we look forward to meeting our guests and giving the best experience we can!

A very large Barracuda lazily swims through our snorkel crowd at the Coral Garden in Grand Cayman

A very large Barracuda lazily swims through our snorkel crowd at the Coral Garden in Grand Cayman

Captains Log, Starfish Point, Stingray City

9 February 2015 - The calm between the storms!

Tour Time : 8:30am

Guests from : Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman, Westin Hotel Grand Cayman, residents

Star Stingray : Snowflake

No Shows : 0

Caribbean beauty stuns the mind

Caribbean beauty stuns the mind

NOT happy about having to cancel tours on the past Saturday and Sunday (lousy weather) .... leaves a bad taste in the mouth and disappointed guests. We were holding our breath for Monday morning as the prediction was for a few hours of gorgeous weather, and some guests had very kindly agreed to move their booking to this date on our advice. Tense times indeed!

Approaching the Reef in Grand Cayman for snorkelling

Approaching the Reef in Grand Cayman for snorkelling

But oh my were our guests rewarded! We set off from the Cayman Islands Yacht Club in completely still waters, and made our way across the emerald caribbean waters towards the Reef for our snorkel stop. Everyone was mesmerised by the incredible clarity of the water - you could make out each blade of turtle grass, and see the burnt amber starfish that whizzed past under the bow. The closer we got to the reef, the bluer the water ...... spectacular colours all round! The ocean was so inviting our guests were in the water before you could say "mask"!

 

A Blue Runner joins us snorkelling the Reef in Grand Cayman

A Blue Runner joins us snorkelling the Reef in Grand Cayman

"Refreshing" is the best way to describe the water - cooler than normal due to the recent winds and rain, but so easy to adjust to, especially when looking around at the beauty under the surface. Everyone shot off in different directions, all eager to ogle the tropical fish and splendid coral formations. Waiting to welcome us were Trumpet Fish, giant Parrot Fish, Blue Tangs, Blue Runners, Snappers, and stingrays ... and someone special!

Trumpet fish found along the Reef during the snorkel stop

Trumpet fish found along the Reef during the snorkel stop

Captain Mario joined the group in the water and headed off to find a friend of his ..... which he did! There is a Moray Eel who lives along the Reef, and the captain is quite adept at locating her. He found her home for the day and promised to bring everyone to see her a little later on ..... it was time to move on to Starfish Point first, and if we had time, we could return to visit. The weather was already showing signs of turning, with the wind picking up a little from the South West, and Captain Mario's priority was to make the best of the excursion before it really took hold!

Incredible cloud formations on the way to Starfish Point

Incredible cloud formations on the way to Starfish Point

"Big John" arrived at Starfish Point to find it deserted except for one couple standing in the waters, in awe of the surrounding nature. The ombre shades of blues and greens of the water lapping this idyllic beach were breath taking. Our 1st Mate Dwayne went off in search of Starfish while Captain Mario chatted to our guests about the beach and the gorgeous little creatures after which the beach is named.

Caribbean blue up in the skies at  Starfish Point

Caribbean blue up in the skies at Starfish Point

Juvenile Starfish making tracks

Juvenile Starfish making tracks

Our tour then continued onto Stingray City Sandbar, world famous for it's stingrays. All aboard were buzzing with excitement about meeting the "ladies", and questions were being fired at the crew about how to hold and kiss the stingrays. They were firing the answers back as quick as they could!

Stingray City Grand Cayman - the sandbar - and one of the stars

Stingray City Grand Cayman - the sandbar - and one of the stars

Even though the wind was slowly but surely picking up again, and the waters very moderately choppy, we had timed this visit perfectly - as we arrived, everyone else bar one boat melted into the horizon and we were left the centre of the stingrays' attention. Bliss! In minutes, the love was all around our guests, and Dwayne was once again captivated by his beloved Snowflake. Giggles, squeaks, ooooh's and aaaah's filled the air - the girls were especially affectionate today and plenty of kisses were handed out. Captain Mario was right in the thick of things trying to capture it all, taking photos of the action (which are provided free to our guests). It was sad to leave the ladies, but everyone had voted to go back to see the eel and it was time to do this.

So off we tootled back to the Reef to return to the promised spot! Most of the guests couldn't wait to get back into the water to meet her (although some were a little more cautious and preferred to stay onboard). Captain Mario did not disappoint! He managed to anchor just a few metres from the coral where the eel was regally awaiting her audience. Oh she was in such a social mood today! She put on a brilliant display of Cayman hospitality and repeatedly came all the way out of her hole to  let her visitors get some great pictures and footage!

The Moray Eel at Grand Cayman's Reef - ain't she a beauty?

The Moray Eel at Grand Cayman's Reef - ain't she a beauty?

All in all, an incredible excursion today, and we hope that our guests had a good time that will be remembered forever.

We hope you enjoyed reading all about, and genuinely hope to be able to host you one day as well!

Excursions, sunset

05 February 2015 - WARDEN'S HERE SO BEHAVE!

Yup. Chief Warden of a US prison on board with us today, so crew behaviour was exemplary - well, when he wasn't looking! 

Tour Time : 9:30am (standard tour) & 2:15pm (private tour)

Guests from : NCL Epic cruise ship, Navigator of the Seas Cruises and resident

Star Stingray : Snowflake

No Shows : 7 - OUCH!!

Today started off with a bang - 7 cruise ships in port today which mean it was madness downtown! Captain Mario found all of our guests except for one booking of 7 guests - it hurts us big time when we have this many no-shows!

But what a beautiful morning - the caribbean sun was gorgeous, the wind low and fresh, and very few clouds in the sky. You can see from the photo below that oceans were reflecting magnificent blues!

Looking directly at the Reef in Grand Cayman - North Sound

Looking directly at the Reef in Grand Cayman - North Sound

Captain Mario got quite poetic about the morning tour, and said there were so many sea stars spread out across the sands that it was like seeing the stars during daytime! He does not often get poetic, so it must have been pretty awesome!

Rasta was reported cavorting around at Starfish Point again, but his two other buddies were nowhere to be seen. Dwayne the 1st Mate stumbled upon a Sea Hare (or Sea Slug) which was a lovely and unusual find - they feed on mostly green algae and are hermaphrodites (can be boys or girls as the mood suits).

Sea Hare or Sea Slug

Sea Hare or Sea Slug

A favourite stop on our tours - view from Starfish Point in Grand Cayman

A favourite stop on our tours - view from Starfish Point in Grand Cayman

The snorkelling today was beautiful with clear waters, sparkling waters. Our excursions guests found some conch shells and we cleaned them up for them to take home as souvenirs. We were also joined by an inquisitive little Parrot Fish - they are normally very timid, so we felt well spoilt!

Snorkel guests and conch shells - Grand Cayman

Snorkel guests and conch shells - Grand Cayman

Parrot Fish

Parrot Fish

It really was an awesome tour, and it primed the crew for the afternoon trip which was a chartered excursion. The horizons got a little more cloudy than we would have liked, but this provided some beautiful lighting for photos at Stingray City - gorgeous tints of pink and grey while we were at the sandbar. A great day all round, and we hope that our visitors had a fantastic time and have left only with good memories.

Kissing stingrays at sunset in Grand Cayman

Kissing stingrays at sunset in Grand Cayman

Captains Log, Excursions, Stingray City

4 February 2015 - BRIGHT BUT CHOPPY

Tour Time : 9:30am

Guests from : Celebrity Equinox cruise, Serenade of the Seas cruise, Disney Magic cruise

Star Stingray : Stumpy

No Shows : 8 (oh boy, that hurts!)

Nosy little Needle Nose at Stingray City in Grand Cayman

Nosy little Needle Nose at Stingray City in Grand Cayman

It's not only stingrays that you get to meet at the Sandbar in Grand Cayman, there are other cute little critters who dart through this area as well. Above is the Needle Nose - very pretty fish who reflect the silver blue of the caribbean ocean so very beautifully - faster than light these little guys! We often see conch, are sometimes spoilt with a King Helmut, and Blue Runners are seen darting about between the people. Don't forget the sea gulls who hover above trying to steal the squid from your hands!

Today was somewhat choppy but oh so wonderfully bright and cheerful. Our guests took on the tour with gusto and we had an amazing time with them. The waters were back to the beautiful blue and the clarity of it was truly awesome. 

We are expecting some idyllic conditions tomorrow, so can't wait to share photos (Captain Mario - take lots!), but the weather is not looking too happy for Saturday and Sunday - ugh! Well, you never know ..... it can change in hours!

Hope you all have a beautiful day and come visit us soon!

Cradling "Stumpy" as  Stingray City  in Grand Cayman

Cradling "Stumpy" as Stingray City in Grand Cayman