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 .....
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.
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.
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 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!
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!
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 ..........
Tour Time : 8:30am
Guests from : Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman, Westin Hotel Grand Cayman, residents
Star Stingray : Snowflake
No Shows : 0
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!
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"!
"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!
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!
"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.
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!
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!
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!
Our last post showcased a video of a glory day in Grand Cayman ..... now you can see a really glum day in the caribbean!
Tour Time : 9:30am
Guests from : MSC Divina Cruise Ship, Marriott Grand Cayman Beach Resort, Coral Stone Club Condominiums
Star Stingray : Lilly (Dwayne's favourite)
No Shows : 0
Talk about 50 shades of grey .... and none of them particular saucy! We woke to grumpy skies and cheeky winds which stirred up the waters and lowered the temps!
Kudos to our awesome guests who turned up despite this - they were determined to have a good time, and we were determined to make that happen. So nice to have "Barbara" the stingray back in circulation again - she went missing for a short while, and were concerned for her - she joined us both at the snorkel site as well as at the sandbar.
The clarity of the water at the snorkel site was good though, and our excursion guests had a good time admiring the coral and tropical fish, and were thrilled at the company of some stingrays. Captain Mario managed to some lovely snorkelling photos for our visitors, and we hope they they keep the memories alive for a long time - come back soon, you hear?!
Tour Time : 9am (standard tour) & 2:30pm (private chartered tour)
Guests from : Caribbean Princess cruise, Westin Hotel, Sunshine Suites, Comfort Suites
Star Stingray : Snowflake
No Shows : 0
Yes! Stunning, stunning, STUNNING conditions in the North Sound today - the kind that take your breath away. Today is about Grand Cayman showing off ...... the island at her most beautiful!
Low winds, the Caribbean sun moderate, the ocean waters so calm and smooth .... these are days of extreme paradise. We get extra excited for our excursion guests when these days come around, and it is hard to believe that just a mere 12 hours ago the North Sound was a seething cauldron of tropical disturbance! We hope you enjoy the short snippet .......
Tour Time : 9:30am (departed 9:35am)
Guests from : Carnival Freedom Cruise, Serenade of the Seas Cruise, Nieuw Amsterdam Cruise, Regency Court Apartments
Star Stingray : Lilly
Tour Time : 9:00am & Private Chartered Tour at 2:30pm
Guests from : Westin Hotel, The Meridian Condos, The Castle in East End
Star Stingray : Lilly & Snowflake
The island is buzzing with excitement - Christmas in Grand Cayman is a Caribbean delight. The sunny, tropical climate often leaves visitors from colder climates a little off balance, but we are sure they are lapping up the warmth whatever attraction they choose to tackle for the day!
We enjoyed two excursions to Stingray City Sandbar, snorkel sites and Starfish Point today - how lucky can we get? The first tour was a standard tour, and the second a private excursion for a wonderful group staying at the Castle in East End.
Snorkelling at Coral Gardens brought Captain Mario's favourite stingray out to play, and play she did! The Caribbean ocean once again provided an underwater beauty spot with fabulous coral, tropical fish and a lovely school of Grunts.
Circling above us was a lone seagull, hoping to grab a take-away lunch - they can be very cheeky at Stingray City Sandbar. When feeding the stingrays at the sandbar, the initial knee-jerk reaction is to pull away and hold the squid up in the air - and that is when the seagulls pounce!! Incredibly quick - before you know it is just your hand waving about above your head, whilst a happy bird disappears into the horizon.
Starfish Point, was, as usual, stunning. Our excursions guests relaxed and pondered the Sea Stars and breathed in the fresh tropical air. 1st Mate Dwayne and a guest enjoyed a touch of American football during the stop - definitely working up the appetite for pizza!
The stingrays were an eager bunch at the Sandbar, ready to share the love (and the squid!). We call squid Stingray Popcorn - they can't stop eating it!
The second tour of the day was a private chartered tour for a lovely group enjoying their holiday at the Castle in East End. Private tours are definitely the best way to visit these attractions, and are surprisingly affordable if you are a group. These excursions are a fantastic way to celebrate a destination wedding or another special occasion!
And of course, to round the day off ....... a splendid Caribbean sunset watched in awe from Starfish Point, before setting off to drop our guests back at the Kaibo Yacht Club. Another gorgeous and memorable day in paradise!
Tour Time : 14:00am (departed 14:40am)
Guests from : Marriott, Westin
Star Stingray : Snowflake
Oh my - how nice to see the sun come out again! The long, nasty cold front that has besieged Grand Cayman in waves for so long now looks to be moving on, and the Caribbean sun is making a comeback!
We are certain that you can identify with days when no matter how well you plan, everything just seems to go wrong! The lethargy of the island doldrums seems to have affected everyone, and the return of the sun appears to have affected all - like a deer staring into headlights .... somewhat stunned.
And so it was that busses did not collect guests on time and the tour started late. Some things are beyond our control, but giving our tour guests the best possible excursion experience despite a less than perfect start is an absolutely a must!
Our guests found the snorkel sight good and enjoyed the company of the stingray called Barbara who seems to come visit us every day now. Visibility was not 100% but good enough for our guests to enjoy. The sandbar gave us the chance to feed some eager stingrays, and our guests got their fair share of kisses (earning 7 years good luck!).
Starfish Point provided an incredible Caribbean vacation backdrop for the photos there - the sunset turning the surroundings into a beautiful dusky pink.
All in all, a great tour with truly wonderful guests - can't wait to do it again tomorrow!
Tour Time : 10:30am & 2:15pm - CANCELLED DUE TO SEVERE CONDITIONS
Guests from : Norwegian Epic, Carnival Magic, Nieuw Amsterdam, Comfort Suites, Marriott, Sunshines Suites, Grand Cayman Beach Suites, The Reef Resort
A rather misleading title for this post ...... more like NON Stingray City tours in Grand Cayman!
Cruise visitors and on-island visitors alike all excited about visiting the beautiful stingrays at Stingray City Sandbar during their visit to Grand Cayman, only to be informed by Captain Mario that after an awful lot of consideration, both tours for today were to be cancelled. We can be happy without sunshine, we can keep our guests protected from rain, but high winds are a cause for concern and create unsafe conditions. Swells and waves are experienced, and it is not optimal to have a 41 foot boat raising up and down by over 6 feet while guests snorkel or cuddle stingrays close by.
It is never an easy decision for the Captain. He is well aware that this may perhaps be the only opportunity they have for this experience, and how very disappointed they will be at a cancellation. But we prefer to put the safety of our excursion guests before "wants" and before financial consideration. There are operators who will go out in these conditions, but we are not one of them.
Let's hope this weather passes soon - it has been one of the longest cold fronts that Captain can remember........
Tour Time : 10:30am (departed 10:40am - a little late due to trying guests who were MIA)
Guests from : Treasure Island Hotel, Lime Tree Bay, Westin, Marriott
Star Stingray : Snowflake
Today's caribbean skies was a constant battle between radiant Caribbean sun and sulky grey clouds. The winds have weakened but we were still feeling a strong breeze and experiencing choppy waters in the North Sound (see below!). This is Grand Cayman's winter weather......
However, a good time was had by our tour guests. Captain Mario reports that one had the most infectious laugh he has ever heard, and that this laugh was owned by a really jolly person - so the excursion was one ripple of laughter of the other. How awesome.
The north side of Starfish Point proved unpleasant, so Captain Mario opted for the North Side of the beach. Every captain has "those" days, and Captain Mario put on a display of first - how not to anchor the boat and then a second - exactly how to anchor the boat - to much teasing from those aboard!
It proved to be absolutely worth it! All enjoyed this little piece of caribbean paradise, ogling the starfish in the awesomely translucent water. One vacation visitor even enjoyed a pedicure by a tiny little crab whilst here!
These are the kind of moments that make each and every one of our shore excursions in Grand Cayman so unique - and we love it!
So if you are planning your next caribbean holiday, we hope you pop on over and give us something exciting to write about!
Tour Time : 9:30am (departed 9:45am due to ships anchoring at Spotts beach)
Guests from : Carnival Freedom, Sunshines Suites Grand Cayman
Star Stingray : Barbara
OH so good to have some tropical sun on our skins which have been rain-soaked over the last few weeks - life is good when the sun is shining!
The tour went well with our guests basking in the sun at one of Grand Cayman's best beaches - Starfish Point. Guests oohed and aaahed at the sea stars, posed for pictures and lost themselves in their Caribbean vacation.
The snorkel site was enjoyed - this day we visited Coral Garden and were joined, once again, by the stingray Barbara. Captain Mario got this sequence of photos of her doing a "flyby"! She later joined the group at the Sandbar and happily snuggled in for all their kisses! Thanks to all our visitors who make each and every excursion awesome!
Yup, we get to know and name most of the stingrays that we meet at the Sandbar in Grand Cayman!
We named her after a bride who held her destination wedding on Grand Cayman, and then chose to have a post-wedding chartered tour for her bridal group to wind down. This stingray was the centre of attention at the sandbar that tour, and was very, very, VERY loving towards the new husband. If you look closely, there is a white spot on her left wing, which looks like a wedding ring! So with all the affection she was showing the groom, and the wedding ring, VOILA! she became Miranda! We had not seen her since that tour, but here she is again - and good to have her back.