stingrays

Captains Log, snorkel, Stingray City

Grand Cayman at it's best!

Incredible Brain Coral along Grand Cayman's barrier reef

Incredible Brain Coral along Grand Cayman's barrier reef

Incredible clarity of water at Stingray City

Incredible clarity of water at Stingray City

Even the skies and trees put on extra sparkle for us - Starfish Point in Grand Cayman

Even the skies and trees put on extra sparkle for us - Starfish Point in Grand Cayman

Stingray City in Grand Cayman - smooth horizons and salty kisses

Stingray City in Grand Cayman - smooth horizons and salty kisses

The girls swarm to say hi to us at the Sandbar in Grand Cayman

The girls swarm to say hi to us at the Sandbar in Grand Cayman

Remember to tell your special ones that you love them today.

Some days are just extra special. Like yesterday.

It has been an emotional few days watching Hurricane Matthew tear it's way through the Caribbean. Many of us well remember the devastation brought about by Hurricane Ivan, and as happy as we are that our island has been spared, our hearts sag with concern for those who were not as lucky. Our prayers and thoughts go to all trying to now recover.

And so, yesterday's tour was doubly appreciated. Mother nature showed off her far more beautiful and benevolent side to us - astounding Caribbean blues, still clear waters and magical sea creatures. Sometimes, words fail us, so let the images do the talking. Enjoy.

Welcoming committee - Grand Cayman snorkel

Welcoming committee - Grand Cayman snorkel

Quietly stunning - coral swaying to the tune of the tides in Grand Cayman

Quietly stunning - coral swaying to the tune of the tides in Grand Cayman

Blessed and beautiful calm at the Barrier Reef - Grand Cayman

Blessed and beautiful calm at the Barrier Reef - Grand Cayman

Captains Log

RICHARD BRANSON & THE NON ATTACK AT STINGRAY CITY

It did not take long for Mr Richard Branson's somewhat flippant remarks about being "attacked" at Stingray City in Grand Cayman to cause ripples of panic among those wishing to visit this world famous spot. 

Reputable local operators are shaking their heads at this "news" article. This negative publicity will now only cause a wave of fear from prospective guests at a time when weather conditions over the last 6-8 weeks have forced an unprecedented number of cancelled tours, causing tremendous financial losses to an industry which is supposed to be at it's highest point for the year. But to start educating the public at large all over again about the gentle nature of these awesome stingrays is a re-hash of the times experienced after the unfortunate death of Steve Irwin some years ago.

Our very own Captain Mario decided to have his say, and here it is.

"Our information is that Richard Branson went out with Guy Harvey who is not a professional tour operator to the Stingray City Sandbar. Knowing that he carries out research on the stingrays, it can be assumed that their relationship with the stingrays is not a positive one based on respect, love and reward.

I have witnessed Guy Harvey's research team bait the stingrays in order to capture one with a net, wrestle it out of the water (which causes immense stress), drag it into a portable kiddies pool on-board and then cut a chunk of meat out of the wing. I would not enjoy this kind of handling, would you? This leads to a frantic "feed without being caught" scenario which is not necessarily a safe one.

Swimming in a kiddies pool

Swimming in a kiddies pool

Post research chunk missing from one of the stingrays at the sandbar

Post research chunk missing from one of the stingrays at the sandbar

The Southern Stingray (Dasyatis Americana) are a peaceful and non-confrontational animal. The local reputable professional tour operator will have known them for years, will recognize them and know them by name. Some of the girls are Frisby aka Barbara, Scar Face, Dark Vader, Droopy, Lilly, Snow Flake - and many more - each has it's own personality and characteristic. The good operators treat them with the love and respect they so deserve, and will also ensure that their guests do the same. We will report injuries or suspected illnesses to the Department of Environment and will come to their defence if we observe anyone treating them badly."

We urge visitors not to fall prey to what is a somewhat tongue in cheek account of being "attacked". We do urge visitors to choose a reputable tour operator who will guide you to having an incredible experience with these awesome creatures. We promise that they will change your life forever, in a good way.

And we promise you that you will never look at Mr Branson again without realising that he really is simply human, can perhaps rush to sensationalism, but most of all, is possibly not as clever as you are and should have chosen a better guide like you did!

What makes us happy ... a snuggling stingray and a smiling guest who will never forget this moment

What makes us happy ... a snuggling stingray and a smiling guest who will never forget this moment


Excursions, sunset, Stingrays

SMOKY STINGRAYS IN GRAND CAYMAN

Our last two posts have described the effects of tropical downpours on the sandbar and surrounding waters of the North Sound in Grand Cayman.

We always say that there is never an ugly day in the Caribbean - even storms provide the most magnificent skies to behold. Not nice for island visitors for sure, but beautiful nonetheless.

It is always our pleasure to take photos of our tours and shares these with our guests free of charge, and the snorkel sites, Starfish Point and stingrays provide awesome subjects. 

Yesterday we hosted a standard tour in the morning, welcoming guests from the Carnival Victory and the Marriott Resort and other condos, whilst the afternoon was reserved for a private chartered tour. It was a brilliant day all round, even if the sun was somewhat shy.

The photos of the stingrays came out with unusual colours and smoky effects. We loved them, wanted to share them with you, and hope that you like them as much as we do. Happy day to all!

A stormy sunset ..... quite spectacular .... Cayman Islands Yacht Club

A stormy sunset ..... quite spectacular .... Cayman Islands Yacht Club

 Grand Cayman attractions
 Grand Cayman attractions

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!

Captains Log

10 March 2015 - Catching stingrays!

Stunning ombre effects - photo taken at sunset at the Stingray City Sandbar

Stunning ombre effects - photo taken at sunset at the Stingray City Sandbar

Tour Time : 10:30

Guests from : Carnival Victory cruise, Independence of the Seas, Ritz Carlton

Star Stingray : Droopy

Oh what a great group visiting the island today! Really great fun, and all gung-ho ready for some adventure and caribbean excitement! Captain Mario had two really good giggles today and wanted to share them with you. 

One lady guest was somewhat unsure whether she wanted to hold a stingray or not. There was no fear on her part, rather a lack of deciding for herself if she condoned this type of interaction with them. This is completely understandable and we love that the public are starting to become discerning about the treatment of wild animals. Well, after some discussion with Mario, the situation suddenly solved itself with one of the stingrays literally swimming straight at the lady and plopping herself in her arms! Of course, that had Mario giving up one his gutsy laughs, and it had the lady guest quite "gob-smacked" and speechless. Mario was super quick to grab a shot of the moment, just in case the lady wanted a digital memory!

Taking the plunge - Starfish Point in Grand Cayman

Taking the plunge - Starfish Point in Grand Cayman

The second giggle was brought on by a lovely couple who just completely fell in love with the stingrays. It turned out that the lady was expecting a little girl soon. The couple were so overwhelmed by their experience, they wanted to call their child after the stingray that had done the honours of hugging and kissing them, and promptly asked Captain Mario what her name was .......... well, long story short, we don't think they are going to be calling their child "Droopy" !!! Out of all the stingrays who come with the beautiful names such as Lilly, Barbara, Snowflake, Angelina, Kim ........ they got Droopy today :-)

We hope that you enjoyed the stories, and hope you have a great "hump day"!

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!

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 ..... 

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


snorkel, Stingrays

31 January 2015 - GO AWAY, HUMAN BEING!

Tour Time : 10:30am

Guests from : Aida Bella Cruise

Star Stingray : Kim

No Shows : 0

Tough conditions today for our excursion guests, but kudos to our guests for getting out there and giving it all they could!

Captain Mario found a sleepy stingray during the stop at the stingray site. The stingray found his presence somewhat annoying, gave him the hairy eyeballs and moved on - and Captain Mario got it all in pictures which was pretty cool.

It looks like tomorrow's tour is to be cancelled due to worsening conditions. Again. NOT COOL. Let's hope we can get everyone out there on Monday.

Have a super weekend!

Sleepy stingray ..... NOT impressed with being disturbed (snorkelling in Grand Cayman)

Captains Log, Starfish Point

30 January 2015 - BY THE SKIN ON YOUR CHINNY-CHIN-CHIN!

The end of the excursion and we narrowly miss the storm - well done Captain Mario!

The end of the excursion and we narrowly miss the storm - well done Captain Mario!

As we wrote yesterday morning, conditions meant it was a close call whether to cancel the tour or not, but in the end, Captain Mario decided it was a GO, GO, GO!

Tour Time : 11:30am

Guests from : Carnival Pride Cruise, Carnival Splendour Cruise, Paradise Pointe apartments, Sunshines Suites Hotel

Star Stingray : Frosty

No Shows : 0

And boy was he glad that he had made that decision when he met our guests for the day - their cruise had been dogged each step of the way by bad weather, and at each stop they had faced cancelled excursions - what a blow that must have been for them all!

With this news in mind, Captain Mario and the crew were more determined than ever to get them out to the beautiful sites in Grand Cayman, and to get them their fill of stingray kisses! The winds gave our excursion guests a run for their money, but they were amazing and took on the adventure with huge enthusiasm! 

Coral Gardens was the best snorkel site for the day and it was not a disappointment. Even though  the wind was howling above the surface, the ocean was beautifully clear below and our guests enjoyed great visibility. Captain Mario got some great shots of the very timid Spot Fin Butterfly fish and the pretty corals, while also managing some awesome photos of our guests snorkelling.

Incredible clarity in the water at Coral Gardens, even though the winds were howling above the surface

Incredible clarity in the water at Coral Gardens, even though the winds were howling above the surface

Starfish Point Beach proved to be a real delight, with the gorgeous Caribbean sun spoiling us all with a great show during this visit. The tropical colours were ablaze and gave us the opportunity for some superb pictures with the starfish (now known as Sea Stars). Everyone marvelled at these little creatures, except for one little guy who was not totally convinced and kept his mask on at all times ....

Keeping the mask on  just in case ....... Starfish Point in Grand Cayman

Keeping the mask on  just in case ....... Starfish Point in Grand Cayman

The Caribbean sun puts on its gorgeous display at Starfish Point

The Caribbean sun puts on its gorgeous display at Starfish Point

Stingray City Sandbar was the last stop - choppy waters could not deter our excited guests! The crew had so much fun introducing them to the gentle and sweet "Frosty" - she really is so terribly laid back and happy to hand out the love! What a moment it was to have our guests enjoying this moment after having so many of their vacation dreams dashed by bad weather at previous ports - jubilation for sure! 

The choppy waters at the Stingray City Sandbar were no match for our awesome guests!

The choppy waters at the Stingray City Sandbar were no match for our awesome guests!

This young guest's dream comes true - a stingray kiss to remember - mission accomplished!

This young guest's dream comes true - a stingray kiss to remember - mission accomplished!

It was a very fond farewell at the end of this tour, and we sincerely hope that we have left our island visitors with good memories that will entice them back for more!

Captains Log

REMINISCING ABOUT NON-WINDY DAYS.....

If anyone has been following the Captain's Log, one recurring theme over the last 6-8 weeks has been the lament over windy weather ....... how dull it is to keep on about it! Today looks not much better and a decision has still to be made about whether we go ahead with today's tour.....

So, let's cheer up, put on a happy face, and share some photos from the past tours ..... wishing you a wonderful weekend!

Natural ombre effect - Stingray City Sandbar, Grand Cayman

Natural ombre effect - Stingray City Sandbar, Grand Cayman

Blue wonder -  Stingray City Sandbar

Blue wonder - Stingray City Sandbar

Starfish Point  in Grand Cayman

Starfish Point in Grand Cayman

Grand Cayman sunset - water level

Grand Cayman sunset - water level

Floating beauty

Floating beauty

Ariel joins us on tour!

Ariel joins us on tour!

Holiday - Grand Cayman style!

Holiday - Grand Cayman style!

Blow-your-mind-conditions at Stingray City Sandbar

Blow-your-mind-conditions at Stingray City Sandbar

A day when you can see forever

A day when you can see forever

The stunning beauty of Grand Cayman's barrier reef

The stunning beauty of Grand Cayman's barrier reef

Captains Log, Excursions, Stingray City, Stingrays

28 January 2015 - BARBARA'S BACK!

"Barbara" and her Mona Lisa smile - welcome back!

"Barbara" and her Mona Lisa smile - welcome back!

Tour Time : 9:30am - left at 10am - read all about it!

Guests from : Carnival Breeze Cruise, Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort, Brilliance of the Seas - cancelled visit

Star Stingray : Snowflake

No Shows : 0

High and lows today! The day started off rough - literally - not the best of conditions, with quite high winds blowing in such a way that the Brilliance of the Seas cancelled its visit to the island, and Carnival Breeze decided to drop anchor at Spotts - which is on the other side of the island to the normal cruise terminal. Can you imagine the consternation this can cause - all the tour operators racing out to Spotts trying to find their guests ...... Captain Mario did a sterling job of it, but the tour left late as can be expected under these conditions.

With the ship now anchored in Spotts, it was unfortunate that we had to leave Starfish Point out of the tour - not enough time to do this AND get them back to the ship on time. But now for the good stuff....

snorkel-excursions-grand-cayman-28011502

Over the last week or so we had been missing the Captain's favourite stingray Barbara. The crew and office staff were becoming a little tense about her disappearance. It must be remembered that the Cayman stingrays are in open water - they are not closed in any manner. Barbara was also born without a tail, which of course, is the stingrays defense against predators. But JUBILATION! Today, while at the snorkel site, there she was - all smiles and cuteness, playing with our guests and flirting up a storm. Happy phone calls were made to the office to let everyone know Barbara was back!

grand-cayman-stingrays-28011503

The other great part of the day was the awesome caribbean sunshine - the ocean was gleaming with emerald and sapphire colours, so even though the surface was choppy - the colours were delicious!

Snowflake did the honours today, kissing our guests with great abandon and hopefully leaving them with lifelong memories. We always hope that our "girls" turn each visitor into a stingray ambassador. These beautiful creatures are fished to extinction in some parts of the world - their "leather" used in fashion pieces and their flesh sold as scallops. We get cold shivers thinking about this truly hope that guests of the sandbar start moving against these practices.

Everyone made it back to ship safe and sound and on time, and we can't wait to share these photos with our guests - we hope they all come back soon.

And welcome back Barbara - you had us really worried girl.

Mwah!!! Snowflake wins another admirer!

Mwah!!! Snowflake wins another admirer!

Excursions, fish, sunset, snorkel

AWESOME DAY IN GRAND CAYMAN

The 24th January served us up an incredible day. 

Living in the Caribbean is lucky for so many reasons, but for us, the best reasons would be the climate and the beauty that we see on a daily basis. Even just taking the school route offers up a glimpse of the beautiful tropical blues along Seven Mile Beach - one almost wishes to be stuck in a traffic jam!

But there come days when Grand Cayman just goes a step further and produces a day which is stunning beyond words, and we all get excited about it, and get especially worked up about sharing such a day with our tour guests. 

It is on these days that Captain Mario's wife and child hound him half to death to be taken out into the North Sound. They do not often get this opportunity, but on days with these conditions - well, no is not accepted for an answer. Mandy adores the stingrays and cannot collect enough photos of them, while Gina adores Starfish Point and no family tour can be completed without stopping at this island attraction.

Captain Mario stopped off at a beautiful spot for the snorkelling - a little out of the usual site but along the barrier reef. The propellors had hardly stopped turning before Mandy was in the water, where she was met by a gigantic Mutton Snapper who surprisingly accompanied her for most of her visit - how wonderful! His size is not easy to see from the photo below, but he must have been at least 3 feet long - usually they are rather timid as the locals fish for them, but this guy was quite happy to tag along.

The massive Mutton Snapper that joined us for the snorkel along the Barrier Reef

The massive Mutton Snapper that joined us for the snorkel along the Barrier Reef

What a beauty of a Queen Angel Fish found at the Barrier Reef in Grand Cayman

What a beauty of a Queen Angel Fish found at the Barrier Reef in Grand Cayman

A school of Blue Tangs float on by during our snorkel visit

A school of Blue Tangs float on by during our snorkel visit

Conch Shell in Grand Cayman

Conch Shell in Grand Cayman

The reef was splendid - Mandy felt that there was a certain magic in the water and was amazed to see so many fish and corals - an enormous Queen Angel Fish and a school of one of her favourite fish, the Blue Tang, were some of her pleasures. Add to that the fact that she found four live conch and her day was already made! We used to fish for conch for our standard excursions, but changed our policy this year - we feel that they are already over-harvested and hardly see any these days. You can be sure no-one will be told of these conch's whereabouts!

After the snorkelling, and during our boat ride to Stingray City Sandbar, we were treated to a beautiful rainbow hitting land on the North Side. Wow, we did not think it could get too much better, but we were wrong. 

 Things to do in Grand Cayman

Once again, Mandy was testing Captain Mario's patience with wanting to spring into the ocean before the propellors had stopped twirling ...... can you blame her when you see the conditions were like the photo below?

Incredible conditions at Stingray City Sandbar in Grand Cayman

Incredible conditions at Stingray City Sandbar in Grand Cayman

The above image was taken from on-board "Big John" - the waters were so clear you could see right to the sand bar bed with the ripples of sand caused by the flow of the ocean. The first sight was of a ginormous stingray burying herself into the sand - we were delighted to see that she was very, very swollen with pregnancy and can't wait to have her little ones darting around. She eventually stopped "digging" and lumbered over for a kiss and some lovin' .... got a picture of her in Captain Mario's arms, just resting there for a bit.... we made sure to give her plenty of stingray "popcorn" (squid) to keep her nicely fed for her babies!

One very pregnant stingray burying herself at the Sandbar in Grand Cayman

One very pregnant stingray burying herself at the Sandbar in Grand Cayman

 Stingray City Sandbar in Grand Cayman

The "girls" felt the magic of the day and cavorted with us and the other sandbar visitors with great abandon and a lot of kisses and hugs and snuggles were shared - oh what a time was had! Mandy and Gina were in 7th heaven! It was tough to leave this spot, but Gina was in nagging mode by now, and Starfish Point was obviously next on the itinerary.

On the way over to this heavenly beach on Grand Cayman, we were given a hint of what to expect, with the skies and clouds forming incredible shades of blue and greys. Gina was extremely verbal in her delightful find of 4 starfish with excited yelps and squeals heard by all. But those quietened down when the sunset put on an astounding show. When even a four year old is heard to say "lets sit quietly and watch the sunset" you know it has got to be a good one! Below is the proof .... what a magical day to enjoy and witness. On days such as these, one can only be hugely grateful to be living surrounded by peace, surrounded by beauty and surrounded by hope - hugely lacking in so many parts of the world. Thank you.

Sunset from Starfish Point in Grand Cayman

Sunset from Starfish Point in Grand Cayman

Snorkel, Captains Log, Stingrays

8 - 12 JANUARY 2015 - WHAT A WEEK!

BLEH!

These past few days have not been the highlight of our year so far ... weather was tropically moody and in some cases, bad enough for us to cancel tours AGAIN! We mentally banished the Cayman weather to the naughty corner for some time out ....... today appears somewhat better - let's hope it worked!

Nonetheless, we have had the pleasure of great company and enjoyed visitors from all over - cruise guests included NCL Epic, Carnival Dream, Carnival Splendour, Navigator of the Seas and Caribbean Princess. Some of the overnight guests includes those from hotels and apartment such as the Marriott, Sunshine Suites and Plantation Village.

The family that snorkels together ...... Grand Cayman snorkel excursions

The family that snorkels together ...... Grand Cayman snorkel excursions

The Coral Gardens proved to be the best snorkel site for the prevailing conditions. Water clarity was good if not perfect and our excursion guests enjoyed their time with the accompanying stingray while marvelling at the abundance of tropical fish. Captain Mario still avoided Starfish Point on some of the tours due to the continued presence of jelly fish - and of course, the first day he decided it was safe to go back, was the only stung by one!

Dwayne, our 1st Mate and otherwise known as the "Stingray Whisperer" had a flirty moment with one of his favourite stingrays "Snowflake" and Captain Mario managed to catch some photos of their interaction which is very beautiful. We are very pleased to see that "Frosty", who was looking rather skeletal and ill at one stage, seems to have recovered with a little bit of extra help from our crew. She is now looking absolutely gorgeous, chubby and happy!

Snorkelling with Stingrays in Grand Cayman

Snorkelling with Stingrays in Grand Cayman

Captains Log, Excursions

6 JANUARY 2015 - STINGRAY CITY SNORKEL EXCURSIONS CAYMAN ISLANDS

Typical  Grand Cayman excursion  pose - watching and being watched in return

Typical Grand Cayman excursion pose - watching and being watched in return

Tour Time : 2:15pm (departed 2:15pm)

Guests from : Marriott Hotel, Morritts (East End)

Star Stingray : Snowflake

And yes - that is the Caribbean sun on his back - YIPPEE! I should imagine some Canadians could happily throw snowballs at me for saying this, but we have had a rough winter so far! Cloudy skies, high winds and temperatures as low as 20 celsius! It has been a mean few weeks and we are looking forward to the season settling down now.....

Sadly, we again had to miss Starfish Point today - the presence there of an abundance of jelly fish meant avoiding this beautiful beach - usually a favourite attraction during our excursions. However, our guests had a great time snorkelling at the Coral Gardens and we managed to get some great pictures of them frolicking with some of the visiting stingrays. We love collecting these images during our tours and sharing them with our guests for free. We hope they bring life long smiles.

Captain Mario gives a hand with new snorkelers during our tour - they loved every moment!

Captain Mario gives a hand with new snorkelers during our tour - they loved every moment!

Snowflake gathered all the love and kisses at the Sandbar today - she took a particular liking to one of our guests and was quite happy not to move on at all. I don't know if the stingrays have any idea how many smiles they produce on a daily basis, but we sure wish they do. I reckon the "girls" MUST be the most photographed celebrities in the world, and they deserve every bit of squid they receive!

Our deckhand contemplates his naughty versus nice strategy for 2015

Our deckhand contemplates his naughty versus nice strategy for 2015


Stingrays, snorkel, barbara

SMILEY

The ever-smiling Barbara snorkel with us yet again

The ever-smiling Barbara snorkel with us yet again

That smile of Barbara's never seems to fail! Since all the topsy turvy tropical weather we have been experiencing over the last few weeks, Barbara has taken it upon herself to visit us during our visits to the various snorkel sites. We were used to seeing her occasionally, but she has been joining us for the majority of our excursions lately - and what a pleasure for our tour guests (and Captain Mario who favours her the most)!

You are just awesome Barbara - we absolutely adore you!

Stingrays, stingray city, Lilly

LILLY & DWAYNE AT PLAY .....

They say photos never lie (except when overly photoshopped!), but we think this series of images taken at Stingray City in Grand Cayman clearly show the love that our "Stingray Whisperer" and 1st Mate has for the stingrays! These photos show "Lilly" frolicking around our tour guests, and then swimming straight into the arms of Dwayne - and you can see the delight on his face ...... and then the snuggle and kisses .......