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!
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!
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?
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 .....
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.
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!)
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!
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 : 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!
Tour Time : 9:30am
Guests from : Treasure Island, Wahoo Close, Self Drive
Star Stingray : Snowflake
No Shows : 0
Yesterday was the day to take "Big John" out of the water for his insurance survey and inspection, so no tours. All went well, but quite sad to see him out of water .... he truly belongs in it!
And what a day to return to the Caribbean waters! Grand Cayman produced one of those very special and awesome days where the colours were brilliant, the ocean clear and the breeze almost still.
On top of these awesome conditions for today's tour, our guests were absolutely amazed to witness a baby nurse shark and four turtles - we hope that our visitor send us some of the video footage that they managed to get of this!
Starfish Point was the little piece of paradise that we always love to share, with water so calm that even one person caused ripples wide across the water's surface.
Stingray City was flat, sparkling and stunning, and Snowflake was the most gracious host and everyone fell in love with her - who could not?
Conditions were so good, that the office staff demanded to be taken out after the morning tour, and we shall shortly post some of the photos taken in the afternoon!
Tour Time : 9:30 and 2:15pm
Guests from : Ruby Princess Cruise, Villa Pappagallo Condos, Treasure Island Resort, Poinsettia Condos, Comfort Suites
Star Stingray : Droopy
Captain Mario came back from his tours today whistling and smiling ..... incredibly happy that he had had two excursions where all seemed to go right, even the weather!
The above image taken at Stingray City is unusual in that it does not feature a stingray .... but oh my, what a sunset our guests were given! Captain Mario was busy taking photos of our guests, back to the light, when something told to him to turn around and boom - this is the shot that he got.
We are holding thumbs that the last of the miserable tropical cold front has left us so that we can welcome our guests onto tours with calm Caribbean waters around and gentle warmth from our winter sun. Stingray City Sandbar seems to be offering up her old jewel colours and the snorkel sites are putting on brilliant displays of colour again. We look forward to seeing the New Year which is just around the corner.......
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!
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 .......
Tour Time : 9:30am & 2:15pm (afternoon tour left late - read about it below!)
Guests from : MSC Divina cruise, Carnival Splendour cruise, Westin Hotel, Plantana Condos, Caribbean Club Condos, Marriott Hotel, Comfort Suites Hotel
Star Stingray : Frosty
Our hearts were heavy that the wind had not yet died down and we expected choppy conditions again for our guests. How we wish the perfect weather for all our excursion guests!
However, the Caribbean sun was doing her best to lighten everyone's spirits, and put on quite a show. Today we visited our "Secret Garden", a beautiful snorkel site which Captain Mario has recently discovered, and boy we were not disappointed! An absolutely gorgeous display of coral formations and tropical fish - this stop was a great highlight of the tour.
Stingray City Sandbar was hugely enjoyed by our guests despite the gusts of wind, and Frosty played a big part in bring smiles to their faces! This is what vacations in Grand Cayman are all about.......
Our afternoon tour ran approximately 30 minutes late as we had stopped to rescue two people in distress. The choppy conditions had taken their toll on their small boat and they were sinking rather quickly despite the best of efforts. Most of our afternoon guests were wonderfully understanding, although some preferred to cancel. Nonetheless, a super time was had and we were hugely rewarded with a beautiful sunset at Starfish Point where the Grand Cayman sun took our breath away, yet again!
It's that time of the year again, when goodwill is all around, grown ups are like kids, kids are buzzing and dreams seem that much more possible. Let's not forget the less fortunate and the lonely and count our blessings. Merry Christmas to all for tomorrow - may you be loved, safe and happy!
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 : 2 different tours today
Guests from : Marriott Hotel, Anchorage Condo, Westin Hotel, Oceania Riviera Cruise, Grand Cayman Beach Suites Hotel, Park Place Condo
Star Stingray : Snowflake and Lilly
Gorgeous day today! The Caribbean sun which has been MIA for so many days is fighting her way back. Skies are blue and the wind is just cool enough to take the sting out of the sun rays. Brilliant colours all round us with the ocean a sparkling blue. Visibility at the snorkel sight was great and once again Barbara visited us, even giving one of our excursion guests a gentle nudge to say hi!
She has been so social lately, and has played catch and tag and follow my leader with the island visitors - how awesome is she?
We had two pregnant ladies on board and they did so well breathing for two during the snorkel site visit - we are sure they enjoyed a little of the buoyancy of the water to take the weight off the legs! So many fish around - almost as if they had missed visitors for some time.
The tour included a visit to Starfish Point, one of the most beautiful beaches on Grand Cayman - a little piece of Caribbean paradise tucked away. It is almost a pity to let everyone know about this beach, but how can we not share? A vacation to Grand Cayman island should absolutely include this attraction!
Our visit to Stingray City Sandbar - oh what a pleasure! The tropical winds have died down, and the sea was beautifully smooth. We had a great time taking pictures of the guests kissing the stingrays.
All in all, another day in paradise ....... want to come join us?
If you have read the Captain's Log recently, you will know we have been suffering a truly long and horrible tropical cold front for longer than we care to think about. Very high winds blowing in the wrong direction meant that the North Sound was very inhospitable to tours and excursions, and many of our guests were left disappointed at cancellations. However, we refuse to put financial considerations before safety of our guests ...... ever.
So, today's tour under blue skies and Caribbean sun was an absolute delight, and everyone island wide were in the mood for fun and frolic - including Barbara the stingray, it would seem.
Barbara and Stumpy have been joining us quite regularly at our snorkel stops lately, playing "tag" with the guests and generally being inquisitive. Today Barbara joined us again, before flirting with Captain Mario and allowing him to take her over to the guests for a meet and greet. Barbara is Captain Mario's favourite, and she knows it, giving him puppy dog looks and kisses. She also followed us over to the Sandbar at Stingray City where she continued to work her charm on our tour guests.
Our deckhand JR captured these awesome pictures of the interaction and we hope you enjoy!
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........