Thursday, June 2, 2011

Western Caribbean Cruise: Part II (Stingray City at Grand Cayman)

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We arrived in Grand Cayman early on Monday morning. My mom and I had to meet up at 8:15 a.m. for our tour so we woke up around 6:00 a.m. to shower and eat breakfast before we had to leave for the day. We were taken by tender to the island, since they dropped anchor in the middle of the ocean. We entered Grand Cayman and we’re told where to wait for our tour. Since it was around 8:30 at this time, we didn’t want to waste time shopping so we just waited around in anxious anticipation.

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A little after 9:00 a.m., we were taken to our bus! We drove through Georgetown, Cayman Islands to get to the boat that would take us to our adventure. I would love to return to this island one day and actually get a glimpse of the real Cayman Islands. This was Tourist City! It was still completely wonderful to be on an entirely different place than I had ever been and experience the island life, even for just a little while.

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There were about 50 people in our tour, but it honestly didn’t feel like that many. There were a few mom-daughter combos, some families with children, and a handful of college-aged/twenty-something groups of friends. We entered a double-decker boat that would take us to Stingray City, our first stop on our tour. Stingray City is awesome. If you’re ever in Grand Cayman, you must visit. There were probably 4-5 other boats visiting in addition to us and the stingrays were everywhere.

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Stingrays get a bad rap, I must say. Every time I mention I went swimming with stingrays, people say how they would never do that and want to know how aggressive they were. In talking with our tour guide, he named a specific stingray type that is the most aggressive (I forget the name) but the ones we were swimming with were not. These rays lose their stingers the moment they sting someone and it takes 18 months for them to grow back. That’s a long time to be without your biggest defense mechanism. So they are very careful with those puppies, only using them when absolutely needed. Plus, these rays are very domesticated since people are visiting them every day. My tour guide used words like “cuddly” and “lovable” to describe the rays we were swimming with. Hehe.

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Two of the guides came into the water with us and were so great with letting us take pictures and actually play with the rays. Some of the things I did:

  • Kissed a stingray. Multiple times. No tongue, though. I didn’t know him well enough.
  • Saw the mouth of a stingray - and laughed my butt off when one of them squirted water at my mom.
  • Got a stingray back massage. Basically, the guide would rub my back with the sting ray. Slimey, yes, but oh-so-awesome, as well.
  • Held a stingray. (I held a ray that was missing it’s stinger. I’m really not all that brave.) They are much heavier than expected, but just as slippery as you would think.
  • Touched the stingrays. Many times.
  • Swam. With. Sting. Rays. Does it get any better than that?

All in all, it was wonderful and one of the best experiences of the trip. I bought an underwater camera for this exact excursion and I’m so glad I did. I was able to capture some amazing pictures of our stingray experience. If you ever find yourself on the Cayman Islands (or on a cruise ship and you’re looking for excursions) do a sting ray excursion. I wasn’t all too excited about swimming with stingrays, but it turned out to be amazing. You definitely won’t regret it.

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17 comments:

  1. oh. my...gosh...that is insane! i'd be wayyyy too much of a chicken i think but go you!!

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  2. sounds like a great time. i would be apprehensive but only because i got stung by a stingray at fort myers beach. i didn't know anything about them and i was only in ankle deep water. worst pain i've ever felt in my life!  they do get a bad rap and i don't hold it against them for making my foot swell up like a balloon and making me cry haha

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  3. girlwiththeredhair6/2/11, 11:56 AM

    EEEP! You are brave! Haha. I think people are probably wary of stingrays because that's how the crocodile hunter died!!

    Looks like a lot of fun, though :) I love that last picture! 

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  4. KJHartenstein6/2/11, 12:10 PM

    I love the looks on your faces!

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  5. Totally just lol'ed to the "i kissed him, no tongue" though. You crack me up. Awesome photos. I don't know if I would have the nerve to swim with a stingray. I'm a scaredy cat that way...

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  6. You are a much braver soul than I,  my friend.

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  7. LOL. It's really not so bad and I am the biggest chicken of them all! :)

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  8. Oh, man! That's one of my biggest fears about the ocean. I was a little nervous because I guess I didn't realize we would literally be SWIMMING with them... but it turned out OK. Luckily, these guys were pretty laid-back, ha. 

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  9. Ha...our cruise director & tour guide kept mentioning him before & during the tour. Niiiice. 

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  10. I am, too, but it's really not so bad! I promise. :) Luckily, the tour guides were in the water with us and were so awesome with the rays that it felt more comfortable. 

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  11. What a cool experience.  And the water looks so beuatiful!  My boss vacations in Grand Cayman every year and just raves about it!!

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  12. This is awesome. I'm glad you were able to get some great pictures, too!

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  13. LOVE THE PICTURE of you kissing the sting ray! SO COOL. Also, I don't know if this is only me, but I legit did not know you could drop an anchor in the middle of the ocean. Really?! This sounds like it was so much fun though!! 

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  14. LOL. Not so brave, I promise. It was the tour guides who helped make me more comfortable to do things. :)

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  15. The water is so gorgeous. Our beaches have NOTHING on Grand Cayman and Cozumel. At all!

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  16. Thanks, Cait! They turned out so well for a disposable water camera!

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  17. Isn't it awesome? I love it so much. I wish it was more close up, but still, a great picture.

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