Sunday, June 28, 2015

Do You Believe in Magic... Grand Cayman

Thursday, June 18, 2015 

Once again our morning started with jogging and sunrise watching. The ship was a lot busier than usual as this port time was switched from 10AM-4PM to 7AM-4PM and most of the guests were planning on going to Grand Cayman. All ships have to drop anchor about 1 mile off shore in Grand Cayman because of the shallow waters and the protection of these reefs which means there is a "tendering" process involved. This means that local passenger ferry style boats came to our ship and took loads of passengers ranging from 100-300 at a time to the pier in Grand Cayman. I personally enjoy this process and I like the tendering boats and the feeling of riding on a speed boat, even if just for a few miles. The sitting and waiting process can be tedious and tiring so Chris and most other cruisers do not prefer this method but it is necessary in some ports. The most common tendering ports in the Western Caribbean are Grand Cayman and Belize. 

On board the Magic overlook the Independence of the Seas... Will we sail her next? 

A view from our Cove Balcony around 8AM. 

Waiting in the Spotlight Lounge for our tender boat!

Our tendering process began early and the overall process took less than 20 minutes from arrival in the waiting area to stepping foot on land in Grand Cayman. This is not always the case so we were pleasantly surprised. Once on land in Grand Cayman we immediately went to a store we knew had free wifi so we could make contact with our kids and parents. This is the Tortuga Rum Store right inside the Georgetown pier. You do not have to buy anything at all (I always do try to buy a Gatorade or something... seems like the polite thing to do) and there is not password! Be sure to stop buy before or after your excursion!  With the pending Tropical Storm Bill making impact in Houston on previous days we wanted to make sure our car was OK but more importantly we wanted to make sure our kids were safe and sound with Gigi Shirley and Poppy on their way to Minnesota for their annual baseball trip! We sent many pictures and videos to them but never heard back from them.

Our beautiful ship, The Carnival Magic, as we sailed away in our tender boat! 

Tender Boat selfie!

The shallow waters at the pier in Grand Cayman.
This is the reason why ALL ships have to anchor over a mile away!
Look at those crystal clear blue waters! Best in the Western Caribbean! 

Another view of our home away from home once we got into the pier! 

One of our favorite ports in the Western Caribbean!
You can see the MASSIVE Independence of the Seas in the background.
It is the 6th Largest cruise ship in the world! 

Our Kayaking tour began with a bus ride to a remote side of the island where we would kayak and then eventually snorkel. I love visiting countries where they drive on the wrong (left) side of the road... It makes for a very thrilling ride! We got to the beach and got a quick demonstration/review then mounted our Ocean Kayaks for a 0.75 mile ride to our 1st stop... The Shoe Tree. This was a tree decorated with flip-flops that were found on the beach. Our guide also told us about the awesome sea-grass found on the ocean's floor and it's vital roll in the Grand Cayman beaches. We then kayaked 0.5 miles further to a stop where he highlighted the red and black mangroves found in Grand Cayman and also told us about the Cayman trench, just miles away from us and the precious coral reed just off shore. We were also able to see some of the amazing real estate right off the beach and their prices. The creator and owner of DART Styrofoam owns a "winter house" there and let me just say it was gorgeous!

Our kayaks just waiting for us to take them for a ride.

Kayak Selfie!

It is kinda difficult to make it out but the Shoe Tree is in the background!
I wish I would have known, I would have brought a flip-flop to hammer on to it! 

The beautiful Red Mangroves found in the shallow waters of this part of the island! 

The "DART" CEO's winter get-away. It is over 10,000 SQFT and when purchased in 2004 only cost $4.5 million. Sure it seems like a lot but 1,200 SQFT apartments in Manhattan currently sell for $3.0 million so I would say this was a GOOD buy! 

The tide was very high that day and as we kayaked to the middle of the ocean where the snorkel boat was we were fighting a very hard current and tide. This was another 500-700 yards out and it was a battle just to get there. Once we arrived we got off our kayaks and started the snorkel process. This was a MAJOR let-down and both Chris and I were disappointed in this part of the excursion. The spot where we snorkeled lacked coral and even fish so most of what we saw was the sea-grass. Combine that with the crazy currant and high-tide and it was a bust! We had read reviews that despite the gorgeous waters of Grand Cayman that the snorkeling was lacking and this proved to be true to us. I have seen better snorkeling and views in Flordia! The waves were choppy and some of the others on the excursion gave up fighting the waves while snorkeling and sat on the boat.  Chris and I would later describe them as wussies.  We got back on our kayaks and paddled back to our starting point where we finished our excursion.

A video of the Grand Cayman snorkeling and the 1 coral reef we saw! 

Chris snorkeling in the gorgeous Grand Cayman waters! 

Our view of the snorkeling.
Again, it was not terrible but I was disappointed! 

I love this picture because it looks like I am crying to help but I was actually able to stand and touch in this picture but the tide was so high and rough it seemed otherwise! Haha... memories! 

The AFTER pictures! 

We stopped at the Tortuga store for one last wifi check and then we took a tender back to the ship around 2PM. The Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas was also in port this day and their line for tendering was about 500 people deep so we knew we had to get back on our ship soon or we would be waiting in line too! That is another tip... Whatever the last tender to the boat time is (Example- 3:15PM), be sure to be back at the tender boat about 45 minutes to an hour before that (Example- 2:15 to 2:30PM). Trust me, there is a lot of hassle and worry headed your way if you are late! Not to mention you could literally miss the boat! We have seen it before! Always be on time when returning to your ship, especially at tendering ports! 

The last tender for us was 3:15PM and this was taken from our ship at 2:45PM. Zoom in and you can see the terribly long line! Again, get to the tender boats EARLY! 

Headed back to our ship on the afternoon tender! 

A Grand Cayman selfie! I love this one! 

Once back on board we were hungry so we tried out the "Off the Grill" or Guy's Burgers wanna-bee on the Lido buffet. These were OK but nothing compared to Guy's Burger Joint that is offered on 2.0 Funships (Conquest, Miracle, Triumph and Freedom just to name a few). Then without waiting the recommended 30 minutes after eating we headed straight to the WaterWorks to ride the water-slides and have fun in the splash pad before the other 4,700 people got back on board.

Hello again, WaterWorks! WE LOVED this place! Really wish Natalie and Luke were with us!
I swear I thought about them more on this trip because of all of the COOL stuff the Magic offered! This is a kid-friendly ship! Take your kids on it! DO IT! 

Water slide selfie! Terrible picture but it really shows how much fun I was having!
I love being and acting like a kid! 

Love this picture of Chris! Priceless!

Each of us rode both of the water-slides about 4 times each and played in the splash pad for over an hour before retiring at the Serenity deck on a hammock! This was followed by our first venture at the hot-tubs offered on the Lanai Deck 5. There are 2 hot-tubs on each side and these are bigger and hotter than the others offered on the ship! However, do know that this is directly underneath the decks 6-9 guest balconies and that is kinda awkward. We had a good time nonetheless.

This was my view above from the Lanai hot-tub! All of those balconies look into these hot-tubs!
Interesting deck layout if you ask me!

Before dinner we went to Ocean Plaza to play 90s Trivia and Name that 90s song. Despite our 80s Song win on the Serenade, we have had a pretty bad record at playing trivia... That ended on this trip! Chris won the 1990s trivia with 19/25 score. He was very proud of himself and I was too! He even got a 24k piece of "ship" on a stick (Carnival Magic trophy) to prove it! That is a perfect 2/2 record on getting a "Ship" on a stick from each of the Carnival Ships we have sailed on!

So in other words he had no life in High School or College!
Either way, he won fair and square! Way to go Chris! 

Before dinner we tried out the Taste Bar which was featuring Blue Iguana Cantina, a Mexican kitchen also offered on Funships 2.0. I LOVED Blue Iguana on the Conquest and cannot wait to have it again in November while on the Triumph. Dinner that night was enjoyable as we met a 10 year old version of Chris Davis who was "on the lower end of GOLD" on his loyalty program. We enjoyed talking to him and have laughed about him ever since. Dinner ended with the waitstaff dancing to Gangham style which was hilarious and very entertaining! Only Carnival does this but I LOVE it and they do it very well! Due to the change in itinerary formal night moved from night #6 to night #5 to accommodate a later departure from Cozumel. Be mindful of possible changes like this when you are making reservations or plans for a specialty restaurant on board. This goes for all cruise ships, not just Carnival. 

A Traditional Formal Night picture from our balcony! 

We joined the ranks of the rest of America and got us a Selfie Stick... This is a Selfie Stick failure! 

Formal Night #2... Grand Cayman! 

The evening concluded with comedy in the Comedy Club and while the "PG" shows were funny the adult shows were yet again too much for us. I also saw Mr. Copeland, a high school teacher of mine and good friend of my dad's (The Baptist Pastor mind you), in these shows and I was absolutely embarrassed and ran out of there before he could see me. Yeah... It was awkward.

Look... there we are! Making our way to Cozumel! 

Night #5 Comedy Club! 

The coolest towel animal of the trip and perhaps EVER! Loved this!

It was a great day in one of our favorite Western Caribbean ports and we were tired and ready for bed! Tomorrow was going to be Cozumel, a frequently visited port of ours, and we didn't have an excursion until 1:30 so we were looking to having a Sea Day like morning. 

Next up... Cozumel and Sea Trek Helmet Dive

God is GOOD.. all the time! 

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