The second stop on our first five days was Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands. Our time there was 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Grand Cayman is a tender port. Tendering means that there are no docks for the ships. They must remain at sea and have smaller boats transfer people back and forth to the port. Sometimes the ships use their own lifeboats. Other times, the port provides the tenders. Sometimes, both kinds of tenders are used. Carnival calls the tenders – “water shuttles.”
You will receive instructions on what tender you will get on to go to shore. If you are on a Carnival excursion, you will meet in a designated spot at a designated time and get on the same tender. If you are a priority member, you will get a letter giving you instructions on where to meet and you will be escorted to the next available tender.
If you are independent (not on a Carnival cruise) and not a priority member, you will get instructions on when and where to pick up a numbered tender ticket and must wait for that number to be called by the Cruise Director. Once your number is called, you can go to the tender. Usually, after a couple of hours, the tenders become less crowded so you can usually get on one without waiting in a long line or needing a ticket. You must know when the last tender is going to come back to the ship because there will be no pier for you to run on.
The tenders can hold a large number of people and you will be jammed together so they can seat as many people as a tender can hold at one time. Depending on how rough the water is, the tenders will bob up and down next to the ship and next to the pier, so you have to time your step into and out of the tender carefully.
The crew will assist you but if you are not steady on your feet you should seriously consider how badly you want to go to shore. If you are tall, also duck when entering the tender so that you don’t bump your head (it hurts, believe me).
Because of wind and rough water, in my experience, tender ports will get cancelled more than docked ports. The Captain will make the decision and that decision is non-negotiable. Complain all you want (and I’ve heard many – “this is dumb – the waves don’t look that bad to me“) but you will still not be getting off the ship.
If a cancellation happens, normally, if you have a Carnival shore excursion booked, you will receive a refund of the cost to your onboard account. You will probably get the port taxes refunded to your account also.
If you had an independent excursion booked, hopefully you booked with an operator who refunds your money if the ship fails to arrive. Most reputable tour operators will. They don’t want to lose cruise ship business. I have also heard that there are some travel insurance companies that will pay you for a missed port if you file the claim. True or not, I don’t know.
Fun times in Grand Cayman:
I had no photo from this port today, but you can see the lifeboats in this photo that can be used as tenders.
The Cayman Islands is a self-governing British Overseas Territory—the largest by population in the western Caribbean Sea.
The 102-square-mile territory comprises the three islands of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, which are located to the south of Cuba and northeast of Honduras, between Jamaica and Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula.
The territory is a major world offshore financial center for international businesses and wealthy individuals, largely as a result of the state not charging taxes on any income earned or stored.
The first recorded permanent inhabitant of the Cayman Islands, Isaac Bodden, was born on Grand Cayman around 1661. He was the grandson of the original settler named Bodden who was probably one of Oliver Cromwell’s soldiers at the taking of Jamaica in 1655.
The national symbol of the Cayman Islands is the Green Sea Turtle.
Feature films that have been filmed in the Cayman Islands include: The Firm (1993), Haven (2001) and Zombie Driftwood (2010).
Grand Cayman is the largest of the three Cayman Islands and the location of the territory’s capital, George Town.
The famous Seven Mile Beach is actually less than seven miles – about five and a half miles.
Unlike many other Caribbean islands, Grand Cayman is for the most part, flat.
Through breeding, the Grand Cayman Turtle farm produces upwards of 1800 green sea turtles a year. Between 1980 and 2006, the farm released approximately 30,600 turtles to the wild; because of a mark placed on each animal, the released turtles have been seen throughout the Caribbean.
There is a city named Hell in the Grand Cayman. You can send yourself a postcard from Hell and buy t-shirts that say “I’ve been to Hell and back”
There is no standing house on Grand Cayman that was built prior to 1912, thanks in part to the island’s history of hurricanes.
Scientists have released millions of genetically modified mosquitoes on the island of Grand Cayman in an effort to combat dengue fever, resulting in an 80% decrease in mosquito numbers.
Trivia provided by Wikipedia.