Welcome to Grand Cayman!With an early arrival into port at 7 am onboard Carnival Magic, we ordered room service on our television last night and enjoyed a quick continental breakfast out on our balcony. Our continental breakfast included croissants, bagel, juice, coffee, and fruit and was just enough to get us going and out the door. As we knew we had to meet in port shortly after we arrived, we didn’t want to take a chance on missing our ride by eating a big breakfast.
Since the port of Grand Cayman has not built a port that can accommodate ships to dock at so passengers can walk off the ship, all ships tender. Basically, a tender means that the ship stays out in the water and smaller boats come and transport cruise passengers back and forth between the ship and the port.
Upon arrival to the port, we immediately saw a sea of excursion paddles and cruise passengers waiting to go out to their respective excursions. Unsure as to where we were supposed to go, I went to the information booth and asked if they knew where we should go to meet up with our excursion person. We were directed to the Carnival person and although we didn’t pay the Carnival excursion price, we rode along with those who did. They paid $49.99 per person while we paid $36 per person by booking directly through Boatswain’s. No one likes saving money more than I do. For $59.99 they also had lunch, but at the small Schooners Bar and Grill, but not sure that would justify the added expense.
We followed our group outside and then boarded what appeared to be an old city bus and took the short trip to Boatswain’s, which is in more of an industrial area. I had to go inside and turn in my receipt in order to get wristbands for the three of us. We then caught back up with our group and tried to listen to the tour guide. Unfortunately, he quickly rushed through each section of the turtle farm and told us we could come back before we left to revisit each of the sections. We started in the breeding area, tanks where the turtles are held, and one area where we were able to actually hold a young turtle. Before leaving and walking through the turtle farm’s gift shop we were also able to visit the hatchery where baby turtles were hatching.
My husband and son went to the small hut near the water where they were able to get life vests and snorkel equipment and explore the waters nearby.There were lots of fish to see, but unfortunately, the water was jam packed with people and little kids splashing hard and scaring everything away. There weren’t many turtles in this area and you weren’t allowed to go near them or interact with them as these were turtles that were getting ready to be released. The water was murky and the seals on the masks weren’t very good so water continually filled up inside the mask. You might want to bring your own if you decide to come here. Next up was the pool area with a slide, but only about 10 chairs so people stayed in the water and then would scatter looking for a place to sit.
Overall, the turtle farm might be a place to visit if you want a little bit of information and more time in the pool, but I wouldn’t call it much of an educational experience unfortunately. Comparing our experience to Coral World in St. Thomas with our guide, Rhiannon, we learned far more in less time and felt as if they were really trying to protect turtles more than benefit from them financially. Probably my biggest disappointment came just before our trip when I learned that this was not exclusively a business that was solely about conservation and research, but also sold turtles for turtle meat. Yes, they do this to prevent poaching, but I had a hard time getting past this information while looking in the eyes of those cute baby turtles.
At noon we boarded the bus back to the cruise port at which point we were able to explore the shopping area surrounding the entry to the port. As is typically the case in a cruise port, you’ll find Diamonds International, Effy, and other names you might be familiar with if you’ve ever cruised. Although there were plenty of beautiful pieces available in these stores, the heavy-duty sales pitch was a turn off and we decided to pass on buying anything in Grand Cayman and decided it was time to get back on the ship. If there are other ships in port, be sure to get in the right line right away or you might have to stand in a long line before getting to security. Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas and the Carnival Legend were in port with us and so the lines were quite lengthy to get to the ships.
Back onboard Carnival Magic, we realized we were starving and finally got the chance to go check out Tandoor on deck 10 at the aft part of the ship near the Lido Marketplace. Open only for a few hours mid-day and is listed in the Carnival Fun Times as Lido Marketplace Selections. On one side of the available offerings is a small salad bar that includes a Greek salad as well as pineapple relish, tomato relish, hummus, mint chutney and a few other items. They also offer a special cold corn on the cob, which my husband absolutely loved and lots of meat on the grill. Food available when we were there included dal, aloo matar, rice, and naan and several meat offerings. There was a lovely Indian couple in front of us chatting with the cooks and they not only told us that these two cooks made all of the food themselves, but that the food they made was better than what they’ve personally tasted in restaurants. That was enough to sell me on it and I adore Indian food. If you would like to avoid the long lines of the buffet and can’t bring yourself to eat pizza, burgers, or hot dogs, try Tandoor instead. My only wish is that they were open more than just a few hours daily as I would have eaten here for every single meal.
Dinner that evening was in the Northern Lights dining room again with our favorite server, Ulla.
I started with the Baked Eggplant followed by the Green Bean and Roma Tomato salad and for my entrée I had the Penne Siciliana. My son had the Corn Chowder Maryland as well as the Seafood Platter (black tiger shrimp, ahi tartare, and hickory smoked pacific salmon) to start with the Grilled Jumbo Tiger Shrimps for his entrée. We were trying to make it to the 8:15 pm show, Game Show Mania in the Showtime Theatre. Entertaining, but definitely not an evening show by any means, it was one way to spend some time after dinner and before the main show. Of course, we paid a visit to the casino before calling it an evening so we could prepare for our day in Cozumel. It’s sad that our cruise is almost over so we will definitely try to enjoy every minute that’s left on the ship. Until next time, read the rest of my Carnival Magic entries here.