April 22nd-23rd, 2001
We had a day's sailing before our next port of call, so we made the most
of it: exploring the ship, sunbathing on deck, drinking in the bars, and eating eating
eating. :-) The ship has an all-night pizza bar that's great for that late-night
We also hit the casinos (now open as we were beyond the three-mile limit).
I won $140 on the slot machines!! Not bad for a $20 investment...
When we reached Grand Cayman, most of the rest of the group headed to
Seven-Mile beach to see what fun could be had there. I'd signed up for a shore
excursion around the island and would meet up with everyone later that evening.
I had to leave the ship fairly early to meet the bus, so I grabbed an
early breakfast and headed out.
Hell & Environs
Our first stop was in Hell.
There's an ancient coral formation (formed several hundred million years
ago, if our guide was right) that has eroded away as Grand Cayman was pushed up out of the
ocean. It looks like a barren moonscape. The locals called it
"Hell", and so sure enough, the local area is now officially called
"Hell". There's also a little post office where they stamp your postcards
"From Hell", so you can literally say you've been to Hell and Back!
Sea Turtle Farm
Grand Cayman is also host to a number of sea turtles, and we went to a Sea
Turtle Farm where they raise various species. The turtles ranged in size from a
dinner plate to ENORMOUS: some of them looked like they could crush a
small Volkswagen! There was one pond where they let hold the younger turtles, which
(naturally) objected to such treatment and flapped their little fins at us in fury!
The final stop on my little tour was actually right on the edge of Grand
Cayman's large bay (basically a big shallow sand bar). There we had the opportunity
to swim in the water with large stingrays! Everyone was given some snorkel gear and
into the water we went!
The water was incredibly blue, warm, and absolutely swarming with
stingrays, some of which were at least as big as I was. Several people couldn't
handle the close proximity and practically jumped out of the water!
I found it amazing: the stingrays were quite soft to the touch on the
underside, and like a rough leather on top. They seemed quite used to people and
kept rubbing against us, looking for food. One of our guides held a stingray
out of the water briefly: because they are still passing water over their gills, they spit
The water was a little choppy, so it was hard to take pictures: I
was very pleased that I got any decent shots at all!
Back to the Ship
I couldn't stay in the water forever, of course: the ship was leaving at 2:00pm and I
had to get back to the dock. It sounded like everyone else had had a good time on
the beaches. Time for a little dinner!