taxi to 7 miles beach
If you are on a cruise and don't want to take an organized excursion to sit on a beach at exorbitant prices, once you get off the harbour you'll find people offering taxis to 7 miles beach: these taxis are minivans that will take you there for 10 dollars return per person - and kids not occupying a seat travel free. They are good value for money. Local buses also exist and they are even cheaper. Minivans will travel to and from continuously, so you may return to the ship at any time you like.
Cruise Ship Tenders
There is no dock for cruise ships in Georgetown, so it is what is known as a tender port. There are two kinds of tenders. One is the ship lifeboats which double as a tender. They are often claustrophobic and they bounce around on the water quite a bit.
Disney does not use their lifeboats as tenders - they use only the boats that Grand Cayman has. These are the kind of boats that you can walk around on. They also have a place where wheelchairs can be strapped in.
One thing to be aware of - if you are there when there are several other ships in port -- BE CAREFUL to get the tender that goes back to the ship you are cruising on.
Also be sure to look and see when the last tender leaves shore - otherwise you might be up a creek without a paddle.
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I noted many different colored license pates, so I asked the driver (I was sitting in the front seat next to him). He said the yellow were private vehicles, the red were buses, the orange were commercial, the blue were business vehicles, and white were rental cars
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Cruise ship tenders
People arriving by cruise ship currently have to tender to get into port. What that means, for those who are not familiar with the term, is that instead of walking off and walking back on the ship, you have to take a smaller boat to get into the port. In our case we were the only cruise ship in port and the tenders were large ferry type boats holding at least 100 people and the tender process was very fast, no more than 10 minutes by boat. So it was slightly less convenient but nothing I would complain about.
If there are a lot of ships docked that day, the tender process might take a little longer and may be on smaller boats. For those that have booked independent excursions, you may want to get to the tender lounge early so you get on one of the 1st tenders to avoid them leaving without you or inconveniencing other people on your tour.
We took a taxi back from 7 Mile Beach to the cruise ship docks, it was $5 per person and they wait for the van to fill up before they go. If you are camped on one of the more isolated beaches, just find a place on the beach that serves food and drink and on cruise ship days I'm betting there will be taxis there or at the very least they can call one for you.
At the cruise ship docks there are tons of taxis, it's usually a good idea in Caribbean ports to prearrange for a fare, in the case of Grand Cayman there should be a fixed price for certain destinations
Tender to Shore
Grand Cayman is a tender port so we had to rely on small boats to get us from the cruise ship to shore. Tenders don't bother me as I was accustomed to them from my Navy days but depending on the wind it can be a bumpy ride. We were fortunate to have calm seas for our tender into Georgetown which was a short ten minute voage from the ship to shore.
$150 5-day Cruise
During the end of the hurricane season in the USA, Carnival Cruise Lines apparently has some trouble filling their ships. During the month of November, we were able to get a 5-day cruise to Costa Maya and Cozumel (Mexico) for $150 per person (inner stateroom) or $170 for a room with a window. You can't live in your car, eat at McDonalds, and watch a rented DVD for $30 per day! With this deal you get your stateroom, all fancy meals and/or Lido Deck (24-7), live entertainment every night, port fees, and travel to Mexico's Caribbean ports-- all for only $150!!!
This is an internet deal that is not always available, so you need to be ready to go when these deals come around. This deal does not apply to all ships either... we took the Carnival "Holiday" cruise ship from Mobile Alabama on this 5-day trip. The Holiday is one of Carnival's older and smaller ships. It is less popular than some of the giant ships that leave from Port Canaveral, but it has recently been refurbished and is very nice. Having only 1,500 passengers on board instead of 2,000-3,000 makes things nicer as well.
I guess Carnival hopes that you'll buy photos, drink liquor, and gamble while on board and that will be the source of their profit, because they are clearly losing money on this deal. I don't drink, I don't gamble, and I don't buy a bunch of stuff on board, so basically the other passengers that do these things are actually subsidizing my trip (and yours too-- but for my sake in the future, please buy lots of pictures, drink until you drop, and gamble the night away so I can continue to get these great deals).
More info: http://www.carnival.com/Ship_Detail.aspx?shipCode=HO
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Information on Taxis
If you book excursions through the cruise lines, transportation will be taken care of for you. If you choose to take matters into your own hands, transportation is quite simple as well.
Long rows of cabs are waiting on Harbour Drive located adjacent to the cruise tendering area. The cabs are mostly new, clean and safe. Best of all, most have fully-functioning air conditioners.
Fares are determined by destination per person. The amounts are given up front so there will be no surprises at the end of the trip.
By comparison, travelling by cab was much more difficult in Boston than on Grand Cayman.
1st time cruiseship visitor -Part II
The Travel Slut 's Top 10 Tips about the Coral Princess:
1. Take advantage of the coupon books made available for on-board purchases. Good savings
2. You're allowed to bring 1 bottle of wine or champagne on-board but not alcohol or beer
3. You may request a daily fruit basket via your room attendant
4. If you crave a very late night meal (or snack), the Horizon Court restaurant serves up great
specially made food not available elsewhere. I enjoyed caviar one night
5. Sabatini’s, the Italian alternative restaurant, serves an 8-course meal in an intimate setting & you'll not leave feeling hungry. There is a additional fee here & a nice break from the dining rooms
6. Personal choice (anytime dining) is an option allowing you to choose when & where to eat in lieu of traditional late/early main dining seating. The Bordeaux restaurant is used for this and main dining is in the Provence dining room. Note: Once you select Personal Choice, you can't opt for main dining.
7. Room service is available 24 hours a day & my experience was great each time. The longest I waited was 15 minutes for a large breakfast (which I had delivered at least 5 times during the cruise). The food & coffee were hot, & the service prompt & easy to order by phone or doorcard.
8. There are coin-operated self-service Laundromats (with irons & ironing boards on each deck). There is also a full laundry & valet service. For USD $2 you can wash a huge load of clothes & dry them also. It allows you to take fewer clothes & on your last day at sea, you can spend a couple hours doing a weeks worth of laundry before going home
9. Robes are available for use during your cruise but they must be requested. You can also purchase them. Ask your room attendant
10. Special disembarkation is available to those that wish to offload their own luggage. If you can and want to carry off ALL of your luggage by yourself, you will be permitted to leave the ship as early as 7:15 a.m. on the last day.
All in all, I highly recommend the Coral Princess.
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Visit Cayman via cruiseship for 1st timer-Part 1
Coral Princess cruiseship : Part 1 (see Part 2 in transportation also.)
I spent 10 nights on the Coral Princess in March 2007 on a cruise that took me from Ft. Lauderdale, FL.; Ocho Rios Jamaica; The Panama Canal (Gatun Locks); Colon, Panama; Limon (& rainforests) Costa Rica; Georgetown, Grand Cayman; and Cozumel, Mexico.
I found the ship near flawless, the food was outstanding 90% of the time, & staff was both easy to find, willing to help & genuinely happy.
Basic Coral Princess information:
1,974 passengers; 90% outside staterooms; 737 staterooms with balconies.
Designed specifically as the largest cruiseship to be able to navigate the Panama Canal (with about 18 inches to spare)
There are five (5) primary dining locations including two dining rooms; New Orleans-style café (The Bayou Steakhouse); Italian Trattoria (Sabatini’s); Horizon Court which is the buffet-style 24-hour restaurant with panoramic views from the bow. Also, there's a pizza parlor (free), ice cream station (fee), & grill (free) above the Lido deck pool.
There is an on-board wedding chapel with video & web-cam capabilities, a world-class spa, golf simulator, full Las Vegas-style casino, art gallery. In addition, there is a Library with listening chairs, Internet café, a walk-around promenade deck, fully-supervised Youth-Teen center (with their own pool), an indoor & adult-only pool, and plenty of nooks for quiet time.
The Central Atrium on Deck 6 has the shopping area with the normal duty-free items including fine gifts & accessories, apparel, sundries, fine jewelry, liquor, cosmetics & perfume.
Other areas of the ship that should be checked out include:
Churchill’s Cigar Lounge offering premium cigars, fine spirits, ports & cognacs
The Princess Theater for Broadway-style shows
The Universe Lounge for everything from major movies to study-at-sea programs
The Explorers Lounge for karaoke & disco dancing
The Wheelhouse Bar for the lightest music & friendly staff
Refer to Part 2 for The Travel Slut's Top 10 tips for the Coral Princess
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Rental vs other - depends on your destinations
Getting around Grand Cayman Island all depends on where you are going. Seriously.
If you plan on scooting about Georgetown and all the more active spots, then rental is not for you. Parking is non-existent. Even if you're staying in Georgetown or 7-Mile, finding parking is really hard. For those, use the local taxis and all the major sites can be accessed by telling your front desk - they simply call a local tour group and have their day-trip bus pick you up at the door.
For those staying on the East End or otherwise preferring to do the homestead "cooking your own meals and needing transpo when you need it" thing....well, car rentals are the way to go. You can go to the huge Hurley's grocery store down the highway at your leisure. There's even some of-roading out east although I'm not sure it that was legal or not :-) One big advantage is that you can find some of the most interesting restaurants by driving around by yourself.
We rented a scooter for the two of us and traveled up the 7-mile beach area with no problems. We ran into another couple and went to a couple beaches and enjoyed the time there. There isn't really much traffic and we had no issues or problems. They cost anywhere from 40-50$, this is in american dollars that you will be billed but keep in mind the prices you see in most places show cayman dollars (for gas) and will convert the amount for you, which will increase from the prices you see.
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Drive on the left side of the road
Important - You must obtain a Visitors Permit before driving. Remember to bring along your drivers or international licence and your Passport. I think it costs C$ 6.--. There are 3 Licensing offices:
461 Walkers Road, Georgetown
33 Elgin Ave. Georgetown
9 Rev. Black Road, West Bay
Watch out for the roundabouts - always drive in a clockwise direction - give way to traffic approaching from the right.
There are some 4 way stops - first in first out.
Switzerland - Gd Cayman
As the USA are sooo.... unfriendly with tourists, I suggest to go from Switzerland to Cuba and from Cuba to Gd Cayman with Cayman Airways... (direct flight from Basel to Habana and from Habana to Gd Cayman) !!!
Getting to Grand Cayman
Our flight was with Swiss to Miami which was a non-stop, 10 1/2 hour flight.
The crucial point was landing in Miami going through immigration which took an hour because all visitors including us had to have their digit fingers scanned and their photos taken.
After this we had to claim our luggage dash to the gate where Cayman Airways was leaving. To our horror, the girl at the counter refused to accept our e-ticket and wanted us to pay for a new ticket or stay overnight in Miami.
We of course refused to do this as we had booked over the internet and paid by credit card. She kept us waiting until the last minute before we were allowed to board with our luggage.
The very next day after landing in Grand Cayman, we made our way to the Cayman airways office to clarify things.
The girl at the counter verified that our e-ticket was OK and the girl at the counter in Miami must have made a mistake. We were relieved and put this down to another experience in flying.