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
- Family Travel
- Luxury Travel
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.
- Family Travel
- Luxury Travel
Public Transport --good and loud
The local public buses leave from the library on Edward St. They are like VW buses and sit up to 10 people in a pinch. The cost runs up to $2-3 usd to go about Grand Cayman. They all have blue license plates to identify them by. It's a good deal if you don't mind loud reggae music. Tour buses, like the one shown, are also a good deal if you want a ride with explanation.
- Budget Travel
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.
Local bus is best
When on Grand Cayman without your own transportation, try the local bus....It's convenient, relatively timely, and very cheap. If you have the time to just wander, this is the way to go. Why pay $35-$50 (US) for a "3-hour all inclusive tour of the famous sites" when you can see the same sites in about the same amount of time (faster if you want) for about $5.00 or less......
The best way to get around for those on a budget is the bus.
They are in fact mini-vans and don't really have designated stops (exept its departure point).
You can find the bus just behind the Library in George Town.
They are quite frequent, efficient, not expensive and a good solutions for those who stops on Grand Cayman during a cruise.
If you plan on staying longer, it may be a good idea to rent a car.
- Budget Travel
- School Holidays
Drive on the left side of the road
Important - You must obtain a Visitors Permit before driving. Remember to bring along your drivers or international licence and your Passport. I think it costs C$ 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.
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.
Eplore the island
There's very little public transportation, so your better off renting a car, moped, or motorcycle. The roads are safe and in good condition, just make sure your comfortable with driving on the left side of the road.
- Diving and Snorkeling
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
Local Transportation in Grand Cayman
Mostly all the conviences are within walking distance to your hotel like the beach/pool, stores and restaurants. Anything too far to walk to will require taking a tour, cab, or bus. Also, renting a car, may be an option.
Our hotel was centrally located so we either walked everywhere or called for a cab. The cabs were reliable and clean, but expensive, however, everything in Caymans is expensive.
The bus is a very non-conventional van that drives up to the curb and stops at the driver's discretion. We used this method a few times, I was a bit nervous but we fell right along into the routine after the first or second time. You enter an old van and then get shuttled between various pick ups and drop offs of locals at different "bus stops". It was a bit weird, almost like being in a friend's car except that we were in a strangers car, it was not offial at all, like gypsy cabs. I wouldn't do this on my own, I was with my hubby so it was fine and also it was always during the day. I tell you we had some good times chatting and laughing with the locals.. I think it was something like $2 USD a per person and less for Cayman money. The drivers are very accepting of USD.
Tour buses are not really our thing so we didn't try this, but it must be a viable method of transportation to the sights.
Rental cars, one thing I regret is not getting a rental car at least for a day or two, there were some great restuarants that would have been nice to visit (about 30 minutes from where we were staying) that we just couldn't get to because of distance and cabs would have been way too much. I would recommend getting a rental car!!!!
One thing I learned is that having your own means of transporattion means alot and that is something we certainly always take for granted, not any more!
Rental vs other - depends on your destinations
Getting around Grand Cayman Island all depends on where you are going. Seriously.
If you plan on scooting about Georgetown and all the more active spots, then rental is not for you. Parking is non-existent. Even if you're staying in Georgetown or 7-Mile, finding parking is really hard. For those, use the local taxis and all the major sites can be accessed by telling your front desk - they simply call a local tour group and have their day-trip bus pick you up at the door.
For those staying on the East End or otherwise preferring to do the homestead "cooking your own meals and needing transpo when you need it" thing....well, car rentals are the way to go. You can go to the huge Hurley's grocery store down the highway at your leisure. There's even some of-roading out east although I'm not sure it that was legal or not :-) One big advantage is that you can find some of the most interesting restaurants by driving around by yourself.
We rented a scooter for the two of us and traveled up the 7-mile beach area with no problems. We ran into another couple and went to a couple beaches and enjoyed the time there. There isn't really much traffic and we had no issues or problems. They cost anywhere from 40-50$, 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.
- Budget Travel
- Women's Travel
- Gay and Lesbian
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
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.
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.