This post is sponsored by Princess Cruises.
Whether I’m cruising the Baltic or the Caribbean, somehow I always end up getting off the cruise ship and onto another watercraft. It’s a natural excursion to take when you’re cruising, because you’re constantly surrounded by water in every form—channels, sounds, rivers, bays, seas, and oceans. On the recent Caribbean cruise that Princess Cruises hosted me on, we had a full day planned to make the most of our time in the Cayman Islands, and first on our itinerary was—of course—a boat ride.
Grand Cayman was our first port on the itinerary, so it was our first time getting on and off the ship using our OceanMedallion wearable devices. Unsurprisingly, it was incredibly simple and took no more than five seconds to tap the device and have the crewmember identify me when my photo popped up on their screen. I wrote a detailed post about how many ways the OceanMedallion has changed the way I cruise, so head there for more details. In the meantime, read on about our “Stingray Encounter, Reef, Snorkel, Beach, & Lunch” excursion at Grand Cayman!
I had no reservations about any part of this excursion until we arrived at Stingray Sandbar, and I actually saw the little critters swimming around completely wild. Ironically, my favorite part about this excursion—the fact that the stingrays are not in captivity—was also the most nerve-wracking. Still, I jumped right in the water, reminding myself that this wouldn’t be a tourist attraction if it wasn’t totally safe. The key is to not to freak out if they swim close to you—remain completely still, because they’re just checking to see if you are food (you’re not). I didn’t mind the smaller, one-to-two-feet-in-diameter stingrays, but the large four-to-five-feet-wide ones did skeeve me out a little. But that was just me—everyone in our tour group was touching, holding, and kissing them!
It was a very unique chance to embrace the Princess motto, #ComeBackNew, by facing my fears and letting myself enjoy such a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I now have a stingray encounter story to tell for years to come!
After all that adrenaline, we luckily got some chill time afterwards. I always try to choose excursions with Princess that include a beach break just to make sure I get some time to myself. Included with our tour, we had a delicious fish and chips lunch at Rum Point Beach. Not included with our tour, we got our first sunburns of the trip there too—oops. We also learned a little too late that Grand Cayman is the home of the mudslide, a dangerously good chocolatey, boozy drink (which happens to be just about my favorite on a tropical getaway), but we made do with a couple of cold beers in the hot sun. It was priceless to have that time to fully immerse ourselves in island life.
We had one more jaunt out on the boat after resting up—snorkeling at one of the beautiful coral reefs that surround the Caribbean islands. This time, we saw a stingray about twenty feet away minding his own business, and I loved watching him float on by keeping us both in a more relaxed state. Our guide also showed us a gigantic lobster, and we saw tons of purple and green coral, brightly colored fish, conchs, and beautiful anemones! Snorkeling has also been an activity I’ve had to work hard to not be afraid of over the years, but now that I’ve got the hang of it, it’s such a spectacular way to experience new parts of the world. Grand Cayman is definitely one of my favorite ports I’ve ever visited with Princess, making it an easy highlight of the trip. What a perfect way to kick off a weeklong Caribbean cruise vacation.
I can’t forget to say thanks to our tour guides for the day, Solomon and Ralph. They kept everyone safe and having a great time every stop of the way. Michele and I were giddy buzzing about in those crystalline turquoise waves.
The best part? After a quick and easy tap of our Medallions to get back on board, we had a steak dinner (or exquisite seafood for me) waiting for us at Crown Grill. What can I say? Days on Caribbean Princess are what dreams are made of.
Photography by Michele Equitz, iPhone shots by me