At first, I looked at the excursions offered through the cruise line. There are advantages to booking through the cruise: the companies are reputable, and the cruise ship will wait for you in the event the excursion goes late. However, because the cruise ships tend to be very large, they also tend to pair with companies that can take lots of people on their tours. I wanted to find a smaller group, and because Grand Cayman is fairly safe, I decided to look into outside vendors.
I read good reviews of Stingray Sailing, so I emailed them about availability. Fortunately, they had openings on the day we would be there. Their tour would take us to swim with the stingrays, then to a coral reef where we could snorkel. The timing of the tour easily accommodated the in-port time of the cruise ship, and there were no reviews of people who had missed their ship, so I felt confident that we'd be OK.
It was easy to find the meeting place, and once everyone gathered (there were about 25 of us), we rode in a bus to the boat. The guide explained how safe it was to be around the stingrays (basically just avoid petting their tails upwards toward their bodies), and demonstrated how to feed them without getting your thumb pinched.
It didn't take long after we got in the water for the stingrays to start coming. I wasn't scared, but a bit nervous that I might accidentally step on one. I needn't have worried, though. I didn't step on one, nor did I hear any reports of stepped-upon stingrays.
Stingrays are gentle, velvety creatures, who seem to enjoy visitors. They would brush up against us as they swam by, and they were quick to find the fish that were offered to them.
One of the nice things about Stingray Sailing is that they bring a photographer (Cayman by Catherine) on their tours. She took some great photos of each party. The photos were an additional purchase, but worth the expense.
|Photo: Collage of photos of John and I petting a stingray (photos by Cayman by Catherine)|
After at least a half-an-hour with the stingrays, we moved to the coral reef and were free to explore on our own for another half-hour or so. Snorkeling gear was provided. We observed many different fish, but the most exciting thing I saw was a green Moray eel hiding beneath a rock. I love snorkeling!
|Photo: A green eel peeks out from its hiding place|
Before I knew it, it was time to return to the cruise ship. We were back in time to comfortably go aboard. I would definitely recommend Stingray Sailing for anyone who wants to swim with the stingrays in Grand Cayman!
Do you enjoy snorkeling or swimming with ocean creatures?
Thanks for the beauty of the various creatures of the seas!