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Grand Cayman After The Hurricane Season
One of the ports visited on our recent Royal Caribbean cruise was Grand Cayman. This was an eagerly awaited port since I've been there before but wanted to take my girlfriend scuba diving there. We were worried that we might miss this port since the Caymans were hit pretty hard by the hurricanes and indeed, they had closed the islands off to tourist travel for part of the summer/fall. Fortunately for us, Grand Cayman had reopened just about two weeks prior to our cruise at the end of November. Getting to Grand Cayman is by tender since it had a shallow harbour. This can be a potential problem in itself because we were told that if the wind and waves are too rough, the captain would cancel the port and spend the rest of the day at sea.
Apparently in the past, one of the tender boat workers had fallen and got crushed to death between the boat and the dock during one of the rougher wave days. This resulted in the cruiseships being much more careful in deciding whether to allow tendering or not given the conditions. Again, fortunately for us, the weather was picture perfect during the day we were in Grand Cayman last week. The downtown area pretty well recovered from the effects of the hurricanes and the shopping was business as usual. There were four ships at port during the day we were at port. Grand Cayman is above average in terms of cleaniness and the attitude of the locals for a Caribbean island.
It is also one of the pricier island though. Bargains can still be found though, especially in the liquor where there are examples of certain liquors being even less expensive in Grand Cayman than even Cozumel. For example, Malibu rum was $10 US in Grand Cayman, $13 in Cozumel and about $19 back in the Miami home port. Everything else like restaurants and activities were generally more expensive than other islands. According to other passengers who ventured to other parts of the island, the damage from the hurricanes was more visible with fallen trees and some buildings still not repaired yet.
A few of the organized tours by the cruiseship were also not available. We decided in advance to do some scuba diving off the shore and Eden Rocks Scuba Center was a 5 minute walk from the port. There are two decent shore dives right in front of their dive shop and we spend the morning diving the site called Devil's Grotto. Instead of paying $85 US for a typical Cayman boat dive trip, I ended up paying just $8 US for a rental for a tank. I didn't go to other parts of the island during this trip but have been to the turtle farm, Hell village and Stingray City before. They are all worthwhile sites to visit.
I wanted to take my girlfriend scuba diving at Stingray City in the afternoon but for some reason, only the snorkelling sections of Stingray City were available that day. So after returning to the cruiseship for lunch, we went back ashore to do some shopping. We would like to come back to Grand Cayman again for a longer stay in the future. In summary, most of Grand Cayman appears to be back in business again after the hurricanes. It is one of the nicer but pricier ports to visit in the Caribbean.
By: Clint Leung
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