Because of choppy seas, we could not drop anchor outside of the town of Grand Cayman; we disembarked a few miles away. Cruisers were herded onto boats holding 150 passengers at a time and transported to a "holding pen" complete with 8 foot chain link topped with barbed wire. There were a few trees and picnic tables where we waited for three cruise ships to disgorge passengers, for customs officers to check papers, and for excursion buses to assemble. We were glad we brought our bottled water from the ship, but felt like third world Ellis Island immigrants!
After an hour, there were 50 of us assembled under the "Sting Ray Cove" flag. We learned that all of the snorkeling excursions were cancelled due to the high waves, but that ours was "on". The group split into two halves and boarded the "trolley buses" for a 45 minute ride to the cove. There we all boarded a huge cabin cruiser and headed out partway to sea. The "buff" English and Australian guides were friendly and efficient in helping us don life vests and plop into the chest-high surf. They taught us the "sting ray shuffle" so we wouldn't end up like Steve Irwin, the Australian naturalist and crocodile guy.
The children in the group had to hang onto a tow rope so they wouldn't wash away. The guides fed the stingrays squid from buckets and stingrays came in droves! The stingrays are sand-papery on top and rubbery underneath and have ridiculous sucking mouths and large inquisitive eyes. We petted and took pictures in the cold water till it was time to go. The guides pointed out a luxury yacht that had run aground further out during the previous week and was slowly being pounded by the waves to pieces on the coral reef. On our boat ride back to shore we sipped cold beers and snacked on Doritos and candy bars.
This blogger and his daughter than spent the afternoon traversing the logical but serpentine main street of Grand Cayman. Because it was a British protectorate and has over 300 banks, everyone speaks perfect English. We saw enough semi-precious stones, Tanzanite, and loose diamonds to last a lifetime. The daughter had been to education classes on board and knew what to look for---she eventually settled on a 1/3 carat "Hearts of Fire" loose diamond.
We got back to the "holding pen" before the 3:00p.m. curfew after a $5.00 taxi ride. We waited 90 minutes in line to board the small boats to take us back to the mother ship. During this time, we were entertained by the bride and groom in line who had gotten married, the rumour that the Caribbean Cruise Ship was leaving without 100 passengers because they failed to show up, and our on-board magician, Mushir, who materialized at our side.
Upon our exhausted return, we crawled back to our cabin for naps before dinner. At meal-time we heard our companions' tales on land. Most had gone to "35 Mile Beach" and been wined, dined, and sunburned on a white sand stretch. Mushir the Magician did several tableside tricks, and from the look in his eyes, he had obviously fallen in love with the blogger's beautiful daughter! The food and wine were delicious. We retired to our cabins speeding through calm seas to our next destination: Jamaica!