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StingRay City and Hell

Grand Cayman and Dis-embarking


View Grandeur of the Seas and Pearl 2007 & 2008 Winter Road Trip on greatgrandmaR's travel map.

Wednesday - 26 December 2007 - Grand Cayman - Second Visit

With over 50,000 residents, Grand Cayman is approximately 76 square miles. It is the largest of the three Cayman Islands. The other two are Little Cayman and Cayman Brac
Grand Cayman from the ship

Grand Cayman from the ship


This time our tour was to meet in the theatre to get our tender tickets (Grand Cayman is a port where everyone tenders in) at 11:20. So Bob went up and got his breakfast on his own, and I went to the restaurant and had Eggs Benedict. There were three other ships already there when we arrived about 9:30 and NCL Majesty came later. There was
Carnival Freedom

Carnival Freedom


with the whale tail,
Grand Princess

Grand Princess


which was a gross looking ship, and
Celebrity Century

Celebrity Century


which I thought looked like a white barge with stacks of I-beams on it. Those three ships were anchored - we were not. The Captain said he was just going to maintain position with the bow thrusters and the azipods.
Grand Cayman shuttle

Grand Cayman shuttle


Bob got some towels before the tour - NCL makes you sign the towels out, and if you don't get them back, you have to pay for them. We met with our tour group, and all loaded onto the tender
NCL Pearl tender times

NCL Pearl tender times


(everyone was using the regular tenders and not lifeboats). Then we all got into minibuses - I sat in the front. They drive on the left. Gas was about 4:25/gal, but diesel was only $3.99. The Cayman dollar is worth 80 cents US.
Left hand mirror - they drive on the left

Left hand mirror - they drive on the left

This was to be an island tour and Sting-Ray City, but they took us to do the sting rays first which was an extremely inconvenient way to do it as you did the rest of the tour wet. On the way, the driver pointed out
large_100_1285.jpg
the oldest house
Governor's House

Governor's House


and all the four and five star hotels.
Big hotel

Big hotel


After the bus driver admonished us to be sure to come back to his bus (Bus #5),
100_1258.jpg
we all got off and onto a large pontoon boat (M/V Sun Rayz) run by Kirk Tours. I wondered whether to bring my cane or leave it on the bus, but in the end, I took it. Leaving it on the bus would have probably been better - it was more of an encumbrance than help.
Welcome Sign as we got on the boat

Welcome Sign as we got on the boat


As we got on the boat, they handed out snorkeling vests to each of us. Having done a dry run (or wet run) yesterday, we were already in our bathing suits. The lady at the excursion desk had warned that we might do the stingrays first and had also assured me that we would have a place to change on the boat. Well we did - sort of. There were two bathrooms. There was a little shop at the stern on the other side, and in the center a kind of bar area with a bikini clad blonde girl serving drinks.
Sting Ray Cafe sign on the boat

Sting Ray Cafe sign on the boat


As we rode out to the site, the guide got on the microphone and talked to us about sting rays, but because of his accent and the blurryness of the mike, we couldn't understand much of what he said. I put on my dive skin and got out my mask and snorkel, and underwater camera, which now worked. We had to take off our shoes because the guide said that we might damage the sting rays by stepping on them.

When we got to the area, there were about 10 boats there and probably 75 people (conservative estimate) in the water, with many sting rays swimming about.
Stingray City sand bar

Stingray City sand bar


The water was from chest to waist deep.

We were told to keep our feet on the ground, but that was difficult for me because I float so well. I took some pictures,
006_3a.jpgSwimming stingrays

Swimming stingrays


Sting Ray

Sting Ray


but all those people stirred up the sand, so the water wasn't clear.
014_11a.jpgWater level

Water level


Petting the stingray

Petting the stingray

Bob looking under water with his snorkel

Bob looking under water with his snorkel


The guide gave me a piece of squid to feed one of the rays with. It was sucked out of my hand.
Bucket of squid to feed the rays

Bucket of squid to feed the rays

Good photo of a sting ray

Good photo of a sting ray

029_26a.jpgRay swimming along the bottom

Ray swimming along the bottom


Then Bob got on board and changed and I followed him. After I changed, I took some photos with my digital camera from the boat.
Boats and people

Boats and people


Guide holding a stingray from the boat

Guide holding a stingray from the boat


On the way back they were selling hot dogs for $3 but we didn't buy any.
Other side of the Welcome sign - "Tips are always appreciated"

Other side of the Welcome sign - "Tips are always appreciated"


Sign pointing to Hell and Tortuga

Sign pointing to Hell and Tortuga


Back on the bus, we drove out along Seven Mile Beach,
Passing 7 mile beach

Passing 7 mile beach


past cemeteries
Dixie Cemetery

Dixie Cemetery


Then we stopped at a rocky place where they had conch shells for sale.
Line of conch shells

Line of conch shells


We could look back and see five ships - NCL Majesty had arrived after us
Line-up of ships

Line-up of ships


Then we went to Hell,
Welcome to Hell

Welcome to Hell


which had a post office and gift shop.
Sign on the wall

Sign on the wall

6751583-License_Plates_Grand_Cayman.jpgFool the Devil and Keep Hell Clean

Fool the Devil and Keep Hell Clean

gift shop

gift shop


I would have liked to get one of the T-shirts that said "My grandparents Really LOVE me because they brought me back this T-shirt from Hell".
T shirts I wanted to buy

T shirts I wanted to buy


But my back hurt me and Bob was still on the bus so I didn't get it. Then we went to Tortuga
6751571-Tortuga_sign_Grand_Cayman.jpgTortuga

Tortuga


(next to a restaurant called the Cracked Conch)
Cracked Conch restaurant next door

Cracked Conch restaurant next door

Beach area

Beach area


where they had free samples of rum cake, and where we could buy both the rum and rum cake.
Some of the products in the store

Some of the products in the store


There was a bicycle tour there, and I heard one of the locals complaining to another one that you couldn't sell stuff to bicyclists.
Bike tourer

Bike tourer


There was some kind of little canal
People standing on the rock shore

People standing on the rock shore


next to the place with some piping and machinery, and in the canal were spiny urchins.
Black sea urchins

Black sea urchins


I noted many different colored license pates, so I asked the driver (I was sitting in the front seat next to him). He said the yellow were private vehicles, the red were buses, the orange were commercial, the blue were business vehicles, and white were rental cars.
6751585-License_Plates_Grand_Cayman.jpg6751582-License_Plates_Grand_Cayman.jpg6751587-License_Plates_Grand_Cayman.jpg6751584-License_Plates_Grand_Cayman.jpg
Then we drove back the way we came. As we got off the bus, I saw an interesting church across the street so I walked over and found some graves, including
Frederick S McTaggart - Evangelist

Frederick S McTaggart - Evangelist


Frederick McTaggart- Evangelist who died in 1904
Frederick McTaggart's wife Mary Catherine

Frederick McTaggart's wife Mary Catherine


Our darling babe - age 11 years and 18 days

Our darling babe - age 11 years and 18 days


The church also had a cross dedicated to "The Glorious Dead" from 1914-1918 and also WWII.
on the lower one
Monument to "The Glorious Dead"

Monument to "The Glorious Dead"


The church itself was of Historic Interest and was in the National Trust of the Cayman Islands.
United Memorial Church

United Memorial Church


I walked back to the tender dock and got onto the tender
Cranes

Cranes


I was actually on the same tender as Bob (he had gone on ahead of me), but he sat on the upper deck, and I sat on the lower deck
Returning to the ship

Returning to the ship


He returned the towels and hung our stuff to dry - he had inadvertently gone into the water with his step counter on, and it had gotten water in it and it would not dry out.

We ate in the Summer Palace near to where I could see the sunset.
Sunset

Sunset


At dinner I had the
Spinach and onion turnover

Spinach and onion turnover

Chilled strawberry soup

Chilled strawberry soup

Leg of Lamb and lentil salad

Leg of Lamb and lentil salad

l
I didn't think much of the salad or the 'braised vegetables which were mostly carrots, but I ate the lamb. Bob also had the lamb and soup. For dessert, he had the English Trifle, which was layers of vanilla cream and berries, and I had the Sugar Free Vanilla Cream Puff

Sugar Free Vanilla Cream Puff

Thursday 27 December 2007 - Sea Day

We had breakfast in the Blue Lagoon, and I ordered the special which was scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, tomato, mushrooms, potato and baked beans, and told them to hold the sausage and baked beans. But instead they held the eggs. Bob ordered bacon and eggs. I asked him if he would take my sausage and he did and gave me his bacon instead. We did get cranberry juice this time, as they apparently went down and got some since the last time we were here

Bob went to walk around the deck, and I went back to the room, but it wasn't ready yet. I really wanted the sand vacuumed up off the floor so I told the steward to go ahead and do it now, and I would go somewhere else. I took the elevator up to the 13th deck. I discovered that the elevator would go to deck 14 -- but ONLY if you had an appropriate room key to insert into a slot to get there.
9e60c3c0-a4e1-11ea-b5fa-8162538df561.jpgPool deck from Cagney's

Pool deck from Cagney's


Deck 13 was the Spinnaker Lounge, but it was at the bow end and I was amidships. I ended up in Cagney's, the steak house.
cCagneysVIP.jpgCagney's and VIP area deck

Cagney's and VIP area deck


There was breakfast being served in a part of Cagney's dining room, but that was just for VIPs they said. There was also the running track - one way counter clockwise.
Arrow on the running track - deck 13

Arrow on the running track - deck 13


For lunch, Bob went up to the Garden Cafe and I went to the restaurant. I had
Pineapple Coupe with Pina Colada Dressing

Pineapple Coupe with Pina Colada Dressing


and Cooking Light Vichyssoise, and then I had a hot dog and
"Opera"

"Opera"


which was Vanilla Genoise, Mocha Buttercream, Chocolate Ganache (according to the menu). It was a piece of layer cake a about twice as big as a petit four.

We could see Cuba off to the starboard. Bob went to the dis-embarkation talk, but I knew it would be on the TV later. They gave us a list of the criteria for the different tag colors, and he figured we fitted in the next to last category, which was Deck 5 doing your own arrangements. That was Brown. So he got the brown tags, and he packed in the afternoon

For dinner, we shared with someone who was in line with us with whom we discussed the difficulty in getting someone to share. Bob asked for
Island fruits

Island fruits


and instead got Melon and Prosciutto - which he sent back and got what he'd asked for. I got the Fried Shrimp won tons

Fried Shrimp won tons


I had the rhubarb and strawberry soup, and he got the New England Clam Chowder. He got the Pork Loin, and I got the Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan


I would have liked some more parmesan cheese, but none was forthcoming. We both just had ice cream for dessert.

I didn't get packed until after dinner. I had apparently lost one of my LLBean shoes that I wear to the pool and places like that, but when I took all my shoes out of the cubby hole I'd put them in, Bob found that shoe - the cubbyhole was too high up for me to see into.

I started looking for cruises that started in the US but that went to places we'd not been before on a small ship.

First I did the list of the sizes of the boats. There are some that are really small, but they are mostly river boats. These looked to be
about the right size

Prinsendam 794 *****+ (5 star plus)
NCL Crown 1026 **** (no longer available)
Maasdam 1266 **** (and Ryndam, Veendam and Statendam)
Rotterdam 1316 ****

And these are too big
Grandeur and Enchantment of the Seas and also Sun, Island and Coral Princesses, Millennium, Infinity, and Constellation 1950 ****
NCL Pearl 2400

Then I started down the list looking at where the appropriate size boats went. I came up with a cruise on the Prinsendam which was 26 days RT from Ft. Lauderdale to South America. Bob didn't seem to think much of that idea - neither the places it went (it goes up the Amazon) nor the length.

Friday 28 December 2007 - Disembarkation Day

We woke up really early and saw the boat enter Government Cut and turn around on the bow camera. We were tied up about dawn. So the boat was cleared for disembarkation about 7 and started making announcements about colors that could leave. We noticed that they now included in the announcements that people who were staying with the ship and wanted to go into Miami today could get off whenever they wanted to.

We went down and had a nice peaceful breakfast in the Summer Palace. Apparently, they alternate the duty restaurant on the day they do the embarkation/disembarkation. Then we went back to our cabin, and relaxed until our tag number was called. I did notice that Bob's night light was still in the bathroom. So we didn't lose that.

When our color was called, we took the elevator up to the crystal atrium and walked off. While I was in line to get off (they had people coming from two directions in two lines each merging toward the gangway), I called Avis and asked if there was a shuttle, but they were astonished that I would think that there was such a thing for the port - only the airport. I had asked about the ship shuttle to the airport, but that cost either $9 each or $15 each, and I was too late to get included.

There were lines for customs/immigration. I think we had a rookie inspector, as he had a hard time with some people in front of us who were not US citizens. But we cleared and went to the baggage area.

Bob gave the baggage to one of the baggage handlers, who found us a cab and he tipped him $10. From his reaction, I think that was too much.

The cab to Avis cost $28 and Bob gave him $32. I left Bob with the luggage and went to stand in line. There was a long line, and apparently they didn't have any cars to speak of. The man next to me came in for a car and they had none for him. But I don't think he had a reservation. After a long wait (there were three or four agents, and they were really slow - my agent couldn't read the paper that I had printed out - I had to show her my reservation number at the top of the page), they gave us a Chevy Cobalt (white) with Virginia tags.
Chevy Cobalt

Chevy Cobalt


I took the keys out to Bob, and stood with the luggage while he found the car and drove it around to load it. It is so small that all our luggage won't fit in the trunk. One duffle and another small bag are in the back seat. This car didn't have an owners manual with it the way the one from Dollar did, but it was also a GM product and I had read that manuel to Bob as we were driving, so he was eventually able to figure out how to set the trip odometer.

By noon, we were driving across Route 41 looking for a place to eat lunch.
Route US 41 across Florida

Route US 41 across Florida


Of course there's nothing along there. We finally ate at a Burger King just before we turned north to get to I75 at about 1300. Bob had been complaining that the steering wheel was in the way of the speedometer, and I suggested that maybe he could move it. So before we left the Burger King, he did that (as we thought it might not be a good idea to try it while we were moving), and put it in a much better position.
Turning north to Tampa after lunch

Turning north to Tampa after lunch


I was working with the mapping program to see which was the best way to get to MacDill AFB, and I had the choice of the Crosstown Expressway from the east which was a toll, but I didn't know how much, and the bridge over Tampa Bay that we used before, which we knew that it was $1 toll. So we took the bridge.

The mapping program did not tell us exactly which was the entrance to the base, so we ended up trying to follow the fence around. They did ask for Bob's ID (the car doesn't have a sticker of course), but didn't ask for mine. Even though the sign said 100% ID check, there was more security at the cruise ship port.

Then we didn't know exactly where the MacDill Inn was, and the directions we were given at the gate (to billeting which I wasn't sure was the right place) had too many turns for us to actually remember.

We also got distracted by seeing the Exchange and Commissary. We got fuel in the car right away before going to the Inn. We had gone 276 miles and it took 7.7 gallons of gas.
598729503837054-Driving_towa.._AFB_Tampa.jpgDriving toward Tampa Bay on MacDill AFB

Driving toward Tampa Bay on MacDill AFB


Now we were lost. So I called the Inn on our cell phone and talked to the desk guy. He said, could we see the Bay? I said we could see airplanes and hangers. I put the phone on speaker, and he could hear Bob arguing with me about where to turn. We were supposed to turn on Key West Ave (which we did) but Bob didn't realize that we were there and wanted to turn off of it when we reached the chapel (which was one of the landmarks). Eventually, the MacDill Inn guy said that he could see us and we did get there.

The desk guy couldn't find our reservation and asked for the number. I had written it down on the calendar and it was so similar to the car reservation number that I wasn't sure it was right. He found that they had spelled our name Veasley which was why he couldn't find it when he looked. We were checked in before 1730.

This facility is only available to military or retired military. Active duty on change of station orders are given preference. Retired military (like my husband) can only stay for three days and can't make reservations more than a month in advance. The Inn cost $30/night for Visiting Officers.

We had a living room with a TV in a big cabinet, a couch, and a desk and chair.
3837055-Living_room_TV_cabinet_Tampa.jpg TV cabinet and Living room

TV cabinet and Living room


On one side was a
Kitchen with under counter refrigerator, a two burner stove, a sink and a microwave (and utensils)

Kitchen with under counter refrigerator, a two burner stove, a sink and a microwave (and utensils)


There was a separate bedroom also with a TV
3824708-Bedroom_Tampa.jpgBedroom and closet with iron

Bedroom and closet with iron


Bathroom

Bathroom


And of course, there was free wi-fi in the lobby.

The desk guy also gave us a really good tip for a place to eat called Estelas. First Bob went to the commissary which he said was fantastic with just about everything you could want there, but it was disorganized. He bought almost $100 worth of stuff.

Then we went and ate at
Estelas

Estelas

Fish tank inside

Fish tank inside


Bob's combo #5  (Enchilada, rice and beans ) $10.19

Bob's combo #5 (Enchilada, rice and beans ) $10.19


My Taco Shrimp salad for $10.85

My Taco Shrimp salad for $10.85


It had lots and lots of little shrimp in the bottom under the lettuce. Bob saw someone eating a large ice cream dessert and he figured that was the Grande Sopapilla

Grande Sopapilla


which was ice cream, chocolate sauce and whipped cream on a large fried flour tortilla. So we had one of those to share, and even with two of us we had a hard time eating it all.

We were out of there before 2000. As we were driving back to the base we noticed that the street signs were illuminated from inside, and the lights had a white light on the bottom which was on when that light was green
Illuminated Street Sign

Illuminated Street Sign


Only at the major intersections though. Bob dropped me and the computer off at the main lobby building, and went back to the unit to watch TV.

Tomorrow we start our 2008 Winter Road Trip

Posted by greatgrandmaR 20:39 Archived in Cayman Islands Tagged miami conch tampa hell stingrays car_rental grand_cayman mcdill

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