Carnival Valor Western Caribbean Cruise, Grand Cayman
This is going to be a picture intensive post. We took well over 200 pictures in the beautiful Grand Cayman and I’ve narrowed them down to about 60 for this post. I’ve broken most of them up in to two photo galleries so they’re a little easier to view.
I hope you enjoy them, and this post.
Welcome to Grand Cayman
When Grand Cayman was discovered by Christopher Columbus, he named it Las Tortugas, “the turtles”, because of the many turtles on the islands. Later, in the 17th century, the islands were renamed Cayman derived from the Carib word caymanas, or crocodile, for the vast number of crocodiles on the island.
Although we didn’t encounter any crocodiles, we did see lots of turtles.
Grand Cayman Excursions
I set the alarm clock on my phone for 6am so we could spend a relaxed morning getting ready and having breakfast before we needed to be tendered to shore. We had to meet our guide at the dock between 8-8:30 am for our excursion in Grand Cayman. Our excursion was the Dolphin Swim, Stingray Interaction & Turtle Farm.
As we were being tendered to shore, I was amazed at how crystal clear the water was and utterly enthralled with the beautifully vibrant fish swimming just below the surface. My camera isn’t waterproof, so I wasn’t able to get great pictures, but I wanted to capture what I could from above. Unfortunately, they’re not very clear but I think you can get an idea of what it was like. The yellows and purples were incredibly vibrant. It was so much fun watching them just below the surface.
We were met at shore by our guide and were transported to the Cayman Turtle Farm in an air-conditioned mini-bus. It was a short ride and we were there in less than 10 minutes. The facility where we would be doing the dolphin encounter was just across the street from the turtle farm and right on the ocean. And, as crazy as it might sound, the view from the parking lot was spectacular!
Cayman Turtle Farm
One of the more popular Grand Cayman tours is the Cayman Turtle Farm. They offer many different animal exhibits including the turtle touch tanks, predators reef with nurse and sandbar sharks, and a crocodile exhibit. I believe they also have a water park, but we only had about 30 minutes to explore before our dolphin encounter so we stuck to just the turtles.
We were able to climb into the touch tanks and hold the yearling turtles. We discovered that they will kick their little arms and legs if you tickle them under their chin. They really were very cute.
Grand Cayman Stingray and Dolphin Encounter
The stingray encounter was, truthfully, a waste of time. There were about 10 of us in our tour and we literally walked single file into the wading pool and, one by one, the guy placed the stingray in front of us and let us pet it as we were told to keep walking. There was nothing interesting or educational about it. At. All.
The dolphin encounter, though, was, by far, our favorite part of this excursion. We were given a short briefing before getting into the pool about what not to do when in the pool with the dolphins. It was a very short list and consisted of common sense information. Or, at least we thought.
There was a group of 3 girls and 1 guy in their early twenties in our group that just drove the rest of us, and the tour guide, crazy. Especially the guy. He wouldn’t listen and insisted on touching the dolphins head and mouth every time it went swam past us. Finally, the tour guide got so irritated telling him not to do it, he finally reached out and slapped his hand when he, again, reached for the dolphin. I was standing next to the guy that got slapped and couldn’t help but laugh when it happened. The guide finally told him if he did it again he’d be removed from the pool and thrown out of the park without a refund. I was secretly hoping he’d try it just one more time.
My favorite part of this encounter was being pushed across the large pool on a boogie board by the dolphin. I was the first in our group to do this. I was told to swim to the other side of the pool and, once there, place the boogie board underneath me and float on my stomach with my feet firmly stretched out behind me and just above the water. I was told the dolphin would swim to me and push my foot with his nose. And that’s exactly what he did! I was amazed at how easily he was able to this is and how fast he was able to push me across the pool.
Next we were to be pulled across the pool by holding onto the dolphin’s fins. Again, I was sent out to the other side of the pool but this time I was told to hold my arm out of, and parallel to, the water. The dolphin would swim out to me and when he swam under me to gently grab onto his right fin and then the left and he would pull me back. It was such an awesome experience.
When we finally finished with our Grand Cayman excursion we were driven back to the dock. By this time, it was around 1pm and we hadn’t eaten since breakfast. We decided to have lunch onboard the ship and by the time we showered and changed for lunch, we didn’t have time to head back to shore.
We spent the rest of the evening onboard and opted for the buffet for a quick dinner. Later that evening we went to the Ivanhoe Theater to watch the Marriage Game and we laughed so hard I nearly cried at the answers given by the couple who had been married 50 years. If you’re going on a Carnival cruise, do yourself a favor and don’t miss that particular game!
David and I had a great time in Grand Cayman and look forward to going back and seeing more of the beautiful island very soon.
I used a Sony Cyber-shot (DCS-HX30V) for all of the picture in this series. (I had just bought it right before this trip and was still learning how to use it.)
Read the rest of the Carnival Valor Western Caribbean series.