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Jeni September 17th, 2004 07:24 PM

Grand Cayman tour recommendation - from an Inspiration cruis
My entire family was on the Inspiration cruise that left Tampa on Sept. 7 (our cruise was shortened from 7 to 5 days due to Hurricane Frances). We had a great time! We only got to visit two ports - Grand Cayman and Cozumel.

We had done some research on these boards and decided to use Soto Cruises for a snorkeling and stingray tour. We made reservations with Kerry before we left home in NC. She was GREAT! We originally wanted to go to Hell too so we could mail postcards to friends, but the added cost for the side trip was too much for us since we had a group of 15 people! So, Kerry offered to go to Hell and buy as many postcards as we needed so we could write and address them on board during our tour. She then offered to mail them for us from Hell later! We told her to watch for information about the Inspiration arrival in Grand Cayman since we weren't sure when Carnival would schedule the stop.

Since the cruise delayed a couple of times, we were on the road in GA when Carnival delayed the cruise leaving (and ports of call) twice. We couldn't contact Kerry to tell her about the changes in the cruises. We worried a little about them meeting us since we were two days later than our original arrival date. We got to the arranged meeting spot about 30 minutes early and waited. We were so excited when Soto Cruises pulled up right on time!!! The tour included my family of 15 and about 8 additional folks.

Soto Cruises took us to two different snorkeling spots (one was at the barrier reef) and the guide made sure he found us a shark and other creatures to see! Then we went to Stingray City where we could swim with the stingrays. Our guide gave us some background on these beautiful animals and how to stay safe. They made sure everyone had time to hold and pet the rays. Our group got so much time and attention compared to the tours that had booked with Carnival. Their boats had 60-100 people on them! The price was great, too! $24 per person included snorkeling equipment (adult and children's sizes available), transportation to and from boat, the tour, water & lemonade, and sting ray food (squid!). A great deal!

Due to the hurricane, our time in Grand Cayman was short and we were worried about
getting back to the ship on time. The last tender was supposed to be at 1:00 ship time (Grand Cayman is one hour behind). We arrived back to the pier for tender at 1:01 and there was a ton of folks still there waiting to tender.

Because we were cut short in Grand Cayman, we didn't get a chance to see anything else. I really want to go back!

I've written another message about our Cozumel adventure in case anyone is interested.


cruiser1999 September 17th, 2004 08:10 PM

Re: Grand Cayman tour recommendation - from an Inspiration c
Jeni.. Thanks for the info. We're going to Grand Cayman in November, and MUST do the Stingray tour!!

dmthoms76 September 17th, 2004 08:46 PM

Re: Grand Cayman tour recommendation - from an Inspiration c

Thank you for the info, I sail on the Inspiration in five months. I hope to go to these ports. I know the Caymans were hit bad, I have seen the pictures. The turtle farm was wiped out, many parts of buildings were washed out into the ocean, I can't imagine how they can get all of that cleaned up.
They are getting a lot of help though and I don't feel guilty about wanting to visit that port in the future because they depend on the tourists and the best thing we can do is give them some business again.


DougR. September 20th, 2004 11:59 AM

Re: Grand Cayman tour recommendation - from an Inspiration c
I am glad I got to Grand Cayman in August before Ivan. To keep up with things there, here is a link for the local news

Brenda in Canada September 20th, 2004 10:25 PM

Re: Grand Cayman tour recommendation - from an Inspiration c
I sure hope things are back to business there when we go in Jan. We plan on booking with Sotos also. (My last&only previous cruise-we did not make it into GC for tender; due to "choppy water";I think I could have swam in as it did not look too bad to me!!) Glad you had a good time there!!

browezilla September 20th, 2004 11:01 PM

Re: Grand Cayman tour recommendation - from an Inspiration c
I booked 22 people with Soto last year, and we all thought they were excellent. For the dollar, it was the best excursion I've been on.

mahirsch September 21st, 2004 12:22 PM

Re: Grand Cayman tour recommendation - from an Inspiration c
Great to hear about your tour. How lucky you are to have made Grand Cayman. We took a W. Caribbean cruise and that was the only port I really wanted to see, but could not due to water to choppy to board tenders to the island. Will definitely try to get there again and hopefully do the same tour. I hope the island recovers quickly, they have much work ahead of them due to Ivan.

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