We are very new to cruising and are in the process of trying to figure out what we want to do at each of our ports of call. We will be on Carnival's Miracle this December and have read many great things about the Stingray tours. There seems to be three seperate tours that are offered by Carnival...1. The Stingray Sandbar Tour (2.5 hours) 2. The Stingray City Tour (2.5 hours) and the Stingray City/Island Tour (3.5 hours with 45 minutes of actual snorkling). Being first time cruisers, we have no idea how to set things up independently, so we have decided to book everything through Carnival until we become more experienced.
1. Do we have to wait until we are on-board the ship before we book these and other excursions?
2. Which stingray tour should we select (our children are 11 and 13)?
3. Is there anything else on Grand Caymen we should take in?
Our other ports of call are Belize, Cozumel and Costa Maya.
I would really appreciate any and all help as we try to muddle through our plans for our upcoming trip. Thanks so much!
In Belieze many cruisers were doing the cave tubing, said it was a lot of fun, you may want to book that. You will also have a long tender ride in this port, so it may be a good idea to just book with the cruiseline.
Not sure what the differences are with your Sting Ray excursions, but definitely take the kids out there, you'll all love it, great time. Also purchase an underwater camera at home before you go, you'll find they will be double what you pay at home.
Unlike some other cruise lines, you have to wait to book your "Carnival" excursions. Do it right when you get on the ship for best availability. They might be more expensive, but the peace of mind in knowing the ship won't leave without you is worth the extra $$.
If you book the Coral Reef & Sting Ray excursion they will take you to the coral reef for snorkeling and then to the sting ray sandbar. I believe this excursion is $47/pp. I booked essentially the same thing through Soto's Cruises for $24/pp.
The ones that just say Sting Ray City just go there, no other snorkel stops.
The one for the Island tour goes to the Turtle Farm and Hell in addition to the Stingray Sandbar.
Hope this helps.
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I would suggest booking ahead of time with Sotoscruises.com for their 3 stop stingray city tour. They take you to Coral Gardens, the reef, then stingray city sandbar. Great trip for only 24 per person and we purchased the video. I absolutely loved that tour and would do it again in a second.
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Thank you to everyone who replied to my questions. You have been a big help in getting me headed in the right direction. I will definately check into Sotos Stingray Tours at GC. I will probably book the tubing at Belize through the cruise ship. Will check out Costa Maya and Cozumel excursions. Thanks again!!
Definantly go with a private tour group for the Stingray Sand bar. We went with Soto's this past January and are very happy we did. We saw the Ship excursion boat arrive... It was way over packed and by the time everyone got in the water they basically had 5min to feed the stingrays and then they were herded back onto the boat. On Soto's we had ~13people and were able to spend plenty of time in the water. It was great and the tour guides with Soto's are awsome!
I was on the Inspiration in January with the same ports of call. We did the Stingray City Tour/Island tour. It was worth it. Stingray city is great it's only a few feet deep. I am not a great swimmer and I was comfortable, they also give you life vests if needed. The Island tour takes you to the turtle farm which was great (but I love turtles). They also take you to Hell which I could of done without. I know some of the Stingray tours they provide food for you to feed the stingrays, but our tour didn't.
In Coasta Maya we did the Jungle Beach break, then in Cozumel we did the Dolphin Encounter, and then we did Cave tubing in Belize. If you ahev any other questions just ask!!!
I know you can save a considerable amount of money if you book your tours privately. That was our first cruise and we just wanted to be on the safe side so we booked through Carnival. Also you can't book yout excursions until you board the ship.
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Captain Marvin's is also a great way to do the Sting Rays. We paid $30 for 3 hrs of snorkelling on a small boat with about 20 people. We made a snorkelling stop and then went to the stingrays. They picked us up in town...but we could have been picked up at the ship. We had gone in earlier to spend some time at 7 mile beach (awesome). capt. marvin provided the gear and beverages. We had a great day!
In Belize we went right next to the tender pier and took a water taxi to Caye Caulker (45 minutes...$12 round trip) . On Caye Caulker we took a snorkelling trip to the reef ($25?) Again they provided equip. We had an awesome time there. Very quaint and rustic...not at all touristy....
We took a morning Sting Ray tour through the ship (Conquest). The boat was not over crowded only about 30 people onboard. We were given snorkle equipment and life vest. We were the first boat out to the sand bar area and the sting rays swarmed. I'd say it was about 4 ft deep (I'm 5 ft tall) The sting rays constantly knocked me off my feet and I really didn't have a good time until I snorkled farther away from the frenzy. After we had been there a half an hour the other boats showed up and the rays split up and were more managable.
I proabably would have enjoyed a tour that went somewhere to see other fish as I didn't really enjoy the sting rays.
We recently visited GC in April. We did the Stringray tour with Nativeway (nativeway.com). They are awesome. We sent some friends to them this past month and they to had a great time.
Smaller company (2-3 employees and about 20 people), less expensive. They picked us up at the port (which was changed the am we arrived due to weather and the GC Goverment), took us to the water and got us back in time to catch the tender to the ship.