I will be going on my 1st cruise in January [RCI] & based upon all of the rave reviews of Stingray City, that is my #1 choice of excursions for the trip.
I'm trying to decide on which excursion, based on other excursions that are offered. Bottom line, there's just not enough time to do everything!
I would prefer to do Stingray City on the sandbar as I have a respect for the ocean. I can swim and would not say I'm afraid of the water but I have never snorkeled and I will have a good digital camera in hand. If I did one of the other tours, in 10-12' of water, do they give you enough floatation devices so you don't have to concentrate on swimming - I want to concentrate on photography!
Or if I did the Nautilus Undersea Tour & Reef Snorkel, would the experience be similar to that at Stingray City? Then my husband could stay dry, as he prefers, & I can play!
I also would like to go to the Turtle Farm, the Rum Cake factory, & Seven Mile beach but the excursion times don't work out. Is that something we could do on our own? My husband had a bad experience on a previous cruise taking an independent tour & nearly missed the ship so he's very skeptical about non-RCI excursions. Or are they really woth going to?
DON'T miss Stingray City! It is an experience that you will remember for a long time to come! And you can stand in the water, no need to snorkel if you don't want to. And forget the nice digital camera unless you are onboard the boat, there is a lot of excitement and water being splashed around.
Instead, go to your local discount dept. store (Target, etc.) and pick up some disposable waterproof cameras. They take great pics and you wont' have to worry about them getting damaged! And they are a FRACTION of the price they will charge you on board!
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It sounds as though you are going to Grand Cayman. If so, I agree with Jean, don't miss Stingray City.
And yes, the snorkel vest (you blow in a little attached tube to inflate them, let the air out easily to dive) works just fine. I am FAR from a good swimmer and it kept me afloat quite easily.
I also didn't realize that some stingray excusions, more specifically those in Nassau, are stingrays in an enclosed (albeit LARGE) area. The beauty of the stingray city excursion in Grand Cayman was watching the rays swim up out of the ocean to the sand bar. I don't think I would like the "stringray farm" type experience much.
Stingray City made my list and my teen son's list, of something you should do before you die. Perhaps an unfortunate choice of words in light of what just happened to Steve Irwin, but nonetheless an amazing experience not to be missed.
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It's been a few years since we did this excursion but I bet it's still available. It did the turtle farm, the Hell post office, and stingray city. Whether you do Stingray City through the ship or independently, don't miss it. National Geographic did a special a year before our first trip to Grand Cayman and it was great preparation. Of course, when we saw it we had no idea that we would ever be there.
As a side note, the ride out to the area is quite long, maybe 30-45 minutes depending on the seas. The day we went the seas were very calm but on our last trip there our table mates had gotten very sea sick because the seas were rough. Of course, you have no control over that so no point in worrying.
Sting Ray City & Sandbar is a must do! The water on the sandbar is very shallow, you can stand in the water, no swimming required. Interacting with the rays is amazing. Leave the expensive digital camera in the safe in your stateroom and pick up a disposable underwater camera.