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Stingray City and Snorkeling in Grand Cayman with Captain Marvin's
Posted On 03/12/2019 17:19:25
Trip Date 02/20/2019
Destinations | Cruises | Grand Cayman | George Town | Captain Marvin's | Stingray City | Swimming with Stingrays | Snorkeling in Grand Cayman | Cayman Island Shore Excursions
A group of sandbars known as Stingray City, one of the most popular attractions for visitors to the Cayman
Islands, was a highlight of our port day. Located a short boat ride from the northwest arm of Grand Cayman,
Stingray City is a unique place to learn about as well as get up close and personal with these friendly sea creatures. The
tour that we chose also included a snorkel stop where we had the opportunity to see more stingrays plus other sea life
swimming about in the turquoise blue Caribbean waters.
If you like the water and have planned or are considering a cruise with a stop in the Cayman Islands, this post is
just for you. You'll find an overview of the excursion that we joined along with a sampling of the photos from our time
ashore. Finally, we'll wrap up the post with our "WE Did It!" Evaluation to help you decide whether this tour is right for you
and your traveling companions.
Overview of Two-Stop Stingray/Snorkel Tour
In addition to a variety of other tour options, Captain Marvin's offers a Two-Stop Stingray/Snorkel Tour
perfectly designed for most cruise ship passengers. With their customer friendly policy of not charging those traveling via
cruise ship if their arrival is either cancelled or is too late for the tour departure, we were excited to test our fate again.
(Captain Marvin's tries to adjust tour departure times when they learn of late arriving ships. That, however, didn't help our
2017 planned visit since the port was completely removed from the itinerary by the cruise line. We kept our fingers
crossed that we'd have better luck this time ... and no forecasted weather disturbances!)
With multiple departures on weekdays when cruise ships are in port, the 3 1/2 hour tour (including transportation) is
bargain priced at $40.00 USD per person ($30.00 USD for children aged 4 - 12). All snorkel equipment (mask, snorkel,
fins and optional life vest) as well as round-trip transport to the boat dock is included in the price. The only optional extra
offered on the boat are photos with the stingrays (and, of course, a gratuity jar to recognize your crew).
Get this - the two-stop tour has two stops - imagine that! One stop is at the Stingray City sandbar where you'll
hang out with the rays in their natural habitat. The snorkeling stop will be at either Coral Gardens or the
Barrier Reef where you can swim with a variety of marine life.
Arriving into George Town, Grand Cayman
Because of the reefs and water depth, cruise ship passengers must arrive into George Town, Grand Cayman via
tender boats. The ride from Hog Sty Bay to the island is short but, if you are considering a DIY shore excursion,
you'll need to make sure to allow plenty of time. In addition to getting from your ship to the shore, you'll need to walk the
short distance to the easy to find Captain Marvin's office located just
across the street. That's there where you will check-in and actually pay for your tour. (Our confirmation e-mail requested
that we arrive at the office 30 minutes before our 11:15 AM scheduled tour departure time.)
Arriving by Tender at George Town, Grand Cayman with Towel and Sunscreen
Transportation by Bus and Boat
After being checked-in, ticketed passengers board a bus just outside of Captain Marvin's Waterfront Centre
business office. The air-conditioned bus ride takes about 20 minutes in each direction between the office and the dock.
Once at the dock, passengers board one of the company's boats, meet the crew who will be hosting them for the day and
learn about safety aboard.
Captain Marvin's Cayman Bear
Our ride aboard Cayman Bear was very comfortable. Scott and I were two of only six passengers who chose to
ride with the captain on the upper deck as we traveled from shore out to our first stop. (During our outbound journey, a
member of the crew checked with each passenger on shoe size and delivered fins in preparation for our snorkel stop.). We
stayed with everyone else on the lower deck during the short ride between stops and actually had the entire top deck to
ourselves during our return back to the dock!
Enjoying the ride on Cayman Bear
Our bus ride from the office directly to the dock left about 5 minutes after our designated 10:45 AM meeting time. We
spent a total of just over 2 1/2 hours between our time on the boat and in the water at our two stops. We had about a 20
minute wait from the time that we returned back to the dock until our bus transportation arrived. After one very quick stop
to drop off hotel passengers, we were back at Captain Marvin's office by 2:15 PM.
Although I was not expecting to be the only boat visiting Stingray City, I have to admit that I was surprised at the
number of tourists already there when we arrived. The good news is that there are plenty of stingrays to go around!
Arriving at Stingray City
Once anchored, everyone who wants to can exit the boat into the beautiful water via a ladder. (So as to avoid potential
harm to the stingrays, no shoes or fins are worn in the waters of Stingray City.) As the water is only 3 - 4 feet deep, for
those over 4 1/2 feet tall, it's pretty easy to stand in the water.
We started our 30 minutes circled around a crew member with a stingray named Orion where we discovered a
little about the animal species. As well as learning about the tail spine or stinger, I found it very interesting to hear that
female stingrays are typically larger than males.
Learning about Stingrays at Stingray City
Photographs in Stingray City
After our brief introduction to the stingrays, each person, couple or group had an opportunity to interact with Orion (the
"assigned stingray for our visit"!). In addition to any photos that guests were free to take, TJ, the photographer
aboard our boat, took an assortment of photos as we bonded with this amazing animal. During our visit, there were a
number of families with children, so Scott and I chose to enjoy Orion's friends swimming about while allowing the others to
first spend time with Orion.
Grand Cayman's Stingray City
One of the Many Stingrays at Stingray City
Since we patiently waited, we were rewarded with a little extra time (and a few more photos) with the stingray. It is very
seldom that we purchase optional photo packages like these, however after seeing the 34 photos that TJ took of one or
both of us with Orion, they were hard to pass up. The photos were all digital and priced based on the number of people in
the group - no matter how many photos were taken. (For the two of us, our package of photos was $52.00 USD.) Photos
are all delivered on a USB drive and those with an iPhone had the option of also receiving them via AirDrop.
Posing with Orion, the Stingray - Photo Courtesy of Stingray City
Up Close and Personal with Orion - Photo Courtesy of Stingray City
Orion's got my back in Grand Cayman - Photo Courtesy of Stingray City
Scott's Bonding with Orion - Photo Courtesy of Stingray City
Thumbs Up with a Smiling Orion - Photo Courtesy of Stingray City
They say that kissing a stingray brings seven years of good luck, so yes, we each kissed Orion before returning to the boat!
Coral Gardens Snorkel
Once we were all back on board Cayman Bear, we rode the short distance to Coral Gardens. We again had the
opportunity to enjoy the Caribbean waters - this time decked out in the fins that we received earlier plus masks and
snorkels available before exiting. The water in Coral Gardens was a little deeper (about 8 - 10 feet) where we had 30
additional minutes to enjoy the tropical sea life.
Sergeant Major in Coral Gardens
I was excited and surprised that we saw quite a few more stingrays in Coral Gardens as well.
Stingray at Coral Gardens
Keeping an eye on the Stingray
Don't Disturb the Napping Ray!
Sergeant Majors Guarding the Stingray
How many yellow fish can you count in Coral Gardens?
As our time in the water ended, we each boarded the Cayman Bear, turned in our borrowed snorkel gear and were treated
to a "shower" to rid ourselves of the ocean water.
The "WE Did It!" Evaluation
The Wordy Explorers were very pleased with our excursion choice on the island of Grand Cayman. We
would highly recommend the Two-Stop Stingray/Snorkel Tour offered by Captain Marvin's to anyone who is intrigued by these flat bodied fish. In addition
to the company's flexible booking policy for cruise ship passengers (which we experienced in 2017), Captain Marvin's was
quick to reply to both of our reservation requests. While Stingray City was the highlight of our tour, we also
enjoyed our 30 minute snorkel at Coral Gardens.
The tour is a great value at the very reasonable cost of $40.00 USD per person. The most comparable tour offered by
Celebrity Cruise Lines was priced at $79.00 USD per adult ($59.00 USD per child) and described as follows:
"Hit the inviting Cayman water to experience two of the island's best experiences. Explore the barrier reef, an
undersea world of tropical fish, aquatic plants and marine life. Keep your eyes peeled for Hector, a curious Norway eel who
loves to appear. Then, cruise to Stingray City for one of the ocean's most unique phenomena - a group of Southern
Stingrays that love nothing more than to swim, play and be hand fed by you."
In addition to being priced at nearly two times what we paid for our excursion, the only offering for the 3 1/2 hour cruise
ship tour involved a 7:30 AM starting time - a little earlier than we prefer!
If your cruise itinerary also has a port day planned for Aruba, check back in the coming days to read "13 Free
Attractions in Aruba - All You Need is a Rental Car!". We'll share both our experience with renting a car, the route that
we took around the island and a brief description of each of the 13 places to visit. Of course, we'll have plenty of photos
as well making it easy for you to choose which of the sites are most appealing to you and your travel group.
What has been your favorite thing to do when you only have one day in George Town, Grand Cayman, and why does it
rank as your number one?
Created On 03/12/2019 12:12:43
Updated On 04/01/2019 20:24:19
Scheduled On 03/12/2019 13:19:25
Posted On 03/12/2019 17:19:25
Last Editor Scott
Location Captain Marvin's Watersports Waterfront Centre, George Town, Grand Cayman