Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Grand Cayman ~
Our second 'port of call' (that just sounds cool) was Grand Cayman. I have wanted to go there for a long time, especially since reading The Firm, by John Grisham. I couldn't wait - our onboard shopping expert was absolutely bubbling with enthusiasm for Grand Cayman shopping. Hey, I'm a believer! My motto (and I do have one) is - get nice things at a good price. And no tax, please. By the way, customs is no problem...when you reenter the United States, you are allowed about $1600 per couple of duty free merchandise. But much of the jewelry is exempt, since it is hand-crafted and considered a work of art.
Grand Cayman was just absolutely gorgeous!! We didn't plan an excursion and I'm glad because we wouldn't have had time for anything else if we had. The Conquest doesn't dock there, this is a tender port, where the ships have to stop out in the bay and you are brought to shore on tender boats. It took a little longer than just walking off, but it was well worth it. You can see the tendering process here:
On the way to the island we passed some fun looking pirate ships. These would be great for families with children, since I think they stage an attack and all. And plenty of people walk the plank.
We got on a minibus to take us to Seven Mile Beach, about a 10 min. drive away. As we started down the road, our driver kept honking over and over but I couldn't figure out why. A few minutes later the mystery was cleared up when a friendly American med student got on. She told me that you hail minibuses that shuttle passengers along the main road by waving when the driver toots his horn at you. So our driver was tooting at other pedestrians to see if they needed a lift. OK, good to know.
Seven Mile Beach was just stunning. It's a lush tropical island, and the ocean was sparkling!! When you looked at it from the beach, it changed from pale green to rich turquoise, then to blue and finally a deep navy. And the sand on the shore was like sugar!! It was a gorgeous sun-kissed beach and I wish I was there right now.
We saw lots of interesting people on the beach. There was a busload of middle school girls there en masse, they were cute and seemed well-behaved. We also saw lots of families and others enjoying the beautiful day. One guy and gal who were near us saw no need to head to the changing rooms to get into their bathing suits, they employed the use of towels, held strategically, to get changed. It was all so smooth and seamless...this wasn't their first rodeo.
Don & I left the beach while Lou Ellen & Charles were waiting for their lunch. I knew we didn't have much time, and I wanted to go to town. Carnival gives you a layout of the shops, which helps so much. I was too excited even to eat until Don reminded me that we missed lunch and we stopped for a quick bite. The merchants were cordial, and many gave out free trinkets to cruise ship passengers (there were several ships there that day). Lou Ellen and I agree - our favorite free item was a small white topaz pendant. And although the clerks were attentive, there was no pressure to buy. So, exquisite jewelry + duty-free shopping + gorgeous weather = o' happy day! Don bought me a ring, a round sterling filigree setting with a Larimar (light blue) stone. Love my ring, love my husband! ♥
Then we met up with Lou Ellen and Charles and went to some more shops. Lou Ellen bought a lovely pearl necklace, and I got some fun bracelets that wrap around your wrist with magnetized beads. But all too soon, it was time to head for the ship. The last free tender left the pier at 3:30 and we had to be on it.
We didn't have nearly long enough on Grand Cayman. But we're going back. Not sure when, but we will. And you can take that to the bank...