Saturday, April 18, 2020

February 28, 2020 – Grand Cayman Island – Partly Cloudy – 83F

I could tell something was wrong when I went up to breakfast and the ship was still sailing and not at anchor.

While I was having my other standard breakfast of pancakes and eggs, Rich came on and indicated that we could not anchor at Georgetown due to high winds and rocky seas so we were going to anchor on the south side of the island (a 15 minute bus or taxi ride to Georgetown).  We purchased tours today, “Grand Cayman by Land and Sea”, so we are hoping that they figure out a way to run the tours anyhow.  In any event, we are going to see a different part of the island from our new anchorage.  Because of the rough seas, we will not be doing the “Sea” part of the tour on the Atlantis Submarine (the tour price will be readjusted).

We went to the Theater to pick up ticket 43 for this tour and then caught the local tender to port – the local tenders are huge, carrying at least twice the number of passengers that our life craft can carry.  

In addition, they employ a flexible ramp that extends from the pontoon to the boat so you don’t have to jump the gap between ships.  The tender is bobbing more than two feet so the ramp comes in handy.  On the way in, I could see the tender port along the shore.  I also got a picture of the Reflection anchored with one of the tenders near the ship.

The tender ride was very short and smooth and the tender port is small with very few facilities.  

The other ship here today is the MSC Armonia.  

Before leaving the tender port, I took a picture of Reflection out in the Caribbean.

MSC Armonia is also tendering and the two ships have their separate roped off lanes for disembarking and embarking. 

The shore line near the tender port is not a beach but rather interesting lava like formations.

Fortunately, the tender port did have decent facilities as there would be a wait until the groups would depart.  Everyone from Reflection was gathered in a group, some standing around and others in a tent sent up in the open area near the dock.  There were a few vendors there but we weren't sure we had time to check them out.

We stayed in the tent for a few minutes before being escorted to our Bus #6, driven and narrated by Delray.  It is a small bus holding about 20 passengers and we are in the last two seats in the back (the only ones left when we got on).  Hoping for a smooth ride. 

For the first few minutes, Delray was not using a mic and we thought we would hear nothing on this tour.  He then turned on the mic but it helped only a little since he had a heavy “island” brogue.  We headed through a commercial area, with all of the fast food places, nail salons, and other shops. This was all new to us since we usually explore only central Georgetown on foot. There are very few STOP signs and traffic is managed by roundabouts, which are everywhere.  We passed the Georgetown Airport, with its squadron of private jets. 

Our first stop was the Cayman Turtle Center

where we were guided to ponds containing Green Turtles 

snapping turtles, baby turtles,

and a lone crocodile.  The CTC was a very nice facility which also featured swimming ponds where I guess you could swim with sea creatures (although, we didn’t see any creatures).  

We also had some free time so we stopped in at the restaurant and I had a local beer, Caybrew

that ran $6 a can.  Not a bad beer but a can?  

While I drank my beer and we watched kids and adults swimming in the little lake, other people in the restaurant were having full meals (pricey - this is Grand Cayman).  I am not sure what the food was but it did look good.

We bought some stuff in the gift shop a, a process that was slow and tedious, and boarded the bus for our next stop just on time – our total time here 60 minutes.

Our next stop, about five minutes away was the Tortugula Rum Factory, which is not a factory but just a place that sells the island specialty, rum cake.  I tried a microscopic piece of cake and a taste of chocolate rum.  To get to the water, you had to cross a semi-busy highway.  After crossing, we did get some nice pictures of the angry sea, 

which changed all the plans for today.  Now that we were on this side of the street we tried mini pieces of two kinds of rum cake from another cake factory.  A 15 minute stop of low value.

Our final stop is the geological site, “Hell”, which was less than five minutes from the rum factories.  

Hell is an interesting limestone formation that has been modified by the elements to looks like an otherworldly place.  The big attraction here is the post office that, for a buck, will sell you a stamped postcard postmarked “Hell”.  Another low value stop of about 15 minutes.  Every other joke from Delray during this tour involved "going to hell" - it did not live up to its hype.

However, I did get a nice panoramic shot of the formation.  I seem to remember it being bigger the last time we were here.

From there, it was a quick 30 minute ride to the tender port.  There were long lines for both ships but people got on the boats quickly because of their capacity.  The two queues for the tenders (one for each ship) were right next to each other, again separated by a rope.  This is the first time we have seen MSC crew - they were all decked out in very spiffy dark blue and light blue shirts and short combos.  

We were back on Reflection in about 20 minutes.

We had lunch in the Oceanview Café – green salad plus some tuna and egg salad.

Ellen spent her day on Deck 5, which was too windy for me so I was up in the Solarium, which for some reason, was deserted.  I am 70 percent through “The Last Widow” and hope to finish it in the next day of so.

We had dinner in the Opus Dining Room – I had the Tuscan Minestrone (OK) and the Tilapia Putanesca (I liked it) and Ellen had the Spinach Turnover, the Asian Salad, and the Broiled Salmon.  We both had Apple Pie without ice cream for dessert.

Showtime tonight was “All McCartney Live”

a kind of tribute band to the Music of Sir Paul.  The lead singer, Ian Garcia, played Paul McCartney in “RAIN”, a tribute to Paul on Broadway.  They were good musicians, and Ian Garcia displayed some of the tics and moves of Paul McCartney but they were loud.  We stayed, however, for all but the last song.  It was interesting to note that Ian Garcia had a McCartney accent until he told everyone that the band was from Canada and the accent disappeared.  They were entertaining but loud.

After a few minutes in the Solarium, the only quiet spot on the ship, we retired to our cabin.

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