Grand Cayman Excursion Help!

dreamer17555

DIS Veteran
Joined
Dec 17, 2007
So I am looking at 4 potential excursions in Grand Cayman. If anyone has feedback on any below I would be so grateful!

  • First one is Stingray Sandbar & Reef Sail (G78)- This is the one with a catamaran and snorkeling after visiting the stingrays

  • Second one is Stingray City thrilling Experience (G89)- This is the shortest one and just visits the stingrays

  • Third is Dolphin Swim and Stingray City (G48)- Appears the dolphin part is at Dolphin Discovery... I have mixed feeling on Dolphin swims but my son has been talking about them a lot recently but it doesn't sound like much focus on the stingray part

  • Final one is Stingrays and Seven Mile Beach (G85)- Comes with lounge chairs on 7 Mile Beach, we enjoy a good beach but it might be a long day.
Any suggestions, thoughts, or feedback would be very appreciated!
 
We did Dolphin Swim and Stingray City (G48) last summer. Stingray City was the highlight of the entire cruise for us and it would have been great to do a longer excursion there. I can't give the Dolphin Swim a positive review and would definitely not do it again.
 
I hate putting a negative review out there but I went in with a very open mind/didn't think twice about booking it since it's a DCL excursion. We were just at AK just yesterday. We all know the Disney version of wildlife conservation. I didn't hesitate to book the dolphin swim, thinking it was in the same spirit of Disney - I was just being naive. I had assumed they were rescues or injured/rehabbed or something but at least one that we swam with was born there. Their faces were terribly scratched up. The water was FILTHY with extra food bits and excrement. I don't have a soap box for this topic, but my kids knew it was wrong when they were in the water, so as a parent I felt like we were able to use it as a teaching experience but it was sad. I am sorry I paid for it and that I perpetuated those dolphins' situations.
 
Since you mentioned not liking the idea of supporting the dolphin swims (I don't either) you might want to look into Stingray Sailing (https://stingraysailing.com/). Even though the stingrays are not captive many tour operators don't treat them the best.

They cruise ship excursions are very large and they tend to hold the stingrays for long periods to pass them around for tourist pictures. We opted for Stingray Sailing because they cap their trips at 18 and they treat the stingrays very humanely and do not restrain them. Our trip was just us and one other family so we had a semi-private trip. They provide transportation to/from the port and when we asked they recommended a restaurant to us for a late lunch right by the port where they dropped us off rather than back at the ship. I would absolutely recommend them and would definitely use them again!
 
I don't have experience with the exact excursions you listed but I wanted to chime in on Stingray city. [We did stingray city and something with starfish]

Stingray city is a pretty big excursion and I wish I would have researched more prior to doing it. We were a party of 10 which included 4 adults and 6 kids between ages 5 and 14. They take you out to a sandbar to interact with wild stingrays. My 3 kids were 5,7,and 9 at the time and are pretty strong swimmers and have been snorkeling and such quite a bit. This excursion was too much for them.

The water depth can vary, some people experience it at waist deep. For us that was not the case. I am 5'8' and the water was up to my shoulders and with the waves there was a pretty decent current pushing me around. Even my oldest struggled and had to be held. I expected to get to enjoy watching the wild rays swimming around but there were TONS of boats around and the guides would grab the rays for pictures versus letting them swim around. People were EVERYWHERE. A couple rays did swim up to us and they were also very pushy aggressive looking for food which really freaked my little ones out even more.

For us it was not what I expected at all. My husband and I had done the Castaway stingray excursion on our last cruise and loved it, we plan to take my kids to that one next time. A much calmer, more kid friendly excursion.

Just make sure those in your party can handle the stingray city excursion if that's the route you want to go.
 
We’ve been to Grand Cayman three times and have booked our own excursion with Native Way Watersports. They’re fabulous!
 
I don't have experience with the exact excursions you listed but I wanted to chime in on Stingray city. [We did stingray city and something with starfish]

Stingray city is a pretty big excursion and I wish I would have researched more prior to doing it. We were a party of 10 which included 4 adults and 6 kids between ages 5 and 14. They take you out to a sandbar to interact with wild stingrays. My 3 kids were 5,7,and 9 at the time and are pretty strong swimmers and have been snorkeling and such quite a bit. This excursion was too much for them.

The water depth can vary, some people experience it at waist deep. For us that was not the case. I am 5'8' and the water was up to my shoulders and with the waves there was a pretty decent current pushing me around. Even my oldest struggled and had to be held. I expected to get to enjoy watching the wild rays swimming around but there were TONS of boats around and the guides would grab the rays for pictures versus letting them swim around. People were EVERYWHERE. A couple rays did swim up to us and they were also very pushy aggressive looking for food which really freaked my little ones out even more.

For us it was not what I expected at all. My husband and I had done the Castaway stingray excursion on our last cruise and loved it, we plan to take my kids to that one next time. A much calmer, more kid friendly excursion.

Just make sure those in your party can handle the stingray city excursion if that's the route you want to go.

Thank you for this summary, I've been really looking forward to going to Stingray city as I really like rays, but now I'm really nervous and wondering if it's a bad idea- I wonder if you hit a rough/high tide day? I do have a turning 8 year old so I'm now thinking this will be too much for her
 
Thank you for this summary, I've been really looking forward to going to Stingray city as I really like rays, but now I'm really nervous and wondering if it's a bad idea- I wonder if you hit a rough/high tide day? I do have a turning 8 year old so I'm now thinking this will be too much for her

I'm not sure to be honest. It really will vary based on where your boat anchors too. There was a lot of boats there that day when we went. My 8 year old is very adventurous, great swimmer and also very tall for his age said absolutely not to it. He went out with us at first then went back to the boat and opted out and hung out with his grandma.
 
Thank you for this summary, I've been really looking forward to going to Stingray city as I really like rays, but now I'm really nervous and wondering if it's a bad idea- I wonder if you hit a rough/high tide day? I do have a turning 8 year old so I'm now thinking this will be too much for her
I can say that Stingray Sailing, the company we went with, provided a floating mat attached to the boat for children and those not comfortable being in the water so close to the stingrays. Our daughter was 7 at the time and she took advantage of being on the mat to interact with the rays from there. We were the only ones I saw with this option as I didn't notice any other boats with a similar set up. And realistically I can't see how the larger tours would be able to provide something similar due to the number of guests.
 
I can say that Stingray Sailing, the company we went with, provided a floating mat attached to the boat for children and those not comfortable being in the water so close to the stingrays. Our daughter was 7 at the time and she took advantage of being on the mat to interact with the rays from there. We were the only ones I saw with this option as I didn't notice any other boats with a similar set up. And realistically I can't see how the larger tours would be able to provide something similar due to the number of guests.
We did a private excursion too. It was well worth the cost for us. Avoided the crowds too.
 
I can say that Stingray Sailing, the company we went with, provided a floating mat attached to the boat for children and those not comfortable being in the water so close to the stingrays. Our daughter was 7 at the time and she took advantage of being on the mat to interact with the rays from there. We were the only ones I saw with this option as I didn't notice any other boats with a similar set up. And realistically I can't see how the larger tours would be able to provide something similar due to the number of guests.
Unfortunately they can't accommodate us :( I contacted them right away, but looks like they were already full
 
For us, the Turtle Center was excellent (not sure if it is a DCL excursion). It is a quick taxi ride up from 7-mile beach, and if you snorkel, it is a great, controlled experience (the fish/turtles are in a large man-made lagoon/pool).
 
For us, the Turtle Center was excellent (not sure if it is a DCL excursion). It is a quick taxi ride up from 7-mile beach, and if you snorkel, it is a great, controlled experience (the fish/turtles are in a large man-made lagoon/pool).
I have looked at this but the videos I have seen show water that looks full of algae and it appears just not well maintained. How was the water when you went?
 
We also used Stingray Sailing and it was fantastic. Some of the other groups were so large. I think there were 11 total on ours .. one other family of 4 from our cruise, and 3 people staying on GC for a week. We really appreciated that they weren't grabbing and holding the rays like we saw some do from other boats. It seemed like there was a large variety of operators there, you could probably find another small outfit similar.
 
I have looked at this but the videos I have seen show water that looks full of algae and it appears just not well maintained. How was the water when you went?

Yes, there was algae in some/many parts. I wear ear plugs whenever I snorkel and the fish/turtles gravitate towards the filtered water outlets. The water was very clear below the surface. That's where we spent 90% of the time.
 
We did G78 Stingray & Reef Snorkel and it was amazing - highly recommend. The snorkeling spot was just a short sail away from the Stingray sandbar, and it was the best snorkeling I've ever experienced. 4 adults, no kids.
 

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