Seeking shore excursion advice


"If I were not upon the sea..." I'd want to be!
Jul 20, 2002
Hello all.

I'm hot in the planning stages for our upcoming cruise, we will be there in one month!!!! This will be our second 7 day cruise, but first on the western itinerary. I'm looking for some pointers on planning shore time. I'm pretty sure I'm going to book my family of five for the Grand Cayman Island tour. As for Key West and Cozumel, I'm looking for help.

We are on a slightly tighter budget this year, plus we really like to spend as much time on the ship as possible. Add to that the fact we're not real big beach people. We're looking for some suggestions from experienced travelers as to what might be the best highlights to see on our own in Key West and Cozumel, and how to get around. Everyone here always has such awesome information, I know I get some great answers.

Thanks for your help!
YOu could easily see some of the best of Cayman with your family by just renting a car and going off on your own. Its a very safe and easy to navigate island. Rental Car will probably cost less than the cost of the tour for one person...

AVIS CICO Rental Cars is locate right by the cruise ship terminal and they have the best maps of the island I've seen.

I would head out towards East End and Rum Point, Pedro's Castle is on the way, Botanical Gardens, RUm Point in really nice and there are some great snorkeling spots and beaches all over the place.

Snorkeling Guide to Cayman & Maps to Beaches This site offers great info on Offshore Snorkeling and info on beaches in the Free section
Hi Allears. First, a warning about the Grand Cayman Island Tour. We took the one which was sponsored by Disney. It was very disappointing. So much so that practically our entire tour group complained to guest services. And the CM I spoke with at guest services had been on the tour earlier in the year and her opinion matched our own!

The tour guide could barely speak his own native language let alone english. He told us nothing about Grand Cayman except that he was sorry because on this day the rum factory was closed. It became his mantra. I asked him a few questions about the international banking which Grand Cayman is known for. Yes, he said, the island has many banks. They are open. The rum factory, he was sorry, but that day it was closed. On top of it all, I don't drink alcohol.

The Grand Cayman Island Tour also included a boatride to an off-shore semi-submarine which remains motionless in the water as you sit there in rather uncomfortable seating. I think most of the fish were laughing at us. The boat guide spoke english, so we could easily understand when he explained that the semi-sub's tape player recently broke so no information was currently available as to what we were seeing. Well, at least the windows on the semi-submarine were clean so we could clearly see what he couldn't explain.

Another forgetable thrill was visiting Hell while on the Grand Cayman Island Tour. Although vapidly "cute," it shouldn't be listed as a "major" sight to behold.

Our bus driver was a real piece of work. His driving was as adept as his command of the english language. Oh, by the way, he couldn't speak any english. We travelled on what appeared to be a major thoroughfare and then on (obviously) lesser travelled roads. Poverty appeared to be rampant. Paving appeared to be optional. But rest assured the friggin rum factory, unfortunately, was that day closed.

When we finally arrived back where we started, both literally and figuratively, I paused to listen to our surroundings. No, no fat lady was singing.

After such an enlightening tour, I was almost ready to give up on any hope of learning about/enjoying Grand Cayman. Fortunately, my son and I didn't return to the Magic immediately after the "tour," even though the rum factory was that day closed. We had made arrangements months earlier to go horseback riding along an isolated beach with Nikki's Horseback Tours. Not only was the ride absolutely fantastic, but when Nikki learned of our disappointing island tour she drove us around some lovely local areas and provided insight into Grand Cayman's history. All this was at no additional charge and on her "own" time - my wording, not Nikki's.

So give some thought to the other options available to you in place of a Disney-sponsored Grand Cayman Island Tour. If you don't care for horseback riding, then perhaps you might wish to try Captain Marvin's. They have gotten such rave reviews that DS and I will definitely try them on our next cruise - along with yet another ride with Nikki!
Thanks you all for your helpful input. I am coming to rely heavily on everyone's real life experiences.

Our plan right now is to see Key West on our own, probably take the trolley tour, but on our own scheudle. We're hoping to do brunch that day at Palo's.

As for Grand Cayman, I think we're just going to stay on the ship and treat it as a sea day. My wife and I actually consider the ship our destination and really love being on board, espeically on port days when so many folks have gone ashore.

On Cozumel, we've booked the San Grevasio ruins and beach tour. I've seen some photos of the ruins and they look mildly interesting, plus the over all excursion isn't that long. It doesn't take my family long to tire of the beach. So this looked like a good bet to see some real history and a little of the island.

Again, thanks for the tips. Couldn't plan a great trip without these boards.


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