Welcome Sea Days and Port Call at Grand Cayman

Days 2-4, 2023 South America & Antarctica Grand Voyage

Sunday-Tuesday, Oct. 8-10, 2023, Georgetown, Grand Cayman and sea days

While I love visiting exotic and exciting ports, sea days may be my favorite, especially at the beginning of a long cruise. They give me a chance to unpack, learn my way around the ship and settle into a daily routine.

When I started out two weeks ago in Montreal, we had five quick port days, so it threw off my pace. Now we are alternating sea and port days. I’m still trying to settle in.

But first, a report on Monday’s port call in Grand Cayman. I’ve been here several times, mostly in the 1990s and early 2000s, so I had no plan for tours. I’m really not a Caribbean girl, I guess. The heat and humidity seemed even more intense after my recent cruising through Canada and New England. I decided on a quick walk around the port city of Georgetown just to stretch my legs.

Instead of using the ship’s tenders for the short distance to the dock, we boarded local boats that held many more people. Probably more important for those who are mobility challenged, the boats’ decks were level with the Deck A portal, so no need to navigate the exterior stairs to the water level.

None of the souvenir, jewelry or liquor shops held any interest. It was too hot under the relentless sun to sketch, so I took pictures for later reference. My only purchase was a small (4 ounce) Tortuga rum cake, which cost an outrageous $10. I remember when multiple stores offered sample bites, which probably would have satisfied my taste for the sweet cake. No samples today.

The last time I visited Grand Cayman a friend and I thought it would be a hoot to open a (small) bank account on the island known for its banking secrecy, just to say we had an account in the Cayman Islands. We quickly found out it wasn’t an easy thing to do if you didn’t have huge funds. I recall seeing banks everywhere 15 years ago, but since then banking laws have tightened so they were not as prominent today.

Fortunately, I was back on the ship when a brief but heavy rainstorm struck. I tore into the cake, and then later indulged in peanuts at happy hour. No surprise that I wasn’t hungry enough for the dining room. A few large shrimps and a small slice of (Canadian Thanksgiving) turkey from the Lido buffet filled the bill.

On Sunday, we spent the first full day of the cruise sailing around the west end of Cuba. About 50 people attended our Cruise Critic meet and greet. Cruise Critic is a website with a popular roll call section where people chat before a cruise. It was fun to put faces to some people who have been planning this cruise for a year and to see friends from past cruises.

Today, my travel agency Cruise Specialists hosted a reception for its clients. We will have two more, as well as a dinner in the Canaletto restaurant and a couple of complementary shore excursions. Hotel Manager Florin Dragomir attended and clued us in on some features of this grand voyage. We can expect three guest chefs who will have cooking demonstrations and offer special dinners in the Pinnacle Grill. On our overnight stops, local entertainers will perform for two shows each night. These shows are always popular, and with two shows everyone will be able to attend.

I stopped by guest services for the report on the demographics of the passengers. There are only 964 guests aboard (capacity is 1,432), and 630 are Americans, followed by 117 Canadians, 53 Australians, 23 Dutch and 16 British. There are slightly more women than men.

I hadn’t seen an age breakdown before, but on this cruise one person is between 8 and 12, 15 are 22-35, 21 are 36-50, 30 are 51-65, 382 are 66-74 and 367 are 75 or older. Another 48 are listed with “unknown” ages, which is interesting as the staff has our passports.

When I returned to my stateroom after our first dressy night, I was delighted to find an array of gifts spread across the bed, all adorned with a logo for the cruise. They included a messenger bag as well as a canvas tote bag with handy pockets inside. We also received a portable charger for our smartphones and other electronics, a wallet for identification and a safari hat. They all will come in handy during this cruise.

I’ve finished the last of my unpacking, so now everything has its place. My challenge will be to return things there. But meanwhile, I had another sunrise to enjoy from my verandah, as we’ve turned our clocks back twice and I’m waking up early.