FAIR WARNING – LOTS of photos! Travelogue of my recent cruise on the Regal Princess- Western Caribbean Jan 27-Feb 3 2019.
My recent travel adventures included a visit to Falmouth Jamaica. I’ve been to Ochos Rios a couple of times, and the ship offered many tours that took you from the port in Falmouth to the numerous tourist sites in Ochos Rios. I could not decide on what to do, as I did not want to wander about independently and I had no desire to spend an hour or more on a bus headed to Ochos Rios. So, my been there done that attitude kept me at the ship. I wandered off with another passenger and my sister and explored the huge port area, full of shops, bars, and restaurants. Rain was in the forecast, and threatening to let loose at any moment. We ventured into Margaritaville for lunch and an adult beverage.
That is quite the set up in this port, complete with a pool and swim up bar. We opted for a table under “cover” because of the impending rain, not wanting to be caught with a table full of food when the skies opened up. I enjoyed a platter with Jerk Chicken, rice and beans and a delicious banana margarita. My lunch, with 16.5% sales tax and a 20 % tip ran $40. YIKES! The tip was good because the service was great.
( Side note – travel brings fun experiences and great memories. When I started to work on this post, my nearly 11 year old grandson was very interested in the picture below, with the various countries currency. He immediately used the calculator to convert his US Dollars monthly allowance into Jamaican Dollars! It was great fun watching him figure out the calculation necessary. He was impressed by the result of the large number that the allowance would be in Jamaican dollars. Grandma didn’t delve into the relative “value” of the various currencies…he figured it out on his own )
Our waitress Princess was fantastic and made sure she got her photo taken with mine! #MVILLECARIBBEAN She really was attentive and earned that tip ! My sister was NOT a big fan of the LIGHT Red Stripe beer. She ordered a “regular” Red Stripe and liked it a bit better. There were all kinds of kiosks and shops with everything you could imagine buying just outside the door of Margaritaville. In fact, you had to go through the obligatory gift shop to exit to the dock area. In my typical fashion, I wandered along with my sister while she shopped here and there. I came home with memories but no stuff.
Just as we got back on the ship the weather gave us what it promised and the drizzle turned to steady rain. The temperatures dropped and we spent the rest of the day on board the ship in the comforts it offered.
I did some checking on the “next day” forecast and it looked MUCH better –
My excursion plans in Grand Cayman had been set for 3 or more months! The weather forecast was perfect!!
I started my day like this –
From the balcony, I had a view of the dawn over George Town Grand Cayman –
And I could watch all the lifeboat “tender activity” as well –
You can see we were NOT the only ship in town. This meant busy docks, busy tours, busy shops. My tour was fairly early, so I was off the ship right after breakfast. Once I tendered over to the dock, I could see 4 ships from that location!
I often wonder if Grand Cayman will ever invest in docks suitable for cruise ships! The tour group quickly gathered, and in minutes we were off on a mini-bus to the West Bay. We arrived quickly and selected our bikes, and set off with our leader –
We had “single speed beach cruisers” , not mountain bikes as advertised in the tour description.
I had to remember how to use coaster brakes. But, all was good and we road a fair distance for the tour. About 3 miles into our ride, we made a stop at the Cayman Turtle Centre where we had an opportunity to hear about the breeding program and to see the very large turtles in the breeding pond. It was a good stop for some water, restrooms and sightseeing.
The photo doesn’t show the size of these turtles. They were 3-4 feet across.
As I was editing photos for this post, I “googled” the Cayman Turtle Center and came across a very disturbing story from National Geographic about this turtle center and the crowding. My photo below shows that crowding –
While touring, I did not realise that this crowding together was problematic until later when I read that article linked above. The “handling” indicated in the article was done also. I always chose not to “touch” the animals, as I think it is stressful regardless of the environment. I remember scuba diving in Hawaii in 2008 and being told “don’t touch” the green turtle, when he swam near us. All of the visitors were offered an opportunity to “hold” a young turtle for a “selfie shot”, and I did take lots of their photos!
Again, I don’t think those of us on the tour had any idea of the article in National Geographic and the stress these turtles were put under. It was a “fun activity” at the time, but in hindsight, it makes me a little sad that this was being promoted by cruise lines. 80% of the visitors at the turtle center come from cruise ships. I selected this tour because I thought I was doing a healthy “good” activity. Well….back on the bike ride, we went straight from there to HELL ! Literally…..
Of course, the path to Hell is paved with Rum Cake and we did stop by for a sample on the way there! The view on the way to HELL was pretty nice!
That stop took place at a “tourist shop” where you could taste the cake and buy your souvenirs too! I had my bite of rum cake but went back out to enjoy the view!
Like I said — next stop was
I found this sign on the viewing platform –
For an easier to “read” description – check out the wikipedia version https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hell,_Grand_Cayman
I did get my passport stamped in the general “store/gift shop”; spent my money on postcards and quickly wrote notes to loved ones in the event I never returned. I DID return home, but the post cards are still making their way through the international postal systems of the Cayman Islands and the US Mail. No one has received theirs yet. 😦
While standing on the viewing platform, I noticed a vine flowering and I thought the contrast between limestone looking quite dead and the new life of the vine was interesting –
It made me think that even amidst the bleak, dead limestone God gives new life.
We were soon back on our bikes and completed our circuit of the West Bay. We rode a total of 6.83 miles on the tour with very little elevation change. It was a nice pace, of 7.6 mph according to my “STRAVA” app.
We had a few minutes to have a nice drink at the Commodore Restaurant and Bar while we looked out at the bay and cooled off from our ride. A cold beer was just the ticket after all that exercise! Our ride back to the ship was a rather hair-raising ride with a driver who was “in a hurry” to make another pick up. No tip for him! I did a few videos while I was on that wild ride in the bus and hoped they would be in my “google cloud” if I ended up dead! We arrived safely back to the docks and I tendered back to the ship for lunch and an afternoon at the pool!
It was a perfect end to the day! This is one of my favorite parts of cruising! Have an adventure, then come back to the ship for some relaxation!
I read the National Geographic article…surely there are better ways to promote tourism than at the expense of these beautiful creatures!
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Part of the problem Laura is they local island population EATS turtle meat. So, they are “farm raising” the turtles for food, as well as “repopulating” the diminished numbers in the habitat around the island. (Like eating farm raised salmon…yuk….) I read another article today admonishing Carnival Cruise Corp for continuing to offer tours (https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/world-animal-protection-calls-on-carnival-cruise-lines-to-stop-sending-tourists-to-cruel-sea-turtle-attraction-300449983.html) My cruise line I was on, Princess, is owned by Carnival Corp. It has really opened my eyes to the issue.