After our lazy day of not doing anything in Cozumel the day before, I woke up at 8:00am (after originally waking up at 6:00am) excited and raring to go as I was actually really looking forward to visiting the Cayman Islands – somewhere I had never visited before. It was noticeable that there was quite a lot of movement on the ship and the sea seemed quite rough outside and I was hoping that this would not affect our day as Grand Cayman is a tender port.
We decided to go up to Deck 10 to watch our arrival into Grand Cayman and even though there was bright sunshine, it was incredibly windy outside – at one point it really felt like you could lean forward whilst walking along and not fall down as the wind was holding you up! The Goofy pool was closed but the Quiet Cove pool was open and had even transformed into a wave pool!
In the distance we could see George Town and thankfully, both the wind and the sea calmed down as we got closer we got to the shore. There was already two ships in the port – the Carnival Glory and the Aida Mar.
As we anchored in the harbour, there were tender boats already approaching the Wonder as well as many people on jet-skis showing off in front of the ship.
After having a shower, we headed up to Cabanas for breakfast which was very quiet. We took our time as we were not in a hurry and were happy to wait whilst the majority of the ship waited for the tenders to the shore. In four cruises, this was our first ever tender port so we had carefully read the instructions that had been left in our stateroom the previous evening.
After collecting our bags as well as our passports from our room, we made our way down to the Buena Vista Theatre to wait for a tender. We were handed a ticket each and directed to sit down in one of the rows and wait to be called. There were quite a large number of people in the theatre already and they were calling a row at a time. I was convinced it was going to take ages – thankfully they were playing Chip and Dale cartoons on the big screen which would help pass the time whilst we waited. It was such an organised and well run process and we were called less than ten minutes after we sat down and told to make our way to Deck 1 Fwd.
We walked down to Deck 1 where our tickets were taken before boarding our tender boat. Thankfully we had a choice of where to sit so we made our way to the very back of the boat and sat facing backwards so we had a perfect unobstructed view of the Disney Wonder when we started move ten minutes later which meant I could get all the photos that I wanted.
It took about five minutes to make it to the shore where we docked at the Royal Watler Pier. The area was very busy with people waiting to be picked up for their tours but it was well signposted and there were even toilets there too whilst you waited.
As we despise overpriced organised tours, we had made our own plans which had been simple to do just by using Google. We were going to be taking one of the local buses to Hell so after leaving the pier, we simply crossed the road in front of the Royal Watler Terminal and walked one block up Fort Street to the bus depot which is located next to the Public Library.
The driver of the first bus asked where we wanted to go to and opened the door for us and set off once we had sat down. The buses will drop you off where you want to go. It took about twenty minutes to get to Hell and it cost $2.50 each (you can pay in US Dollars which works out the same as the Cayman Islands Dollar) and you pay the driver as you get off the bus.
Hell is one of those random places that I’ve always wanted to visit since I first saw it on the television years ago. Most people will say to avoid it and that it’s a waste of time but I absolutely love places like this so I was always going to visit.
The bus driver dropped us and another couple off by The Devil’s Hangout gift shop and told us where to wait when we wanted to get a bus back to George Town. As well as the shop, there are two viewing platforms looking out over the field of black covered limestone. The area was very quiet and all you could hear was several roosters crowing non stop. A few tour buses turned up whilst we were here (the tours to the Turtle Farm tend to stop here too) but they did not stay for long.
We went inside the Devil’s Hangout gift shop but did not buy anything but they had all the Hell souvenirs you could want with slogans on such as “I’ve Been to Hell and Back”, “Hell Yeah”, “Whatever Happens in Hell, Stays in Hell” and “Go to Hell”.
A few metres down the road is where you will find the Hell Post Office where you can send postcards that have a Hell postmark on them. Behind the Post Office is another viewing area of Hell, signs explaining the story of Hell and how it got its name. There are also a few more gift shops as well as toilets here too.
After we had finished looking around Hell, we walked back to the front of the Hell Service Station where the bus driver had told us to wait when he dropped us off. We waited less than a minute before a bus appeared and we asked the driver if he could take us to Pageant Beach just before George Town. About a minute later, he started laughing and stopped the bus and wound the window down to point out the cow standing in a field next to a “Fresh Beef” sign. It was so funny and he had seen I was carrying my camera in my hand and told me I had to take a photo of it.
It was a fifteen minute drive to Pageant Beach which once again cost $2.50 each and our amazing bus driver dropped us right off next to it. I really cannot speak higher of the public minibuses that run on Grand Cayman as they were quick, cheap and the drivers and the other passengers were so friendly. There is no need to do an organised tour and spend a fortune to go anywhere in the Cayman Islands whether it be Hell, the Turtle Farm or Seven Mile Beach – use the public buses instead!
I had seen the beautiful Pageant Beach on a YouTube video about Grand Cayman and it just looked so small and perfect. Despite not being beach people in the slightest (give me a swimming pool any day), we could not come to the Caribbean and not step foot on a single beach the whole week. Even though it is a public beach, there was only one other person there so it was very peaceful. Sadly our bus driver had told us that Pageant Beach is not going to be there for much longer as they are going to be building a block of condominiums there.
The walk from Pageant Beach back to the Royal Watler Pier in George Town took ten minutes. It was an easy walk and there were lots of opportunities to take photos of the Disney Wonder in the distance.
We showed our Key to the World cards to enter the Royal Watler Terminal and decided to wait a few minutes for the next tender boat as the one already there was looking very full. Before this trip I had wondered if it would be obvious which tender we had to board to go back to our ship as I could not find any photos of the pier area. Again it was completely obvious as there were several gates – each one marked with the name of the ship and you had to show your Key to the World card again to go through the gate so it is impossible to board the wrong tender boat.
Before boarding the tender boat, we were handed cold towels and water which felt heavenly in the hot sun. Once again, we waited about ten minutes for the tender to leave the dock and we were back onboard the Disney Wonder at 3:00pm in the afternoon – two and a half hours before the all aboard time.
We entered the Disney Wonder via Deck 1 Aft and after leaving our belongings back in our room, headed up to Deck 9 to get something to eat as we were both starving. As Cabanas had already closed, we sat outside with a cold drink eating pizza and fries from Pinocchio’s Pizzeria and Pete’s Boiler Bites. And as usual, I had to get a vanilla cupcake for my dessert from Cove Cafe – I know I have an addiction to them!
We also made the most of an empty Quiet Cove swimming pool and the hot tubs whilst it was still quiet before going back inside for a shower.
At 5:15pm, Olaf’s Frozen Adventure was showing as a prequel to Coco in the Walt Disney Theatre. We were both looking forward to watching it but as we did not want to stay to watch Coco as well, we sat in some seats on the aisle towards the back of the theatre where we could make a quick exit without disturbing anyone. It seemed we were not the only ones with the same plan as lots of people left before Coco started. I really enjoyed Olaf’s Frozen Adventure and was so happy that I got the chance to watch it onboard.
After leaving the theatre, we walked up to Deck 10 to watch sailaway from Grand Cayman. It was such a beautiful evening out and the sunset was perfect. I was really surprised more people were not out on deck.
There were no character meets until after dinner but at 7:45pm, Storytime with Mrs Claus was taking place in the lobby atrium. As always we got there a little early to get a good spot and we treated to the sound of the amazing carol singers whilst we waited – their voices were simply beautiful.
Mrs Claus arrived and started to tell the story of Rudolph followed by ‘Twas the Before Christmas before Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Chip and Dale, Pluto and Goofy all appeared as a surprise at the end. It was actually incredibly difficult to hear her speak as it was so noisy on this night as entire families still wearing the same matching Christmas pyjamas as earlier in the cruise were all packed tightly onto Deck 3. Things were not made any better when an awful smell appeared on Deck 4 near us as another child had a major accident – the parents did not seem to care and were arguing loudly as to who should be the one to sort it out. We knew that there was another Storytime with Mrs Claus on the last day of the cruise so we planned to watch that one too hoping that it would be saner – at that time, little did we know how much quieter the next one would be!
We made our way to Animator’s Palate a little early as it was our Animation Magic night in the restaurant. It is best to get there as early as possible for this dinner as you then have more time to draw your character – I had no idea what I was going to draw (unlike our previous visit) so just made it up as I went along! It is all about timing on this night so the menu is a lot smaller than normal and you order everything (including dessert) straight away. There is only one starter and one soup available but you never need to worry as they will get something else for you if you cannot eat those. Before we started eating, Mickey appeared on the screens around the restaurant to thank us for our drawings and to say he was working on some animation magic
For my starter I had a plate of shrimp (the regular appetiser platter also contains duck and salmon) followed by the Grilled Garlic Marinated Shrimp Linguine for my main course. For my dessert, I ordered the Decorate Your Own Cupcakes from the childrens menu which I had loved on our cruise on the Disney Magic.
At the end of the meal, Mickey appeared on the screens again and magically brought all the drawings to life. Even though we knew what was coming, it was still brilliant to see your character animated on the screen. My character was the third one to appear and I’m not sure how my drawing has made it to the first screen two cruises in a row but I’m not complaining!
Before you leave Animator’s Palate, you are handed back your character drawing which now has an “Official Disney Animator” seal on it. One top tip I can give is to bring some cardboard or a postal tube with you on the cruise so you can pack your drawings and get them home safely without having to fold them – the 14in by 22in cardboard display board fits them pefectly.
The next character to tick off our list was Donald Duck who was due out on Deck 5 at 9:45pm. The line moved slowly due to the amount of stuff that had to be autographed making an appearance once again. We got some amazing photos of Donald before making our day down to Deck 3 to meet Mickey where there was only a short line. Chip and Dale were out again on Deck 5 but we were waiting to see them at a better location due to how little room there is on that deck to meet the characters.
We waited to meet Minnie with no line on Deck 3 at 10:30pm and the photos came out so much better than when we had met her on Deck 5 the night before – in fact one of them is my favourite character photo from the entire cruise. We looked up and saw Reindeer Pluto on Deck 4 so ran to meet him but we did not need to run as there was barely any line either! It really is amazing how quiet the late night character meets are a few nights into the cruise not that they are ever unmanageable to begin with.
After our long day, we were both incredibly tired (and had no wish to see the unfunny “comedy” juggler from our Alaskan cruise) so we made our way to Deck 10 for a cup of tea before getting ready for bed. We had a sheep towel animal waiting for us on this night as well as our Personal Navigator for our next day in Falmouth and some safety information regarding the upcoming Pirates in the Caribbean fireworks and our verandah. I think I managed to stay awake for another ten minutes, if that before falling asleep.
It had been an absolutely brilliant day and I had loved Grand Cayman – I would love to go back to the Cayman Islands at some point in the future!
Next stop – Jamaica!