Earlier this month, we cruised once again with Disney Cruise Line – this time on the Disney Fantasy’s Western Caribbean itinerary. We were thrilled that one of our stops was Grand Cayman – one of my favorite places to visit. We enjoyed our day in Grand Cayman – although it wasn’t enough. I definitely want to return for a longer visit.
Note that while we have visited Grand Cayman on complimentary press trips in the past, we traveled at our own cost for this trip.
Cruising to Grand Cayman on the Disney Cruise Line
Cruise Ship Tender at Grand Cayman
If your cruise itinerary stops at Grand Cayman as a port of call, you may have heard about the unusual docking process. Cruise ships visiting Grand Cayman have to tender rather than dock. The ship drops anchor offshore, and small boats, called tenders, come alongside the ship and bring guests to the shore.
You may be wondering how this process works, because it certainly sounds like it can be a bit complicated and time consuming. We love Grand Cayman, but wasn’t too excited about the hassle that tendering could possibly bring.
Thankfully, the process on the Disney Cruise Line was pretty easy. Guests with excursions head to their gathering places on the ship as usual, and are led to the tender boats. If you don’t have an excursion, you are directed to the theater to collect a ticket for your departure. Or, if you leave the ship after a designated time (12:30pm on our ship), you can just head to the gangway without going to the theater to get a ticket.
Because we’d been to Grand Cayman a few times, I decided to book a day stay at the Westin Grand Cayman, a resort we’d stayed in a few times. It was expected that tender boats would be available at 10:30 am that morning, but we anchored a bit early. As soon as our cruise director made the announcement, we went right to the theater and got on a tender. One short cab ride later, and we were at the Westin. It was easy to walk over to the cab stand, and the Westin was a quick drive away from the cruise port.
If you’ve never done a day stay before, it can definitely be a convenient way to spend the way on the beach. We were given a hotel room, along with charging privileges and beach towels at the resort.
After storing our stuff in our day room, we grabbed towels and headed out to the beach. A beach ambassador set us up with chairs and an umbrella, and then we went right down to the water. We got lunch right at the beach-front cafe, so we didn’t miss much beach time at all. I originally had wanted to walk over to one of our favorite restaurants in Grand Cayman, but ultimately decided that I didn’t want to miss out on too much beach time.
Although we loved spending time at the beach, my kids wouldn’t leave the Westin without a dip in the pool, so after rinsing off, we headed to the pool. The pool at the Westin Grand Cayman offers a pool bar, so I made sure to get a drink while we swam.
We weren’t ready to leave Grand Cayman, but didn’t want to miss our ship. So, with plenty of time left over, we went back to our room and showered, before checking out. It was easy to get a cab back to the port, and we spent a little bit of time in the shops before boarding the ship. One negative of booking your own excursion is the transportation back – you definitely need to make sure you get back in time for the on board time.
If you are cruising to Grand Cayman, you may not want to do a day stay. In that case, there are lots of other excursion options in Grand Cayman. I’d recommend booking these directly through your cruise line, because you may be able to get a tender earlier than if you book on your own. Then, when you return back to the ship, you’ll know that you definitely won’t miss your ship.
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