Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Mighty Magnus Makes A WIsh: Grand Cayman

We had to get up bright and early on Tuesday because we had arrived at Grand Cayman! We had put in an order for room service for breakfast since I had to wake the kids at 6 AM to get ready. Grand Cayman doesn't have a dock, and everybody on the ship has to take a little boat called a tender into Grand Cayman. We wanted to be one of the first in line for a tender because our excursions started at 8:30 AM.

Ordering room service for 7 people is no easy feat. Our room attendant brought in 11 covered plates! I had to wake everybody up when it arrived. We ate quickly and got ready to go. Andy waited in line for tender tickets and then we headed out to the deck to wait for our number to be called.

We rode the tender onto Grand Cayman.

And saw a pirate ship, complete with a skull and crossbones flag.

Waiting for our private excursion to leave

Late nights make for sleepy van rides ;)

We arrived at the private dock and got into the boat, ready for a nice ride to our destination.
 The houses on this private canal were incredible.

Can you see that orange/brownish thing in the leaves of the tree? That is an iguana. They are EVERYWHERE. And they are enormous! We counted over 100 going to and from our destination, just on the canal alone. Our guide told us they are huge pests and can run, climb, jump, and swim. They poop everywhere and eat everything. They used to be endangered after a hurricane in 2005 wiped so many out and there was a $500 fine for killing one.  But now they are considered public pests and you can get $25 for every one you kill.

 More iguanas on private docks, lounging in the sun.

 Enjoying our beautiful boat ride.

 Our guide had water and punch provided. Clearly, you can see what the kids preferred.

We didn't do every excursion through Royal Caribbean. We used Soto Tours on Grand Cayman because they had such great reviews on every travel website. We chose to go to Stingray City on Grand Cayman and it was absolutely amazing. First they took us to a little area with beautiful coral and we were able to snorkel for a bit. The kids were enthralled. They had never snorkeled before and thought it was the greatest thing ever. Magnus was a little apprehensive at first, but he got in and even used his mask to look at the beautiful fish and ocean life under the water. Andy used to Go Pro to take photos and video, but I only have 2 photos from that (down below in Stingray City)

After snorkeling we got back in the boat to head to our next destination, the sandbar in the middle of the ocean where all the stingrays live.

Our guide was incredible. When we got to Stingray City he explained how to pet and hold and feed the stingrays. He joked that they are on welfare and they come here every day to get full and fat. He said they love being held and pet. It was a little nerve-wracking at first getting into the water full of these huge, dark creatures gliding around, but soon we were enthralled and excited to be playing with these beautiful, gentle creatures.

I sat and held this one for about 15 minutes. It loved lying in my arms like a baby.

Our guide told us the females were the large ones and he caught a male for us to see and it was tiny. He said it was full grown, too. He also found a conch shell with a creature inside, and some beautiful starfish for us to hold. He was so great. I learned so many things I never knew! I also got whipped by a huge one that our guide was trying to catch. It was thrashing around and its tail caught me on my arm. It left a nasty gash that stung for the rest of the day. 

The kids were a little apprehensive getting into the action, especially Baron and Magnus. After a little while Magnus chose to get back in the boat and just watch. Baron had a little melt down when he had three surrounding him (one climbing up his leg, another on his back, and one sitting on his foot.) It was sooo funny. But these creatures really are so peaceful and loved the attention. It was an incredible, unforgettable experience. 

We rode back to the island when it started raining and got a little chilly. Our guide put Magnus on the front of the boat and the rest of the kids joined him. They loved it.

After arriving back from our tour we walked around the island a bit.
We saw a Hard Rock and Jimmy Buffets. Lots of drinking going on.

I wanted to find a fun place to eat lunch, but most of the kids were being whiny and tired, so we headed back to take a tender to the ship. 

Our ship

We were all exhausted and a little grumpy after arriving back on the ship. 

We went and ate a quick lunch and then I made everyone take a nap. After we all woke up everyone was much happier. It was actually time for dinner and surprisingly everyone was hungry again. So we went to the dining room and the kids ate a quick dinner. We used the Kid's Dinner option a few times where they hurry with your meal and then the kid's club people come take the kids so the parents can enjoy the remainder of dinner together. It was so nice.

That night we had another exciting opportunity with Make-A-Wish. There is a flo-rider on the ship we were on and we were able to have a private 1 hour family lesson. The kids were so excited. I was just nervous the water would be cold, but it was heated and sooo warm! Andy and I have done flo-rider before, so I let the kids go for awhile before we took a turn. They had height requirements for knee-boarding and surfing. Laylah was the only child who was tall enough to try surfing, the others could only try knee boarding. Sadly Magnus was just barely too short to try anything, but he was happy to sit and watch us. Such a trooper.

Our teachers were 2 very cute boys in their early 20's. One was from England and had such a great accent. The other was American and from New York (literally the only American employee on the whole ship-- crazy, huh?) Laylah was absolutely smitten. She's a little boy crazy. 

She went first
She struggled a little bit and kept wiping out when she would try to get up on her knees. 

Daphne went next and she was a natural!

Bear was awesome as well.

 Jonah was a little crazy and had a few wipe outs as well.
 But he got up on his knees!


Andy taking a turn

Laylah was better at surfing than knee boarding


Laylah trying knee boarding again, determined to get it down
Another wipe out!

Finally my turn to surf
I stayed u the longest. I have to brag for a minute... I never even wiped out. One time the board went right out from under me, but I managed to somehow stay standing! The guys teaching us were saying, "Just sit down!" and I did and the force of the water pushed me up to the top.

It was such a fun experience and the kids loved it!

Since Magnus had to just sit and watch for an hour we let him choose what to do next. Actually, I have to mention this before I forget. I never heard him say it, but the kids told us that whenever he wanted to do something that nobody else wanted to do he would say to them, "But I made the wish! I want to choose!" Haha, touche. It made me laugh when they told me that. 

Magnus chose night swimming. They had a movie playing on the big screen by the pool, but we just caught the tail end of it. We ate ice cream cones and sat in the hot tub. It was so fun.
(Daphne took this photo)

After that we went back to our rooms, but the kids kept saying they were hungry (we had a 5:30 dining time, so we often got them snacks before bed-- we eat at 7 at home, so they weren't used to such an early dinner!) so we went to the 24 hour cafe to get sandwiches. There was some huge dance party going on on the promenade, so we had to stay and dance for a little bit, of course ;) After that Andy and I went for a walk around the ship while the kids watched a movie in our cabin. It was such a beautiful night! It was amazing to me that we were in the middle of the ocean on an enormous ship and people were partying, eating, swimming, and dancing right in the middle of the ocean. Crazy. 

We went back to our room and put the kids to bed. Then we decided we were hungry, so we ordered some room service for ourselves. We had the most amazing cheese and fruit plate I have ever eaten. We also had some crispy honey chicken fingers. Soooo good! I thought I would be impressed with the food on the ship, and overall it was very good, but I think the room service had the best food, even better than the fancy dining room. Weird, huh? We watched a movie while we ate and it was just the perfect ending to the perfect day.

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