Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bryan Family Christmas Cruise, Part 4: Grand Cayman

To Grand Cayman we go!  We docked a little bit later here than in Mexico, which means no sunrise photos (phew!).  This was also a port that required tenders to get to shore, and it's a slightly ridiculous process to take all of the people from the big boat and load them onto smaller boats to get everyone on dry land.  Let's just say it required some fairly serious waiting time in the theater:

At any rate, we finally made it ashore and proceeded to enter another round of confusion in attempting to locate our tour group (island tour and turtle farm!).  After tracking down the right group, we loaded up on our sweet island bus/van contraption and picked up our accessory for the day - way to rock the bracelets, family:

Our driver for the day was Elizabeth, a sweet woman who provided us with historical highlights and a heads-up on what we were driving through and to.  First stop?  A little beach time so we could wiggle our toes in the sand and catch some photo ops.

Beach ballet!

Major props to the sis for capturing my beach hops.

Yup, this is really about as beachy as we get.

The water and beach were really just beautiful - blue, blue water with soft sand beneath our feet.  I think I could have sat there all day.  As long as I had an umbrella or something to help maintain my healthy white glow.  After tracking some sand back into the bus/van, we headed on to our next stop on the island tour - Hell.  Yup, Hell.  It's this crazy rock formation that just looks...well...pretty bleak and hell-like, and they've turned it into a touristy stop so you can do things like send postcards from Hell.  Now I guess I can say I've literally been to hell and back. 

Time to hit the road again, and now we're off to the rum cake factory!  The concept of this stop was really appealing to me - sample rum cakes (an island specialty)...AND RUM.  How could that be a bad thing? 

I suppose things could get a little hairy when there are a bajillion tourists milling around, all wanting their fair share of sweet treats and booze.  Way to muscle in and grab us some cake samples, girls; you did the Bryans proud.  Dad managed to knock back a shot of some fruity rum (his verdict?  meh), and my camera managed to take a shot of its own when one of the more...enthusiastic...patrons proceeded to spill a violently green shot of rum on it.  No major harm done, but sticky camera parts do not a happy Erin make.  All in all, a tasty adventure, just not the most organized thing in the world.  And you know how I feel about being organized (have you met me?  I'm an accountant!).

We got our boozy selves back onto the road and headed to our final stop and highlight of our island tour - the turtle farm!  This is a pretty cool facility where they raise sea turtles to help support the wild population...and they also raise them for commercial purposes, which is a little hard to stomach when you're holding the cute baby turtles and one of the menu items offered after you finish your tour is turtle soup.  No thanks.

This was SO cool!  We had a tour guide lead us around and highlight some of the incredibly old, incredibly large sea turtles and explain how the breeding programs work, and then my favorite part - reach in and a grab a turtle, kids, and cuddle with them to your heart's content.  Ok, so turtles are exactly cuddly, but they are awfully cute and fun to hold:

Omg, he's so adorable!

Dad is an EXCELLENT turtle catcher.

Turtle smoochies!

We also saw some almond trees, which I thought was pretty cool, and managed to keep our distance from the crazy-mean turtles that would gladly bite your fingers off if given the opportunity.  Nice turtles, you are awesome; mean turtles, you are not cool.

After the full island tour extravaganza, we headed back toward the pier to the sounds of the exceptionally chatty youth seated in front of us and the sounds of my camera's shutter as I played beach paparazzi.

We did some fairly serious shopping near the pier, picking up island-ish attire for our "Caribbean casual" dinner that evening.  And yes, in my eyes, a cute t-shirt that says something about islands on it totally qualifies as Caribbean casual.

The family headed back to the big boat and I wandered aimlessly for a bit, snapping pictures here and there and stopping in at a church to capture a little bit of an island Christmas moment:

We were back on the boat a little earlier than the main crowd, which gave us the perfect opportunity to check out the Wii tournament going on.  It was rather sparsely attended, and for a while I thought an old lady's wicked Wii bowling skills were going to put everyone else (namely a couple twenty-something guys) to shame.  Fortunately, Amanda and Dad have some pretty sweet bowling skills and managed to walk away with..awesome...prizes.  Note to Royal Caribbean: the enthusiasm displayed below is a little false, and cheap clicky pens do not constitute appropriate prizes.  Next time you should totally give the winner a Wii.

Time to get ready for dinner!  Also time to snap a picture of a boat buddy all lit up for night - purdy.

I'd been dying for chocolate cake the day before, and there was NONE to be had.  Zero.  It was so sad.  But you know what a dessert option was tonight at dinner?  Yes, thank you, kitchen staff.  Although I'm sure that decision was made months before I was ever on the boat.  Ahhh, dessert bliss.  Not a bad way to end a Grand Caymanian kind of day.

You've got the entire Grand Cayman photo tour waiting right over here if you want to flip through a few too many pictures.  Note: it's heavy on turtles.  Because they are just so adorable.  Up next: Jamaica, mon!

No comments: