Cruising to the Cayman Islands

Cruises are one luxurious alternative for arriving in the Cayman Islands

Photo credit: © Cayman Islands Department of Tourism

Cruising to the Cayman Islands
 

Cruise travel, while certainly popular, takes a back seat to air travel when it comes to visiting the Cayman Islands.

While millions of people visit the Caribbean each year via cruise ship, the Cayman Islands are not the Caribbean's most popular port. Cayman cruises, however, still offer all of the amenities that make other cruises so popular, from ship activities to visiting many islands on your journey.

Choosing a Cruise

Travelers planning a cruise will face a sometimes-surprising number of options. Before booking, consider a few important factors:

  • Booking early is key. During high season ships may be completely booked months in advance.

  • Travelers can book online, over the phone, or via a travel agent.

  • Consider the type of journey you're looking to have - families can choose family-oriented lines, or couples can choose more romantically themed ships.

  • Consider price, schedule, and the island stops before you choose a cruise.

Choose from the following cruise lines:

Cruise Line Telephone Number
Carnival 888-CARNIVAL
Celebrity 800-221-4789
Holland America 800-626-9900
Princess 800-PRINCESS
Radisson Seven Seas 877-505-5370
800-477-7500
Royal Caribbean 800-659-7225

 

Cruise Classes

Four cruise classes give passengers an easy way to begin their selection process. Whether you're looking for top of the line luxury, or something just a little different, one cruise line will surely have something for you.

Luxury liners are the most expensive ships to travel in, but for good reason. These ships offer the highest quality services and amenities. Premium cruises are the next step down from a luxury cruise, and they offer quality service and smaller ships than those of the contemporary/value class.

Contemporary/value class ships are the ones most travelers are familiar with - in fact, the leaders in this category, Carnival and Royal Caribbean, make up 90 percent of the cruise industry. Package deals and reasonable prices are the cornerstone of these ships.

Specialty ships offer a unique style of cruising, whether you're looking for an unusual destination to be included in the journey, or just a way to meet people, travelers may find the answer to their search in this style. These cruises are often divided by passenger group, offering cruises to singles, homosexuals, seniors, and many other groups.

Onboard

Not only do ships vary in theme, décor, and luxury level, they also vary in size. This can be an important factor because some ships are unable to reach certain destinations because the ships are too large.

Panama class ships are the prime example of this problem. These ships are the largest type, and were named because they are so large they will barely squeeze through the borders of the Panama Canal. These liners hold a maximum of 3,000 passengers and only stop in the largest ports, however, they can be perfect for travelers who are prone to seasickness as waves are rarely felt on such large ships.

Smaller islands can be visited by smaller ships, some carrying no more than 300 passengers. However, smaller ships will feel the ocean swells much more than the larger ships.

Ships are classified based on the following criteria:

Criteria Criteria Explained Meaning
Gross registered tonnage measurement of the ship's volume/vessel's size 1 gross registered ton = 100 cubic feet
Passenger-to-crew ratio number of passengers served by each crew member Smaller ratio = better service
Passenger capacity based on double occupancy (2 passengers in each cabin) More rooms = more passengers
Space ratio comparison of ship space/tonnage to passenger capacity Higher ratio = extra spacious

Cabins

Cabins can be selected in many manners, but most travelers will prefer a slightly more expensive "perfect" cabin to the "run of the ship" variety. Travelers who choose a run of the ship cabin may choose whether they would prefer an inside or outside cabin, but the exact room is not assigned until the week of departure. Travelers who select a perfect cabin know the exact room in which they will stay.

If choosing a perfect cabin, take these guidelines into consideration:

  • Cabins in close proximity to anchors, bars, casinos, elevators, engine rooms, gyms, nightclubs, public rooms, stairways, pools and hot tubs, theaters, or thrusters should be avoided because these areas can be particularly noisy.

  • Travelers who are subject to seasickness should consider a cabin on the lower decks, as they will feel much less movement.

  • Outside cabins, especially those with balcony access, can be bad for travelers with young children.

  • Leave money and valuables, including unnecessary cash, in your cabin at all times, with the door locked.

Where You'll Go and What You'll Do

Cruise ships enter the George Town Port on Grand Cayman, and may stay there for a very short time depending on the particular cruise. Shopping is one of the most popular activities for cruise passengers in the Cayman Islands. Many fine imported goods are available near the port.

Cruises can be as long or as short as you'd like, but first-time cruisers often prefer a shorter trip. The longer the trip, however, the more ports at which you'll stop. And, of course, travelers will want to make sure they have time to explore the town and enjoy an excursion.

In port travelers can enjoy onshore excursions that have been pre-arranged by the cruise line. Travelers can take part in everything from snorkeling and scuba diving to scenic tours and even golf. However, these generally cost an additional $25(USD) to $100(USD). Sign up when you book your cruise, or right when you board to be sure you have space.

Cost

Many factors will effect the cost of your cruise. From the luxury level to the number of travelers, it's hard to determine what the exact cost will be. However, travelers going in the wintertime, during the Caribbean's high season, can expect to pay a bit more both on the ship and on the islands. Single travelers will also pay more for their room than passengers with a double occupancy.

Most onboard activities are included in the cost of the cruise, but keep in mind that beverages usually cost extra. Excursions also usually come at an additonal fee, and the final tip may not be included in the cruise price. Travelers should also remember to include airfare to their cruise's departure location in their cost.

Vacationers looking for a bit of luxury may also find themselves paying for a few additions. Travelers who would like a bath tub or television set in their room should find out the costs for these extras before they travel.

What To Bring

Packing for a Caribbean vacation is a great way to begin packing for a cruise - but remember that it's best not to overpack either. Travelers looking to enjoy the sun should remember items like swimsuits, coverups, lightweight and light colored clothing, hats, sunglasses, sandals, and, of course, sunblock.

However, while on the ship travelers will also need to dress for the dining room. Most dining rooms do not consider denim appropriate attire. Casual dining rooms usually require slacks and collared shirt, or a sundress. Pack suits and cocktail dresses for an informal meal, and formal dinners will require black tie clothing.

A cruises is an excellent option for those who want to relax and catch a glimpse of the Cayman Islands.

 

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