Cruise ships are certainly a familiar sight in George Town Harbour; large floating structures transporting thousands of people from port to port. We see them almost every day, but how many of us consider actually taking a vacation on one?
The recent unpleasantness with a few of the Carnival ships, coupled with our exposure to some passengers wandering about our fair town in swimsuits, meandering into traffic at whim may give you pause, but don’t let these points dissuade you. Depending on the ship and itinerary you choose, you may just find that you’re a closet cruiser.
A good way to give it a try without committing to a lot of money and time is to take a three or four-night cruise, and luckily with the Cayman Islands’ close proximity to Miami and Fort Lauderdale, two of the largest ports serving the Caribbean are just an hour’s flight away.
There are a number of different lines out there, such as Princess, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Cunard and Disney. They offer many of the same features (restaurants, bars, swimming pools, spas, shops) and then specific ships have unique options like climbing walls, zip lines, ice rinks and Broadway shows. Some are designed to accommodate families with young children, while others have more mature passengers in mind.
If you’re interested in taking a short cruise out of southern Florida, MSC, Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Princess have four-night itineraries, and Disney and Norwegian offer five nights. The shorter ones tend to visit places like the Bahamas and Key West, whilst slightly longer ones can get you to ports like Cozumel. Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Disney are a better choice for families, with Princess and Norwegian appealing to the older crowd. That doesn’t mean a gathering of geriatrics; it more refers to those who would rather not share their vacation with lots of other people’s children.
One of the common misconceptions is that cruising is only for the old and retired. These days, there are perennial cruisers of all ages as the ships have become much more modern, catering to a wide range of tastes and interests.
Itineraries and tours
You’ll obviously be somewhat restricted where your itinerary is concerned if you opt for a short cruise, but no matter where you go, don’t be afraid to book your own private tour or get out on your own to explore. Take the usual sensible precautions when it comes to carrying money and valuables, do your research on the Internet, and create a personal schedule. The ships push their passengers to book tours with their excursion desk or to only shop at their recommended stores because they make money from all of them. If you use sites like TripAdvisor and Cruise Critic to look for recommended tour companies and spots to visit, you can’t go wrong by travelling solo and you’ll get a much more local experience.