Jennifer and Dave's Western Caribbean Cruise Adventure

Dates: May 10-21, 2002


Transportation: Northwest Airlines (from Detroit Metro Airport), Avis, and Tiffany Town Car

Ship: Disney Magic (Inaugural Western Caribbean Cruise)

Resort: Dolphin Resort

Parks: Kennedy Space Center, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Disney-MGM Studios, Pleasure Island

Restaurants/Eateries: Orbit (KSC), Fischer's Seafood (Cocoa Beach), Flamingo's (Radisson), every restaurant/eatery aboard the Disney Magic, The Dolphin Fountain, Chevy's (off-property), Bongo's Cuban Cafe, Restaurant Marrakesh, Palio, Yorkshire County Fish & Chips, and 50s Prime Time Cafe

Background: This was a R&R trip (relax and research) for Kennedy Space Center and the Disney Magic. We also spent three nights at Walt Disney World just for the fun of it.


Updated 11/21/03

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Day Five - Tuesday, May 14, 2002

One of the delightful things about an outside stateroom is the ever-changing scenery outside your window or verandah. On Tuesday morning, we awoke at 7:00 am to watch Grand Cayman slide slowly into view. Unlike other ports, the ship must dock off-shore and passengers "tender" in on watercraft. This gave us a wonderful opportunity to observe the island from a distance.

We breakfasted in Topsiders Buffet (Deck 9, Aft) and discovered what would become our favorite breakfast spot. It was exceedingly convenient to just take a tray and fill it with the foods you wanted. Even better was the selection. I found plenty of healthy things to eat like fruit and cream of wheat cereal. Dave enjoyed the usual breakfast fare of eggs, breakfast meats, and pastries. Near the cream of wheat was a "mueslix bar" where guests could create their own healthy cereal. Juice and coffee were also provided. We dined outside on the deck, enjoying the fine weather - sunny and breezy.

After breakfast we returned to our stateroom to get ready for our shore excursion. We'd booked the Stingray City Snorkeling and Discover Cayman Tour, which was to meet at 9:45 am in Off Beat (Deck 3 Forward). We put on our swimsuits, sunscreen, and then our t-shirts and shorts. We were ready!

After meeting in Off Beat, getting our stickers, and waiting just a few minutes, all guests who booked this shore excursion walked together to Deck 1. We presented our Key to the World cards (so the crew knew we were going ashore) then boarded the tender. The tender is a small boat that ferries guests to and from the shore. This tender was double-decker and held 300 guests. There were no seats, but there were large life preserver lockers to sit upon. The tender filled up quickly and we were off to Grand Cayman. On the way we met two fellow PassPorter readers who we chatted with a bit.

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Our tender to Grand Cayman Island.

On the dock at Grand Cayman, some representatives handed us a small card welcoming us to the island. Attached to the card was a cloisonne pin of a sea turtle labeled "Cayman Island." What a nice surprise! The card indicated that this token was presented to us in honor of the Disney Magic's inaugural cruise to Grand Cayman.

We looked for and found a cast member holding up a sign that matched our shore excursion sticker, we met up with the rest of the group and proceeded to our tour bus. The first part of this excursion was a bus tour of the island. Alas, the bus was very small and Dave and I ended up sitting in the aisle in little fold-down seats. They were not the most comfortable, nor did they provide the best view.

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Our Grand Cayman tour bus.

The tour guide pointed out various sites as we drove along West Bay Road. Eventualy we came to "Hell" (Devil's Hangout). This is a little tourist trap, oops, I mean popular tourist attraction. It's named for a wicked-looking pit of black, dagger-like, volcanic rocks. There's a small shop here where you can get "Hell" postcards and send them out with "Hell" postmarks to claim you've really been to hell and back.

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Volcanic rocks in "Hell"

After going to Hell (sorry, couldn't resist), we boarded the bus again. This time Dave and I boarded early to ensure we got real seats, not aisle seats. As we waited for the rest of the guests to board, we amused ourselves by watching the chickens wander around outside the bus. We saw chickens almost everywhere on Grand Cayman. Finally, the bus was moving again - we assumed we were headed for Stringray City, so we were surprised when we pulled up at the Cayman Turtle Farm. But the driver assured us that Stingray City was our next stop.

The Cayman Turtle Farm raises over 9,000 turtle hatchling each year. We toured the large, round pools where turtles at various ages could be swimming around. Signs scattered around the area indicated that the turtles are kept here until they're a year old, when they are then released into local waters. The farm also raises some turtles to sell as food to markets and restaurants - they make soup and stew out of them. Naturally, there is a large gift shop here with quite a bit of merchandise. You can learn more about the Cayman Turtle Farm at

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Feeding time at the Turtle Farm

Back on the bus we headed towards water and the boat that would take us to Stringray City. We all boarded a small, double-decker boat that went to the shallow waters of the northwest corner of Grand Cayman's North Sound. Stringray City is just inside a natural channel which passes through the barrier reef. Stingrays gravitated here after local fisherman would dump their "offal" (spare fish parts). The stingrays are free to come and go as they choose; there are no fences or borders. Divers discovered that the stingray were friendly and would let you feed them by hand. Now it's one of the most popular destinations for snorkelers and divers. The water is just chest-high and visibility is amazing.

When we arrived in Stingray City, there were two other boats and their passengers about. Everyone appeared to be in the water, and you could see black shapes moving around them. We figured those were the stingray! We were all given masks, snorkels, and personal flotation devices and encouraged to get in the water. The crew began throwing small pieces of calamari into the water, and the stringray soon surrounded the boat. The strange creatures terrified many of the kids; a few refused to get off the boat. Even I felt uncomfortable. Hadn't I heard that stingray, well, sting??? But the crew explained that they are not normally aggressive creatures and will not hurt you if treated properly. We were told to do the "stingray shuffle" - essentially shuffle our feet on the ocean floor rather than walk normally to avoid stepping on a ray. Everyone had the chance to feed a ray if they chose. I decided not to, but Dave did. He simply held it in the palm of his hand with his fingers pointed away from his hand so his palm was very flat. The ray came in and just vacuumed that bit of fish right up. By the way, even though we had snorkeling equipment, many of us didn't bother - the water was so clear you could see the rays very easily. For more information on Stingray City, visit

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Dave holds a stringray

Back on the boat we headed to shore. From there we boarded the bus and made our way back to town. We made one more stop at a shop selling rum cakes. I didn't get off the bus, but Dave brought back a couple of rum cake samples. They were actually quite delicious. Soon enough we were heading back to the dock and boarding the tender to return to the ship. All in all, the shore excursion took about four hours. We enjoyed it, but we probably wouldn't repeat it. Still, we didn't feel it was a waste and we have good memories of the day.

We were back in our staterooms before 2:00 pm. We'd decided not to explore the island on foot; everything we could see from the dock looked very touristy - Hard Rock Cafes and the like. Besides, the last tender left at 5:15, so that wouldn't have given us a lot of time anyway. We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the ship, taking photos for later reference. We also found the Fantasia Reading Room (library) - no one was there, and there were no more than few dozen books and a dozen or so games. Still, the room looked like a quiet place to do homework or pass some time.

Tonight's show was Morty the Magnificent, a live magic show in the Walt Disney Theatre (Deck 4 Forward). It was more than just a simple magic show - it had a cute little story, some funny bits, and some great "magic" acts. The actor who played Morty was cute, too. It was better than we expected!

After the show we went to Studio Sea (Deck 4 Midship) to watch the Sailors' Tales show/game. Three of the crew dressed up as sailors and sat on stage. They took turns defining strange words, keeping in their sailor character the entire time. Our job was to figure out which one of them was telling the truth and hold up a small placard to indicate our vote. It was quite hilarious at times, even though we got most of the definitions wrong!

Dinner tonight was at Lumiere's again. This evening we enjoyed the Master Chef Series where recipes from chefs at Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line are prepared for us. I had the Chilled Shrimp and Lobster Spring Roll (from Disney-MGM Studios) and Pan-Roasted Mahi Mahi (from Flying Fish CafŽ at the Boardwalk). Delicious!

After dinner we peeked in Rockin' Bar D for the 80's Time Warp party. Several of the crew were dressed in outrageous clothes from the 80's and everyone seemed to be having a great time. We didn't stay too long, though, as we'd had a long day and we were tired. Besides, tomorrow was Cozumel - the port I was most looking forward to visiting. So we turned in around midnight and dreamed of Cozumel.

Next: Day Six

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