Day 12 ~ Tuesday Sept.30th
Once again the reduction of the ship`s speed woke me as we began to enter the port at the Grand Cayman Island`s capital, George Town. I guess it must have been around 7.00am or so and I noticed that we had stopped in the bay near to a couple of other ships of the Carnival fleet which had earlier arrived.
Today we had made a booking for the “Island Tour and Butterfly Farm”, and seeing as the tour wasn`t due to start until 12.10pm, we had loads of time to kill before we had to meet at the Buena Vista Theatre for our transportation details.
After another leisurely [and in my case, unhealthy :p015:] breakfast in Lumieres, I noticed that the Guest Services desk was quiet so I popped over to arrange for the customary tips for the four CM`s who were taking care of us to be charged to our stateroom account in order to avoid leaving it until later in the cruise when inevitably I would have had to stand in a huge line behind others who had the same idea.
I was given 4 receipts, one for each of the CM`s envelopes which would be delivered to our stateroom later, along with a copy for ourselves.
The remainder of the morning was spent just lazing around on deck 10 watching the World go by followed by a snack taken from Goofy`s Gallery on deck 9.
At the Buena Vista Theatre we were assembled into groups and then escorted off the ship and onto a tender boat to ferry us to shore.
Once on shore, we had time for a brief walk around the shops and have a coffee from a local Starbucks before returning to the terminal in order to begin our tour. It was comforting to know that the traffic drove on the left as in the UK which made crossing the roads less hazardous for us Brits! :p015:
When the time came, we were escorted a short distance to where our bus was parked and our driver for the day [Chris] introduced himself to us and we began our journey.
The first stop was at the Butterfly Farm a short distance from the port where our bus was met by a lady guide who led us into a netted enclosure where we paused while she explained all about the farm and went into great detail regarding the life cycle of butterflies. She was great at explaining things, and obviously passionate about her subject, although it was a bit unpleasant standing still with sweat pouring down our foreheads to say the least. I thought that if we stood there for much longer then all that would remain would be 20 odd pools of grease and our clothes on the floor instead of a live audience! At this stage, all I could think about was that a couple of weeks earlier I had been picking off loads of caterpillars from my vegetables at home, but I hadn`t the nerve to mention this here! :rolleyes008:
We were finally left to walk around the enclosure on our own. It really is a lovely place and there are loads of amazing butterflies flying around and landing on you, including some which were HUGE. [Although strictly speaking this one is a moth!]. As we left the enclosure we had to stand in front of a full length mirror to check whether any of the butterflies had decided to hitch a lift on our clothes and make their escape to freedom. ]
From here we re-boarded the bus for another short drive to the World`s only green turtle farm, and again we were taken on the tour by a very knowledgeable lady guide.
Our first stop was at the pool where the breeding turtles were kept and loads of them had come out to greet us! Suddenly someone noticed a baby iguana that had somehow managed to fall into the pool and was in danger of being lunch for the turtles. :shocked025: Our guide called out to one of her colleagues who raced over with a net and rescued the little critter with a fishing net amid applause from all of our group.
Across from the pond was a man made beach area where the turtles lay their eggs which are then collected and incubated in a separate building. The young turtles are then allowed to grow to a reasonable size before being released into the wild. Apparently only a small number of turtles live to maturity, many don`t even make it to the ocean soon after hatching due to predators, so this method greatly helps in their species survival chances. :thumbs_up:
An interesting fact is that they can also decide the sex of the turtles. As is the case with alligators, if the eggs are incubated at a certain temperature then male turtles are the outcome, raise the temperature a few degrees and females are produced. [I think this is the right way around! ]
Our next stop was by the juvenile pools [after passing a huge iguana waddling along the path, totally un-fazed!] which were crammed full with turtles which were about 12”-18” in size and we were given permission to pick them up for a photo opportunity if we wished to do so.
Our party was then given a while to wander around at our leisure, either outside or in the farm`s shop, adjacent to which was a café where we grabbed a bite to eat and a cold drink.
The next stop was literally 150` along the road where we entered a rum cake shop. Here we could sample the various types of cake and liqueurs most of which were rum based naturally. I particularly relished the coffee flavoured liqueur however it was a no-no to purchase any and take it back on board the “Magic”. Apparently because DCL sell the stuff in their duty free shop at [no doubt] a grossly inflated price! :mad:
The final stop on the tour was at a location called Hell which has it`s own post office where you could mail a postcard from Hell!
The attraction here is the weird rock formation which is an ancient coral reef that rose to the surface of the land eons ago and it sure had an eerie appearance. There was also obviously one of these here!
After a brief stop here, it was back on the coach for the short drive back to the port where we caught the tender back to the ship which was setting sail at shortly after 4.00pm.
After another dose of “When You Wish upon a Star” from the ship`s horn as we set sail, I went with my DW to the Spa for her appointment which I was told would last for 2 hours. :rolleyes008:
With loads of time on my hands I went down to Signals Bar for a beer and a chat with Pio the bartender. I also got into a conversation with another guest who was a retired tugboat captain from Florida who used to work out of New York. He had loads of interesting tales to tell and he stated that the reason for the ship`s mild rocking on our first night was due to us crossing over the Gulf Stream which was moving from port to starboard across the ship.
After this I went down to the DCL reservation desk to book our cruise for next year taking advantage of the 10% discount and on-board $200 on-board credit for doing so. The timing of this next cruise is to coincide with the plans made by our very good friends from LA who we met as our dining partners on the Med. cruise last year. They had asked us to try to arrange another cruise for 2009, giving us their reservation number so that we could again be seated together at dinner, and this was sorted without any problems at all. :smiley4:
I then called into Shutters to collect a few photos that had been taken of my DW and I yesterday, being nearly knocked down by Mickey and Minnie en-route to a photo shoot in the atrium, who overtook me from behind as I was walking along the corridor, head down and inspecting the photos!
After collecting my DW from the Spa, it was time to get dressed for dinner which was “Pirate`s Night” and our venue for this evening was Animator`s Palate.
Following the by now obligatory pre dinner drink in Sessions with Tom and his DW and a brief chat with Rudolpho, we made our way to the restaurant where our menus were already on the table in the form of a pirate`s map rolled up and tied with string. Bandannas were also on the table for us to don in any way that took our fancy. At one stage Tom put his bandanna around his face like an outlaw from a western movie, but as that hampered his eating process, he fashioned another design!
All of our dining partners took several photos and it was nice to see that we all had identical Nikon cameras so getting others to take a photo using each others camera avoided the need to explain what button to press which made a pleasant change! :p015:
At one stage our server presented me with a complete set of all of the dinner menus from the cruise. I had put in a request for her on our first night for copies of the menus [for use on Secrets main site], but I was taken aback when she gave me all of the original menus. These tend to become collector`s items after a while and one in particular [Animator`s Palate] must have cost a fortune to produce, having a “moving” hologram on the front pseudo leather bound cover.
After dinner some music started to play and all of the servers entered to room and inviting the guests to join in with the dancing train…and even I joined in, largely due to the influence of the wine consumed over dinner! :surprised010:
The “show” on decks 9 & 10 was the “Pirate`s in the Caribbean Party” and many of the Disney characters took to the stage with “Pirate Mickey” flying onto the stage from a high wire running down from the aft funnel.
There followed a firework display [DCL are the only cruise line to use fireworks at sea], followed by a movie and desert buffet for those who had the stamina to watch it, or eat it!
Yet another towel animal awaited our return as we entered our stateroom at approaching midnight.
Many thanks to Tom [catrancher] who provided some of the photos.
Tomorrow, Cozumel [Mexico].