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Should My Daughter Spend her Hard-Earned Money for the Carnival Stingray Adventure
I've read all 16 reviews on the Carnival website, but I would appreciate some additional feedback about this tour. My daughter, who would be using her own money, wants to take this excursion and I said I would try to find out more about it.
1) One reviewer mentions that the drive to the site takes 5 minutes, but nobody says exactly how much time is spent in the water with the stingrays. Any info on that?
2) The Carnival info says that you are given snorkel gear. Is the water really deep enough for snorkeling? Do you snorkel with the stingrays? (My daughter loves to snorkel.)
3) How many people are in each group of the excursion? Is it too many people for what this activity is?
4) Is there a better time of day to do this excursion? One reviewer mentioned being on the last excursion of the day so they got to spend some extra time with the stingrays. Has anyone else had this happen to them on the last tour?
5) The price for this excursion on our cruise is $35. That seems like a lot of money for less than 1 hour of actual time spent in the water with the stingrays, especially if there are a lot of people. Agree or disagree?
Last edited by GradUT; April 15th, 2012 at 10:26 PM.
You do not mention which port the Stingray Adventure is in, but it sounds like Stingray City Sandbar in Grand Cayman. If that is the case, then, yes it is worth it. She will have a unique chance to get up close and personal with stingrays - even get to kiss one if she wants. The water depth varies on the tide, but is anywhere from 2 - 5 feet deep. I don't know if I would say you actually snorkel, but you can put on your mask, hold your breath, and go underwater with the stingrays. It is very cool to see their mouths open and eat the squid they are being fed.
As to your other questions: The drive may be five minutes (I don't remember), but the boat ride out to the sandbar is about 20 or 30 minutes - they go very slow so there are no big waves.
Our group had about 15 people in it, but we did it through a private excursion, not the ship. That is also something she can look into if she wants to save a few $. I thought that was a very good size. However, there will be other groups at the sandbar.
Sorry, I should have mentioned that this is the Stingray Adventure on Half Moon Cay.
I have not done this excursion myself, but have observed it. The Stingray adventure on HMC is in the lagoon. The rays are penned in. This does not mean it is a bad excursion. You did not mention how old your daughter is. For a younger child, who may have limited swimming ability, this may be a great way to get up close and personal with the rays. For an adult and/or more accomplished swimmer of any age, it may or may not be good. A lot will depend on individual expectations. My wife and I have taken the Gibbs Cay and Stingray adventure at Grand Turk. That is open ocean, not penned in. We enjoyed it, and it includes swimming along a reef, and learning how to clean (and sample) a conch. Most any excursion that involves something underwater will provide a mask and snorkel, and possibly fins. I cannot say for certain that the HMC excursion does, but I would be extremely surprised if it did not. Taking your own mask and snorkel would not be a bad idea, nor and expensive one. You can get a decent set for less than $30 at Walmart, Target, Big K, Amazon, or any number of other places, and that will also allow your daughter to snorkel on her own at any beach you happen to visit (not to mention having to use a snorkel that has been in who knows how many other people's mouths). Swimming around the beach area at HMC last summer, I found a live conch, a live starfish, and saw several other fish swimming around.
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Unfortunately, none at the moment PAST CRUISES: CARNIVAL MIRACLE to Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay, and Nassau, 9 July - 17 July, 2011
CARNIVAL MIRACLE to Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay, and Nassau, 10 July - 18 July, 2010 CELEBRITY ZENITH - NY to Bermuda (and back), June 2000 ALASKA MARINE HIGHWAY MV COLUMBIA - Seattle to Haines, AK (1 way), July 1982
I haven't been to HMC, but I did go to Stingray City on Antigua and really enjoyed it. It was $59.00 through the ship (Princess) and their excursion to Gibbs Cay with Stingrays on Grand Turk is also $59.00. So, based on that, I think $35.00 for a once in a lifetime type excursion is not bad at all, even if it is not as much swimming or snorkeling as some of the other stingray adventures.
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I was also looking for more info on this...my daughter was thinking about doing it in the afternoon, she is 11...for the price, not sure you can really go wrong, but I am curious to how much time you are in the water with them or if you get to touch them or what you get to do...
DD & I did this on our first stop to HMC. I thought it was a horrible waste of money at the time. I'm not a swimmer, so had never tried to snorkel. Unlike at Grand Cayman, you can't wander around this area because of the coral reef, so I ended up standing next to the stairs. They seemed more interested in the forced photo ops than anything. By the time she got around to feeding the stingrays (which I love to do), I couldn't get near them.
I did finally go snorkeling in Cozumel, and when I realized I wasn't going to drown, I decided I would give this another try last November, since I hadn't done a stingray excursion in a long time (did them in 4 different ports on 4 consecutive cruises when I first started cruising - yes, I love the stingrays)!
This time, we were a much smaller group (it was pouring rain), there were no forced photos as we entered the water, and the guide was a handsome man!
I was all ready to snorkel, but I have a frozen shoulder, and with my very limited mobility and lack of swimming ability, I ended up just hanging around until we fed the stingrays.
For the price, it's well worth it. But if it's hot and sunny, the group may be so large that they split it into two.
Sorry, I should have mentioned that this is the Stingray Adventure on Half Moon Cay.
My dad and I did the Stingray Adventure in Half Moon Cay in May 2009 when we were on the Pride and it is NOT WORTH IT. In fact it is probably one of the worst excusions that I have ever been on in 9 cruises. Don't spend your money on it. The stingrays are in an enclosure about the size of two basketball courts. The water is about waist deep and it is VERY ROCKY and you only have about 30 minutes in the water with them.
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Thanks all for the additional comments. My daughter loves stingrays and loves to snorkel, so she has decided that she will do the excursion. Also, she's working overtime tomorrow and that will be enough to pay for it!
Hi there...I actually did this last year. Honestly..dont think its worth it. You are in a little area with murky water and its nothing like the Cayman experience...I'd suggest doing it on a future cruise to the Caymans if you have that planned!
We're back from our trip and I'll give you a report of the Stingray Adventure on HMC (according to my daughter who actually did the trip). "It was AWESOME!"
She was scheduled for the first tour of the day (10 am) and when we arrived on HMC, it was overcast and drizzling. We checked with the Activities Desk after we got off the tender and they said the tour would be cancelled if it were raining. (Not sure why rain would affect a tour like this). Anyway, she went back shortly before 10am and the tour was on despite the still drizzly weather.
There were 15 people in her group. They were shuttled to the stingray enclosure (a short distance from the Activities Desk) and given snorkel gear and an inflatable vest which they had to wear (but they didn't have to inflate). She was first in the water, so she had time to snorkel and see the stingrays, sea cucumbers and sea stars before the rest of the group got in the water. They had around 15- 20 minutes or so to snorkel on their own (the enclosure is not that large) before the feeding presentation began. Everyone got squid to feed the stingrays that came into the group for feeding. (There are 12 or so stingrays in the enclosure, but not all of them enjoy being fed by the group, so only 3 came for that.) After the feeding and presentation, my daughter did a quick last snorkel as the group left the water. The entire time in the water was around 45 minutes.
Before lunch, I walked over with her to the stingray enclosure to see them. We arrived as a group was finishing up their feeding session with the rays. There were 28 people in this group. I think my daughter's group was smaller because many people did not leave the ship in the morning to go to HMC because the weather was not "perfect". (I would guess that the groups are generally around 30 people.) I did not see any photographers at the site and she did not mention any photo taking. (Perhaps this was also due to the inclement weather.)
So, based on what I saw and what I heard from my daughter, this would be an excellent excursion for those that have an interest in stingrays. If you know how to snorkel, it would be an even more incredible experience. She felt that the tour was well worth what she paid for it ($35).