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Which Stingray City Tour good with kids, offers videotaping
My family of 4 -- non-swimming hubby, 14 year old swimmer son and 10 year old swimming daughter want to go on a tour that's:
- Great with kids -- a fun excursion
- Goes to the 3 stops
- Has a luxury boat
- Is not LOADED with people so we can get off quickly and have more time in the water (like I've heard the Carnival excursions are)
- And offers video-taping or DVD
Does anyone know of a comparison posting that weighs each one against the other, rather than everyone just telling their experiences? Or has someone taken numerous excursions so they can compare the different lines themselves?
Disney Magic 2002
Big Red Boat 1997
Princess to Alaska 1993
Chandris to Bermuda 1990
Song of Norway NCL 1987
RCC Norway 1985
Dolphin 1981 Honeymoon Cruise
I had been doing research on what you were asking and I figured Soto's kinda fit the bill. we are going in August and there are 6 of us. my hubby, self and 4 kids. It seems they don't overcrowd the boat and the price is right. Go to sotoscruises.com for more info.
I've never seen a comparison, so can't help you there. However, Capt. Marvins offers a 3 stop snorkeling tour which goes to Stingray City, Coral Gardens, and Barrier Reef and also a 3 stop snorkeling tour in a glass bottom boat which goes to reefs and shipwrecks. They are great with kids, provide snorkeling equipment, including snorkeling vests, and show you how to use it, provide help during the tour excursion, and have a videographer on board who makes both VHS and DVDs. The tour is not crowded, probably because it is a private tour and not a ship excursion. Since your husband doesn't swim, he might enjoy the glass bottom on the glass bottom boat snorkeling excursion. Check out his website for pricing and more information. (www.captainmarvins.com)
Capt. Marvin's boat is covered, has a bathroom, a dive platform, and wide ladders which have steps which go under the water, making it easier to get back on board. The boat is a concern to us when making snorkeling reservations, as we have a mobility impaired person with us. I contacted Sotos who described their boat as not having steps going into the water, but instead the ladder stops right at the surface of the water. Others have reported that their ladders are more narrow. I don't know about the boat (whether or not it has bathrooms) because the ladder issue alone kept us from considering them further.
Capt. Bryan's is the one we chose and are glad we did! After researching all of the available companies we decided that they had all we wanted which was a catamaran, not a fishing boat, videographer, great crew and small crowds. Also the price was unbeatable for what they offered. I made the reservations on line before we left. We walked a short distance to his office and then he took all of us on an air conditioned bus to the catamaran. There were 20 of us in all, including the crew. There were some kids around 8 or 9 years old and some didn't want to get in the water so some of the crew brought some stingrays over for them to see. After swimming with the stingrays they took us to some of the best snorkling I have ever done. All the other companies I saw at Stingray City seemed crowded and didn't have the nice catamaran that we wanted. The two big trampolines made it nice to ride out to the stingrays, too. I definately recommend Capt. Bryan
We have snorkeled from catamarans before and find that as long as the steps go all the way into the water so that at least two or three steps are under the water, the catamaran steps are easier to climb up than a boat ladder. That being said, let me pass on some additional information and suggestions.
When booking a catamaran, unless you are willing to ride on the trampoline or other exposed part of the boat, you need to find out how much, if any, covered seating they on the catamaran. With the sun in the Caribbean, we find that covered seating is a must. And while our mobility impaired party needs a regular seat to sit on, I find that I am also not inclined to climb on the trampoline or other exposed parts and ride (matter of both athletics and also don't enjoy riding over the open water that way)
When we first were looking for a private snorkeling tour which would be friendly and helpful to someone who is mobility-impaired and meet the required needs for covered seating and appropriate ladder, I contacted Capt. Byran's. Capt. Byran's did respond back, but did not answer all of my questions. They did not respond to the questions about the ladder but did say that they had limited seating available and only part of that was covered--passengers were expected to ride on the trampoline and other exposed parts. They also stated that they did not provide assistance to guests, disabled or otherwise, and that we should look to book with another company. So we did not book with them.
The Buccaneer Catamaran wasn't in business at the time we first made our inquiries, so I cannot give you any information about them. I do suggest that you find out about both their steps and also the availability of covered seating. The children will probably enjoy riding on the trampoline, but I doubt that your husband would, especially if he cannot swim.
We have been snorkeling in Grand Cayman four times, twice with Capt. Marvin. We also enjoyed our other two snorkeling trips, but since those don't offer a videographer, I didn't provide you any information about those. There are several good snorkeling tour excursions available in Grand Cayman--you just need to ask the right questions to make sure that you pick out the one which is best to meet your family's desires and needs.
Hope the information is helpful. Have a great trip.
Yes, the ladder was down in the water. I specifically remember this because I am not an athletic person so it is hard for me to pull myself up. They did have some shaded area to sit in as well as where the trampolines were. They also had a bathroom on board and provided water to drink but also allowed you to bring other drinks on board. If you are looking to be pampered, this is not your tour. But as for your original concerns, they offered a video/dvd and all of the crew were very friendly and helpful with everybody including the kids on board. I was a little uneasy being in the water with all the stingrays but they made me feel at ease quickly. They also provide all your snorkling equipment and life jacket. My husband and I felt that for 30 dollars a person it was more than worth it! Hope this helps!
Since we cruise quite often and also visit on land vacations to various islands, I keep a file of all the shore excursion information I have gathered, including emails I have received from the various companies. I went back and double-checked my files and indeed Capt. Byron's told me exactly what I said in my previous posting, including that they did not provide assistance to guests and we should book with another company. We did not book with Capt. Byron's based upon their response to my email request for information.
Apparently the above poster found on their trip with Capt. Byron that the situation was not as represented to me by Capt. Byron. I can only conclude that Capt. Byron did not want a tour group that included a person who had a mobility impairment (walks with cane/not confined to a wheelchair) and that is the reason I was given the response I received from Capt. Byron. You can decide for yourself whether or not you would want to go with this company or choose a company that welcomes all guests.