Well this one is going to be short, considering we did not actually dock here. In the morning, we woke up at 8am and went to the buffet to grab breakfast. At that point, Jamaica is within sight and the ship was slowly sailing towards it. Being told that the Escape did not dock the week before, we felt a little wary. But seeing that the ship was still sailing towards it, we thought we got lucky. Nope. Soon after breakfast as we were just getting ready for the day, the captain came on over the PA and yeah, you know the rest. "We are going to spend a relaxing day at sea." They did note that the port charges will automatically be refunded to our onboard account. When I checked, we got a whopping SEVEN
dollars per person. I wonder if that is actually how much Falmouth costed us, or is it just some arbitrary number they come up. I've seen different numbers from people, for the same port and ship.
Georgetown, Cayman Islands
To be honest, we were a little scared we wouldn't be able to get off here just because of paranoia. But fortunately, the weather was beautiful and we were able to visit the island. This is our first time tendering, and it really feels like a hassle compared to docking. Nevertheless, the process felt fairly typical so I have no complaints.
On the island, instead of visiting the turtles and stingrays, we went to visit the Crystal Caves! During the tour, we were brought to 3 (or 4) underground caves and they were absolutely stunning. In the caves, we saw crystal structures coming down from the ceiling like spikes, and we also saw a little lake that was formed by drops of water, one drop at a time. We were told that they have discovered more than 100 caves in that area, but are unable to open them to public due to safety concerns. Hopefully in the future they'll be able to open up more! But do note that if you're terrified of bats, you probably don't want to do this tour. They don't exactly fly onto you, but they do fly around above you.
After the tour, we had about 1.5 hours before the last tender so we quickly dropped by a restaurant called paradise to eat. The restaurant is situated right on the waterfront and is very close to the pier. There, we ordered the conch fritters and conch chowder. Unknowing that conch is a specialty, we were pleasantly surprised by how good the fritter and chowder were! That being said, the meal did cost us 29 USD for just the 2 things, pretty pricey I would say. Finally, we lined up for the tender to get back on the ship. We only waited about 20-30 minutes for it so it was pretty good
Great Stirrup Cay
If there was an excursion called "wait in line all day", I would be sure that's what the whole ship signed up for this port. Being told since 2 days before this port, we made our tender reservation for group 4, which is scheduled for 9:30am. Accordingly, we planned our wake up time and breakfast time to that. But at 8:50am, our group was called along with "if you're late, you can't go onto the island until after 2pm." So I guess they expected the whole ship to be sitting in their stateroom waiting starting at 8:30am, regardless of what your group is. So, without eating breakfast, we raced to the Escape theater. When we got there, the line went into the elevator area, but that's okay we told ourself, it's still pretty okay. After we got to the entrance of the theater, they scanned our cards to make sure we have a reservation, and without saying a word, she signaled us to enter the theater. Thinking every seat is the same, we sat in the left side of the theater since most people seem to be crowding around the entrance side. 20 minutes went by and the theater is becoming increasing packed. Finally, they announced a tender boat has arrived and they will ask everyone sitting on the right hand column of the theater to board. So...all those people that sat in other places are forced to wait more, regardless of group number. Tick tock tick tock....another 10...20...30 minutes went by and finally another tender arrived! Unknowing that time, the most left hand column is for stand-by people, meaning people without reservations, and they weren't supposed to board until the rest of the theater boarded. In that crowd, there were people who legitmated had reservations, so they proceeded to walk towards the boarding line. I don't know how many, but atleast another 30 or 40 people followed suit and soon it was a complete mess with people yelling "YOU CAN'T BOARD" or "WHAT'S GOING ON, ARE YOU GROUP 4 OR 5 OR STANDBY" with people replying "IT DOESN'T MATTER, THEY'RE BOARDING IN RANDOM ORDERS, IT'S SO MESSED UP!" Imagine the scene where starving people have to fight over food, that's what it looked like. At that point, most people were getting mad at the mess. Finally, we got on the tender boat and arrived at GSC. It was already well past 10am at that point. I'm not sure if this is how NCL always does it, but it would be hard to believe this is the best they can do.
Onto the bright side, we loved the island! We walked to the very end of the island and when we got there, there was barely anyone. We quickly put our stuff onto the first row loungers and dipped into the water. The water temperature was actually way colder than I expected, but after lots of "testing", I eventually manned up and went into the water. For lunch, we ate at the taco stand, and they were really good! Even though there were a lot of tacos sitting there, all the ones we got were all either warm or hot. The rest of the day, we spent walking around the island, dipping in water, and just relaxing. We really liked how the drinks package was accepted here, unlike Harvest Caye.
1.5 hours before the last tender, we quickly walked back to the main area to return the equipment we borrowed. Except, by that time, the line was already past the light house that's currently under construction. It would be another 1.5 hours before we got on the ship again. If you do the math, we spent nearly 3 hours lining up that day for tendering alone. Given the limited time cruise passengers have at each port, this just simply isn't worth it. I'm not sure if this is normally how it is, but I sure hope this is not how it is normally. That being said, everything after this point, everything went smooth again.
Having been to Nassau before, I wasn't as interested in exploring this place, since it's really just a tourist cash grab place. The famous rum cakes they were selling was 19 dollars more expensive than at Fort Lauderdale International Airport (30 USD vs 49 USD), and airport was supposed to be a rip off already. Since we had the excursion credit, we booked the "Discover Atlantis" tour which brought us around the resort and the aquarium they had. We were pleasantly surprised by the resort, and the tour kept us busy for the whole duration. If you haven't been there before, I'd say it's worth the trip to just walk and look around. The aquarium is huge and it looks like the city of Atlantis underwater. After the tour, we really wanted to find somewhere with conch fritters so we asked the concierge at Atlantis if she knew anywhere near the port that had it. She told us to go to Hard Rock Cafe, which was surprising as it is probably the last local place around, but we went anyways. Overall, we stayed for about 1.5 hours for just conch fritters and fries, so it's definitely VERY SLOW in service, and the food really was sub-par. After that, we quickly bought a souvenir or two and headed back to the ship.