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LUCY55

5-day Spirit March 27 Comments-Grand Cayman

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Was on this cruise--overall enjoyed it. The situation in Grand Cayman illustrated why so many cruises miss this stop. A weather system not even there yet caused significant swells that intensified in the afternoon. The harbor at George Town appears to chanel the waves increasing their height coming ashore. Six boats in port all of which are able to tender their passengers in. Things start getting worse after 1:00 p.m. Our Nautilus trip at 1:00 was cancelled--not wanting to shop we just returned to the boat. NCL did use a local company that supplied two double decker boats to tender passengers. These had to be lined up to the hull doorway on deck 5 (I think). This became more and more difficult as the waves increased. The boat would bang against the hull and if you were standing you could be knocked over. A metal ramp was used to bridge the gap between the boat and the hull of the Spirit. This ramp was moving all over the place. I saw a 5 or 6 year old child barefoot. Not a good situation--has feet could be severely hurt. A crew member grabbed him. One of the double-decker boats did numerous tries before they were able to get the passengers back on the boat. I heard from these passengers they spent an hour on the water just waiting and trying to return to the ship. Eventually they decided not to use the double decker boats. They of course were using the life boats which is what they normally use for tendering. They seemed to fare better with these. There was was a hinged door on deck 4 (I think). This formed a little dock that the tenders needed to line up with. It was very difficult with the severe up and down and sideways motion of the waves. They would gun the engine to get close enough to manually help several passengers off. Then let up and the tender would move away from the dock-and the gap was too big. They would repeat this process. There were I believe 4 crew men helping passengers get off. It was a very slow process. I witnessed this all afternoon on the cruise ship. But I heard it was also very difficult back on shore. There were absolutely huge lines. Those who got off earlier in the morning and did tours such as stingray city were able to do their tours. It was apparently much quieter in the bay where stingray city is. Others in our party did the island tour with stingray city and really enjoyed it. However, the difficult return to the ship turned a 2.5 hour tour into 9 hours. They got back onto the ship at about 6 o'clock. If the cruise ships had been aware that conditions would deteriorate in the afternoon they would have never stopped. In our case all Spirit passengers returned safely according to the captain. I don't know about the other cruise boats--but it was obviously a dangerous situation. I totally understand why this port is often missed.

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You described exactly what we saw on our Feb. 27th sailing in Grand Cayman. It gave new meaning, perspective and understanding as to why sometimes a port is cancelled. I hope that posters here who complain about port cancellations read your descriptive post. Sometimes whether we like it or not, the captain needs to make a decision about safety for the passengers. In our case too, everyone arrived safely back on ship but it was with a lot of skill and time. And, keep in mind that clear, blue skies is not an indicator, it is the condition of the sea.

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I was also on the 2/27 cruise.

 

I watched from the "Galaxy of the Stars" as various tenders tried to unload their passengers, and more than once the tenders had to move off and approach again as swell became too much - scary stuff.

 

Rannoch

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We waited in the tender line for 2 1/2 hours. It was quite the scary situation, especially given the fact that my elderly mother and children were with us. Everyone around us understood the gravity of the situation, and waited patiently. There always are a few, however, probably the same people who hog chairs onboard, who don't feel the need to wait in line, and instead walked towards the front and then weasaled in when people weren't looking. given that most of us had been waiting 2 hours or more at that point, I must tell you none of them snuck in front of me... it was a beautiful day, 86 and sunny on the beach, but unbearably hot waiting in line.... if anyone reading this recognizes themselves as the weasals, SHAME on you!!!!:mad:

 

There were at least four men waiting to help us on and off the tender. As a matter of fact, my 6 year old's feet never touched the dock, they just lifted him from man to man until he was safely back on the ship. We really should have taken a picture of those waves crashing on the rocks on the tender pier, it was unbelievable. The tenders just kept going up and down, and when they got close to the dock, the tender staff handed us as quickly as possible onboard before the next wave hit. We were very pleased with NCL's handling of the situation, and very happy to get safely back on board the Spirit.

 

Now, the tender situation in Roatan, was a different story. We waited an hour and a half, not because of the sea, but because there weren't enough tenders to handle the transport of that many people. As we were finally on our way back to the ship, we heard an officer on the crew 2-way radio stating that we were running behind and they needed to send out more tenders.

 

:) Neither of these experiences ruined our day, we had a wonderful time in Grand Cayman and enjoyed our time on Roatan.

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It is all about timing. We must have returned a little before you at Roatan. We did not wait long at all. My suggestion to future cruisers is never try to get the last couple of tenders. If you go just before them you don't have to wait. However in Grand Cayman after about 2:00 I think everybody had a wait due to the surf conditions.

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As we were standing in line, not moving, my husband went to see what the hold-up was. apparently, there was one line to go through security for both the Spirit and the Dream. So, every time a group of Dream passengers walked up, they completely stopped the Spirit line to let them through. Our suggestion would be two separate lines, as we watched tender after tender sit empty or almost empty, as we waited for them to start letting Spirit passengers through again. I think they may have broken into two lines eventually, because suddenly we were moving faster.

 

As we were on an NCL excursion, we didn't have the luxury of choosing the time we came back, but your point is well taken. I just hate the idea of leaving port much earlier than I have on other ships, just to avoid this mess.

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Nice review of your cruise. I just hope you put on your comment cards that you would like to see these 5 day cruises to continue. Less than 7 day cruises from Florida have been rare since the Majesty was yanked at the last minute to do Charleston cruises.

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