Friday, May 7, 2010

My Disabled Cruise Story - Chapter 4 - Civilization in Paradise

IMG_1666 “Oh CRAP!”

These words, or some slightly more profane, were the first I uttered on Thursday morning of my cruise, as our ship was approaching George Town, Grand Cayman (photo from our balcony on right).

I had owned the iBOT for almost two years. Every single night during that time, without fail, I had remembered to plug it in to charge the batteries…but not on Wednesday night.

Disaster, right? Well, if it had to happen, then that was perhaps the best day for it. Kim was going on a snorkeling excursion without me on Grand Cayman anyway, and I was going to be on my own during that time. I certainly didn’t need all day to explore George Town.

While Kim went ashore, I plugged in the iBOT for a few hours and watched a movie on my laptop. I agree that The Hurt Locker is an important movie, but I question whether it was the best movie of the year.  Maybe I feel this way because I was slightly distracted while watching it, itching to be out in this Caribbean paradise rather than sitting in my room, or perhaps I feel this way because I was absolutely blown away by Avatar in IMAX 3D.  But I digress. 

This was the only port of call on our cruise where Freedom of the Seas didn’t tie up to a dock. I had been worried about this a bit, even though I’d been reassured by my travel agent and others. It turned out to be a non-issue. Small tender boats (100 or so people at a time) loaded passengers constantly, and after a 5 minute boat ride, deposited them on shore. I was worried about transfers from the cruise ship to the tender and from the tender to shore. But both went very smoothly. I accomplished the journey from ship to shore by myself with zero drama. I make it a point to maintain a personal drama-free zone around myself at all times anyway. 

IMG_1671 view of our ship from the tender

IMG_1673 nice ramp from tender to shore

What a stark contrast there is between Ocho Rios, Jamaica and George Town, Grand Cayman, two exotic Caribbean islands that we visited on consecutive days during the cruise. If Grand Cayman in some ways resembles me- understated, safe, organized, and predictable- then Jamaica resembles Robin Williams back when he was on coke- outrageous, improvisational, and unpredictable. Both island personalities hold a certain charm though.  I’m not here to judge. 

George Town is modern. The streets are clean; the sidewalks and buildings are generally accessible, probably better than the average American city. I saw only a few street vendors, and they were not obnoxious. Many employees of the stores looked and sounded like, well, Americans. This was an oasis of normalcy after Jamaica.

IMG_1674 example of sidewalk ramp in George Town

The geography of Grand Cayman is different than that of Haiti and Jamaica. The latter are large islands with mountains and jungles. Grand Cayman is a small, flat island. I bet there is nowhere to hide outside in a hurricane.

IMG_1688 7 mile beach, Grand Cayman

Given its modern appearance, I set out to score some internet access for a reasonable fee, so that I could get caught up on my emails. As I wandered around the clean, safe, accessible streets I happened upon the Cayman Islands Public Library. Inside, there was a bank of computers where I spent an hour catching up, for free. Afterward I explored the shops for a while, and then headed back to the ship.

Kim had an outstanding snorkeling experience, including close encounters with stingrays. 

IMG_1675d back rub, anyone?

IMG_1675e kissing a ray!

 IMG_1675g learning to hold a ray

IMG_1675h this is nuts!

IMG_1680looking up at our ship from tender

IMG_1681two other cruise ships in port that day

At about 3:00, back on the ship, I couldn’t wait for Kim any longer, so I dove headfirst into the lunch buffet. At 3:30, just as I had finished my feast, Kim returned from her excursion and declared that she was starving. Being the gentleman that I am, I didn’t make her dine alone. I told her I’d have a “little something” with her. I’m not sure how it happened, but I had a complete second lunch. That’s how we rolled on the ship- eat till you drop, take a short breather, eat some more. It takes profound effort and concentration. I was equal to the task.

We enjoyed a wonderful sunset off the bow of our westbound ship. See the photos.




Thursday night was our second and final formal dinner. One of the dining choices was a lobster tail and shrimp plate. Kim ordered two, because she could. I was intrigued by the dessert sampler, so I ordered two of them, because I could. I know what you’re wondering, and here’s the answer. Kim, with all her walking and other activities, and a freakishly high resting metabolic rate, gained only one pound during the cruise. I gained seven. Frankly though, I was relieved. I had feared double digits.




Last stop- Cozumel, Mexico…click here


  1. Seven pounds is not bad. Not bad at all.

    One pound. Well, I have no words for that.

  2. Mitch,
    Grand Cayman was our favorite island. We've often thought about flying back and just spending a week there. Talk to you later.

    P.S. I leave in less than an hour to get my iBOT.

  3. Webster, yes, she must have cheated somehow.

    Charlie, good luck with your iBOT!

  4. Kim ROCKS! On soooo many levels. Please tell her I said that.

    I need to know for my own future and comfort about tendering. Last time I did that the boat was rocking and the distance between ship and boat was 0-2' every few seconds.

    Could you contact me about this?

  5. Weeble,

    She definitely rocks.

    The boat was not rocking in Grand Cayman. The transfer from ship to tender was as steady as the transfers from ship to dock were. And the transfers from tender to dock were steady as well. I don't know if this is the exception or the rule.

  6. Great! I can't just pick one thing about this post! Loved each and every word about Cayman. I am a fan of Cayman Island and I love everything about these outstanding islands. Perhaps in this coming summer break I will go there and explore the city my way. I love Cayman snorkeling.