One of the top holiday spots in the Caribbean is the Cayman Islands, formed of three islands: Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, and Cayman Brac. Most cruises stop at Grand Cayman, which is well known for its exclusive resorts and stunning beaches. Nearby Little Cayman boasts some of the islands’ best dive sites, while Cayman Brac is the most off-the-beaten-track island, with its authentic local atmosphere and dramatic limestone cliffs.
Wherever you disembark on your Cayman Islands cruise, you can look forward to relaxing on a stunning white-sand beach with a glass of Caribbean rum. The islands are renowned as a scuba-diving and snorkelling site, so take the time to explore their exotic underwater world of shipwrecks, coral formations and luminescent shoals of fish.
Popular Ports in Cayman Islands
The Cayman Islands’ main port is located in Georgetown, the capital of Grand Cayman. As soon as you step off the boat, you’ll be captivated by the laid-back atmosphere and the brightly painted buildings. The streets are lined with outdoor cafés, art galleries and restaurants with ocean views. This is a great place for indulging in some duty-free shopping, too, with boutiques selling everything from surfwear to handicrafts made by local designers.
Just a couple of miles down the coast is Seven Mile Beach. With its talcum-soft sand, clear aquamarine-tinted waters and waving palm trees, this is renowned as one of the best beaches in the Caribbean. The hours will slide away as you soak up the sun, indulge in watersports, or savour a frozen cocktail.
Several cruise ships dock at West End, a small town on the tiny island of Cayman Brac. The main road is lined with resorts, restaurants and several art galleries. In the south-west of the island you’ll encounter secluded beaches, which see far less tourist traffic than the rest of the Caymans. Relaxation really is the name of the game here.
A dramatic limestone cliff, The Bluff, stretches across the majority of the island. There are some fabulous hiking routes across it, offering amazing ocean views. The Bluff bisects a parrot reserve, accessed only on foot. Walk down a boardwalk through luxuriant forest, keeping an eye out for Cayman Brac’s 400 remaining parrot species.
What are the best cruise ships for a Cayman Islands cruise?
If you’re travelling all the way to the Caribbean, why not go there in style? Here are two ships offering the cutting-edge in cruise ship luxury, their decks packed with attractions and amenities.
Marella Discovery 2
The ships in the Marella fleet are renowned for their budget-friendly luxury, and Marella Discovery 2 is no exception. She’s the largest and the newest boat in the fleet, but nevertheless maintains an intimate atmosphere. Enjoy relaxing by one of the two pools, or on The Veranda, an adults-only sun deck with stunning ocean views. Active travellers will prefer tackling the climbing wall or a round of mini golf. Kids benefit from an action-packed kids’ club, while teenagers will gravitate to the teens-only hangout. There are seven restaurants offering a varied spread of tapas, steaks grilled on hot stones, and delicious Italian cuisine.
Seabourn Sojourn takes luxury to new heights, with its 5* cabins and spacious decks. It boasts the largest spa of any ultra-luxury cruiser, taking up 11,400 square feet and occupying two decks. There are several open air terraces, boasting swimming pools, whirlpools and the Sky Bar, where you can sunbathe or have a round of mini golf. The lavishly decorated restaurants offer fine dining, themed menus and regionally sourced cuisine, so each night is a culinary adventure.
Shore Excursion Ideas
If you can manage to tear yourself away from the bars and the restaurants, then these are some of the most popular shore excursions on offer. They’ll enable you to explore the islands and the surrounding oceans.
Grand Cayman Cultural Tour
If you’re more culture vulture than beach bunny, then take this half-day tour around Grand Cayman’s cultural hot-spots. Drive along the scenic south coast to Pedro’s Castle, a sprawling plantation house where Grand Cayman’s first parliamentary meeting was held.
From here you’ll continue to the former capital, Bodden Town, which has a relaxed atmosphere and some interesting landmarks. You’ll explore the Botanical Gardens, which bloom with a profusion of exotic plants. Look out for the endangered blue Iguana that lives here, too.
Stingray City and Barrier Reef Snorkel Trip
The crystalline waters encircling the Cayman Islands are world famous as a snorkelling location. On this shore excursion you’ll travel by motorboat to two of the islands’ best snorkelling sites – Stingray City and Grand Cayman’s Barrier Reef.
Stingray City is a shallow sandbank inhabited by thousands of stingrays. You’ll love swimming and snorkelling among these friendly fish – they’ll even let you pet them! Then it’s on the Barrier Reef, a snorkeller’s paradise of multi-hued coral formations. The waters teem with vivid tropical fish, turtles and seahorses. You’ll love exploring these fascinating underwater worlds.
Venture even further under the sea on the Atlantis Submarine, which dives to a depth of 30 metres, far deeper than a beginner’s scuba dive. Look through the portals at the iridescent schools of silverside fish and hulking grouper fish, and keep an eye out for turtles.
You’ll travel along the sea bed to the Cayman Wall, one of the world’s best diving sites. This underwater wall is dotted with otherworldly coral formations, inhabited by moray eels, lobsters, and shoals of tropical fish.
Top ports of call in this destination
- West End