Day three aboard the Liberty of the Seas found us at the port of Grand Cayman, but it also found us with a deluge of rain. While a little water never hurt anyone, this was no ordinary morning shower.
Our ship pulled into port around 10:30 am; and by noontime, there was enough water falling from the sky that we could not see another cruise ship that was maybe the length of one football field away. This was also the same time that everyone was trying to disembark to enjoy a day in paradise.
For those of you who have never been to the island of Grand Cayman, it is a beautifully lush island with fantastical trees and color-bending flowers; but it is also small. Because of the size of the island and the land shelf on which it sits, cruise ships must remain several hundred yards away from the port and use tenders (smaller boats) to transport passengers from the ship to the shore. Now just in case you forgot about the weather, here is a quick refresher on the weather for the morning: biblical amounts of rain was falling from the sky.
We had been warned that delays might occur because the tenders only hold 200 to 300 people while our ship holds nearly 4,000, but the weather made things exponentially worse. Decks become very slippery causing slips and falls. Tenders were only leaving half full as no one wanted to sit on the open-air deck. Long lines became longer, and patience began to wear thin on the way to the gangway. This passenger decided to take note of the impending frustration and did the sensible thing – I went to lunch on the ship.
I enjoyed an excellent meal consisting of rice with chicken and a build-your-own beef taco. While the food was yummy, the company at my table was even better! I sat with Dellinda Ebling, Area 9 West Texas Rep, and her husband for almost two hours just catching up on this and that. Naturally, we talked about handbells and events old and new. I know that my early afternoon was far more enjoyable than that of my fellow passengers trying to get to the island.
Almost as quick as the rains came, they were gone; and the tenders ramped up to get lots of bored and anxious passengers to their beaches and shopping. I took my time making down to deck one where the gangway was. When I got there, I walked from the ship to the tender; and I was headed for Grand Cayman!
I was in the same port in Grand Cayman almost one year ago to the day, and not much had changed. The little shops were just as eager to sell you everything shirts and knickknacks to Tortuga rum cake and diamonds. I knew my adventure would be quick as I wanted to get to one particular store I could not get to the year before and walk around near the port to see what I could. I took off making a beeline for – you guessed it – the Hard Rock Cafe. I grabbed my lapel pin, a pair of drumsticks, and a t-shirt. Shopping now complete, it was time to poke around to see what I could find.
I saw a few homes that were near the port, but most appeared to have been converted into offices or small hotels. There was plenty of shopping everywhere (and more security guards than one could imagine). Just when I had given up hope of seeing anything truly unique to Grand Cayman, I stumbled on the National Museum. This was a find! I got to learn all about the island from its earliest days to some of the most recent happenings and how the Cayman government is preserving the unique heritage of the island nation. Naturally, I stopped in the gift shop on the way out. I saw lots of things I could get for friends and family, but nothing just screamed “buy me” until I saw this one little postcard. It did not have one of the fancy pictures on it all the others I had seen around the island; it was an old map of George Town (the city next to the cruise ship port). I picked up the postcard and headed to check out.
After you have traveled enough, you learn quickly that some folks will not help you if you are American or from “that” state. Some small shops do not like to accept your credit card if you did not spend enough money. All of these thoughts were running through my head as I handed the 80¢ postcard to the clerk, I timidly asked if they would accept my credit card as I had no paper currency with me. She said that they gladly would take my credit card. The transaction was a success until I realized that I needed a stamp. Unfortunately, the museum did not sell stamps; but the clerk told me the post office was a short walk away.
I followed the museum clerk’s directions right to a postal government building. It was build in 1939 and housed many offices of the Cayman government. They even had a fun bright ocean blue mail box outside featuring Queen Elizabeth II’s insignia on it. I made my way inside to the last open station with a clerk. I asked for one stamp to mail a postcard to the United States, and she let me know that it would be 25¢. Now remember that I have no paper currency with me (yes, I am one of those people), and the post office in George Town does not accept credit card for stamps. I asked if there was an ATM nearby so I could get some money to purchase the stamp. Then the postal clerk surprised me by saying that I could just have the stamp as long as I put the postcard in the international mail bin on my way out!
After following my instructions for the free stamp, I found a little park filled with unusual trees, brightly colored flowers, and lots of statues. I took scads of photos for as long as time allowed. Sadly the photo mission had to end as I needed to get back to the port, so I did not get caught in the masses of people wanting to get back on the ship around 5 pm.
Back on the ship, I sorted through all my photos and started writing tonight’s blog entry. However, the writing must come to an end as it is now dinner time. I can only imagine the wild stories I will hear at dinner of shopping deals, swimming with dolphins, visiting a stingray sandbar, snorkeling, and so much more!
If you enjoyed this blog post from our Social Media & Communications Chair – Jeremy Springer – please stay tuned as we’ll have one new post and lots of new photos each day of Summit 2016: The Ocean Journey.