Doing it on your own: Exploring George Town’s cruise port

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When cruising the MSC Seaside, we were most excited about visiting George Town, Cayman Islands.  This is a port we had never visited before and we weren’t sure what to expect.  I spent hours crawling over everything I could find out about the port, excursions, the culture and what to see.

George Town stop on MSC Seaside

We ended up having a memorable experience and George Town was beautiful, just as all of the reviews promised.  Here’s a glimpse into what the port has to offer and some of the unique things that come with visiting as a cruise passenger:

Tendering is a must to visit George Town by cruise ship.

With some of the beautiful coral formations and risks to the surrounding environment, Grand Cayman is one of the ports where you must tender.  Cruising on the MSC Seaside, they made this quite easy and it didn’t take us long to make it across the water. Before we boarded tender boats, we picked up a number from a central area and this was tied to an assigned time to board.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-23,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-ve
Making our way from the MSC Seaside to the pier in George Town.

After we exited  the tender boat, you immediately look around and see many restaurants and souvenir shops including places like Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville. We spent time in a few stores, taking our time, because we decided not to book an excursion on and explore on our own. Our mission was to make it to Seven Mile Beach, but we also didn’t want to spend a lot of money and planned to “do it on our own.”

If you aren’t a resort guest on Seven Mile Beach, your best bet is Royal Palms Beach Club.

After walking a few blocks, we were greeted by a shuttle driver who was taking people to Seven Mile beach.  We quickly jumped in the shuttle with about 10 other tourists and enjoyed the ride.

The destination was Royal Palms Beach Club (this would have been a 3 km walk), which I learned was one of the only beach clubs or public areas on Seven Mile Beach where you can relax and play outside of the surrounding resorts which are for guests only.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-23,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-ve

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-23,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-ve
Note, standing in line to get in, they were checking backs for food and drink which are not allowed.  They have items for sale inside, but they were extremely expensive.

We entered the club which had an adults only pool, cabanas on the beach and near the pool and a few bars. We decided to walk along the beach heading back to the ship (the way we came).

We knew it would be about a 3 km walk, so we weren’t in a rush. We weren’t sure how long we would be able to walk along the water without being redirected to the main road, but decided to be adventurous and explore.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-23,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-ve

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-23,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-ve

Walking along the beach doesn’t cost a dime.

Many reviews I’ve read talk about how beautiful the beaches are in Grand Cayman, but especially Seven Mile Beach. And, every last review was right on!  The water was crystal clear and you could see everything last detail underneath as we walked along the beach.

There were also small areas that were clearly man-made coves, where we saw plenty of people, including families, relaxing in the water.

Check out how the locals live, where they shop and eat.

We continued to walk as long we could and finally made it back to the main road.  We took our time walking back, soaking up everything around us including the stores and everyday life of locals.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-23,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-veMaker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-23,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-ve

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-23,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-veAs we walked, we decided we would head back to the pier to pick out some souvenirs for our daughters. At that point, we were very hot and also hoping to stop for a drink. We were surprised to see a grocery store right off the main drag and decided to check it out.

Kirk Market has everything you need, even if it’s a grocery store.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-23,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-veThe grocery store was called Kirk Market and it was right off of Bay Road, the main drag right along the water.  We went inside and actually had a little fun comparing prices to what we see in the U.S.  We also were able to buy a few drinks, a snack and souvenirs for our family. Many of our fellow passengers and cruisers were making the same purchases for more money further down the road right by the cruise ship.  On top of this, the store was actually very nice on the inside and well-organized.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-23,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-veMaker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-23,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-ve

After we left the grocery store, it was about a 20 minute walk back to the MSC tender boats.  We made our way back, stopping in just a few stores along the way, but at that point we were tired and ready to get back onboard the MSC Seaside.

Expect lines when you head back to the tender boat.

We had decided at the beginning, after learning how expensive Grand Cayman is, to explore and do our best to stay within the small budget we had set for the port.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-23,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-ve

To do this, we decided to head back early (1:00 p.m.).  We were hoping to eat on our ship since everything was included and enjoy the waterslides while other cruisers were off doing excursions and shopping.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-23,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-ve

We were very surprised to see the long line that awaited us to board the tender boats. We waited for 15-20 minutes to gain a seat on one of the tender boats and finally headed back.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-23,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-veEven after making it to the ship, we sat on the tender boat for at least 10 minutes waiting to exit, but we were just happy to be sitting in the shade and relaxing while we waited.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-23,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-ve

If you don’t care about organized fun, you can explore on $20 or less.

All and all, a wonderful time in Grand Cayman! Not a lot of stress, no deadlines associated with excursions, and we spent less than $20 on snacks, drinks, transportation and entrance to the Royal Palms Beach club.  Traveling on a budget in a free manner like this might not be for everyone, but we certainly enjoyed ourselves and this new place.

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