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By the sea in Grand Cayman

SmarterTravel

What are the three main things to do in Grand Cayman? Shopping, beaching, and watersports. I managed to do two out of three of those activities while I was ashore.

Grand Cayman doesn’t have a deep-water pier so the cruise ships (all five of them today) anchor offshore and guests tender in. After disembarking, we caught a cab to Seven Mile Beach. It’s a flat fee of $4 to a spot closer to the city and $5 to a bit of sand farther away. The cabbies cram as many as people as possible in their minivans, so you may end up in a jump seat or sitting quite close to your neighbor.

The beach is everything you could hope for in the Caribbean. The sand is soft and white, the water is turquoise and remarkably clear, and for the hour we were there, no one tried to sell me bracelets or propose to me. You can also rent snorkel gear or arrange to do other watersports from the beach. You’re also never too far from a bar, restaurant, or bathroom.

We left the beach to join some shipmates in a SNUBA adventure. SNUBA is a combination of snorkeling and SCUBA, but is in effect much more like diving. You breath through a regulator that’s connected to an oxygen tank on a floating raft above you. This setup allows you to dive about 20 feet down and swim under water without schlepping a tank on your back and without getting dive certified. For people like my friend Julie, it’s a good introduction to what SCUBA diving would feel like. If you’re like me and have ear issues and are otherwise a big wimp, you can choose to stay at the surface and essentially snorkel.

Any way you choose, you can see beautiful fish swimming through the reefs and, in this case, an old shipwreck. Although the fish lived up to expectations, the coral sadly did not, having been destroyed in last year’s hurricane. I’m not sure if any of Grand Cayman’s reefs survived, but you might want to choose your SNUBA location in a place with healthy coral.

For all of you shoppers out there, the main shopping district is walking distance from the cruise pier. You’ll find everything from T-shirts to diamonds.

Tomorrow is our last sea day, and then it’s back to the office. If you have any questions about Celebrity or the islands I’ve visited, don’t hesitate to email me at cruise@smartertravel.com.

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