Grand Cayman Dolphin Swim Excursion Reviews
So the last day in this marathon is Grand Cayman and seriously, it’s the best for last. Love this island, and will hopefully be back. Because of the lack of addresses, the average person won’t know exactly where the Dolphin Excursion place is. It’s WAY THE HECK AWAY FROM THE SHIP. The tender ride in is less than five minutes and bus ride is about 40 minutes. Plan accordingly and book your time based on that. Also remember that Grand Cayman is on Central time, so everything is one hour later than ship time. My recommendation would be to book the 11:00 dolphin swim which really is 12:00 ship time. If the boat gets in at 10:00, you will have plenty time to get in and grab a bus.
The buses on Grand Cayman are large vans that run routes around the island. The #2 bus will get you there for about $5US per person. Far cheaper than a taxi in most cases and you get to see more of the island than just West Bay Drive. We had to stop for air for a tire on the way up, so just keep that in mind as well. :-)
Got to the site way early. Also, this is the place to get online…the Caymans are wired up far better than any island so if you want to upload pics, update FB, etc…go to any local restaurant and grab 30 minutes of sweet wi-fi. The wi-fi is free in the dolphin overlook area and there is a restaurant there. The food they served the workers looked far better than what they offered, didn’t ask if they sold it to the general public.
We got there very early and our admission included a trip to the turtle farm across the street. The turtle farm is well laid out, but it was a bit sad to see these large animals clawing over each other for a few morsels (kind of like carp near the beach). Lots of sad shaky video of that as well. My kid was in heaven finding spotted geckos and all sorts of other critters “LOOK DAD, CHICKENS!”.
The turtle farm did have some small turtles which you could grab out of their various pools. The smart ones just sat under the water while the ones that weren’t so smart swam near enough to get grabbed by little hands. Yes the 11 year old loved that (although I’m sure PETA somewhere is planning a large turtle heist).
Back across the street to the dolphin excursion and walked in waiting for our time at 1:00 (2:00 ship time). Plenty of lockers in there but be warned the locks are all keyed the same. Better to leave the really expensive stuff you might worry about elsewhere. The dolphin place is large and has 11 dolphins to work with. We had Darwin and Constantine for the Royal Swim which is a combination of various photo poses and a few rides that you only get to see the trainers do at Sea World.
So, to those rides. Whoa. Seriously kiddies, if you are going to spend the $$$$ on the Dolphin Encounter, spend the extra $30 and get the Royal Swim so you can do the dorsal swim and the Superman pose. Damn…kid and wife had a great time and there’s something unsettling to see two very LARGE dolphins coming at full speed to put your stinky feet on their heads and push you down at 20+mph. Kind of like what someone thinks when a cruise missile is about to obliterate their tank… “Oh $%#@ this is real and it’s heading right towards me”. One side note for guys, make sure that set of trunks is really tired down well. No wardrobe malfunctions allowed at the dolphin swim.
Great staff there and they were constantly making sure we were having fun. Seems a bit scripted at times but I’m sure that’s done to ensure a consistent experience. Got done in about 40 minutes and ran over to shower, change and get out the door. Of course, you can’t just leave after 40 minutes of “smile here!”. We were offered “all the pics on CD” for $120 which we took quickly. Even though there are pics that should never see the light of day on there, it’s easier just to grab the disc and go. Also Gus & Family who was there at the same time, if you happen to read this by any weird chance…contact me. Got a few of the kid which you might want.
Took the bus back which took far longer and was busier than the morning ride up. PLAN ACCORDINGLY. We got back to the port with 10 minutes to spare (left at 3:40 ship time from the part, got back at 4:50 ship time). Didn’t have time to enjoy the sweet wi-fi, but that’s what awaits the millisecond we are back home.
We went to Dolphin Cove and Stingray City. The Dolphin Cove portion was nice and very informative but the dolphin encounter/swim was somewhat short and highly controlled. They wanted $150 for a CD of the photos which was ridiculous but my husband got them to cut the price by 50%.
The dolphin swim was fun but went by fast. It was worth the money and the instructors were nice.
It seems with excursions that the only reason to book with the cruise line is to "guarantee' you will not be left behind if you get stuck on an excursion and cannot get back to the ship in time. Otherwise it seems like there is not quality control or full disclosure. When we booked our kids to go on the dolphin swim, which was very expensive and they saved their own money. It turns out that they required an adult to be with each child and must pay full price, the encounter was with a fairly large group and was a lot of time dedicated to have a very short actual interaction with the dolphins. What is worse they would not let you anywhere near the kids so you couldn't watch or take pictures because they take pictures and charge $60 for a small pic and would follow you all the way out pressuring you to buy and telling you that the pictures will be deleted. Felt extremely scammy. For the same price we could have went to Discovery Cove and had an amazing full day experience with dolphins and sea life.
AWESOME!!! Loved swimming with the dolphins and seeing the sea turtle farm. The staff at the Dolphin site were very friendly and you could tell they love their jobs. The dolphins are powerful but gentle and loving. What a great experience
I will never forget "Cappy" our dolphin and the opportunity to swim with him. Feeling his nose touch the bottom of your foot and propel you through the water..still brings a smile to my face.
I would do this one again in a heartbeat. The staff was very concerned about your safety and the dolphin's safety. All jewelry must be removed, so leave it on the ship!
I loved it!