Nassau Balmoral Island & Sting Ray Experience Excursion Reviews
We were able to pet and pose for photos with about 10 rays which had been clipped. This was a great encounter for anyone who has never done a Ray encounter.
We took a very rickety, crowded boat on very rough waters to Balmoral Island. I really did not feel safe in that boat, but after 40 minutes we arrived at the island. The beach is relatively small, but it was nice. We were disappointed, though, by the weather. It was partly cloudy and very breezy, which in turn made the water seem unusually cold. So it wasn't a particularly great beach day. I'm sure if the weather had been more cooperative, we would have enjoyed ourselves a lot more. Guests can conveniently use their sail & sign cards to pay for a limited selection of food on the island, but the food is expensive. We did not do the stingray or dolphin excursion, just the beach. But you pass the dolphin pool as you get off the boat. Everyone in my family was very bothered by the relatively small and shallow pool where the dolphins are kept. That sight definitely put a damper on the outing.
If I could give it a negative star I would.
Nassau - It was cold this day. We went to Senor Frogs (great) and did some shopping before our excursion. We went on a snorkeling adventure with stingrays on Balmoral Island which I do not recommend. It was terrible and the worst excursion I have been on. We complained and received a partial credit for our tour. Our catamarran was cancelled and the boat we took over was overfull and the bathroom non-functional (but continued to be used). Our 4.5 hour excursion was really only 1.5 hours on the island after you factor in travel time and we were stuck on the boat for over 30 minutes waiting to unload (this was after the 45 minute boat ride). The beach itself was dirty and littered with garbage. The bathrooms were some of the worst I've ever seen and also non-functional and littered with garbage. There were no changing rooms. The small area for food/coffee was highly overpriced. The snorkeling itself was a joke. You are confined to a small roped off area with stingrays (which I never even saw). You are handed a snorkel, mask, and life vest (which you have to blow to inflate) which were not cleaned between guest use (disgusting). We never saw any stingrays and were in the water for 45 minutes. No one took pictures as promised and no one explained anything about the experience. The boat ride back was even worse, standing room only on an open boat in rough seas. It was a miracle no one fell off.
For those who do not book an excursion, there is not much in port other than shopping. We did Balmoral Island. You 1st had to walk from the ship to the boat that took you to the island.. it was a bit of a walk, and not good for those who are disabled or in a wheel chair. Once at the island the beach was beautiful... it was like our own private island.. we had a great beach, they had a restaurant and bar which you could use your sail and sign card so no cash was needed... but the prices were crazy expensive.. for a tiny turkey wrap and can soda it was $20. Eat on the ship! There is also the dolphin encounter and sting ray encounter at the same location. Others in our group did the dolphins and really enjoyed it. You can also rent a jet ski or go parasailing from this location.
We wanted to book the excursion to Blue Lagoon Island but we were told by the excursion desk that not enough people were booked so they were not going to do it. We asked what was a comparable excursion and he said Balmoral Island. He said it was a Carnival Island. He said it was better and took half the time 20 minutes or less. My family booked it. When we went to the boat to go over to the island I was shocked because it was very small for the amount of people. They crammed us onto this boat. It was very hard to get on and off of the boat. People who were handicapped had a really hard time since it was a high step to get on and you had to duck your head. The staff was unorganized and not very helpful. It took us 45 minutes to get to Balmoral Island. It was a rocky ride and most people felt very sick. Once we got there we saw a lot of beach chairs and umbrellas. The sand was beautiful and so was the water. Unfortunately my group and many others did not stay in the ocean because it was very rocky. Also there was sea glass, and fish hooks. Most people stayed out of the ocean. We found a small pool on the Island and stayed there. We opted to get lunch package. The lunch was good but the staff was rude. Our waitress was not happy that we all ordered the same lunch accept for one person in our party. After the food came she never came back again for drink orders. This island did take the sail and sign card.so that was easy. Everything was very expensive on this island. When booking the excursion and while on the boat we were told we would have plenty of time to do some shopping and then go back to the boat. We had no time at all. We returned to the port at 3:15 pm and had to be back to the ship at 3:30 pm. We were told by the staff that getting back was much easier to get off the boat. That was 100% wrong. The location they docked was awful. You had to step off onto a small piece of concrete and then had to either climb over a 3 foot wall or walk along the thin ledge and step over a rope that was lifted in the air. It was extremely dangerous and scary. I had kids with me that I climbed over with. My mother was very scared she walked along the ledge. She was unable to climb over a wall. It was a bad day and not what was expected. When we returned to the ship I spoke to someone at the excursion desk. He slipped and said this island was not complete but it should not have been this bad. I really wanted to say how unsafe this was because safety to me is number one. He did refund us ½ the price of the excursion. I was told by Carnival that this excursion is not a Carnival Island that Carnival is the only line that uses this excursion but it is not owned by Carnival. The excursion desk told us this was a Carnival owned Island. I felt there was a lot of communication problems.
We signed up for the Balmoral Island excursion on 10/3/13. It took entirely too long to get the group organized and walk over to the boat to take us to the island. On top of that, it was so hot, and my toddlers were having a hard time waiting in line to board the boat. Many people commented that it was too many people for that boat, and we didn't think we would all fit. The staff packed us in like sardines, and there was barely enough space to even look for a seat. And the fact is, not everyone got a seat, which meant there probably weren't enough life vests. When I asked the Carnival staff about additional seats, I was told to go below and look for seats. There were no seats below, and people were tightly packed on the boat. I was then told to sit in the wheelhouse with the captain. There were two seats, not enough for me, my husband and three children. The captain ignored me when I tried to talk to him and cast off anyway.
Some nice passengers offered us their seats so that we could sit down with our two toddlers who were overheated and getting sick. It was one of the most miserable experiences we've ever had! The boat ride was slow and hot, which didn't help after the long wait. When we arrived, it took at least 20 minutes to get everyone off the boat because (as with boarding) there was no step stool, and people had to take a huge leap with the help of the staff - quite an insurance liability!
Once on the island, our experience was much better, but we only had about two hours to spend there! The water was beautiful; the food was good (but expensive), the drinks were strong, and swimming with the rays was mostly a nice experience. One aggressive ray bit my finger when I was feeding it with the fish they give you, and it then bit my toe. It didn't break the skin, but I didn't want to do it again. They were fun to watch and feel.
However, we had to endure the loading and unloading procedure again (all of which took valuable time from our excursion), which ruined a good part of the experience.
LOVED Balmoral Island. Lovely place to visit, great beach, good food options, and a nice pool. I would return here again!