In January I sailed on Carnival Horizon on a cruise that visited Cozumel, Ocho Rios and Grand Cayman. While I love Cozumel, what I was looking forward to the most was the Turtle Center in Grand Caymen. I booked a shore excursion through Carnival that included transportation to the center along with entrance fee and my transportation back to the ship. I was actually fortunate I wa able to get on it because by the time I tried to book, it was sold out. But I was able to waitlist and it cleared the night before we arrived in Grand Cayman.
The Cayman Turtle Center
The center is located about 20 to 30 minutes from the port on the north side of the island. Cayman Turtle Center opened in 1968 and has been preserving and enhancing the population of green sea turtles since. Since the 1970s. they have released over 30,000 green sea turtles info the water of Cayman and eggs on the beaches.
Grand Cayman is a tender port or as Carnival likes to call them, water shuttles. Since I am platinum on Carnival I was able to get priority shuttle so it made it easy.. The boat ride over to Grand Cayman is pretty short, maybe 10 minutes and this day was pretty smooth. After you get on land you will come to a tented area where they have the shore excursions set up, look for the person with the sign displaying the name of your excursion.
The tour was very organized with several busses going, each bus had their own color so you got a wrist band with that color. This made it easy to get on the right bus when returning. As you walk in, the tour guide gives you a run down of what you will see and how much time you have, We had about three hours total including a short tour and run down of the facility. they also talk about the breeder tanks. show you the touch tanks, talk about the lagoon and all the available facilities.
When you walk in you first come to the Breeder pools where the big turtles are. These green sea turtles can get up to 500 to 600 lbs and these were around 400lbs. There are set times where you can purchase food from a stand and feed the turtles if you wish.
Also part of the experience are the touch tanks. There was a time where you could pick up the turtles but they now just allow you to touch the shells which is pretty cool. Did you know they have nerves on their shells so they can feel it? So be mindful of making it a soft touch. You will see they have them in boxes, this is so you can reach them as they would just swim to the middle. They are just in there temporarily while a tour is in, the rest of the time they swim free in the pool.
One of my favorites parts of this experience was the snorkeling lagoon located on the property. Here I was able to swim and see green sea turtles among colorful fish and other sea lif You simply get some free snorkel equipment and set off for a swim. Its a pretty large lagoon with some areas about 4 to 5 feet deep but then the deep area is about 10 feet. If you get tired, there are areas to rest and even a couple places with ladders to get out if you wish. Its a fantastic experience and included in your admission. And don't worry, they are very docile animals wne will not bite or harm you, just don't grab them as they do have sharp beaks.
I got to see several sea turtles just hanging out but unfortunately my pictures did not turn out great. I have to get a better waterproof case for my phone or an underwater camera for these things.
On the property, you will also find bathrooms with changing rooms so no need to wear that wet bathing suit back to the ship. There is also a pool with a slide, restaurant and a gift shop. For the restaurant, expect high prices but you are at a tourist spot. I did get some items in the gift shop as the prices were not bad. Always have to get that magnet.
You are able to just simply get a cab and purchase admission to the center without taking a shore excursion. To gain full access to include the snorkeling lagoon, tickets run around $40.50 but that is as of today. You can visit the website for more details. Cayman Turtle Center.
So whether you are visiting by plane or cruise ship, I highly recommend a stop at the Cayman Turtle Center.
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I have a passion for travel and believe travel is about experiences. Experiences create memories and are the stories we tell to friends and family - even with a little fudging on the facts.