George Town cruise port is located on the island of Grand Cayman, which is the largest of the Cayman Islands. Grand Cayman has the glitz and glam you might expect from a city known for its finance district, but also has the sandy beaches, translucent blue water, and laid-back island lifestyle you’d expect from a Caribbean getaway. These two sides of the island: the finance and the beach – give George Town a beautifully vibrant atmosphere unlike any other Caribbean cruise island, and we can show you both sides during a Grand Cayman cruise.
If you always like to seek out some local history when traveling, take a visit to Pedro St. James “Castle.” It’s famous for being called the birthplace of democracy in the Cayman Islands since it’s where the residents of the Cayman Islands gathered in 1831 to elect the Caymans’ first legislative assembly. Though it’s called a castle, it’s really more of a mansion that dates back to 1780, making it Grand Cayman’s oldest stone structure. You can visit it during a Grand Cayman cruise and tour the inside as well as take a stroll around its manicured gardens and get a view of Great Pedro Bluff. We think the artistic angle of it also makes it worth visiting, since the architecture is not what you’d likely expect from a Caribbean mansion that dates back hundreds of years. The shore excursions we offer to Pedro St. James have a knowledgeable guide who can tell you more about the design story of the house and the history of the artwork and furnishings found in it since it is still decorated as it would have been during colonial times.
Hell is a town in Grand Cayman that is pretty touristy, but still fun to visit, both because of its name and its interesting geographical makeup since most of the town’s land is covered in a jagged limestone rock that might make you think of the surface of that other hell. Once you arrive in Hell, there isn’t much to do besides take some pictures and hit up the local post office; the latter is especially popular here since you can send a card that is postmarked from Hell. Because of that we recommend choosing to visit Hell on one of the shore excursions we offer that do a brief stop there and then takes you onto some of Grand Cayman’s other wonders.
We love a good beach, which is why so many of our shore excursions will take you to Seven Mile Beach during your cruise to George Town. It is located on the western edge of Grand Cayman, making it ideal for all your beach-going dreams, whether that’s lounging in the noonday sun or watching the sky change colors as the sun sets. Seven Mile Beach is located on a coral sand strip of land that actually is five and a half miles long, but who’s counting when you can instead be counting the number of pineapples in your pina colada or the number of fish you see while snorkeling in the stunningly clear water off its shore?
Grand Cayman is home to many stars – and we don’t mean the rich and famous that have made the offshore banking headquarters of the island famous. The stars you’ll want to see during cruises to Grand Cayman are located in a tranquil bay called Starfish Point. Wade into the water and look down so you’re careful where you step – there might be a starfish underfoot. You’ll likely see not just one starfish, but dozens all fanning out around the sandy bottom of the sea like an underwater constellation.
Get off the beaten path and let us take you to Crystal Caves, a fascinating part of Cayman Islands that is located underground. You’ll enter the caves with an expert guide who will tell you all about the geological history of the caves and how its main attractions – the stalactite and stalagmite crystal formations – are formed. In addition to the rock walls you’d expect in a cave, you’ll also see tropical vegetation in the forest surrounding the entrance to the cave.
Go for a walk along a manicured pathway through a tropical wonderland that has peaceful fountains, footbridges, and foliage-made tunnels. As much fun as flowers and plants are, the highlight for many visitors is seeing the large blue iguanas that roam throughout the park.
In Grand Cayman you don’t just get the chance to see a stingray on a snorkeling excursion. Instead, we can take you to visit Stingray City during Grand Cayman cruises, where you will see stingrays all around you and get the chance to mingle with them in the shallow waters of Grand Cayman’s North Sound. Decades ago, stingrays started coming to this bay after they figured out they could get the leftover fish trimmings from local fishermen boats (smart stingray) and they’ve stuck around, though these days it's mostly because they get treats from tourists. You can only get to Stingray City with a guide, who will teach you how to interact with the stingray and what is ok to feed them. This is the top attraction on the Cayman Islands and the most popular shore excursions for it will fill up fast so be sure to reserve your spot on one right after booking a cruise to Grand Cayman (we make it easy for you to do, so online before you cruise since you’ll have your own account that you can browse shore excursions through and reserve your favorites before you board the ship.)
Grand Cayman’s top things to do aren’t just on land. The Cayman Islands is known for being an excellent place to scuba dive with one of the top sites being Devil’s Grotto, where the ocean floor is home to a 1940s schooner that wrecked here. If you’re not scuba-diving certified, you can still visit the wreck on a SNUBA excursion. SNUBA is a type of underwater adventure that combines scuba and snorkeling since you’ll use an oxygen tank, but it will be floating above you on a raft instead of strapped to you down below. A long tube connects you and the tank, letting you easily explore up to 20 feet beneath the surface. Snorkeling can also be done all around the island with plenty of underwater life to see, including spots right off of Seven Mile Beach.
Sea turtles are some of the most coveted animals to see in the ocean, but they can be elusive. If seeing a sea turtle in action is a dream of yours, we want to make sure you know about the Cayman Turtle Centre, a special place to visit near George Town that rehabilitates turtles and has a special breeding program. That’s right, show up here at the right time and you can see adorable baby turtles. You can also don some snorkel gear and hop into the onsite lagoon to swim alongside these gorgeous creatures. While at the Cayman Turtle Centre you can learn about conservation efforts for sea turtles and learn more about the five species of green sea turtles that call the center home as well as visit the other exhibits that are home to a saltwater crocodile, nurse sharks, an aviary center, and a butterfly garden.
If you want to experience the laid-back island lifestyle with some fun in the sun and a drink in your hand, head to Rum Point, located on the central north end of Grand Cayman. Its claim to fame are the colorful beach bars located there. Do a bar crawl with your toes in the sand or grab a daiquiri and go relax on a hammock or sun chair. Away from the bar, you’ll find a family-friendly beach that has ideal swimming and snorkeling in its shallow waters plus onsite changing rooms, showers, and picnic tables.
George Town has many places to eat that serve up traditional Caribbean fare like beans and rice or steamed fish and coconut. To try a popular local dish that the Cayman Islands is known for, order a conch-based dish. To avoid having to wait long for a table during the lunch hour, go a bit early or late and try to avoid the peak lunch rush between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
When it comes to drinks, Grand Cayman is known for its mudslide, which is also a refreshingly cold drink to enjoy on a hot Caribbean day. The Cayman Islands mudslide is made with vodka, Kahlua, Baileys, cherry, and cinnamon.
Grand Cayman is an interesting Caribbean island since it has many of the components you might expect from an island in the middle of the Caribbean Sea – beach bars, sandy coastline, crystal clear water in shades of aquamarine – but it also has a vibrant and cosmopolitan business district that is known for its offshore banking. Despite the financial buzz going on in Grand Cayman, the island retains a laid-back vibe that makes cruises to Grand Cayman a fun vacation spot whether you’re traveling as a couple or as a family with young kids.
Your cruise ship will dock in George Town Harbor, but the port terminal of the harbor isn’t able to accommodate large ships, so cruise ships dock offshore and then passengers are tendered to port. The place you’ll get off from the tender boat is located right by the downtown area of George Town and many of its top sites, restaurants, and shops.
The bus depot is located across from Heroes Square Fountain next to the town library. It will deliver you to most of the main sights of Grand Cayman, but make sure you know how long the route will take, particularly on the way back, to ensure you get back to the port and your ship before it departs. If you’re not by the library, you can hail the bus by waving after the driver honks his horn. Taxis are also available outside the port.
Also, remember that in Grand Cayman they drive on the left hand side of the road.
The Caymans are known for being the jewelry capital of the Caribbean, with watches and diamonds among the most popular purchases, and we can help you find the best stores. Just go to the port shopping informational session at the beginning of your Celebrity Grand Cayman cruise and learn all about the most reputable shops and what types of jewelry to look for. Plus, your Celebrity Today for the day in port in Grand Cayman will have a map with shopping locations highlighted on it to make it even easier for you.
Grand Cayman isn’t only about the luxury goods, though. You can find handcrafted jewelry, antiques, old maps, and much more in the artisan shops located throughout town.
For the main shopping area, head to Cardinal Avenue or Galleria Plaza. In addition to jewelry and souvenirs, both are home to duty-free shops where you can get deals on perfume, cosmetics, crystal, and more.
Also, if you want to shop ‘til you drop, but still get some beach time at one of Grand Cayman’s gorgeous stretches of coastline, head to Governors Square Mall, which is right by Governors Beach. Maybe one of your shopping bags will make for a good pillow while you lounge on the sand!
The local currency in George Town and the rest of the Cayman Islands is the Cayman Island dollar. However, you’ll find that U.S. dollars are widely accepted, though it’s good to double check and not just assume before accepting a service or dining in a restaurant. If you do need Cayman Island dollars during your Grand Cayman cruise, you’ll find ATMs located throughout downtown George Town.
A tip of 10% to 15% is expected when dining at restaurants in Grand Cayman and for other service-based businesses. Restaurants typically include the tip in the bill, but if not, adding a tip to the bill is standard protocol.