I like to think that I know a lot about the Caribbean, given my extensive travels by cruise ship and regular via-an-airplane vacations. Imagine my surprise when I was selecting my complimentary shore excursion for my Carnival Cruise Lines press trip for our port of call in Grand Cayman and my friend Stefanie at Mommy Musings suggested that I book an excursion that included a trip to Stingray City Sandbar! I had never even heard of it...but there I was, just a few short weeks later, on a boat in the open waters, speeding towards what would end up being one of the most fun activities I've ever done on a cruise ship!
Stingray City Sandbar is only accessible by boat, as it is literally a natural sandbar out in the water that the stingrays congregate to. The water is about waist-deep, even on older children, and the water is crystal clear!
While you don't actually need to wear your snorkeling mask to see the stingrays gliding around beneath the water's edge, it is a lot of fun to go underwater and take a closer look at them!
It also makes for pretty awesome selfies, if I do say so myself.
While at the Stingray City Sandbar, you'll watch as the Southern stingrays swim all around you, through your legs...oh, and when your boat captain tells you not to lift your feet, to only do the STINGRAY SHUFFLE? Listen to them. They know what they're talking about!
The second you lift your feet, a stingray can glide right under it and if you step down, you might hurt the stingray - or yourself! You see, stingrays have a spiny ridge in the middle of their back and you do not want to touch that...
The stingrays sometimes swim right up to you and brush against you with their sides. That's okay! It feels really weird - almost a jellyish, squishy feeling - but their sides are perfectly safe to touch. It's the ridge on their back and the end of their tail that's dangerous.
Their tail has barbs in it that can really hurt you if it jabs you. Your boat captain will explain all of this before you get off the boat and into the water. Just practice the safety precautions they tell you about and you'll be fine!
Sometimes these stingrays like to give their visitors the "Stingray Backrub." I heard that it's all the rage in Grand Cayman.
There are several excursions available through Carnival Cruise Lines to the Stingray City Sandbar, depending on the ship you're sailing and the time of year. A few of the options are...
Deluxe Stingray City Sandbar Excursion for $49.99 - 2.5 hours
Stingray City Sandbar and Tiki Beach Combo for $69.99 adult / $64.99 children - 5 hours
Allura Catamaran Sail to Stingray City Sandbar for $70.99 adult / $63.99 children - 3.5 hours
Stingray Encounter and Turtle Swim for $75.99 adult / $65.99 children - 4.5 hours