Picked a lousy time to visit Grand Cayman. An expensive and sorely disappointing trip.
A scuba instructor in Playa del Carmen, Mexico told me I “HAD TO” dive in Grand Cayman. So, a year later in March 2013, I did.
What a time consuming nightmare to get there for an eight day stay. Flew on points on American Airlines (aboard new planes, thank goodness) from Vancouver to Los Angeles to Miami to George Town, Grand Cayman. Came back through Miami and Dallas. Had I paid, the flight would have been in the $1,000 CDN range.
The dive resort I selected was Sunset House, about a 20 minute walk from the downtown area. It had NO beach. Just rocks and a boat launch. It cost about $3000 CDN double occupancy for one week of diving for one person and daily breakfast for two. The room was basic.
Problem is the weather was so blustery the dive boat couldn’t leave from the dock, so we had to be bused to another part of the island to dive. The crappy weather also ruined any chance I had of diving at Stingray City.
Grand Cayman is expensive. The exchange rate was about $1.50 Canadian to every Cayman dollar.
Sunset House was a huge disappointment. With a couple of exceptions, the staff was extremely rude. And, they didn’t give value for money. Instead of giving a guided one hour dive, they’d dive with you for about 20 minutes then surface. That left us divers, some very unfamiliar with the area, alone to basically swim around the boat until we ran out of air (fearing we’d die if we ventured too far away). Dive operators in other parts of the world I visited have been shocked to hear this. As well, the underwater sights weren’t that great.
Some of the other horrors.
- I asked to borrow a snorkel for an hour. For my $3,000 resort bill I thought this wouldn’t be a problem. It was. They wanted to charge me a rental fee.
- One of the dive guides chewed me out for ‘wetting’ a seat in the transport van after a dive. Note to guide: diving makes you get wet. Next time, bring more towels for your guests.
- Got a surly reaction from the front desk when I asked to pay my bill early because of my early departure the next day, before they had a staffer on duty. The same front desk that had allowed my travel partner to pay her bill earlier in the day.
- Staff members in the photography store were similarly customer-service challenged.
- Epic fail all around.
Some good-ish things about Grand Cayman.
- Seven Mile Beach is gorgeous. One of the top beaches I’ve visited. If I ever go back to Grand Cayman it will be for that beach. Walking there through downtown is a nightmare though due to the thousands of slow-moving, overfed, souvenir-seeking cruise ship passengers who get dropped in George Town daily. (Cuba has gorgeous beaches that rival Seven Mile Beach.)
- Food is pretty good, but pretty pricey.
Live and learn. My grievances are first world problems, I know. It was certainly an experience I don’t have any plans to repeat in the near future.