Summary: On this third stop on our Western Caribbean Cruise, we had plans to go swimming with the Island's famous Sting Rays. Unfortunately choppy water canceled our plans. Instead, we were taken to visit the Cayman Turtle Centre, as well as a couple pretty vistas along the way. Much later after we returned home, we learned that the Cayman Turtle Centre is controversial due to raising turtles in questionable conditions and for human consumption, along side of their conservation and repopulation efforts. It is a good lesson in researching venues before you travel, even if you learn of the change only just before arriving at a destination. This post is part of a 4-part series featuring our Western Caribbean cruise experience with Princess Cruises.
About Grand Cayman Island. Largest of the Cayman Islands, Grand Cayman is known for white sand beaches, beautiful sea life, and offshore banking. Seriously, we could not help but notice the sheer number of banks on the Island. Grand Cayman is also a popular tourist destination with many shops and restaurants catering to the Island's visitors.
Arrival. Shuttles bring passengers from the ships to the Island. Beaches vary from white sand to rocky stretches like the one below. The main arrival port is filled with street vendors, shops, and restaurants. A street fair was also going on during our visit, where locals sold goods to tourists. (photo below, just because: Chickens roamed free).
Cayman Turtle Centre. This tourist attraction also doubles as a conservation center. Founded in 1968, the Cayman Turtle Centre raises sea turtles in captivity for the purpose of releasing into the wild and was the first facility to successfully breed the endangered Kemp's Ridley turtle in captivity. Visitors can watch a video and view exhibits on the Centre's conservation project and also learn about the life cycle of these turtles.
Outside, large display tanks hold turtles grouped together by size (and presumably age) and visitors are given the option to hold one as well. In a very large, pond-like tank, full-grown turtles swim right near viewing platforms or lounge a man-made beach.
Controversy. Much later after we returned home, we learned that the Cayman Turtle Centre is controversial due to apparently raising turtles in questionable conditions and for human consumption, along side of their conservation and repopulation efforts. We did not see poor conditions but honestly, what do we know? It is a good lesson in researching venues before you travel, even if you learn of the change only just before arriving at a destination. Had we known in advance, we would have canceled and tried something different instead. We do love the idea of conservation and re-population of endangered species and we are sad to hear that the Cayman Turtle Centre's work is shrouded in controversy. We hope that either the program has improved since our visit or others have taken over their efforts to save these beautiful turtles.