I admit that a lot has changed in Grand Cayman since I made my first trip. It's been almost 20 years since that day we were walking downtown and I thought how nice it would be to go back and spend more time.
We were on a cruise when we went there the first time and Grand Cayman was one of the ports of call. When we were walking around there was a feel of being in one of the best places on earth. The shops were all very nice, not very crowded and the sales people seemed calm and helpful.
I mention the sales people because on a lot of islands, when you go to "town" it's almost a carnival attitude. People on the sidewalks trying to get you to come in - some even grabbing your elbow and leading you to the door. I hate that sort of high pressure. If I want to see something, I'll go. And leave my elbow alone, thank you very much.
We didn't find that attitude in George Town; Grand Cayman's main city. Shopkeepers were friendly, warm and seemed to care if you were well and comfortable. It gave me a really nice feeling.
If you're looking for bargains, you'll find them here. One of the biggest bargains right off the bat is that Grand Cayman is duty free. This means you will save about 30% on many items like perfume, jewelry, watches, crystal and china. Although I didn't need another watch, I kept looking at mine to see if the time was correct - looking for an excuse to maybe get a new one. But alas, the watch I had kept perfect time and I didn't find a reason to get another one.
We did buy some Tortuga Rum. While they offer 10 different blends, we stuck with regular. We also got several Tortuga Rum Cakes on strict orders from a family member. We used the famous "two for - one for" method of making sure we had enough. It goes like this - Two for us - one for them, Two for us - one for them.
We like cruising because it allows us to visit a place and determine if we want to go back for an exteneded visit. Grand Cayman was a keeper in my book and we've been back several times. While the hurricanes took their toll a few years ago, the island has come back and is going strong. I'd recommend a trip from March to May, so you skip the really hot part of the summer.
In March, the water temperature is 79 degrees F while the air temperature is 77. So the water is even warmer than the air temperature. It's very comfortable. Seven Mile Beach is to die for. Don't miss it if you go there as one of your ports of call on a cruise.
You'll find many travel options for the budget minded. When we booked our second trip, I called the local number of a condo, said I was trying to decide between the place I was calling and another place that had a better price and asked if they could match the price or make it better. I was able to do this several times using one place against the other to get a really good deal.
Then I tried this same idea on several restaurants we were planning to visit and asked about coupons, special rates for a romantic dinner beside the water, etc. Two restaurants gave us two-fers - buy one meal get the other for free. These two tips saved us $400 on the trip.
Then when we landed at the airport, I ased the Avis rental car place at the airport what was the slowest day for rentals and asked if I could get a deal if I rented on that day - like 50% off. Guess what? They gave it to me. It included pick up at the condo and pick up when we were done and unlimited mileage.
Despite the economy I hope you are travelling and enjoying yourself. Until next time, let me know what is on your mind, and how you are doing, O.K.?
Jim Fortune - the Bella Budget Travel Guy