Me and my fiance did the sting ray city, grand cayman in september. I book the excursion the day before Steve E. died. I was a little nervous about it. However it turned out to be a lot of fun. I would bring water shoes. I felt better wearing them, just incase I steped on one. They say to shuffel your feet, but the waves keep you moving up and down you really have no control over your feet and they swim under them all the time. They give you rules before you get in, like don't move your feet too much, don't touch their backs they have sharp points on them and don't touch their tails where the stingers are. So I was scared getting in the water. There were so many of them. They come to where ever the new boats are because they know they will get food. They do not want to use their stinger unless they have no choice, because it takes years to grow back, and that is their only defense in the wild. They know if they are good there, they will get food. They were even sucking on my butt, it made me nervous. It was so much fun, once I calmed down and enjoyed the situation and stoped worrying about being stung. They rubed their tails along my back severl times and I never got stung. The tour guides said they have to whip their tails pretty hard to release a stinger in you, so they would have to mean what they were doing. I loved it and would do this excursion again.
The times we have gone, the crew required everyone to be barefoot prior to entering the water. They said water shoes could cause injuries to the rays. I felt this was a little excessive and I prefer to wear water shoes when in unknown waters. Who did you book with? Through the ship or independently?
I have been on two Stingray City tours. One before Steve Irwin's accident and one after. I am so glad I went back. Keep in mind that you are the intelligent human and the stingrays are animals and you will have a great experience. With fewer tours the rays seem to be hungrier. If you take the tours which arrive later in the day, they will be less aggressive - you will also see fewer rays. If you aren't comfortable around the higher concentrations of rays or the more aggressive ones, MOVE AWAY FROM THE CHUM BUCKET! While I enjoyed being in the thick of things and was the last one back on the boat, others interacted only minimally or watched without getting into the water -- they still enjoyed the trip immensely!
My first trip was on the typical S.S. Minnow style boat. My second was aboard the Cockatoo catamaran. What a difference! Instead of sitting in a stuffy cabin on the way to and from the sandbar, our party reclined on the catamaran's web decking (think trampoline mesh) which allow the sea breeze to circulate over you while you lay on the deck and gaze into the Caribbean sky or into the clear, turquoise water as it passes below you. Even without the rays, this alone would be worth the price of the tour. The only thing lacking would be a nice steak on a grill. The crew of the Cockatoo was friendly with the guests, and yet respectful of the wildlife. Kate did a great job on the video and we came back with lots more footage on the second tour than we did on the first one. All of the footage in our video was from our tour, nothing pre-recorded or "canned."