1) The tenders run consently. You can probably get from the island to the ship in a half hour. Last time we were there we did the Sting Ray and snorkel combo excursion, shopped a bit before hand, went back to the ship, changed and then my daughter and I went back to get our typical tourist items from Hardrock and Harley and we still got back to the ship with plenty of time.
2) Not sure I can answer that because I have not tried them all. We have had several cruise chat members recommend Captain Marvin's.
3) Yes, 9 hours is long enough. Figure 4 hours for the stingrays a couple of hours on the beach andshopping time (the shops are right there where the tenders come go so you don't have to go too far.)
My wife and I did the snorkel/sandbar tour and when we arrived back at the pier, simply took a taxi to 7 mile beach. I do believe that we would have had enough time to shop, if we so desired. I'm not sure about which tour company to take. We simply booked through the cruise line. Grand Cayman is beautiful and the boat ride out to the sandbar takes place over some of the clearest water in the world.
1st time in Caymens, we used Captain Marvins. It was great. No crowds, 2nd boat at the sand bar, didn't pay til we checked in. We did sand bar, Hell, turtles and shopping (extremely expensive). We got back to the boat just before the final tender left. We shopped for about and hour and that was enough time for me due to $$$.
This time we booked with Moby Dick as they pick you up right at the pier. We selected them as one of our party has to use walker and we didn't want to have to walk to Captain Marvins.
Kasi1979- I am so sorry I did not see your post until now.
We have been to GC 3 times. The last time we booked our own excursions (online before the cruise) It VERY easy to do in GC because most of the tour operators (at least the ones you would find online) also contract themselves for the ship tours. So, they will all meet in the saem place AND since you will most likely be on a tour with ship tour people, you are almost gauranteed to get back in time because you are riding with folks who already have that insurance. You can a little money doing your own, so if you are comfortable with it, I say go for it. Many people on this site have used Captin Marvins...
Just remember, if you book your own tour..DON'T MISS THE SHIP...:-)..Have a great time...If you don't want to do the beach, try the turtle farm, rumcake factory and of course go to
Hell:-)...and send a postcard home from there..
It does seem like a short day, on CCL it is usually 7AM to 4PM. I for one am never ready and waiting at 7AM. Then the lines and tender process. Doing the stingray tour this time for the first time..if the nerve holds up.
Captain Marvin's has a 8AM check-in or 10:45AM for the 2.5 hour tour. I guess I better be ready this time, because it would be nice to go to Abanks or Seven Mile after.