Timid 5yr old: Stingrays or Camp Carnival?



We are Back!
We just got off the Conquest today and had a great time.

We took our 4 year old off the 1st day in Jamaica and did a 5 hour Mini Van tour with Barrett Adventures and our son did great. But we left him on board in Grand Cayman. We had the snorkel/sting ray tour with Captain Marvins and it was a good decision. He loved Camp Carnival, in fact he wanted to be there every hour that it was open. I think if we took him with us, he would have stayed on the boat and not had a good time. At sting ray city, yes that water was alittle higher than my waist (I am 4'11") but the waves were strong and I kept loosing my balance and getting a face full of water. I had to wear my snorkel to keep the water out of my contacts. My husband is 5'8" and thought that he would have some trouble carrying him. I really think he had more fun in Camp and would not been happy with the Excursion. We will take him in a couple of years when he is taller and can swim. (As a side note, I don't think the string rays would have scared him, but I don't think he would touch them either)

The last Excusion was Cozumel and we planned to take him with us, but he through a fit on the Lido Deck yelling "No, I want to go to Camp!" Fine, your wish is our command!

Also, I can't say enough about the Camp Carnival staff. They all spoke English as a primary langage. I came home with a bag of arts and crafts that they did including a mug and t-shirt that he colored. Also, I find other staff members on the ship very nice to him as well. Alot of them have young children at home that they don't get to see for months at a time, as a result they gave my son alot of attention. Especially the cute girl bartenders -- he now has a huge collection of drink umbrellas!


Here's a suggestion from someone who has been there with children from the age of 4: your daughter can WATCH the rays from the boat or in the water without having to get too close or interact with them unless she wants. You can stand off to the side a bit and the guides will eventually bring one over to you if you want to touch it. The guides are very very good at this and used to timid folks.

Get her a little mask, maybe a snorkel so she can peak her head underwater and see them better...and won't have to worry about getting a face full of water.

Have your 6'3 son hold her! You can absolutely pet and experience the rays with one hand. Given their druthers, the rays would rather be close to the sand than to the top of the water, so they don't come to the surface unless they're enticed by food.

Have her watch "finding Nemo" -- remember the ray that had all the school of fish riding on his back? Remind her that the females are the big ones; the "daddies" are the little ones.

Don't deprive her of the experience.. she can enjoy it without having to be in the thick of things. My youngest son screamed through his snorkel when he saw his first rays at 4 years old... and it was a scream of excitement.. he wanted to swim after them! He has since become a certified SCUBA diver and loves every minute of it.



I guess its basically a personal decision as you know your daughter the best. We took our 11 and 8 yr old daughters in sept with Capt Marvins. They were great and much cheaper than the excursions run by the cruiseline. There were also a lot less people on the capt marvin boat... My 7yr old is a tomboy and all we heard was how she wanted to feed the stingrays.... that lasted up until she got in the water and one swam at us... she literaly craweled up my back and was hanging on my shoulder... she would have stood on my shoulder if she could... i brought her back to the boat and she sat on the edge and was very happy to watch them swim by.... she finally decided she wanted to feed one but there was no more food left.... I think she waited till it was gone to say that lol...
but she is glad she went and loved looking at them but she didn't like touching them... they kinda freaked me out also but my husband is still talking about holding them... i wouldn't hesitate to book through capt marvins... we had a great time!!!!!!


I just got back from the Radiance two days ago and we did Stingray City. I am not an animal lover and I have to admit I was extremely uncomfortable (as in close to crying for my mommy - get me out of here - panicked). We booked the excursion through Soto Tours (wonderful outfit) but a number of the ships actually cancelled their excursions to Stingray City due to the waves.

I am glad I did the excursion because it was definitely different. But the waves the day we went were very high and knocking all of us off our feet, which scared me because I was so afraid of landing on one of the sting rays. In some parts the water was waist level but for the most part it was up to my shoulders (I am 5ft 2). Did not mind the rays brushing up against me or touching them, but again the waves were so bad that I spent my entire time trying not to land on one and hurt it or me. I had a horrible time, but, as i said, I am not an animal lover and most people had a blast. My friend got a stingray hickey because she forgot to let go of the squid when she fed the stingray - for some reason, she thought this was a great souvenir). I think our experience with the waves was not typical.

There were people with small children there. The parents held the children in their arms. Some of the kids thought it was pretty cool, other kids cried and were scared. However, I believe that on all the boats a crew member stayed on board the boat while everyone (who wanted to) swam, so I doubt there would be any issue with leaving her on the boat while you swam - she will be within eye sight the entire time - or you and your son can take turns staying with her.

Juan C

I know this post is too late but I do have a comment on Camp Carnival. My wife is extremely overprotective with our two boys. She didn't like leaving them with me alone when they were small fearing that if someone would happen she wouldn't forgive herself for not being there.

Our first cruise the boys were 4yr and 2 yrs old. Since the little one was under three we were not allowed to leave him alone at the kid camp. So we would stay and play with them a couple of times a day at the camp. Second trip same thing, wouldn't leave them alone even though they were older ( 5yr and 3 yrs old). On our last cruise the kids were 6 and 4 and I finally put my foot down and she agreed to leave them alone for 1 hour on the first day of the cruise. When we went to pick them up they did not want to leave, other kids were actually crying when it was time to pick them up because they were having so much fun. Since then that is were the kids want to be all day. On Carnival the camp close a couple of hours throughout the day so the kids can spend time with their families. I thought at first it was so that parents wouldn't dump their kids off and not spend time with them, but now I think it is because it forces the kids to spend time with their parents.

We even left them a couple of hours while we were in Martinique because we just were walking around the Downtown area and we were 5 min from the ship.

So, In general, I think the Kid Camps are great but like anything in life, too much is not good.


Actually, your post isn't too late...... We don't sail until May 9..........

Thank you for your opinion!


We are sailing on May 9 on the Conquest too! We have a 3yr old and we are carrying her with us to stingray city. We booked with Captain Marvins. She has been to an aquarium where you can see them swimming around and hold your hand in the water and try to touch them and she absolutely loved it. She was about 2yrs old then. We have been mentioning it every few weeks, just so she can keep it in her head so it want be so overwhelming when we do get there. My husband is prepared to stay on the boat (Capt. Marvin's) if she is a little timid. She is one of those children that you have to take things slowly and let her do things at her own pace. Maybe we will see yall there. Happy cruising!


We have a very confident 10 year old and I was quite suprised when she literally crawled up my husbands back screaming to get away from the rays. I have to admit that even I found them very intimidating as did the other 5 adults in our group. However our guides were great and helped us feel more comfortable holding and feeding them.