We’ve lost count of how many times we’ve docked in Grand Turk at this point.
I figure the number is 6-8 times, but really, we have no idea. They all blend together in a beautiful puddle of crystal clear water in the most beautiful shade of cerulean blue. I think the reason we’ve lost count is because our days in Grand Turk all look the same. We walk on the beach, we go shopping, we go back to the ship.
There’s a reason our days in Grand Turk all look similar to each other: there isn’t a lot to do on Grand Turk. Grand Turk is a small island, probably amongst the smallest we’ve ever visited. At it’s widest point, the island is 7.5 miles across. From the Lido deck of the ship, you can see clear across to the ocean on the other side of the island.
There’s a large, free public beach steps away from the ship. That’s the biggest attraction. There’s a Margaritaville with a very large pool. There’s a nice shopping area. You can take a cab to a different beach, or rent a golf cart and drive around the island (on our to do lists, one of these visits), but there isn’t much else to do on Grand Turk.
But there’s an old cliché that says that good things come in small packages, and while there isn’t a ton to do or see on Grand Turk, I wouldn’t necessarily call that a bad thing. It’s nice to have a day to laze around an island and not feel pressured to see or do or buy, especially as you’re ending a lengthy voyage.
After a quick breakfast, Stephanie and I headed out for a quick visit onto the island. Mom stayed back – she hadn’t been feeling well and wanted to rest up. The first thing Stephanie and I noticed was that as you exit the ship, they have painted lines that you cannot step across to block people from sitting on the ledge of the walkway. They will blow whistles and yell at you if you try. I’m not sure if someone hurt themselves falling in or if this was purely precautionary, but mind that gap.
There are two beaches at the pier – one to the left of the duty free store and one to the right. Most beach-bound visitors to the island will take a left when they exit the store – that side of the beach is where you can swim out and wade around in the water. Because most visitors prefer the left side of the beach, it gets really crowded really fast. By the time we walked by, the umbrellas were stacked so closely that it made almost one big giant umbrella. With two ships in port (and a third on its way), it was a busy day in Grand Turk.
So while everyone was on the left side of the beach, we took our usual route through the right side of the beach. The right side is quieter because while you can toe dip in the water, you can’t swim out as far as you can on the other side and the further along the beach you walk, the rockier the terrain gets. If you’re looking to lay out on a palm tree and enjoy the breeze, this is the side of the beach you’d want to opt onto.
Regardless of what side of the beach you settle on (if you settle on a side at all!), beach chairs, clamshells and umbrellas are all free for use. While Grand Turk isn’t a private island (a la Half Moon Cay), the Carnival Corp has spent a lot of money on building up the port area, so the beach area may as well be considered one of Carnival’s “private” areas.
It was a gorgeous day to walk along the beach. The skies were perfectly blue and the water was calm. It was a little windy, but the wind provided the perfect relief to the humid temperatures on this Friday morning.
Stephanie and I stopped into a bar, the Beached Whale, a little further down on the beach for some margs. We contemplated going to Margaritaville but it’s always overpriced and overcrowded. It turns out, the Beached Whale is a Margaritaville bar, so the prices were still a little high, but we avoided most of the crowds.
We hit the shops after our late-morning mango margs. I wouldn’t call the shopping options on Grand Turk robust – they’re all Carnival recommended shops and the shopping area isn’t that big – but there’s plenty to browse if you’re looking for jewelry or island logo gear, and there’s a small craft market near the left side of the beach if you’re looking for more artisan goods.
When we had gone through our usual shops, we started to head back to the ship, but a Princess ship was docking, and civilians are prohibited from being on the dock while a cruise ship is docking. Everyone was starting to stack up in the duty free shop, and we spent a couple of minutes looking at the liquor prices, but once you go to St. Thomas, you know how the prices are never as good anywhere else, so we settled in outside the craft market while the Regal Princess pulled in alongside our Carnival Sunshine.
After the dock was cleared, we reboarded the ship, threw on our swimsuits and headed straight up to Serenity, where, for the first time all week, we had our pick of loungers and chairs and a near empty pool to enjoy!
We headed in for lunch after a few hours in the sun, opting for tacos from the Blue Iguana Cantina and cupcakes from the Sweet Spot.
Still not ready to call it a day after lunch, we headed downstairs to the promenade to watch the pier runners as we approached our back onboard time of 3:30 pm. When all guests were back onboard, the captain blew the ship’s horn, and the captain of the Regal Princess responded in kind — but their horn sounded like the theme to the Love Boat!
We enjoyed the sun and sea views for an hour after we left port, up until the sun had set below the horizon, and we headed back inside to get ready for our evening.
The dining menus hadn’t looked all that appealing for this evening, so Mom had called Cucina del Capitano while Stephanie and I were out in port to inquire about dining availability for the evening. When told they were booked for the evening, Mom went upstairs to talk to the hostess, and when the hostess noticed Mom’s Platinum card, she squeezed us in for a 9:00 pm reservation. Super late for us, but we’d take what we could get. So we relaxed, watched a movie in the room, and Mom called Cucina again to see if they could squeeze us in any earlier, only to be told they had no record of our reservation for this evening and that our reservation was placed into the following evening. A 20 minute game of phone tag ensued and ended with a 7:30 pm reservation. We had a little time to kill, so we spent some time on Ocean Plaza listening to a live Latin duo.
Mom and Stephanie love Cucina del Capitano. I do, too – the food is great and the ambiance is lovely – but I’m more partial to the offerings at JiJi’s. As we were seated, we immediately picked up on some tension between two tables we were sitting between. One, a large party, was having some sort of a celebration. The other party, seated behind us, was a smaller party, with a man who was offended by how loud the other table was and kept shouting at them. We ignored the war brewing between the two to settle in with wine and a bread plank, and thankfully, the rest of the meal was less eventful.
Because we were able to dine earlier, we were able to take in Cruise Director Chris’ show, The Flying Scotsman. Chris got his start with Carnival as a Playlist Performer before shifting over to Cruise Director, and the Liquid Lounge was just about standing room only for most of the show. Chris led the crowd in sing-alongs of some of his favorite rock songs.
I really, really wanted to go to the 80s Rock and Jam Party but I literally fell asleep as soon as we got back to the room to change. Add the Rock and Jam party to the list of things we’ll do on the next cruise (…where I’ll inevitably fall asleep…again…).