GRAND TURK – In an average year, Grand Turk has about 350 days of sunshine. No wonder this cruise stop is one of my favorites.
When the Carnival Breeze docked at Grand Turk at 7 a.m., we were ready. Bunches of fun things to do before the ship departs at 2 p.m.
“Grand Turk is our shortest stay in this cruise,” Cruise Director Butch Begovich says. “It’s a great place for water and snorkeling adventures.”
The shore excursions offered for our stay in Grand Turk covered three pages of the Breeze brochure. Scuba and snorkeling were among the most favored in this diver’s paradise. Tours cater to both novice snorkelers and experienced divers. Grand Turk is home to an incredible reef system with turtles, stingrays, grouper, snapper, trumpet fish, colorful sponges, coral and more.
Another great thing about Grand Turk is that the Cruise Center makes it so easy to access the beach, activities and shopping area. A 3,000-foot pier lets passengers walk from cruise ships into the center and onto the white sand beach and clear blue waters.
Many passengers from the Breeze seem to be enjoying the free beach and recreational area. Many others are headed to Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville to waste away for a bit.
For Alex Carson, Grand Turk is a chance to swim in the ocean and watch his children make sand castles. “It seems so strange to see the big Carnival Breeze docked right there,” he says, nodding to the beautiful new ship. “It’s a good place to take photos of the ship with all the people playing in the water in front of it.”
The Capital island of the Turks and Caicos, Grand Turk is located 575 miles southeast of Miami, Florida. The island is about 7 miles long and 1.5 miles wide with a population of about 3,500.
It is said that Christopher Columbus first made landfall here on his initial voyage to the New World in 1492. In 1962, long before cruise lines were interested in this little island, astronaut John Glenn – the first American to orbit the earth – splashed down just a mile or two off the coast of Grand Turk and spent his first couple of days here after the historic space flight. A memorial on the island recalls that momentous occasion.
Some reports quote John Glenn as saying, it “must be paradise” when he spotted the island from outer space. Cruise ship passengers often agree.
“I hate to leave,” Karen Saunders says, checking out the shops before heading back to the ship. “It is so peaceful here.”
For those who don’t keep a close eye on their watches, cruise director Butch Begovich has bit of advice. “Be sure to take your camera with you when you go ashore,” he says. “That way you can get a beautiful picture of the Carnival Breeze as the cruise ship leaves without you.”
Photos and video by Jackie Sheckler Finch