Grand Turk is the capital of Turks and Caicos Islands. Despite that, the island’s population more than doubled when our ship — which has about 4,500 people on board — docked. The island is about seven miles long and one-and-a-half miles wide, and it’s very, very flat. It’s also beautiful — this and Bermuda were our favorite stops on the cruise.
Unfortunately, our stop started off a bit roughly when we discovered that the ship’s shore excursion team had accidentally issued too many tickets for our “Mini-Boat Adventure” excursion…it turns out that they issued “first departure” tickets to everyone who scheduled this excursion, including the “second departure” group. Emotions ran a little high until the ship’s excursion team was able to figure out what was going on, which took about an hour. In the end, though, we were able to do what we wanted to do — so all’s well that ends well.
While we waited for our excursion, we bought some more souvenirs, restocked our sunscreen (now that was expensive), and grabbed some lunch at the giant Margaritaville restaurant complex. While the concept of having a bar just a few inches above a swimming pool is great, it would be a good idea for the restaurant to focus on some of the basics — like, oh, say…food and service? The cheeseburgers may be in paradise, but we weren’t.
All was forgotten when we got to our excursion, though…the mini-boats were great!! The boats were a fiberglass shell with inflatable sidewalls, powered by an outboard motor. The seating was an island in the middle that two people straddled like a motorcycle, with a steering wheel and throttle for control. After our safety briefing, off we went — racing across the waves along the coast of Grand Turk, heading away from shore to a nice spot for snorkeling. All ten boats stopped and were lashed together by our guides, and most of the people on the tour took the opportunity to snorkel and enjoy the sea life — fish, crabs, lobster, and sharks. Then it was back to the boats for another 10-minute trip farther down the shore, where we beached the boats and spent about 20 minutes enjoying a private beach. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, so we got back in the boats again and headed back to the ship…including hanging out aft of the ship for a photo opportunity before heading to shore to wrap up.
Of course, due to a somewhat late arrival into port, our tour was the last one to wrap up and head back to the ship. Nearly all of the shops near the port had closed, but Geitra made a quick dash to one shop to pick up a piece of jewelry she had found right before our excursion left. So while Neil kept a wary eye on the last member of the ship’s crew on the dock, Geitra bought one last souvenir from a woman who re-opened her store to make the sale. As a result, we were the last people to leave the port and head back to the ship — but luckily, the captain hadn’t pulled away yet so we saved ourselves the embarrassment of our fellow passengers on the previous day.
After dinner, we headed to one of the lounges for the “Who Wants To Be A Rock Star” event — basically, an opportunity to front the ship’s house rock band, Wavelength, for a song of two. Neil had just enough alcohol to think that doing a cover of the Guns ‘N’ Roses classic “Sweet Child ‘O Mine” was a good idea — probably the first time in history the song has been sung by someone in a button-down shirt and loafers. But he managed not to embarrass himself — or more importantly, Geitra — too badly despite the band performing the song about a half-octave lower than Neil’s voice was ready for. We’ll see if he decides to do another round on the last night of the cruise.
Grand Turk was a wonderful end to the shore excursions for this cruise — and the boat adventure was a high point. From here, we’ve got two days of nothing but relaxation to focus on while we’re at sea, heading back to the New York port.