I slept in this morning. The occasional problem with cruising is I don’t get much chance to sleep in because I’m always eager to visit the next port. Most of the time the ship gets in 7-8am. That means getting to breakfast early to have food in my guts, brushing teeth, getting my camera, or gear together, etc… then making my way to a gangway or tender. Grand Turk on the other hand, is usually not an early morning stop. Because of it’s distance from other ports, an earlier arrival is usually not possible unless there was a day at sea prior.
This morning we were scheduled to arrive at 11am. That meant I could sleep in. YES! I got myself out of bed roughly 9:45 and had a nice breakfast. I then went to my usual perch on deck 9 over the bridge wings to watch us arrive. To my surprise when I glanced over the port side, I found we were being followed by Liberty, my favorite of the ships I’ve cruised with Carnival. As we came into port, Liberty swung to our starboard side to dock.
We pulled up to the pier, moored, and then some people started disembarking the gangway. Liberty was starting to pull along side and I thought, “hmmm, this could get interesting.” I grabbed my stuff and headed down to the gangways. I only got as far as deck 1 before there was an announcment from Kevin, our cruise director, that they would pause when Liberty was being moored. Ok, no biggie… At that point there were some people standing around the stairs to go to deck 0 and the gangway. No problem, I’ll get in line. Trouble was the line kept getting longer and longer and before I knew it, I was more than halfway down cabin corridor on deck 1! People were filing past me to get in the already long line and there was hardly any room for anyone to move. After about 15 mins, we did start moving. It took an additional 15 mins to get off the ship. Dang! I might miss my 11:30 excursion! I finally made it to the gangway and quickly made my way up the pier, stopping briefly for a couple photos.
I had to rush ashore to make my 11:30 excursion. I found the hut with this people who operated the tours and asked if I made it. Yes, I made it and they were giving guests additional time since the Victory had a hiccup with allowing guests off. I took the opportunity to venture into Ron Jon’s for a magnet and t-shirt, then made a quick pit-stop before hand. I could really use some water. Hopefully they had some on the tour.
I made my way back to the hut and waited another 5 mins before we were taken to the ATVs which were right over in the parking lot near the taxi stand. We were given a briefing on how to operate one, what the rules were, and using signals. We put on our helmets which had radios in which the guides would explain the sights and surroundings. We took a spin around the lot and then followed our guides out onto the roads. Most of our travel was on public road and we were told to stay tight to avoid people with cars getting between us. It sort of worked, but a couple 1st time riders were allowing too much gap so we had to pull off and re-arrange our order. After that was done we proceeded through Cockburn Town, and sights of heritage. We made a stop along a beach “where Columbus landed.” And then made a stop where they had many live conch. Afterwards we headed further north to the lighthouse on the other side of the island. It was beautiful here and I was able to get a bottled water at a refreshment stand ($2).
After our time at the lighthouse, we returned to our ATVs for a trip back through town and back to port. The return trip was much faster. Overall it was roughly 1.5 hours.
*NOTE. I’m an experienced ATV rider. If you are an experienced rider, you may have some frustration because you don’t really use the ATVs as such. There are a couple instances where you go through some sand or dirt, but it is mostly pavement or even surface. Also, being in a group with 1st timers might try some of your patience too. That said, just relax and have a good time taking in the sights. There are many. In comparison to my ATV tour on St. Kitts, this one was definitely less “adventurous”, but more thorough with information. The company that runs these ATV tours does have a tour for more experienced riders but ONLY for those STAYING on the island.
The ATV tour is fun, but you know what. Its time for a beer! Where do I go? Jack’s Shack! I hate wearing closed-toed shoes on a cruise/beach vacation. After the ATV tour, I really needed bare feet so I took my shoes off and walked all the way down the beach, through the water to Jack’s Shack. The place was poppin’. People were out front playing volleyball, the loungers were all taken as well as most areas of the beach, and the bar was packed. Looking around, I noticed some familiar faces. Many of the entertainment staff were there catching some rays and using the wifi. They seemed to be having a good time. It’s good to see hard working people taking a break and enjoying some time off. I grabbed a seat at the hut/bar and was greeted by Jack. What a cool guy. His wife and daughter were there working as well. I wanted the conch fritters which I think were referred to as “cracked conch.” Jack told me it’d be a 45 minute wait for it. “Sure, I’m in no hurry.” I planted myself there and enjoyed a really good bottle of Turks Head Lager.
Don’t let the beat-up lounger fool you. There are a lot more with umbrellas. I would have taken a photo of those, but I didn’t want the speedo-wearing retirees that were playing volleyball in a picture. You’re welcome.
One thing that struck me was that there were a couple teens sitting at the bar (NOT drinking booze, thankfully). I was next to some guys going back and forth and joking over which ship was better, Liberty or Victory. People were pretty into it (in a fun way) and even the assistant CD of the Liberty, who was there, chimed in little too. I told them the Liberty was better in my mind. First, because of 2.0 and secondly because of its larger size (with more stuff). My experience on Liberty was also unparalleled. It is a great ship. Not that Victory was bad! This continued for a while and we all talked about the ships and cruises we’d been on. A little later a couple from Boston sat down next to me. I can’t remember how, but we got into discussion. We bought some drinks and had an overall good time just hanging out there. I watched their stuff while they went in the water, and they watching mine. I spent about 5 mins in the water and it was so nice. A tiny bit cool when first getting in, but it was awesome after about a 30 seconds. I swam back and forth a little, knowing it would be the last time I was in water that nice for some time. After getting out, I went back up to the bar and picked-up where I left off. My fried conch still hadn’t shown up yet and it was almost 1.5 hours later. I asked Jack if he knew what was up, and he brought some right over. Nice! It was pretty good! Very similar to other fried shell fish, but not tough. I shared some with my new friends from Boston. I asked Jack’s daughter (can’t remember her name) to see if I could buy a shirt. Sure! I picked out a green “bar fly” t-shirt and got a free cocktail with it. Nice! After a while people started leaving. An even shorter time later, we decided it would probably be best to leave too. We agreed to meet on Serenity Deck for sail-away.
I took a couple photos on the way including some of the islands 4 legged residents.
After a sad walk back to the pier, and onto the ship. I took a shower and then headed up to Serenity for sail away. Out on deck, Victory had a DJ going, while Liberty had an acoustic guitar player. I found a couple clam shell loungers with my new friends Matt and Kristen. We sipped on Pina Coladas as the Victory pulled up it’s mooring lines and started sailing away.
Here’s a view of an empty Margaritaville.
It was a very nice sail away and yet a little sad. We knew we were now Miami bound. Thankfully we still had 1 sea day left to indulge in what the ship had to offer.
After sail away, I headed to get some pizza. Afterwards I napped for a while. I woke up later feeling pretty recharged and headed to meet with the girls for dinner. Tonight they were having the Caribbean deck party and late night Mexican buffet. Sweet! I couldn’t wait. We sat down and talked about the good times we had during the day and how one of the girls was asked by an islander if she could be his girlfriend for the day (or something like that) haha. She made the best of him hanging around from the sound of it.
After dinner we headed up and grabbed a couple loungers watching the end of a movie and the DJ before the party began. It took the entertainment staff a little while to arrive, but they did eventually and the party took off. They passed out glow sticks/bands and servers were selling shot glasses with flashing LEDs. Once the party got rolling it really turned into the BIGGEST deck party I’ve ever experienced on a Carnival cruise. The music was good, everyone was dancing, and the lido deck was packed! This lasted for a good while. They did only a couple of the usual dances, and some freestyle ones. There was the required limbo. After a while the entertainment staff began to head off, but the party continued. A little past midnight, I went to check out the Mexican buffet. It was cool seeing the carvings and the food was decent. Not great, but decent. Eating a lot of food that late though was surely a bad idea so I decided to take it easy. I met up with the girls again and went to the secret decks to watch the stars. We stayed there for some time, then all went to our cabins to sleep. Tomorrow I’d get to sleep in again!