Sickness, Salvation, and Splendor – Part 9, Grand Turk

A little off-topic stuff before I get going on the day in Grand Turk.

Thanksgiving is almost here and I’ll be trying to cram this post in tonight. I’ve been doing work with my next cruise (which I will cover in the future). Family and friends will be coming over tomorrow, so there will be a good amount of work this evening, getting ready. No, I’m not proofreading this, haha. I wish you all safe travels and a great Thanksgiving. May you have much to be thankful for. Alright, on with the post.

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Friday morning, I awoke fairly early. I had set a wake-up call to get my ass out of bed so that there’d be enough time to get crap ready and be down to the lower decks as the gangways were cleared for passage. I had to get the best choice for a cabana that day and nothing would stop me. I was NOT going to repeat my experience trying to step-off from Carnival Victory. A knock on the door came. Room service once again delivered breakfast, though this time I had progressed to not just a banana, tea, and toast, but added cereal and yogurt. I wanted to have more food in my stomach because I knew that I’d be drinking more today (not just at the island). I enjoyed my deluxe breakfast, showered and got my stuff together. Off the balcony, I could see we were on the west side of the island, creeping closer to the pier. When we started pulling along-side, I did what we’re not supposed to do and headed down to deck 0. Once down there. I was met by a somewhat (though understandably) displeased girl from the UK with a walkie-talkie. A couple of others had come down behind me and she told us to wait on deck 1 as they were not ready and would need to set up the area. “Okay,” I went up the stairs and planted my butt on them a couple of steps below deck 1. By this time a few others were waiting there already and was seated behind them. Not too long after being ushered out, we were then given clearance. Those and myself waiting on the staircase headed back to deck 0. Seconds later, I stepped-out into the warm sun of Grand Turk.

It was a beautiful day in Grand Turk. There were the clouds to the south that we had left behind much earlier in the morning, but the rest of the sky was a bright blue. I only noticed it upon just a glance though as I was speed-walking past people to be among the first at Margaritaville to reserve a cabana. Apparently, one of the other gangways had opened before ours and I had to catch-up a little. Not really knowing whether to expect the same from others who had reserved the cabanas that were all spoken for. Off the pier, I made my way over to Margaritaville without stopping at any of the duty-free shops, bars, or even to see the view of the ship on the beautiful water. Once I arrived, Margaritaville employees mostly looked like they had gotten out of bed merely minutes before their shift. Not many were there, and those that were seemed to be taking their time starting their day. I charged past the pools and started walking up to the cabanas that encircled it. My ideal one was closer to the beach, yet had a decent view of the pools and bars. Walking past them, it seemed they didn’t quite reach as far to the beach as I had thought. Getting close to the end, I found that cabana #9 was placed a little closer to the pools but was 2nd closest to the beach. Out in front were 2 loungers and a shower. Perfect. I stepped up onto the porch and set my backpack onto one of the porch loungers and then placed a towel over one of the loungers out front. I walked over to the main bar and was told the woman would be coming around soon to check us in. I went back and placed my butt on the other lounger waiting for her. It was no big rush anyways as Kim was going on a helicopter tour that morning and I wasn’t expecting Jenna or her friends until later. The clerk did eventually show up and unlocked my cabana for me. Inside were 2 couches, one loveseat, a coffee table, a basket to hold orders, and a side table. There was also air conditioning that I almost turned-off. There was a ceiling fan that was capable enough of moving what was nice island air. Placed on the tables were a couple of beaten-up food and drink menus. The clerk took my Sail & Sign card and I kept the key in trade, then she pointed out the call button in case I wanted anything. Out front people had started to fill the tables and loungers out front. Steve was seated at a table out front with his family and I talked to them for a little while before deciding to scout the port area. I tucked my gear into a corner of the cabana, then I set off to get a t-shirt and bottle opener. Realizing I wanted cash too, I was also on the look-out for an ATM machine. Heads-up, there is no ATM on the port area, and the staff at shops mostly don’t get the cash-back concept of using an ATM/debit card for a transaction. No biggie, the girls would probably have some cash later. On the way back, I found Kim and Sheila waiting for the helicopter ride. I paused with them for a little while, then went back poolside.

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After dozing for a short while back at the cabana, I woke up and walked over to the pools to see if anyone had arrived at the pools. I found Jenna with some of her crew. She had been looking for me earlier, but I must have been walking around or passed out on the couch inside. We went back to the cabana and ordered a couple of drinks. I had my first Turks Head Ale of the day and she enjoyed a fruity blended cocktail. After a few minutes we decided to walk down to Jack’s Shack which was almost at the end of the port area beachfront. We stopped by loungers with her friends/family, then continued.

Jack’s Shack, if you’ve never been there, is a pretty cool place there on Grand Turk. Jack opened the place a few years ago with his family and it really is a hit. Out in front of a store, is a usually crowded bar and deck area. To the one side is their kitchen that prepares some of the best jerk chicken I’ve ever had. Further out front are loungers, tables, and a volleyball net. Many in the Facebook group had decided to head there for the day and enjoy the food, drink, and each others company. It was certainly a little crowded when we arrived. Many from the group were indeed there, as well as other passengers, and crew who were mostly there for the wi-fi. Having finished my beer before the trek over, I went to the bar and ordered a Sandy Vagina (one of their popular drinks). Jenna ordered another drink as well. We stepped inside the shop for a few minutes while she bought some of their souvenirs and I also bought a “Bar-fly” t-shirt and magnet. We went back to the bar to order food (they give you slips to take to the kitchen staff). We ordered Jerk chicken to take back to the cabana. Already feeling a good buzz from some of the drinks, we headed back. I insisted on walking with my feet in the water so I more or less trudged. The walk took a little longer as we paused occasionally to enjoy the water or people who we’d passed. I had already begun enjoying the chicken on the way over and not too long after getting back, it was done. It was so damn good and it didn’t help I was feeling “great” myself.

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The time in-between then and when Kim arrived from her helicopter tour is a little bit of a blur, but I think I enjoyed the pool. I think Jenna ordered from the restaurant (or not, I don’t know, haha). I enjoyed the sun still keeping in my buzzed head that I couldn’t be in it for as long, thought I had quit taking Cipro a day or two before. When Kim joined us we hung around the cabana for a short while longer. She showed me some of the awesome photos taken from the helicopter. She was hungry though and Jenna and I were thirsty for more drinks. We decided to head back to Jack’s Shack for another round. We walked (I trudged) back and it was even more crowded. By this time though the majority of the people there had some amount of alcohol in them and were having an even better time. People were playing volleyball, talking loudly at the bar, and enjoying a lot of the food. After ordering some more drinks, I noticed that the kitchen had added jerk pork to the menu on the dry erase board. Thinking it would be equally as amazing as the chicken, I placed an order at the bar, gave them my ticket and waited. And waited, and waited, and waited. After several inebriated people had passed me with their warm platters, I was beginning to wonder if somebody had gone-off, searching the island for a pig to butcher. Finally they pulled some out of a pot and chopped it several times before handing it off to me. They added some slaw instead of fries this time. I don’t really like slaw, but hell, I was feeling pretty good and up to trying some. After all, he said it would be the best I would ever have. After a long-ass wait, I found the girls and we headed back to the cabana.

Daaaaaaaaannnggg that slaw was good. The jerk pork was great itself, but the chef was right. We sat around the cabana for a little while enjoying the food and drinks. I would not be surprised if the girls said I made a pig of myself because it was probably the best food I had the entire trip. Eventually, the food vanished and we decided to get in the water for a little while. I had been walking back and forth in it most of the day, but I wanted to take a nice dip. Well, I was the only one. Jenna saw fish and didn’t really then around her. Kim only got in up to her shoulders because she couldn’t get her hair wet. I swam out a little bit and enjoyed the water myself for a short while. Around me others were enjoying watching small fish zip by them or hiding within the occasionally rocky seabed under them. Grand Turk has always been the last port of the cruises I’ve taken that have stopped there. I reflected on it shortly while floating around. Knowing it would be the last time in water that nice, made it harder to convince myself to head back to shore. There’s always something sentimental about that port that makes me pause and be thankful for the times I’ve had and think about how much I would like to get back. Clearing my head, I headed back to shore, to the girls, and we chilled a little while taking photos before heading pool-side.

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We headed back to the cabana for a while to see what was going on at Margaritaville. Jenna and I hopped in the pool for a bit while Kim enjoyed one of the loungers. For the first time, I enjoyed a beer at the swim-up bar with some others. I wanted to take a photo of my Landshark Lager but the bartender insisted that I couldn’t enjoy an open bottle at the bar. Shortly thereafter, I found out why when 2 pretty big guys almost got into a fight. After that nearly bad-scene, we got out of the pool for a short while. The booty-shaking contest was coming up and while it’s not the main reason to hang out by the pool, it’s always an interesting hot mess to watch. By the time it rolled-around we were all watching in a group by the side of the pool. I couple drunk girls went first, making fools of themselves, and not really doing anything that would be considered attractive. A girl from Houston went after her and did pretty damn good. While this was happening, the DJ kept calling-out Kim. At first I really didn’t think she’d cave, but after a bit of convincing from everyone, she did. Amid cheers, Kim did her thing. She didn’t do it for long, but the crowd enjoyed it. The DJ shot her down though as “The only black girl who can’t dance.” “Really? She was pretty damn good!” Well, can’t win em’ all. Bootys shaken, we headed back to the cabana to close it out. Our time in port was coming to an end and most had already started making their way back onto Splendor. We paid our tabs, I traded the key for my ship card, and we set off for the ship.

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Back on Splendor, I stood on the balcony enjoying the last moments of Grand Turk before we departed. Many were taking their time getting back on as they also knew it was back to the ole’ USA after another day at sea. Watching from above there were quite a few drunk people and one fellow in particular had to be helped back onto the ship. He stopped and tried to talk to each pier worker, before getting somewhat pushed back onto the ship. With the sun starting to get low in the sky, Carnival Splendor took up it’s mooring lines and set sail for Miami. I enjoyed some ice cream with Janet and Sherry on the aft deck while taking photos of our departure. Some of the others were there and we shared some of the “Tennessee water” one of them had happened to sneak on board. After hanging out for a while, I made my way around the ship for a bit before getting ready for dinner.

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Once again, it was dinner at the new table with (mostly) very enjoyable company. One of the things I enjoy about how the arrange seating is the great conversation you can have with others. While I did have conversation with the others at the first table, this one was just more enjoyable. The bar waiters came around this night with a special shot. Rumchata and (I think) Fireball. It was really good, tasting much like Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Everyone (except one) enjoyed the shot at the table. Once again, great table mates.

After dinner was another night at the club. Not a lot of people were out and most seemed to have been tired after a day in the sun at Grand Turk. The DJ continued to baffle people with his odd and poor selections. After the club, it was one more round of the ship before going to bed. Tomorrow would be another day to sleep in and the last full day with the ship.

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