A Tropical BREEZE to Clear My Head – Grand NOPE

Sometimes Mother Nature has a “Case of the Mondays”

I set the alarm on my phone to go off at 6:30am. We were scheduled to arrive in Grand Turk at 7am and while by-no-means did I want to be first off the ship, I did want to get off the ship fairly early. A Holland America ship was scheduled to arrive a little while after us and I didn’t want to experience a repeat of what happened on Carnival Victory last year when Liberty pulled in.

Remember how I said that the TV was left on with the bow camera channel on? Well, when my alarm went off, the first thing I noticed was the feeling that the ship was trying to turn. You could feel the application of the bow thrusters all the way up on Deck 11. Looking at the TV, I couldn’t help but notice that the water looked a little rough and that we didn’t seem to be moving across it. This was confirmed a few minutes later when the Cruise Director came over the intercom to explain there was difficulty making port this morning. Winds with gusts of 30+ knots were making it a little unsafe and difficult to reach port and that the captain would make attempts to proceed within the hour. Still a little groggy, I chose to just stay in the cabin, in my bunk, and watch how things played out on the bow cam. I couldn’t help but notice how the company flag on the bow was being whipped around. I remember seeing the ship turn a couple of times to try to face the wind only to turn back. On occasion I saw the silhouette of what looked like a Holland America Vista Class ship. roughly 45 minutes after the first announcement, the Captain made one. “Due to the high winds, it was too dangerous to try to make port in Grand Turk this morning. We will therefore be spending today at sea, Continuing on to the Dominican Republic.” He also stated that the Holland America ship had not been able to make port and continued on it’s way as well … Sigh. I’ve read about people who are a little bent out of shape when this happens, but missing port is not really in the interest of the cruise line. Particularly when the port is a property partly owned by the line.

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I was actually looking forward to setting foot on land, even though we had a short time in port there. I have been to Grand Turk 3 times previously but it would have been nice to leave the ship for just a short while to enjoy some of the awesome BBQ from Jack’s Shack. While Carnival Breeze was an excellent ship, I cruise more for the ports.

Since Grand Turk was now a lost cause, I decided to get up and get some breakfast. The cruise director had made another announcement stating that they would be adding activities to keep us entertained with the now extra day at sea. I waked to the stern of the ship to see Grand Turk slipping into the horizon behind us with a small bit of disappointment. This morning, I had breakfast in the Lido cafeteria as the Blue Iguana was packed.

Not having much planned now that I would be spending the day on the ship again, it was tough trying to figure out what to do. I decided that foremost this day would be the day that I look for stuff for others. I found that the Fun Shops were open earlier which was a given as we had not made port. I thought about picking up some shirts for some of my friend’s kids. I looked for the ship magnet, but alas, there were none. Across Deck 5 they were setting up tables for a watch or jewelry sale of some kind. I made a mental note to avoid that area for a little while as it was surely going to be congested. Sure enough..

Lunch… I completely spaced on Fat Jimmy’s BBQ the day before and did again. I instead opted for a Guy’s Burger. Something about these burgers just made them really-really good, but there just wasn’t that much special about them. Perhaps it was the taste of vacation? After enjoying another burger, I went down to the Red Frog Pub to sample the wings. I head read from my friends Janet and Manny that there were really, really good. This was true! While not the best wings I’ve had, they were really good. Especially with a Thirsty Frog Ale. The pub did have a menu, but it wasn’t on display for you to choose from. Off the top of my head, I remember the wings, conch fritters, conch salad, and I think gator bites. There was more, but I can’t come up with it. The bartenders Adrian (from Costa Rica) and Jose (from India) were able to recite it whenever asked. The Red Frog pub became a place I enjoyed hanging out on the cruise. It also had a nice exit to the outside promenade and games you could play in another section.

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Over the course of the day, I found and enjoyed occasional trivia challenges, deck parties, and activities. I didn’t really take part in line dances or anything like that, but would enjoy watching them from above. The ropes course was still closed due to winds and occasionally the water slides as well. It was still blustery. I took another seat in Serenity and watched as two cruise ships passed along the port side. One Princess, one Royal Caribbean.

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I wished the weather would improve for tomorrow because we’d be making port in a place I had yet to see, where as Grand Turk I had seen three times. As a matter of fact the reason I booked the cruise was that it featured 3 ports I had not seen before. The Dominican Republic, Aruba, and Curacao. These were big for me and I would have been VERY disappointed if we missed these ports.

At some point in the afternoon, I went to the Shore Excursions desk to look at some options. Originally, I had planned to visit Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. A friend was celebrating a 40th birthday at Paradisus and I was looking to drop by for a bit. Unfortunately the taxi ride was a little over an hour each way and I was not sure that I felt up to it. After deciding to not be ambitious and talking to the Excursion staff, I settled on a tour of Altos De Chavon. The other thing that brought me to the desk was interest in renting an HD cam. My friends had GoPros, but I forgot to ask about borrowing one. I had wanted to take some video on the trip and thought my iPhone was not suited for all everything. Early on, I noticed they had rentals available so I took it upon myself to get one. It was HD capable, water-resistant, and used a mini-SD card that you were able to keep. $50 to rent it for the cruise, plus $10 insurance that I opted for, just in case. The provided me with a “floater” for it in case it was separated from me in water.

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For dinner tonight, I decided to switch it up and ate at Cucina Del Capitano. It took the place of where the Fish & Chips would be on Conquest Class ships or the Rotisserie on Splendor. It was actually a pretty fancy place with an up-charge for use at dinner time. There were photos of Carnival ships and staff all along the walls. This eatery was touted as being a place where the Captain would like to eat. In my opinion it was just sensationalized (More on the captain later). The food was great! First the beautiful waitress brought me some italian bread with cheese, tomatoes, and garlic. For an appetizer, I ordered the really good minestrone soup, and for the entrée I ordered the spaghetti carbonara (think spaghetti with bacon). All the food was excellent and the wine I chose went well with it all.

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The wine I had chosen to go with dinner gave me a good buzz. I was stuffed but wanted to have some pizza later. I decided to walk around a little while before attempting that. Looking at the time, I realized that one of the shows was going to start soon in the main show lounge. Divas was scheduled for the night. The cast would sing and dance to songs produced to (you guessed it)… divas. I came by and watched it for a short while, but found it kind of boring. Before too long, I left to get a slice of pizza and then go to bed. I wanted to be up to watch the ship arrive in the Dominican Republic in the morning from the outside decks. Hopefully we’d make it.

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