Trip log, day six. Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos Islands. Back to Back ‘new to us’ ports of call!!
7-Night Eastern Caribbean Carnival Cruise from Port Canaveral, Florida
March 16, 2023
FUN TIMES – Day 6
We arrived in Grand Turk early in the morning ahead of the winds. Yesterday, the Captain informed the passengers a cold front that moved through the southeastern United States was continuing to move into the Bahamas brining high winds. As a result, the Captain moved up our scheduled arrival at Grand Turk to arrive before the wind to allow for a safer docking operation.
Before dinner last night, we were also informed that our snorkeling Shore Adventure was cancelled due to the forecasted weather conditions in the morning. The following letter was delivered to our room and Carnival had our pre-paid excursion refunded to our onboard account.
As you can see, the winds peaked about the time we were originally scheduled to arrive. It was a blessing in disguise given the air temperature for the day was forecasted to hover in the mid-70’s. Even if the temperatures were up, snorkeling would have been a chore given the wind at the time of our 7:00 AM excursion meet time.
Now that we were not in a rush, we opted to have a family breakfast at Emeril’s Bistro 1396 which is an a la carte option onboard.
Breakfast items were $6/each and arrived at our table all prepared and most importantly, flavorful. Seriously, if you are not finding ways to use Boursin Cheese at home, you need to start. I took 1 glance at the menu and knew the breakfast sandwich was the only correct choice for me. Emily loved the shrimp omelette and Isabelle did scrape all of the sweetness off her waffle, but enjoyed the overall waffle for sure.
While not the best weather for water activities, the cooler temps and morning cloud cover made for a relaxing walk around the Grand Turk Cruise Center. For the passengers going ashore in the morning, this was the popular thing to do as the beach was underutilized and it would have been easy to get a bunch of lounge chairs for the group. Similar to Amber Cove, Grand Turk Cruise Center is operated by the Carnival Corporation.
Here is another map from the Grand Turk Cruise Center website that provides more of a visual view of the port area.
There are a few points of interest we set out to see. The first was a whale sculpture which isn’t meant to be a beached whale, but more of a photo op of a while breaching the water which in this installation is the sand…
The other spot point of interest we wanted to check out was the NASA Mercury Exhibit, a series of infographics and sculptures celebrating the NASA’s historic 1962 splashdown of the Mercury Friendship 7 capsule off the Grand Turk coast.
In the back corner of the Ron Jon Surf Shop was a small room, a store within a store – SPLASHDOWN Space Shop selling just Splashdown Grand Turk merchandise. You could enter from outside by the exhibit or via a doorway in Ron Jon. Initially, we tried to pay in the main Ron Jon stop, but to make a purchase, we had to go into Ron Jon, and ask for assistance. Then, a person came to the single register in SPLASHDOWN Space Shop. We did notice it was not a well visited shop and the longer line in Ron Jon may discourage some guests from making an impulse purchase.
As we continued our exploration of the cruise port, we strolled through the Margaritaville Bar & Restaurant area where there is a big pool with lounge chairs, and even private cabanas. There is even a FlowRider to get your surf on.
I can only image how cool of an experience it is to hang out at the cruise center beach where you can swim in close proximity of the docked cruise ships.
We ended our time ashore by picking up a few things in the Duty Free Shop which is also the security check point for guests returning to the cruise ships.
Once back on board, we walked around before heading to a few onboard activities we saw not the schedule. But first, I stopped back at the RedFrog Tiki Bar to purchase a souvenir, this Limited Edition Carnival 50th Birthday Beer Mug which to my surprise was less than $15. This would have been a steel if it included the beer, but still a cool mug to collect dust somewhere in the house when I get home.
It was back to Summer Landing, which became an anchor point for our group. The area was just a couple decks below our room and a frequent spot for trivia. The Guy’s Pig & Anchor side does offer lunch during the day from a walkup window, but we did not have a chance to try it out. Today was Thursday, the first real round of the 2023 March Madness tournament.
While we were hanging out and feeling overwhelmed by the trivia which we were doing poorly at, I spotted a beer tap that made me take a double look — Christmas Ale?!? Earlier in the cruise, I was not surprised to find a can of pumpkin beer, but Christmas Ale on tap was not expected. So naturally, had to give it a go.
I gave it a Meh based on what I normally love about Christmas beers when I checked in the beer on Untappd.
What is that thing? Well, it’s a major award. Guy Fieri won it. Well, technically it was bestowed when he was inducted to the Barbecue Hall of Fame in 2012. At first, I thought it was a random decoration, a fictitious award to the celebrity chef. However, it’s 100% legit.
The morning cloud cover cleared out for a beautiful sail away giving us a small glimpse of gorgeous water surrounding the island.
One of the traditional features of a cruise ship, is a grand staircase. The winding staircase on the Mardi Gras is constructed mostly out of glass with a mirrored wall and a floor to ceiling chandelier. This was a popular photo op for guests.
It was the second Elegant night. The teenagers split off for sushi at Bonsai Sushi while the rest of us went to the main dining room. Bonsai Sushi is an add-on restaurant with a la carte pricing available for launch and dinner. Below you can see the menu, but that is about it – other than the bill on our folio, there is no photographic evidence to share. In a way, I am so proud that two teenagers went to dinner and didn’t use their phones, but the blogger in me want to call a meeting to discuss (not really, this is a jovial statement)
Not only did I forget to take a picture of the stateroom tv map for the day, I also failed to save a copy of the PDF menu for the our main dining room dinner. Thankfully, reader Scott Weinfeld came through with a version of the menu from the Mardi Gras’ sister ship Carnival Celebration. Scott provided some great historical marketing materials which we shared in our The Vault series. The menus are shared across ships for the most part with exceptions here and there.
It was a popular night for seafood at our table. Barramundi was on our menu instead of the Pan Fried Striped Sea Bass, and it should have been a hard pass. A couple of us ordered the fish and it was a unanimous disappointment. However, those who went with the lobster were happy. The girls did join up after their sushi dinner for dessert where a few of us ordered the creme brûlée which was served with somewhere between a 1/16th and a 1/8th inch thick crispy top on each.
The evening entertainment had our attention as it was a New Orleans Celebration!
The great city of New Orleans comes to life in a thrilling and energetic evening of music, magic, mystery, voodoo and, of course, the time-honored traditions of Mardi Gras!
This was the first time we set out see an evening show. Up first was the Mardi Gras Celebration followed by Voodoo Moon, which were performed twice back to back at 7:00/7:30 and 9:00/9:30 on the Center Stage, deck 6 midship. The Center Stage venue is great, behind the stage is a glass wall looking out the port side of the ship, but screens and curtains can be moved into place for a more traditional stage experience. The seating is fragmented around the multiple decks and alcoves making it a bit difficult to casually attend the show and see everything.
This is one of those moments where I wish I would have done some research, but like I said, I wanted to see how much of a fish out of water it would be to sail on another cruise line with only the knowledge of prior Disney Cruises. I’m sure I would have read up on when to get to the Center Stage and what were the ideal locations to experience the shows. In a way it was like casually arriving in the Grand Hall and finding a spot behind someone on an upper deck railing, but due to the layout of the seating and railings, I’d recommend arriving early to get a good seat of your choosing.
On our way back to the room following the shows, I took a detour outside and discovered Carnival corn hole out on the port side of Summer Landing between the hot tubs of the watering hole and the lanai area outside La Piazza.
Earlier in the day, our stateroom host created a lobster towel animal which worked well with the dinner menu.
You made it all the way to the end of day 6 just to discover yet another time lapse. This time the arrival was not captured due to our extremely early arrival. This one is fun as you can see the US Coast Guard sail in and out from a nearby dock, and watch as the clear sky move in before the ship sails away from Grand Turk towards our final day at sea.
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