Island overview of Grand Turk right before our ship arrived at the port
Grand Turk, of Turks and Caicos island was the first port on our cruise itinerary. I had heard so much about these islands that I was so excited that it was going to be one of the ports on our holiday cruise. This island, however was quite small– which was a disappointment, and if we didn’t have two excursions planned for the day I’m pretty sure we would have headed back to our ship stateroom after a few hours on the island.
Cruisers heading into the island
We booked all our excursion through Holland America after our first day on the ship. There was an informative meeting held by the on-board excursion staff who helped us decided exactly which excursion’s we would like to do on each island. We decided to book through the cruise and not on the island mainly due to security of knowing they were Holland America approved, we would get English speaking tour guides, would be “mostly” on time, and HA keeps track of feedback from cruisers.
Downtown Grand Turk –quite small!
As soon as we got off the ship everyone lined up by where their excursion was departing from, or headed straight to the closest beach. We weren’t there for beach time so we didn’t even bother going to the beach.
Heading on a boat to our semi-submarine excursion to see marine life
In order to get to our submarine excursion we had to first take a short ride on a small boat. I was so thankful that I took my motion sickness medicine before getting off the ship otherwise I would have been sick the whole time and it would have been such a waste to not enjoy our semi-submarine excursion.
Our yellow submarine!
The staff of the semi-submarine excursion were courteous, polite, informative and funny. The staff emphasized safety since many of the tourist on the excursion were elderly, thus nothing was hurried. The actual semi-submarine was quite small and could seem claustrophobic for some. The windows to look out to the marine life were also small and we weren’t able to take great pictures, however we still had a great time since seeing the marine life of Grand Turk is one of the highlights of the island.
The captain of the submarine decided to scuba dive with the marine life
Here is the captain showing off his scuba diving skills by making these bubbles
The underwater marine life was beautiful to watch, we got to see so many beautiful coral for miles, lots of different fish and sea creatures, and there was even an area in the ocean that takes an immediate dip/edge of ocean where you can only see darkness since no natural light reaches there–kinda scary.
Beautiful coral reef– pictures don’t do justice.
Our first excursion was about two hours long, thus we booked an ATV adventure tour around the island a hour after. With the ATV tour we were able to check out the “land” portion of the entire island without having to walk around, and it was fun driving an ATV for the first time.
Getting ready for excursion #2 on Grand Turk
Here is Umair getting information for our ATV adventure tour. This tour was suppose to start at 11am, however it ran late since only two other couple’s were signed up and I guess the company was waiting to see if anyone else wanted to sign up before we went on the tour. What made the ATV company then start the tour (30 minutes late) was the fact that the cruise excursion staff kept checking in on each excursion staff on the island to make sure they were on schedule (another reason to book through the cruise).
Island lighthouse we saw on our ATV island tour
Here I am in my “fancy” orange vest we had to wear for the ATV excursion
The sun was bright! We could hardly keep our eyes open to pose.
Beautiful full size conch we saw all over the island
The ATV island tour excursion was great because it was on a ATV and we had fun driving it around the island, however the tour itself was mediocre since we quickly realized that it is a very small island with “downtown” being the hotspot for the island. On the ATV tour we drove 360 around the island, driving on the left side (British system) and staying mostly on the street thus it being a “street tour” rather than an actual sightseeing tour which we thought the island offered. It wasn’t the tour companies fault it is just how the island is laid out–the main attraction being the ocean life/beach, not the actual island.
There had to be the ATV shot, of course!
Tentacles of a jellyfish–how amazing. On one of the stops in our ATV island tour we stopped by at an area where we got to see some marine life up close.
This was the first time we got to see the animal living inside the conch shell. Some of our fellow cruisers said they had eaten it many times and enjoyed it. I don’t know about that, but it was fun to see up close.
Sea urchin–how cute!
During the tour we made a few stops along different “hideaway” beach spots which weren’t fancy or clean like the actual downtown beach, however during these spots we learned a little bit more about the history of the island and got to see/touch some sea creatures up close.
This is a brain coral with a interesting looking starfish on top of it.
The ATV tour guides were friendly, had great humor, spoke proper English (with slight accent), and made an otherwise boring island tour actually something enjoyable. However, if we were to re-visit this island we wouldn’t take or recommend any “land” tour.
Serene blue ocean of Grand Turk
Last week I blogged about our overall cruise experience on Holland America. If you missed it you can check it out here. Next blog post will be on our second port stop, San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Thank you for visiting and have a great week!