Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sept 2011 - Carnival Pride - Part 2 - Grand Turk

Cassandra – 9/28/11 – Day 3 of the Cruise – Grand Turk

When we woke up on Wednesday, we were already docked at Grand Turk. We booked the Reef and Rays excursion through Carnival, which was to meet around 8:15 at the port, so we made sure to put out the room service tag the night before, with a scheduled delivery around 7. I woke up earlier than that, and was able to get some nice pics of the port, and was happy to see the day looked promising for great weather. I loved having a balcony on this side of the ship! 

After breakfast was delivered, I got a few more shots as the sun rose higher. Our plan was to head to Jack’s Shack after the excursion was over, so I was pleased to be able to see it from our balcony ahead of time. (it's the little teeny blue sign in the middle of the below pic) 

Teeny blue sign in middle of the pic is Jack's Shack

Around 8am, we headed down to Deck A Fwd to debark.

We walked through the first shop and in the courtyard is where all the excursion signs were posted for people to meet at. Ours was close to the Ron John shop. I walked over to the beach and tried to get a few more shots of the ship. 

Our fellow Excursioners waiting to leave. My baby in the hat holding a towel refusing to have his pic taken. 

He couldn't hide from the camera for long, and I suckered him into one of the "hold the cameral out" shots I've tried to perfect. 

Our guide, some great guys from Oasis Divers, checked us in, took our tickets, and led us over to where their pontoon boats were docked. We all got in, and made our way around the island over to Round Cay and Gibbs Cay. I was able to get some great shots of the ship from afar. 

The excursion included snorkeling first at the reefs off the coast of Round Cay. Evidently, this is the world’s 3rd largest natural reef, and we were excited to get in the water and see the sights! 

Also in this area was “Jack” a very large barracuda who likes to hang around (mostly due to the chunks of food they were flinging him!) We were also able to try out our new Kodak PlaySport underwater camcorder/camera – so I was able to catch a few good shots of Jack. 

They let us snorkel for about 30-40 minutes, at which point we all got back in the boat and they took us closer to Round Cay. This is a small island that is inhabited by some animals and birds, but people are not allowed to debark and walk around on it. It is basically a very large rock, and had some really interesting natural formations on it.

After taking pictures, we navigated over to Gibbs Cay, which is also another small uninhabited island, but with a good Sting Ray population. Here we were able to get back off the boat, and one at a time hold the Rays, give them a kiss, and get a massage from them. They are really soft and slick, and had really interesting eyes - yellow and black. Cute little guys in my opinion! 

When everyone had a turn with the Rays, they also offered anyone that wanted to lick the barb a chance! We both declined, and wandered away to see the other stingrays that were swimming around our feet. It was open water, and we were standing in water about 3.5-4 feet deep – there were a few rays just swimming around, and we really had to be careful where we stepped!

After that, they did a demonstration on how to get the conch out of a conch shell – kinda nasty, and even cleaned off and offered raw conch to anyone that wanted it. I took a piece, but after trying to bite into it and having it spring back like a rubber band, I tossed it into the water for something else to surely enjoy it more than I would have. 

For anyone that would like to watch, we also got some video of that... watch at your own risk! 

All during this time, a huge storm was brewing back at the port – we could all see the dark clouds and storms across the water by the boat – so our guides had us wait about 10 minutes before heading back, and we just caught the edge of the storm as it was blowing back out to sea. Unfortunately we didn’t get any pictures of the huge black clouds over the ship, but by the time we got back into port, the sun was shining again, and the temp was heating back up. 

The excursion was great – we were on the fence between this one (Reef and Rays) and the Gibbs Cay Stingray Encounter, but were very happy we chose the Reef and Rays. The snorkeling was great – we saw the other tour when we made our way over to Gibbs Cay, and the other group’s “snorkeling” consisted of swimming in the shallow water right around Gibbs Cay. Ours was out in the actual ocean by the reef. I would also highly recommend the Oasis Divers – very professional, knowledgeable, and fun. I believe they only take reservations through Carnival.

The excursion was over and we were back on the main shore by 11:30. We briefly glanced at Margaritaville, took some cursory pictures, and headed to the beach to walk down to Jack’s Shack. 

Inside Margaritaville (free to enter)

As we were setting out, I stopped to grab a pic of this sign. I’ve seen the sign in other reviews, but thought it was hilarious that this time, the conch really was missing! 

Missing... Hurricane!  

It was about a 10 minute walk, which was lovely with our shoes off and the sun shining.

This is one of my favorite pics from the trip (aside from the scads of ring pics I took ) 

When we got to Jack’s we were greeted by Topher, the GoldenDoodle (Retriever / Poodle mix who LOVES to swim). 

We took a glance at the drink menu, and I had to try the Drink of the day – the Sandy Vagina…. - it was their own vanilla infused vodka (vanilla beans soaking in a bottle of Stoli), Coconut Rum, and Pineapple Juice. YUM. Chris was still kinda feeling the effects of the night before, so he kept it safe with a bottle of water. 

We ordered some food – he got a cheeseburger, and I tried the chef’s specialty Jerk Chicken. The food came in about 10 minutes, and it was really good. Here’s a shot of the chicken with my drink in the back. 

We were hoping to make use of free Wi-Fi at Jack’s via my iPhone, but it wouldn’t connect. By this point the sun was really starting to get hot, so we decided to pay up and head back closer to the port to relax and get in the water before it was time to get back on board.

We set up shop on some beach chairs in the shade, locked up our valuables using the new PacSafe we bought, and headed out to the water. 

Our balcony is somewhere there on deck 7!

It was a little tricky getting in, because the sand at the water’s edge gives way to some pretty slick rocks until you get a little further out. I would definitely recommend to new-comers to tread cautiously the first time going in the water, if you are close to the ship. After getting sufficiently cooled off, we went back to the chairs to relax for a bit until we decided to head back.

We poked around a few more shops, and made our back on the boat. 

We went back to the room and Chris took a nap while I relaxed on the balcony and got a few more shots of this gorgeous port. I would go back in a heartbeat!

In this shot, you can see Margaritaville in the foreground, and I believe way off in the distance is Round Cay, where we did our snorkeling at. 

Saying goodbye to Jack’s Shack! 

At 4:30 we headed back down to Deck 3 to try our hand again in Sports Trivia, and stayed for the General Trivia afterwards. Still no luck. We were now 0 for 4. By this point, Chloe, one of the entertainment staff, was really rooting for us! She was great by the way – very entertaining and had the greatest British accent! I'm disappointed we never got a chance to take a picture with her!

We wandered around the ship, and were lucky enough to catch a really nice sunset. The huge cloud made the sunrays look absolutely exquisite. 

We went to dinner, and I had my favorite drink of the week – Sex on the Beach. Last year I stuck with "The Cruiser" but I'm not a fan of the glasses they come in (like a wider wine glass with a long stem), so I switched it up this year. Chris is a fan of the Mai-Tai's and Long Islands. Since we are casino players, we like to order off the “Classic” drink menu so we can cash in our receipts for the $5 match play cards. By the last sea day we had accumulated 14 of them. I guess that's not too bad for 7 days between the 2 of us... hehe 

For appetizers that night, Chris didn’t really see anything he liked, so he went with the Fruit Cocktail. I actually splurged and got both the Tom Ka Gai soup (a chicken soup with coconut and lemongrass) and the “didja” option – Shark and Langoustino Fire Cracker Rolls (we almost never get 2 dishes in the same course, it's just too much food, but I really wanted to try both). 

The soup was great, but did have big chunks of mushroom in it, so I ate around those. The rolls weren’t what I was expecting (thought it would be more like sushi). They were OK but had a lot of filler. 

For the main entrees, we forgot to take pics. I know…

I had the Assorted Seafood, Newburg Style. It was good, but had more shellfish (oysters or mussels or something) and that kinda turned me off. The prawns and scallops were yummy though. Chris had the daily option of the Flat Iron Steak, which is always a good choice.

What I was most excited for this night was dessert – I have read so many reviews for the Bitter and Blanc, and never had it, so I was determined. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but still very good. 

This isn't a very good picture... it's like a bread pudding.

Chris got the Warm Chocolate Melting Cake again, and loved every bite.

That night, we were both exhausted, and knew we had another early day the next day, so we decided to call it an early night. It was slightly disappointing too, because we wanted to try to make the late-night Mexican Buffet that was going on that night, but it just wasn't gonna happen.

This little cutie met us when we went back to the room. 

We filled out the room service tag for breakfast the next day and called it a night - and getting excited for Half Moon Cay the next day!!

All in all, Grand Turk was excellent. It was a great port, and I can't wait to go back on the Breeze cruise in Nov 2012!

Thanks for reading Part 2, Grand Turk!    Stay tuned, up next for Part 3 is our own version of paradise... the private island, Half Moon Cay!

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