Cockburn Town is the only settlement on Grand Turk and the administrative centre of the Turks and Caicos island. With a population of over 3500 people, it's really a village more than a town. The main areas of interest are Duke Street and Front Streets, which run parallel to each other and are lined with historic 18th- and 19th-century homes and government buildings built in wood and pained in pastel colours. Basically Bermudan-style architecture.
Fondest memory: Though I found the narrow streets lined with low stone walls and trees with flowers in bloom very nice, what i found most interesting was the people... especially the women, walking around very elegantly dressed and often a hat. We followed for a while a mother and child, thinking they were going to church (even though it was not Sunday)... to our surprise, they were just going grocery-shopping.
The Turks and Caicos Islands are a British Overseas Territory consisting of 8 main island and about 20 smaller ones. They have a total population of about 30'000 people. One of these 8 islands is Grand Turk, where you can find Cockburn Town, the capital of the islands since 1766.
Fondest memory: Grand Turk is the largest island of the group - and yet it is still tiny: six miles long and just over a mile wide - and with a population of just over 3500 inhabitants. It was founded by Bermudian salt collectors 1681 and at some point it even supplied salt to George Washington. Its strange name comes from a native cactus, the Melocactus intortus, which is called Turk's Cap Cactus because it reminded people of a Turkish fez hat.
Favorite thing: We arrived in Grand Turk shortly after Hurricane Ike devastated the island. Most buildings had structural damage. The children were going to school in a tent. But the roads had been cleared and the cruise ship dock had been repaired. The residents were getting on with their lives. I was impressed with their industry and energy
Bob often observed that the captain brought the boat into the dock a little 'hot'. By this he meant that it was coming in faster than it could maybe be stopped before we ran into the dock. We never did though, so maybe it was just hot enough
I always liked to watch the docking, and was always happy that it wasn't me - either throwing out the lines from the boat or hauling them in on the pier.
Bob went out to the point and took some photos including one of a sign which said that this was Horatio Nelson Lookout Point. It was named in honor of British Admiral Horatio Nelson who fought for the liberation of Grand Turk from France. (He didn't succeed)
Grand Turk has also been put forward as possibly the island where Columbus first landfall occurred, because there are other islands visible and there is a good large natural harbor
One of my favorite things to do is to research lighthouses, and this lighthouse is one of the outstanding things about Grand Turk. You can see it as you come in by ship.
The lighthouse was built in London in 1852 and shipped to Grand Turk where it was assembled. Since the lighthouse is cast iron, it has to be kept painted or it will rust. You can see the rust on it, and it has unfortunately gotten worse since we were there in 2008
There are estimated that there may be 1,000 wrecks off the Northeast Reef. This reef is northeast of Grand Turk and running 2.8 miles into the sea in the Turks Island Passage on the trade routes from Cuba and Hispanolia back to Europe. All kinds of cargo was included on those ships including coal, kerosene oil, lumber salt, potatoes and codfish.
During the lighthouses' first 40 years of use, wrecks continued. The original lighting consisted of 7 whale lamps with reflectors which could magnify the lights 450 times. But ships captains complained that the light was too dim. Some think that this was done deliberately in order to have the wrecks and loot the cargo. The number of wrecks was diminished after the Trinity Imperial Lighthouse Service in Nassau took over the maintenance and inspection of the lighthouse in 1894. In 1943 a Fresnel lens was installed which had a visibility of 15 miles but it was still run with kerosene. Finally in 1972, the light was electrified and automated
Fondest memory: Bob went out to the beach area and took pictures from there. I just walked around the lighthouse from closer in.
Carnival Corporation created a cruise terminal for ships under it's umbrella, Carnival, Princess and Holland America. Two ships can dock at the terminal and from there you can walk to the beach, Margaritaville and a couple of other restaurants along the beach. Like most cruise ports that Carnival has built, there is shopping without having to step outside the cruise ship's area. When we inquired about what was outside the cruise terminal they said you could take a taxi to Cockburn, walking was estimated at 45 minutes.
Margaritaville has dining and drinking, a swimming pool and some people were wearing wristbands which gave them access to Flowrider, an artificial wave pool that you can "surf" on. It appeared that you purchased for an amount of time and then shared the pool with a handful of other people.
One of the best places for information on what to do in various ports is
Cruise Critic. The Cruise Critic Grand Turk forum board was very useful in planning what to do while on shore, and there is also Grand Turk port information with hints on where to go, what to do, where the ships dock, where to eat and how to get around.
The guide showed us several churches. I got pictures of Holy Cross Catholic church and the Methodist church. But I also got a blurred picture through the bus door which the guide identified as the first church on the island which was very important, and it does NOT seem to be the St. Mary's Anglican church. I'd like to know what that church is.
GRAND TURK CHURCHES (list)
Bible Baptist -
Salem Baptist -
St Mary's Anglican - (649) 946-2289.
St Mary's was built in 1900 as the original church on Grand Turk, but it was too far out of town
Mission House - Bible Study Ministries
Holy Cross Catholic Church
P.O. Box 70,
Cockburn Town, Grand Turk,
Turks And Caicos Islands,
British West Indies
Tel./Fax: (649) 946-1888
Roman Catholic Mission (649) 946-1888
Church of God Of Prophecy 946-1160
New Testament Church of God (649) 946-2175
Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses - (649) 946-2727
Seventh Day Adventist - Front Street
Royal Caribbean hands out an information sheet regarding customary gratuity amounts. Envelopes are provided in your stateroom the day before arrival back in the home port. You can put money in the envelopes for the appropriate staff or go to the customer service desk and have the gratuity added to your seapass account.
The Gratuity Guidelines are:
Dining Room Waiter: $3.50 per day per guest
Assistant Waiter: $2 per day per guest
Stateroom Attendant: $3.50 per day per guest
Head Waiter: $0.75 per day per guest
We generally overtip because we receive such excellent service.
Favorite thing: When on this ship you must purchase your soda or buy a soda card for unlimited refils. The only free beverages are: water, iced tea, lemonade, coffee, tea and juices with breakfast. I wanted to have the option of being able to have soda so I purchased the card. They give you a refillable thermal cup and place a soda sticker on your seapass to identify that you have purchased the soda package. Either present your cup or show them your seapass to obtain a soda.
Favorite thing: We started our Thanksgiving morning with a terrific breakfast in the dining room. Liz of course had to have her Cocoa Krispies and I had their delicious French Toast. WE headed up to the pool deck and grabed some longe chairs and an ottoman. We sat side by side looking out at the beautiful water, enjoying some morning cocktails and relaxing. To me this was the perfect Thanksgiving morning. We pulled into the dock and began to explore Grand Turk Island. The Island itself is still being developed and is under some major construction in areas(thanks to the last hurricane). We had a yummy lunch, did some shopping and strolled the beach. Later inn the afternoon I popped the question to Liz while on bended knee. It was a perfect day wiith beautiful sunny weather. I couldn't have asked for a better setting.... Later that day we boarded the ship and watched the sun set while some music played in the background. That night we had a nice Thanksgiving dinner on board with some traditional and non traditional entrees for the holiday. I think in the future Liz and I will always spend our Thanksgiving in a warm, beach setting.
Favorite thing: I have to admit one of my favorite things about the cruise is the incredible desserts. I have had just about every dessert on the menu and have not been dissapointed. On this particular cruise I was happily surprised to have my favorite dessert Tiramisu as well as some incredible cheesecakes. I think going forward I should start with dessert first and work my way backwards.
I have heard people bash the food on cruises. So far I haven't experienced this bad food. The food is in no way five star but it is very good. The portions are always good, the quality is good and the presentation is always eye pleasing. The wait staff make sure you are happy with your food and go out of their way to please you. They wil bring you as much as you want, when you want it.
Many a night we couldn't decide between some appetizers so the waiter took it upon himself to bring us all three to sample. We were then able to take a bit from each appetizer. Now that to be is service excellence.
Fondest memory: My fondest memory was when Liz and I were lounging on the pool deck and watching Grand Turk Island come into view. It was a perfect morning, the weather was beautiful and there was a nice warm breeze. Liz and I headed up to the pool deck, grabbed some lounge chairs and an ottoman and relaxed. It was a perfect morning just relaxing with my baby and talking about how much fun we were having. We even had some "Morning" dacquiris, which were delicious and just added to the tropical feel of the morning. It was fn watching the island go from a small speck on the horizon to a big green and white mound in front of us. As soon as I saw the island, I knew it was the perfect place for proposing. I was able to scope out from the deck, the beach the pier and the secluded areas. It was a wonderful morning with my baby and I often think of that day with a big ear to ear grin on my face.
Fondest memory: After an amazing day on Grand Turk we watched the sunset over the island. It was simply beautiful watching the sky turn some amazing colors and see the bright orange glow of the sun dip down into the horizon. Amazingly we were the only ones on deck watching the sunset so we felt as if we were the only two people in the world. What an amazing time!