Holland America Port of Call: Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos

Did someone say swim-up bar? Welcome to the second stop on our Western Caribbean tour: Grand Turk, in the Turks & Caicos Islands! There are islands, then there's the Turks & Caicos Islands. I've been here once before so I knew this stop would be a highlight on our tour. It turned out to be one of the best! It seems like it's always sunny here and the beaches are filled with beautiful sun-bleached crystal white sand!

I enjoyed this port the most because we didn't have to tender in. Our ship was docked which meant we could easily come and go off the ship as we liked without having to wait for the tender boat to take us back and forth. But really, if you ever came here you'd never want to leave! Upon arriving we were greeted with a huge duty free shop and some of the BIGGEST bottles of alcohol you've ever seen. But don't try to take them back on the ship with you. Haha, they won't make it through security when you board (think x-ray machines and metal detectors and lots of security, and a nice present for the staff if you do try)!

Grand Turk has lots of fun shopping. Novelty clothing like Piranha Joes, nail polish that changes colour with the sun, and lots of jewelry too. Lots of delicious jewelry! Diamonds International is here, which is a staple throughout the Caribbean but sort of feels like a scam to me. They remind me of those commercials with the greasy guy begging to buy your gold for top dollar if you only conveniently ship it to him first. Lots of promises of everything being cheap, no tax, and of the highest quality. Yeah.

First mom and I did some shopping. We're girls so that's our specialty. :) We picked up some Piranha Joe shirts and hats for the family, then I spotted Margaritaville. Wait, Margarittaville? Like as in "wasted away again in Margaritaville"? The Jimmy Buffet song one? For real?


Oh wow, I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Surely this can't be exactly like the song. Is Jimmy Buffet aware of this plagiarizing of his work? The inviting party atmosphere tumbled out onto the cobblestone sidewalks we were pounding.

I have to check this out. "Mom, let's go!". I took off in a fast trot towards this beautiful Caribbean mecca and sure enough. Yes, to my delight there is an actual "Margaritaville" bar and restaurant (and gift shop) chain, and Jimmy Buffet owns it! Way to stretch that one big hit wonder into something sustainable!

Mom's a pretty easy going traveler and was totally game to check this out. Like all well-planned venue layouts, we entered into a store area first. We grabbed more Margaritaville t-shirts. "This one will be my camping/party t-shirt!". Then we wandered with eyes wide into the bar area. I couldn't believe what I was seeing: to the left was a quaint thatch hut with a DJ inside, with a line up stretching around the pool area. The leader of the line was tipping their head back

under the thatch hut while the DJ poured a shot into their mouth. "FREE SHOTS". Holy geez, it's barely noon! The place was buzzing with patrons from the Carnival cruise ship already docked beside us. Looks like they had a good early start!

In front of us was the largest most amazing pool I'd ever seen! It wound around the area that was filled with beach chairs, umbrella tables, and lots of sun! There was a wave runner surfing pool, and my favorite: a swim-up bar! Oh my gosh, I just found my home!

Mom and I parked in at the restaurant to the left and ordered the most amazing nachos and what else? Margaritas! The food here is amazing, but you will want to bring your wallet because it's pricey!!! But it's worth it. Obviously we didn't choose to do any excursions here so the pricey lunch was okay for the afternoon we were about to have instead. After lunch we grabbed some beach chairs by one of the bridges over the swimming pool and that's where we spent the rest of the day. Now, anyone who knows me knows I hate water. I hate being wet, splashed, rained on, whatever.
Outside of a shower or a glass, keep water away from me. But I spent the entire afternoon in this pool! I paid a couple visits to the swim up bar where more margaritas ensued. A word of caution: these are pricey too at $10 dollars a pop, but they go well with the pool! I'd recommend bringing lots of ten dollar bills and a few $1's for tipping. By the time you swim over to the bar and get your drink, you don't want to be lugging around change. Especially American $1 bills that would get soppy and wet in the pool.

We had some good laughs watching people try to man the wave runner too. It's basically a simulated wave pool that you surf on...until you fall off which can happen pretty quick.

After soaking up lots of vitamin D, we decided to reluctantly call it a day and head back to the ship. On the way out, we swung by the Diamonds International store where I went against everything I stood for and fell in love with a yellow citrine ring flanked in a semi circle of "diamonds" followed up by a beautiful silver titanium ribbon. At $115, I didn't feel I was breaking the bank. It was a fun treat purchase to help remember my day.

By the time we got back on the ship we were exhausted. We grabbed an early dinner (complimentary room service of shrimp cocktail for this tired fish), and watched on our balcony together as we silently glided out of port as the sun set on our happy little island. This was definitely a day I will never forget.


  1. I've enjoyed reading your posts about your cruise experience with Holland America! Any other tips on what food was great? or cocktails? or shows were good? or areas of the ship you really liked etc? All the best, Kelli.

  2. P.S. Hope you put on more posts about the cruise.

  3. Thanks for responding! I have another blog post coming this week that talks about our day at sea.

    On the Nieuw Amsterdam ship, I loved the food at Pinnacle Grill. We had to pay extra for dining there, but it was only around $20 extra per person (although our dinner was included in our free trip - yay). And the Manhattan Dining Room had amazing food as well! That's the daily dining room. It's hard to actually find bad food on the cruise. :)

    Every day the ship would have a drink of the day, and it would be cheaper than the regular cocktails, so I had fun trying those.

    The main pool area on the Lido deck is a great place to sit and people watch or swim if that's your thing. There's shaded tents you can reserve, or tables under the overhang (in the shade) or deck chairs in the sun as well. So a good variety. Pretty much anything in the Showroom at Sea is awesome! There's also a small movie theater, and one night we caught the Kenny Chesney summer tour show there - that was fun too! Are you thinking of going on a Holland America cruise?

  4. Love Grand Turk. Was there last Oct on the Eurodam and will be going again on 11/19/11 on the Eurodam again.

    Follow me on Twitter @scottlara1961 and be sure to listen to Cruise Radio!

  5. Wow, I'm jealous! Grand Turk was absolutely my favourite stop. Turks & Caicos never disappoints! I'm assuming the Eurodam is a favourite if you're her sailing again! :)

    The Eurodam is the sister ship to the Nieuw Amsterdam...I can always tell the Eurodam by the HAL ads, because it shows the spa with the blue colored heated ceramic...the Nieuw Amsterdam is tan.


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