CaribbeanTurks & Caicos

Eastern Caribbean Cruise—Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Thomas, Half Moon Cay

Swim, Exercise, Fine dine, Indulge, Relax, Unwind, Enjoy and Reboot your system. We took a seven day cruise out of Ft. Lauderdale, it was awesome! Different vacations work for different people. For me, our cruise was a relaxing, pleasant, alone time with my wife, ‘we only have us’ kind of a feeling.

Cruise ship Westerdam, Holland America Lines.

Westerdam, Cruise ship, Caribbean.

The all-inclusive food on board is extremely lavish. There are different cuisines available in various dining areas and for dinner, I would recommend you book a table every evening in advance in the main dining room. This is where you get culinary delights for free! A five course unforgettable dinner (dress code, formal: no short pants). If you feel like pampering yourself, you could book a table at one of the specialty restaurants! However, here you pay for your meal. Most cruise lines have a very strict policy of ‘NO ALCOHOL’ brought aboard. You are permitted one 750 ml bottle of wine per person, period. However, alcohol prices are pretty reasonable on board and you really do not need to try and sneak booze. It was pretty inexpensive for a bottle of whiskey and 3 sodas in room service or a bucket of beers.

Four pictures of culinary delights on board

Culinary delights on board

The process of boarding the Cruise-liner is made so easy by a very friendly, courteous and kind staff.  Once you are issued your “Ship ID’s”, you are good to go. Our cruise took us to the islands of Grand turk (Turks and Caicos), San Juan (Puerto Rico), St. Thomas (U.S.V.I.) and Half Moon Cay (Bahamas). To see more cruise pictures, click here.

Grand Turk (Turks & Caicos)

View of Grand Turk beach from the pier

Pier view of Grand Turk beach

Electrifying atmosphere as soon as you step off the ship. A short walk on the pier and this wonderful sensation and atmosphere of “party”. Loud dance music, bars, restaurants, souvenir shops, all on the beach-front. We chose the “Margaritaville” and enjoyed some ‘kewl’ cocktails. A little walk away is a minivan/bus service into town.

Picture of a Who's to Blame Margarita, Margaritaville, Grand Turk

Who’s to Blame Margarita, Margaritaville, Grand Turk

These islands are a British Overseas territory with the capital, Cockburn Town (pronounced Co’burn) in Grand Turk. It is a quaint little town with colorful buildings, houses and narrow long streets. The Turks and Caicos are surrounded by the world’s second largest barrier reef.  A little way from the cruise pier is an ideal spot for snorkeling and viewing tropical fish.  The ship is in for almost 10 hours so if you plan your day well, you could take in a lot while on the island. To see more cruise pictures, click here.

Average temperature:81 F (27ºC)

San Juan—Puerto Rico

A cobblestoned street in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Cobblestoned street in San Juan

Awesome architecture, old Spanish colonial buildings, forts and cobblestoned streets. Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States. San Juan its capital city was our second port of call. As the ship sailed into the harbour, we were invited by the Captain to go to the ‘bow’ of the ship so we could see Puerto Rico in all its majesty. It is a beautiful, awe-inspiring sight! Once we got off the boat, we had a whole 12 hours to roam and take in the beautiful sights of San Juan. The Bacardi Rum factory is an 8 minute ferry ride (USD1/- p.p.) and a short taxi ride on the other end (USD3/- p.p.).  It is an experience just to brag you have been to the world’s most know Rum factory!

Four pictures of San Juan city

Collage of San Juan

We walked through the streets, ate in a local restaurant, drank in a local bar, visited the forts, walked through the old part of town (WIFI is FREE here). Also, bus service within the local town is FREE.  Just HOHO! The big fort here is ‘Castillo San Felipe del Morro’, (the one you pass when the ship sails in to the harbor) you could take the local free bus and then hop onto the free shuttle right to the entrance of the fort. Highly recommended! If you choose to walk, you should look for La Capilla del Santo Cristo de la Salud along the way. It is in the above picture, with the pigeons. Grab a map from the info booth when you get off the ship and you will do just fine. To see more pictures, click here.

Average temperature:84 F (29ºC)

St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.

View of St. Thomas from Paradise Point

St. Thomas USVI panoramic view

Beautiful, serene, enchanting! You get off the ship and step immediately into a local market/strip mall environment. Just outside of there, you will find taxis and “safaris” (open-air covered trucks) with bench seats that will take you to downtown Charlotte Amalie (the capital) or other tourist destinations on the island. There are a lot of water related activities or you could just take Skyride, the cable car to Paradise Point. To see more pictures, click here.

View from a cable car at Paradise point, St. Thomas, USVI

Cable car view, St. Thomas, USVI

You could also visit the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, Cathedral Church of all Saints, St. Thomas Synagogue, Fort Christian, Blackbeard’s Castle and so many other historic points if time permits.

Average temperature:75.5 F (24ºC)

Half Moon Cay—Bahamas

View of Half Moon Cay beach, Bahamas

Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

Paradise!!! A private island owned by the cruise line Holland America, it has been developed with the goal of maintaining as much habitat as possible for wildlife. Big ships cannot go to the island as it does not have deep water docking so, the cruise-liner anchors off-shore and you are taken to the island on “tenders”. It was a super feeling to know you are in the middle of nowhere and yet you have all the comfort of home.  The cruise line had a celebratory FREE BBQ on the island. We drank in a “Captain Morgan” themed bar, swam in the crystal clear waters of the Bahamas, lazed in hammocks, ate a scrumptious bbq and returned back to the comfort of our lovely, luxurious cabin. To see more pictures, click here.

Captain Morgan ship themed bar Bahamas

Captain Morgan ship bar, Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

Average temperature:81 F (27ºC)

 

Click here for more cruise pictures

 

Tips

  1. When researching the trip, the flight from Canada to Miami was cheaper than to Ft. Lauderdale however, the combined expenses of taxi fare, the return bus fare the time to travel between the two cities was just as much as we would have spent flying straight in to Ft. Lauderdale.
  2. Some cruise lines offer bus services between the two cities at a fairly reasonable rate.
  3. When visiting any of the island destinations, make sure you pack a little take-away from the ship’s buffet before you depart.  No one will stop you, just make sure what you take will be consumed.
  4. Gratuities are charged to your account on a daily basis so there is no need to tip any of the staff.
  5. If you need drinking water, request it through ‘room service’ or fill your own water bottles at any of the water fountains on board.  This is also a good idea when visiting any island destination as drinking water is costly to purchase.
  6. Never be late getting back to your ship as they will leave without you and it will then be your responsibility to catch up with them if ever!
  7. You can check your bags to your homeward-bound flight on the ship itself on the last night.  They will have the bags delivered to the airport.
  8. Make the most of all the entertainment (and there are some world class acts) on board.
  9. Do not fall into the on-board casino traps.
  10. Aye aye Sailor, enjoy!

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