MITSUGIRLY sails off into the HORIZON-review & pictorial
Day 4: Grand Turk
MONDAY DECEMBER 17: GRAND TURK!!
While we have been here multiple times, it's always nice to have a "free" day. This is a super easy port where you can go and not have to spend any money unless you want to eat and drink here. (We brought our own drinks) The beach and chairs (for the most part) are free at the cruise center and the pool is free to use with the beach chairs around it. They do have cabanas that you can rent but for the life of me, I can't understand why anyone would. They are located right there by the pool with all the other people and no seclusion. We are just active people and don't stay put very long and it would be a waste of money for anyone like us to ever rent anything like that...especially at this location where there's really no benefits to renting one and you definitely don't get away from the crowd here.
Since we were planning on doing activities that cost in the other ports, we decided to just make this a free day and forego going to any of the other beaches or renting a golf cart. Had Kendra's fiance been with us, we might have considered getting golf carts and exploring because it's always more fun with a group of people...especially my group. 😉
Grand Turk is one of those early to rise open you eyes ports. We would be in port from 7-2pm (I hate those hours).
We were up by 6am and immediately headed to breakfast at the buffet.
I got my normal runny eggs and pieces of crisp bacon from the bacon police and I was satisfied enough for the day knowing that it wouldn't be long before we were back on the ship and could get lunch. I did notice that this cruise, the eggs seemed to get runnier and runnier as the cruise went on. I'm not sure what's going on. I spent my mornings going from buffet station to buffet station trying to locate non-runny eggs. HOWEVER, I did discover that on this cruise they would have shredded cheese out and that was an added plus! I always want cheese on my eggs and that has been one of my gripes in the past.
The bacon police are still in full force on Carnival and you have beg and promise your first born son to them to get more than 3 pieces. I did notice, the entire cruise, when people would go up and ask for bacon, they'd say "crispy". Well, crispy usually meant the popo was digging around in the tub of pig to locate those fully cooked pieces and you'd end up with chopped up small pieces. It was ok...it all goes down the same.
Kendra and her crew were late to breakfast and didn't show up until 7:30am. I guess it's a good thing we didn't have anything planned. Her excuse? Her alarm went off and she laid back down. But, it was ok seeing how they had made an announcement that we couldn't even get off yet because there was another ship coming in and docking beside us and we needed to make sure that they were docked before they'd allow us off. I want to speak to the docking manager about this discrepancy please! Who did the scheduling?
We waited and waited and waited. IT WAS AFTER 9AM WHEN THEY FINALLY TURNED US LOOSE! 9AM!!! That's 2 hours of missed beach time for us. Now normally when this happens, they extend your time in port but not this time. This would be a first for us. This was also the first time we have ever been here with another ship too!
When we were standing in line, Sakari has her mermaid tail with her and a couple in front of us started talking to her. This lady was a real mermaid as well! Like a real one! She's in a group of mermaids who travel and do parties and shows and so on. Sakari knows the group well and asks about some of the people by name in it and this lady knew them all. Mermaid Melissa has always been Sakari's favorite and this lady informed us that Melissa had sold off all of her tails and quit the business recently and moved away. Sakari was sad although I can't find anything online to indicate that this has really happened. She's probably the most famous known mermaid. We discussed her "profession" and I guess there's hope for Sakari yet. They really do make a lot of money and hey, Sakari already has the mermaid swim down pat and she can hold her breath forever. (Melissa holds her breath for over 5 minutes at a time). Her husband was really into it as well and told us about the cost of the real tails and it would be beneficial to wait until she's done growing to get one (she's been begging for one for years). He also does a lot of the photography for the mermaids (in and out of water). They were excited to show us. It made the long wait for them to release us in port tolerable and I'm sure those around us listening in thought we were bat sh*t crazy at this point.
So off we went and stopped to take our picture by the paparazzi.
When we were in Aruba last time, we spent a day hanging out with our awesome Arubian friend and she took us to the National Park (desert) that was full of cactus plants. She told us about the flowers blooming on them and how often it occurs. You can eat these flowers. Sakari and her were on a mission the entire vacation to find a cactus with the flower on the top that you can eat. Sakari wanted to try it so bad but we were at the end of the blooming season and she was disappointed even though she managed to step on a few during her search, having thorns in her foot wasn't a good enough souvenir for her. Whodda thought? However, the first thing Sakari noticed, after arriving in port, was several cacti with blooms! She squealed with excitement and tried to talk me into going over to "taste" them. Well, I didn't want to be the weirdo eating cactus and I told her we couldn't just go over and start plucking the cactus blooms. Honestly, I didn't feel comfortable without our Arubian friend with us to confirm this was the same type of cactus. Sakari was a little upset with me but hey...
We headed into the port shopping area (which is the only way you can get to the beach area) and around to the beach and picked our spot. Now I know in the past that all the chairs there at the beach in front of the cruise compound have always been free until you hit the sign that said: "You are leaving the cruise port area". Well, recent reports had stated that the locals have managed to steal a lot of the chairs and claim them as their own. They put their chairs in front of the cruisers chairs (usually 1st-2nd rows) and charge you for them. They managed to sucker in quite a few newbies that day at $50 A POP FOR 2 CHAIRS AND UMBRELLA!!!! Outrageous for something that is free. Just pay attention and don't fall for their scam!
Here's where we sat
Immediately Sakari was ready to morph into a mermaid and daddy was ready to carry her down. I'm not sure why this cruise she all of a sudden decided that putting on her tail up on the beach and being carried down was going to happen every time. Usually, she just walks down to the water and puts it on herself and goes out.
A DAY OF GROUPERS, BARRACUDAS AND TONS OF EELS:
Of course, I immediately headed out for some snorkeling. As I said, we've been here several times. I have never thought the snorkeling was good here (at least from the beach). But I did read that others said the snorkeling is good by "the wall", which is a drop off out a short way and you can tell by the color of the water of course. It's right in front of the ships. This time I was going to make sure that I checked this out because I have been super disappointed in the past by any snorkeling. The only other wall is only accessible from a boat and on the other side of the ship. They have ropes up at the beach that you can't pass, so I wouldn't think that's the wall that others have referred to. (You can go down to the end of the island and snorkel and I hear it's awesome but very tricky getting into the water with tons of coral and it's pretty unpredictable with the waves)
Immediately we saw a lot of barracuda's in the area. We would see them everywhere that day.
We started seeing a lot of flounders. Big ones, small ones, they were just everywhere. These are the weirdest fish with both eyes on the top of their head and they are flat.
A few damsels
At the dropoff
We arrived at this so-called drop off at the ropes and there wasn't really anything to see.
There's an anchor down here.
Sorry, sometimes my fingers slip and accidentally change the settings on my camera and I end up with some greenish pictures that remind me of the disposable camera's I used to use snorkeling back in the 80's.
I absolutely love filefish. The shape of them is so neat and you don't see them too often.
There really isn't a lot of coral in the area either. It was a huge disappointment from what I was expecting to see after reading others state the snorkeling was good in this area. And here I thought I had just been missing out in the past.
I squealed with excitement only to pop up out of the water to notice that Sakari had decided to swim back to shore and hang out with Brayden. She was missing it! I'm always in search for eels. They are so cool to watch. I had noticed this entire snorkel adventure that these eels hang out with one of these black fish. Every time I would see one of these black fishes acting like they were protecting something around a hole, there would be an eel. What type of relationship do they have? Are they like the watchman goby that protects the blind pistol shrimp in home saltwater tanks? They are an odd pair and the pistol shrimp is blind and digs a hole and works non-stop while the watchman goby stays outside and protects it. The goby lets the shrimp know if danger is approaching and they are never far apart. The shrimp reaches its antennas out to make sure the goby is there. So fun to watch. Maybe this fish and eel have the same relationship.
These black fish have reddish fins. Anyone know what they are and what the relationship is? I would love to know.
This would be the most fish I seen during the day. A group of blue tang surgeon fish and yellow tailed.
A pair of banded butterfly fish. You will always find these in pairs.
This is the area I was snorkeling in and this close to the ship all the way out to the buoys.
Stoplight parrot fish
I spotted another eel! It was yellow and beautiful.
It also had its buddy protecting it too.
Several Palometa fish showed up.
Then I spotted this little devil! Not a fuzzy wuzzy caterpillar at all. We learned our lesson about these years ago in Roatan. They are fireworms that will sting the heck out of you and leave little bristles in your skin. Just feet away were unexpecting cruisers bobbing up and down in the water with their feet. I shudder at the thought.
Another feather duster
I spotted another eel. This time a moray with it's black fish friend, but this one had blue tips on the fins.
Is this not the coolest anemone? It's a Spiral Anemone. The rainbow reflection in the water made this picture turn out so neat.
Sea urchin in cognito...only I spotted him anyhow.
Here's a small video of the eels, flounder and filefish that interested me. Now while some may claim I'm a decent photographer, I will NEVER claim to be any good at videos. LOL I'll be brutally honest, I suck. I don't know how people manage to get awesome snorkeling and scuba videos with the water swishing you back and forth. There's just no way to keep you stable for a good video. Maybe some day I'll figure it out. Until then...here's my crappy video. I hope it doesn't make too many of you nauseous with the waves. 😉
No sooner than I got back to the chairs, Kendra decided she wanted to go out and do some snorkeling herself and insisted I go out and "show her around". There's no rest for the weary in my family. So, out we went again...no kids in tow.
Our first squirrel fish seen today.
The drop off, which is very small in this area.
Hey I think the Carnival Horizon chef lost his rolling pin...
Then Kendra was able to see her first moray eel for the day
Now this is a significant picture. Kendra seen something down here and dove down. She said it hurt her ears and she wasn't but maybe 5' down from the top or so. Well, her right ear would continue to hurt during the cruise and even after coming back home. She said it felt like water went in it and it wouldn't pop.
Meanwhile, I was also diving down to the ledge and trying to get close up pictures of what very little coral we did see that day. It's a hit or miss on whether or not they will turn out clear for me when diving down.
We were swarmed by a bunch of fish in this area.
Another yellow spotted eel and it's black fish friend. Still, anyone know what these black fish are?
Now this is what I call a devil caterpillar. You may think it's all nice and fuzzy and cute, but they sting like a devil and insert their bristles in you, which is full of poison. Their actual given name is a fireworm for a good reason. You'll feel like you are on fire when they get you. Sakari and I know first hand! The bad part was, there were a bunch of cruisers/swimmers right next to it bobbing up and down on the rock it was on. You just never know what's under there unless you are looking and there were more than this one in the area.
Another neat anemone capture
I had mentioned to Kendra that I wanted to go "on the other side", meaning when coming down the port dock, to the right. I knew that it's an area that most people don't go to or hang out at and last time we were there, they hardly had any chairs on this side...for a good reason. The area is quite rocky going into the water. So, I figured there had to be good snorkeling there right? However, they now have a bunch of chairs and even clamshells on this side and there were a lot of people there believe it or not.
We asked the kids if they wanted to come and they were having fun in the water and decided to stay.
One of the issues is, you are not allowed to walk under the bridge to get there. They have signs there and locals sitting under the bridge. I'm not sure what the issue is walking under it in the sand??? That meant we had to gather our things and walk around the shopping area and back down to the beach.
Once we got there it was quite dangerous trying to get in. We searched for the best area and found that there really wasn't a "best" area to go in. It's ALL rocky! The waves are crashing and it seemed like it was a lot wavier than the other side. It took us a hot minute to get up enough courage to try to make it over the rocks...step by step, inch by inch, we made it out only to find that there was NOTHING in that area and the water was so stirred up that it was hard to see. So, you won't get any snorkeling pics from here, unfortunately. Take note, don't go to this area for snorkeling! There were a lot of people attempting to get out to swim and complaining the entire time about it. Why not just go to the other side? I bet they'll be the cruisers that come back and say they Grand Turk is terrible at the beach and not worth going to because that's what they think the beach is like.
I did manage to get a shot of the ships in port while out there though.
And other on the other side
Since it was a bust, we headed back into port and over to the other side again.
When we got back, everyone decided to head to the pool for the rest of the day. We only had a few hours to go before we had to get back on the ship.
The great thing about the port pool is that it has an easy entry in one spot and that's great for those non-swimmers like Kam.
One new thing is that they have put in tables and umbrellas in the water to hang out at. Did they redo this port pool at some point over the last year? I also don't remember the color of the water being this green last time. I'd have to go back and look at my previous pictures.
We met some people that had a daughter who had been begging for a mermaid tail. Sakari let her try hers on and the girl just lit up. We talked to them for quite a while and then Kam wanted a chance to play mermaid as well. Some day that girl is going to inherit a lot of mermaid tails when she gets older.
The ending of this next picture was so hilarious...although I didn't catch it and should have been recording. Kam lifted the tail and it was so heavy that it hit her in the back of the head. It was so unexpected but so funny.
When I got back, Kendra was doing the ice cube challenge with Brayden and Sakari...caught them both off guard. LOL Brayden is used to me doing this to him every cruise, but he wasn't expecting his mom to do it.
It was getting late and we decided to head back. Time for some pictures along the way.
It's always like pulling teeth to get Sakari out of the water. I told her to grab her stuff and we were heading out. I look back and she's no where in site....only to find this...her carrying her things IN the water until the very end. Such a water baby.
Carnival has really stepped up their game and are doing things like NCL has been doing for years. They are playing music and welcoming you back and serving drinks. WTG Carnival. There's nothing like making you feel welcome to come back to the ship and continue your cruise with them.
While we were in port...a photographer came along the beach area and was taking pictures. He took several of Sakari. I only purchased one of them (there were just too many).
But I did do a screenshot of a few of them to show you what your pictures look like when viewing them on your phone or on the ships ipad in the pixel studio. They put their logo across them so that they are unusable.
I knew that Pig & Anchor was open on port days during certain hours and I wanted to take advantage of this so we headed there to eat lunch.
The last cruise we were on, we didn't find it to be too good (with the time before that, it was awesome). I'm not sure what happened. But, this time it was wonderful...so wonderful that we all went back for seconds! LOL There really wasn't much of a line either and they had lines going in both directions (which they always do).
They do have tables outside along the P&A area to eat at as well.
It wasn't too long before we were pulling out and I caught the reflection of the whale tail on the other ship. We arrived on time but didn't get off the ship for 2 hours after we were supposed to because the Oosterdam ship was coming in, and we still have to pull out on time and they get to stay. Go figure.
Well, I checked my pictures and I couldn't find any for the rest of the night. So, I'll just have to continue with words and humor.
After getting our bellies full, it was time for a little vegetation in the "whirlpool" because Carnival doesn't have hot tubs.
After that, we were now bellies full and waterlogged and decided to get dressed and go to the Thrill Theater for a little fun. We arrived and used the kiosk to pay for the "Level 1" movie only to get in there and they ran the "Level 2" movie. Either way, it was a blast and I love these types of things. Kam, well, she wasn't so sure about the moving seats, water splashes, and the air being blown on her legs and face. LOL She immediately ended up in Kendra's lap.
On our way out, we decided we needed a snack. And by snack, I mean overly priced candy from Cherry on Top. I ended up with a bag full at around $7+ and the hubby had a bag at $8+. Yikes! After exiting the candy store with the deer in the headlights look on our faces at the price we just paid for a sugar high, they were passing out tickets for the "Grand Opening" of Victoria's Secret on the ship. We stuck around for a while...and a little bit longer, then put up with the silliness of the people strutting their stuff on the make-believe runway they created before they allowed us in the "brand new" store that "just opened" (even though I'm sure it's open on every cruise like this duh). We thought they were going to pull tickets to win something and the store was packed. We were hopeful, only to find that they pull ONE TICKET!!! Just one! The winner got a bag and I have no idea what was in it because they never showed. What a waste of time. I'll never get suckered into that again but I figured they'd at least do a few. I mean they even had a spin the wheel for heaven's sake.
Since we had so much candy, we decided to hang out on the deck and go into a full-blown sugar coma at this point. We got one of the round bed chairs (I love these because I have one at home and love to pull it in front of the fireplace and just vegetate).
After the sugar adrenaline rush was kicking in, it was time to play a few games at the sports square to burn off this new found energy and then we managed to talk the kids into a little "school" time (kids club). Sakari was begging not to go. I don't know what has gotten into her lately and not wanting to go. She's growing up on me and can't wait to get into the teen club. She decided to go ahead and spend some time in there but threatened "I'm not going to the baby part with Kam this time!" Kam went on her own and there's hope in the future for Kendra being able to drop her off for our port day in Curacao with scuba diving!
Back to the Punchliner we went for a little bit of humor. This time around they ask for people out of the audience that could speak different languages. We had several different people AND......the Guys fry boy from the deck games that wouldn't sit down. He said he could speak Spanish. The games went on and the comedian had them say different things and it was hilarious. They got to the boy and they would tell him what to say and his reply "I don't know how to say that". Next thing "I don't know that". On to something more simple "I don't know how to say that". Ok, DO YOU KNOW SPANISH OR NOT? At this point, I'm thinking he's just an attention hog because he couldn't say anything.
After the show, we attempted to get back in line only to find that it went all the way down the hallway to Pixels. There was no getting back in for the adult show, that's for sure. They really need a bigger venue.
Next best thing...the casino. I ended up donating my $39 I had left from the first day on the cruise and decided to pick the kids up from the kids club and go eat. Off to the buffet we went but there really wasn't much there and I ended up at the deli for a grilled cheese. According to my notes...my camera card was messing up so I guess that explains why there were no pictures.
Back to the room to pack for our day tomorrow in La Romana and we had a dinosaur friend on our bed that night. Sakari worked on her phone drawings and we called it a night.