The tiny island of Grand Turk, part of the Turks and Caicos Islands in the eastern Caribbean about 30 miles south of the Bahamas, offers a picturesque getaway for Royal Holiday Cruises passengers looking for lush greenery and clear waters. Only seven miles in length and slightly more than one mile wide, Grand Turk is home to long stretches of powdery sands, several secluded cays, and a coral reef system that creates one of the world’s most beautiful sites for diving and snorkeling. The reef’s 8,000-foot drop into the sea is close enough to shore to allow for some spectacular beach diving experiences. When you go diving off Grand Turk on your Royal Holiday Cruises vacation, you will experience a destination consistently rated among the top 10 diving locations in the world. Get an intimate look at the habitats of dolphins, manta rays, sea horses, and hawksbill and green sea turtles. And don’t forget that your Royal Holiday Cruises ship can turn into your own personal observation platform for viewing the passage of humpback whales.
On land, Royal Holiday Cruises visitors will find the island’s luxurious cruise ship center a welcoming port with an on-site recreation center, a swimming pool, and rental cabanas. Also situated at the center is the large-scale Margaritaville Grand Turk restaurant, which evokes the spirit of the popular song by Jimmy Buffett.
When you sail with Royal Holiday Cruises to Grand Turk, you can travel back in time by visiting historic buildings and ruins from the colonial period. While researchers disagree whether Christopher Columbus was the first European to land on the island during his initial voyage in 1492, by the 17thcentury, immigrants from Bermuda had settled on Grand Turk, as well as on South Caicos and Salt Cay. These “salt rakers” and their slaves exported salt to the British in North America, and the island’s population increased when British loyalists fled there after the American Revolution. Over the years, the Turks and Caicos Islands changed hands several times, living under Spanish, French, and British rule. A British crown colony since 1962, the islands maintain close ties to the Bahamas.
Royal Holiday Cruises visitors to Grand Turk should not skip a day at the Turks & Caicos National Museum. Exhibits highlight the prehistoric past of the region, as well as thoughtful explorations of the island’s colonial period. Items on display include stamps, coins, and other artifacts, as well as the Grethe Seim Message in a Bottle Collection. Seim, the museum’s founder, spent decades amassing her collection of messages she had discovered washed up on shore in glass bottles. Royal Holiday Cruises travelers who devote time to the museum will also find numerous items associated with maritime history, including a display detailing the Molasses Reef Wreck, once thought to be the remains of Columbus’ ship the Pinta. The wreck is now believed to be a mightily armed vessel from the early 16th century and the oldest shipwreck discovered in the New World.
Your Royal Holiday Cruises trip to Grand Turk would not be complete without water sports. In addition to diving, travelers can enjoy fishing, sailing, and chartered boating excursions. Shopping enthusiasts will delight in the handmade crafts in the National Museum’s gift shop and at small souvenir stands.