Cruises to Turks and Caicos
All cruises to the Turks and Caicos arrive in Grand Turk at the Carnival operated Grand Turk Cruise Center. There are no cruises to Providenciales (which includes Grace Bay Beach) or any other island.
Types of Cruises
Most cruises that stop at Grand Turk are 5-10 night cruises with several Caribbean destinations from the U.S. East Coast, commonly from Port Miami.
Some cruises operate from Western Europe, however, these are typically longer duration and the number of cruises offered is a fraction of standard Miami Caribbean cruises.
Cruise Line Operators
Carnival owns and operates the Cruise Center and offers the majority of cruises to the Grand Turk.
The following is a non-exhaustive list of the main operators who call at Grand Turk:
- Royal Caribbean
- Marella Cruises
- Holland America
- Princess Cruises
- Celebrity Cruises
- Windstar Cruises
- Costa Cruises
History of the Grand Turk Cruise Center
The Grand Turk Cruise center was opened in 2006 at an estimated cost of around $50 million. The complex is operated by Carnival Cruise Lines, and based on their agreement with the Turks and Caicos Government, Carnival keeps 75% of seaport taxes collected.
In addition, the shops and restaurants at the Cruise Center are not required to charge the 12% tourism tax, as an exemption was also granted.
Booking your Grand Turk Cruise
It’s generally recommended that you book direct with a cruise line for the best rate and flexibility. The major online travel agents (OTAs), such as Expedia and Orbitz, also sell cruises as part of their offerings.
Immigration and Customs
Immigration and customs clearance is handled by the cruise line, and most visitors will not need to interact with local officials.
Cruise Passenger Bill of Rights
Most major cruise lines are members of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and have agreed to adopt the Cruise Passenger Bill of Rights. This provides a series of rights to information about the ship and status, the right to disembark in some situations, and the right to refunds in some situations.
The layover time for cruises varies significantly. Some stops are short, whereas others are in port for most of the day. If visiting Grand Turk is important, check the layover time.
Most of the activities on Grand Turk are offered for sale via the cruise line, and cruise operators encourage guests to book via the cruise operator instead of directly. This can be convenient for guests, but be advised that the cruise operators take a large share of revenue which hurts local businesses.
You may wish to consider a rental car or vehicle if you're interested in exploring the island. Taxis, whereas rates are generally fixed from the Cruise Center to the main attractions, can be expensive otherwise. However, taxis can be found in abundance in most tourist areas on the island.
Despite being a relatively small island, it is not recommended or possible to walk to Cockburn Town or the other major sights and attractions.
Sights and Attractions
The beaches, including SunRay beach at the Cruise Center and Governor's Beach, are the primary draw for visitors.
Cockburn Town is the country’s capital and the main town on Grand Turk. This beachfront settlement features several colonial-era buildings and is interesting for a self-guided walking tour.
The National Museum is the country’s only museum and features the oldest shipwreck found in the western hemisphere.
The Grand Turk Lighthouse is the island’s foremost attraction, and is located on the northern tip of the island.
There are several land and water activities for cruise visitors. Visiting Gibbs Cay, a cay a short distance off Grand Turk where stingrays congregate, is one of the more popular activities.
ATV tours, snorkeling trips, scuba diving, and other activities are offered.