Turks and Caicos is a collection of over 40 Caribbean islands located south of the Bahamas.
Known for white sand beaches, luxurious accommodations, and delicious dining, these islands are a favorite destination among travelers. This includes the cruising industry, with a home port on Turks and Caico’s Grand Turk Island.
During 2023, this port welcomed over 143 ships, which was a 10.9 percent increase from previous years.
While this port is lesser known than its Caribbean counterparts, there are a plethora of things to do and explore, ways to get around, and things you need to know before visiting. It is important to take note of these things to make the most of your Turks and Caicos cruise.
Which Cruise Lines Sail to Turks and Caicos (Grand Turk)?
When booking your cruise vacation, deciding which cruise line to sail with is arguably one of the most important decisions you will make. With so many options and accommodations out there, this can be a difficult choice.
The Grand Turk port opened in 2006 in partnership with Carnival Cruise Line. As of today, there are nine (9) main cruise lines who call at Grand Turk. This list is inclusive of:
- Carnival Cruise Line
- Royal Caribbean International
- Norwegian Cruise Line
- Marella Cruises
- Holland America Line
- Princess Cruises
- Celebrity Cruises
- Windstar Cruises
- Costa Cruises
Most itineraries including a stop at Grand Turk are 5-10 night cruises with stops in several
other Caribbean destinations, such as the Bahamas, US Virgin Islands, or Puerto Rico. It is important to note that these itineraries typically do not include an overnight in Turks and Caicos.
Carnival Cruise Line offers the most options as far as itineraries, activities, and excursions if you are looking to sail to Grand Turk in Turks and Caicos. This is because Carnival opened this $50 million complex port back in 2006 and is still an active corporation.
Prior to this opening, Turks and Caicos did not have a cruise port, and it remains the only one today. With most sailings departing from Florida, your options range from 5-day sailings all the way up to 11-day sailings from New York.
A sample itinerary with Carnival for a family of four (4) departing from Cape Canaveral Orlando, FL looks like this:
- Departing from Cape Canaveral, Florida with stops in Nassau, Bahamas > Princess Cays, Bahamas > Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos > ending in Port Canaveral, Florida.
- Sailing on Saturday, January 4th, 2025 – Thursday, January 9th, 2025
- 1 Oceanview/Porthole Guaranteed Stateroom with 4 Guests on the Carnival Freedom
- Each Adult is $439 (x2) and each child is $129 (x2)
- Total: $1,828.84 with gratuities included.
Things to do/Excursions in Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos
Grand Turk offers an abundance of activities for guests of all ages, so choosing what to do may be difficult if you’ve never visited this beautiful island before. The excursions offered largely depend on which cruise line you’re sailing with, so it’s important to check directly with your ship’s operator to make the best decision for your party.
Here are some ideas that seasoned cruisers recommend based on past visits to Grand Turk in Turks and Caicos.
- Relax on the Beach:
Grand Turk is known for its white sand beaches, and turquoise waters and for good reason. If you’re a beach bum, spending a day at one of Grand Turk’s many beaches may be right up your alley. There are four beaches nearby, two of which are within walking distance of the cruise port (Cruise Center Beach and Governor’s Beach), that cruisers and locals recommend. If you don’t mind traveling a bit, check out Cockburn Town Beach or Pillory Beach, where crowds will surely be lower.
For those who love the beach, but also want an activity to stay engaged, snorkeling is a perfect option! While snorkeling, you’ll have the opportunity to experience some of Grand Turk’s top spots at depths of over 7,000 feet. You’ll even have the opportunity to watch your captain dive, catch and prepare conch – a local cuisine on the island!
All equipment is included in the base price of your snorkeling fee. Guests must be physically able to enter/exit the water on their own with minimal, or no assistance. In addition, there is a weight limit of 300lbs per person.
- Explore the Island:
Grand Turk is a small island, so getting around is quite easy and pleasurable and there are several ways to do so. You can travel by foot, rent a scooter, a golfcart or even a car for the day. Exploring on your own to witness the rich culture, main sights and history is a great way to get the most out of your brief stay.
If you like to collect souvenirs as a memory of your vacation, this is a great way to spend your day while visiting Grand Turk. The Grand Turk Cruise Center is the main attraction on the island, opened specifically for tourist shopping on the island. This shopping area includes about 15 chain retail and duty-free outlets onsite, along with locally made goods, bars and restaurants, including Starbucks for all the coffee fans!
- ATV Adventure Tours:
If you’re more of an adventurous, thrill seeker, the ATV Adventure Tours offered on Grand Turk will be something you don’t want to miss. This excursion allows you to experience the island from a different vantage point, as you go off-roading on muddy paths, trails, and historic roads all while learning about local areas on the island.
Some highlights include, but are not limited to visiting the lighthouse, Ride Trail, and the North Creek Bird Watching Area. It is important to note that guests signing up for this experience must be in good physical shape, and health.
Transportation on Grand Turk
Grand Turk is a relatively small island at only 6.5 miles long, so getting around is very simple. Rental vehicles and taxi services are the main modes of transportation and there is no public transportation available.
Like most Caribbean islands, Grand Turk has adopted a very laid-back attitude, with a slower-paced lifestyle. The island-wide speed limit is 20mph and driving is largely free of hurry and stress.
Although the island is very walkable, it is recommended to cruisers that they rent a vehicle, scooter or utilize a taxi service to make the most of their stay. Renting a vehicle, or a personal scooter is typically more cost efficient, and you’ll have more flexibility to visit the sites you want on your own time and without having to wait on a taxi service.
Vehicles can be rented in advance from either two main sites (cost depending upon vehicle available):
- Grand Turk JAGS McCartney International Airport (GDT)
- Grand Turk Cruise Center
If you prefer to rent a scooter, golf cart, 4×4 or ATV, this is also an option. These rates can range from $75-$120 per vehicle, per day.
Taxi services are always available on Grand Turk and can be rented from the same locations where rental cars are available, in addition to smaller locations scattered throughout the island. Rates depend on where your taxi is hailed from and the destination you are looking to travel to. These prices can range from $4-$9 per trip.
Some important things to note when visiting Grand Turk regarding transportation is that all vehicle operators are required to hold a valid driver’s license and passport. An international driver’s license (IDL) is not required if your license is in English. If it is not, you must obtain an IDL. Additionally, on Grand Turk, you must drive on the left side of the road.
Dining on Grand Turk
Since most visitors to Grand Turk are cruise ship guests, the dining on the island is much smaller, yet still authentic in comparison to its counterparts. The island certainly features their own island-style dining spots, which are typically only open for lunch.
Grand Turk is known for its diversity of local, Caribbean flavors, with fish being the main event. If you’re in search of authentic cuisine, Margaritaville, Sandbar Restaurant, Jack’s Shack, and The Bird Cage Restaurant are perfect spots for this.
With the knowledge of catering to those with a more traditional palate in search of a tried-and-true fare such as burgers, fries or chicken, Grand Turk set up establishments such as the Secret Garden Restaurant. You can even find pizza on the island at Turks Head Inne, or your favorite coffee at Starbucks.
Bottom Line on Turks and Caicos Cruises
Cruising to Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos is quite simple, and is the same process as traveling to any other destination you might visit. Following the rules, processes and procedures of your cruise line will ensure that you are successfully prepared to embark on your vacation to Grand Turk.
It is important to understand the guidelines of your particular cruise line prior to sailing to ensure a seamless visit. Having your passport, valid driver’s license, or other state-issued form of ID, and any necessary forms signed will allow for this. It is also best practice to coordinate your excursions and itineraries through your cruise line directly to avoid any miscommunication.
Grand Turk is all about maintaining a laid-back state of mind so you can enjoy yourself, and the beauty that surrounds you once you arrive. Once you’re able to do that, you’re sure to enjoy this tiny, albeit happy island!
*This guest post was written by C. Ingram