Grand Turk's inaugural season as a Caribbean cruise-ship destination saw some 136 cruise ship calls and 300,000 passengers arrive on the island -- numbers expected to rise in the next few years. Fortunately, the 5.7-hectare (14-acre) cruise-ship terminal is a fair distance away from the heart of Cockburn Town. The terminal was designed by the folks at Carnival Cruise Lines to resemble a colorful Bermudian-style village out of the early 19th century, much like Cockburn Town might have looked in the early 1800s. The center is planted smack-dab on Governor's Beach, with a 172m-long (565-ft.) main pier, hundreds of deck chairs along the beach, a huge Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville (with lagoonlike pool), a main building with four vintage-style chimneys prominently on view, and shops designed to resemble the quaint wooden "salt houses" of the salt era -- many of which are locally owned and sell island crafts and gifts. It all lies mute and still until the arrival of a 2,000-passenger ship (currently 3 to 4 days a week on average), which shows up on the empty horizon just as the sun comes up -- a watery behemoth that gets eye-poppingly bigger as it approaches this tiny island. A miniature train takes arriving cruise passengers to Governor's Beach, or they can choose one of the myriad activities created for them: seeing Cockburn Town by beach buggy, horse-drawn carriage, moped, or shuttle taxi. Or they can participate in a shore excursion (scuba diving, snorkeling, horseback riding) available through local tour operators and purchased through the cruise line.
- © Frommer's 2013
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