Grand Turk Cruise Center
To do in port and must-know

Panoramic photo of beach by the terminal in Grand Turk cruise port

Port overview for cruises to Grand Turk. Where cruise ships dock, things to do, how to explore on your own and with shore excursions.

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The pier where cruise ships dock in Grand Turk is next to a stunning beach, inviting passengers to spend the day basking in the sun, swimming, snorkeling, and enjoying water activities.

Grand Turk is a small island (7 miles long and 1.5 miles wide). Inevitably there are only a few excursions to explore farther inland and just a few activities to enjoy.

Photo of Beach by Cruise Center, Grand Turk

Pier by the Beach, Grand Turk

Photo © IQCruising.com

Amongst top attractions, we have a few adrenaline-pumping favorites such as the 4x4 safari tour, the Dune Buggy drive, a Horseback Ride N' Swim, and the Catamaran sailing. For those who like cultural things, the excursions touring Historic Homes, the Old Town, and the Museum are the most interesting.

Where ships dock and the cruise center

Unlike most Caribbean ports (where cruise ships dock close to a principal town), you will only find the Grand Turk Cruise Center at the end of the pier. The Grand Turk Cruise Center is a large open-air cruise terminal dotted with excursion booths offering most of the possible tours and activities in Grand Turk. Most of these shore excursions can be booked online or onboard your cruise ship.

Photo of Tour Booth, Grand Turk

Tour Booth, Grand Turk

Photo © IQCruising.com

On the left side (north) of the Cruise Center, the traveler will find a very large Margaritaville bar, restaurant, with a huge pool and its signature retail shop - the Trading Post. Next to Margaritaville, you will find the Flow Rider surfing attraction that is exclusively offered as a shore excursion through the cruise lines. It is also on the North side that the most popular beach in Grand Turk is located - palm tree lined, with beach chairs on the white sugar powdered sand by the crystal clear turquoise water.

Photo of Beach, Grand Turk

Cruise Center Beach, Grand Turk

Photo © IQCruising.com

This is where the overwhelming majority of cruise travelers go to and it can get a bit crowded when there are two mega-ships in port (never more than two ships can dock at Grand Turk). The beach is free and so are the beach chairs, but if you would prefer a Clam shell shade, floats, or snorkeling gear you can rent these at the Beach Rental Hut located on the beach. Naturally, at this beach, you can also get all the pampering expected in a Caribbean beach - massages, drinks, food, and all sort of vendors roam the beach.

If you prefer a more quite spot to enjoy the stunning sea in Grand Turk, there is a nice stretch of sand to the right side (south) of the Pier - known as South Beach - with less vendor hassle but also with free chairs. Close by, there is a Massage Cabana and at the southern tip, there is a Beach Volleyball Area. And, last but not least, the Editor's favorite spot in Grand Turk to enjoy a quick bite - the Beached Whale Bar & Grill.

Photo of NASA Splashdown, Grand Turk

NASA Splashdown, Grand Turk

Photo © IQCruising.com

Also on the south side of the Cruise Center, you will find a rarely mentioned historical exhibit commemorating the NASA Mercury space program and the historic 1962 Splashdown of the Friendship 7 capsule off the coast of Grand Turk. Besides interesting storyboards, the exhibit features replicas of an Atlas rocket, the Friendship 7 capsule and a three-dimensional replica of astronaut John Glenn in spacesuit.

Shopping in Grand Turk

The open area of the Terminal is surrounded by the inevitably ubiquitous shops to be found in all Caribbean: Dufry, Colombian Emeralds, Effy Jewelers, Diamonds International, Piranha Joe, Silver Emporium, Del Sol or Tanzanite International. But also by a few local souvenir shops and craft market.

Image with Map of Cruise Center in Grand Turk

Cruise Center Map

Photo Courtesy of Grand Turk Cruise Center

Grand Turk's Top Attractions

With so many facilities with such easy access, most cruisers do not venture much farther than the Cruise Center. However, either because you have been in Grand Turk before or just because you have an explorer's soul, this small island has a couple of sites to explore. The oldest town in the island - Cockburn Town - and the Salt Museum close by are offered on tours and the Lighthouse is a famous landmark. The pristine beaches are a must if you wish to experience how an idyllic deserted island feel like.

Even if you just enjoy the beach - and the ones by the Cruise Center are stunning enough - there a few other beaches that any cruise traveler should explore. One of the most popular is Governor's Beach, just 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) north of the Cruise Center, and considered by many as the best on the island. It is located close by the historical Governor’s mansion, Waterloo, hence the name.

This pristine beach with shallow water is lined by a thick Casuarina tree grove, ideal for shade and families but not for snorkeling. Although close to the pier, there isn't a walking path along the beach and the road is not well signed.

Photo of Taxi Dispacth, Grand Turk

Taxi Dispatch, Grand Turk

Photo © IQCruising.com

IQCruising recommends a taxi to get there - $5.00 per person each way. At the Cruise Center, you will be offered a snorkel and swim package including transportation to and from the Governor’s Beach for $29.99 per person - this also includes snorkel gear (not of great use at this beach).

Shore Excursions or On Your Own

Unless you want to do something special that can only be done on an excursion - like Deep Sea Fishing, a Stingray Encounter on Gibbs Cay, Whale Watching Tours (seasonal) or a Glass-bottom Kayak tour - there are attractions that are perfectly feasible on your own. In fact, if you wish to explore Cockburn Town - the quaint capital of Turks and Caicos - and its attractions (the National Museum, Her Majesty’s Prison or the St Mary's Anglican Church) a taxi ride costs around $5.00 per person each way. Even a trip by taxi to the Grand Turk Lighthouse, on the northern tip of the island, is affordable - $10 per person each way. The cruise traveler will find a taxi stand with metered fares by the east exit of the Cruise Center.

Grand Turk and the 2017 Hurricane Season

Although Grand Turk was hit by both hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, the cruise pier wasn't affected and the terminal area has been revamped.
Fact: Carnival's Ecstasy was the first cruise ship returning to Grand Turk on November 1, 2018.

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