Diary of a Cruiser – Forbidden Port of Grand Turk

There sat Pinterest perfect Grand Turk dressed in brilliant blues and greens and snuggled in by the warmth of the sun. It had captured my heart with delight and beauty yet it was just out of reach.

The excitement for this day started well before I embarked on my cruising adventure. I had been looking forward to this day in particular for a long time. I spent plenty of time looking at videos and photos of this special port destination. It’s simply dreamy.

Yet, this was one day that a wave of sadness and disappointment fell over me. That has never happened before. On past vacations, I have had bad moments and sick days, but nothing heart sinking like this has ever occurred.

“I realized I had to shake off this heavy, sad blanket that now is drenched from the tears of my heart”

What happened, how could I be sad on a cruise?

It was a glorious morning, we will be arriving at Grand Turk pretty soon. I decided to peek at the ocean before meeting friends for breakfast. I couldn’t quite make out the island, but the sun is warm and the sky is sparkly! I climbed up the stairs of the hot tub to look over the Plexiglas. We are not close yet, no sign of any island.

Carnival Magic Grand Turk Day

Despite of my lack of sleep the night before, I knew this was going to be an amazing day. We have a beach and pool day planned with many friends. In my mind I am going through what I thought the day might bring. There is a beautiful white sand beach, pool at Margaritaville where we would likely spend most of our day, and a small port shopping area.

Some of the beach hangouts even have dogs! I love this, it brings me such joy to see the owner’s dogs. It reminds me of some of those dogs I’ve come across on my port days.

Beach Dog

The island is small and everything is right off the pier, long walks are not necessary. I had seen this port in many pictures and videos, seemed like it would be practically everything I dreamed of in a beach day.

Breakfast in the dining room was nice, grits and avocado toast did the trick today, even though the real treat awaited me just a little bit away. I remember a moment where I silently sat and looked at the big smiles surrounding me at the table. Everyone was chatting and laughing. A little extra sparkle in their eyes, just how I felt too. I think they were all looking forward to this day as well. This was going to be a special day with some really great people. Memories of a lifetime just waiting to be made. Since there would likely be dogs at this beach, my friends offered to give some of their left over bacon and biscuits to me so I could save them in a plastic Ziploc and hand them out when we got to the beach. Seeing those cute puppy faces would be such a delight. To my right, a large window framed what I could almost make out to be an island. We are getting close! The water is brighter than the big ocean where we came.

Danish with a view – Carnival Magic

After breakfast, we had docked finally in Grand Turk. I couldn’t believe we were here! Bright blue and turquoise water, relaxing beach chairs and umbrellas line the beach and port shopping and restaurants await a bunch of excited visitors. I could not wait to experience the beauty firsthand.

I was dressed for the beach, swimsuit and cover and beach bag. We waited to be cleared, and a while later we still have not gotten clearance. I went out on deck again to see this place, it is so lovely, that water, those gentle waves, the beach are so lovely.

Grand Turk

Beauty to the right, beauty to the left. These views just take my breath away.

Grand Turk Pier

I suddenly have a very bad feeling something is wrong. It’s now been hours since we docked. Why won’t they let us off? This is breaking my heart! I was confused and sad. This beautiful place was almost within reach, yet so far. It was the top port I had been looking forward to this cruise. Not to say the other ports were not amazing, they were, they were even better than I had expected. It’s just that I had heard so many things, I had never been here, those pictures and videos were locked in my head. Guys, this place looks remarkable. Standing at the railing with other passengers and their backpacks and beach hats, I shake my head, this cannot be happening.

No Touchie

I am able to visit with friends in our common meeting place called Ocean Plaza. This is a venue where they host trivia and musical events, so there are many places to sit. One one side is the coffee shop and further down is the sushi place, and on the other is the Alchemy Bar where craft cocktails are being mixed.

On either side of the Ocean Plaza are doors to get outside to the outer deck, where loungers, chairs, and hot tubs can be found. This has been a good meeting place to sit and visit. Oh the laughs and shenanigans that have ensued in this place. Sadly, today feels very different as everyone’s spirits are sinking. My friend offered to buy me coffee which was so kind, what a golden heart, that really made my day.

As we sit, we all try to keep a positive attitude. Even though deep down in our hearts we are breaking, we know this port visit is not likely to happen. Hours creep by and the Cruise Director and the Captain make several announcements that we are waiting for clearance… sorry for the delay… we apologize… bear with us. Over and over we hear a modified version of the same message, and playing in my mind like a slow motion movie as the voice gets deeper and deeper and the dread starts to set in.

A few of us make an attempt to go find some beach chairs in the sun by either of the pools, we make our way up to the lido. It is packed, every chair has someone in it, both pools are packed shoulder to shoulder. I guess everyone had the same idea, just some of us were smarter and came up earlier.

Carnival Magic Pool

It is after noon and I decide to change out of my suit, I’ve partly given up yet there is still a sliver of hope. A few of us meet up in a cabin and enjoy their balcony and visit then go have lunch.

During lunch, the Captain makes the announcement that we unfortunately cannot get off the ship. What we knew was already true, is now official.

The Grand Turk Government would not allow the passengers on our ship to come to the island. Even though another ship docked next to us was allowed to.

Neighboring Ship at Grand Turk

I honestly felt a bit crushed, just like someone broke a promise and didn’t care how it made me feel. I realized I had to shake off this heavy, sad blanket that now is drenched from the tears of my heart. I have to let the things go that I cannot control, clearly this is one of them. I cannot control what happens in a day sometimes, I can only change how I react and what I decide to make of the rest of the day. Yes, it has taken enough of my day.

Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.

Mother Teresa

Come to find out we have flu sickness on our ship and positive Covid-19/Coronavirus cases both on the island of St. Maarten that we were at a couple days ago and on a neighboring ship in San Juan the day before. From the Captain’s announcement, I also learned we were only allowed to disembark two medical (non Coronavirus related guests) and sent on our way. It wasn’t until this day that I started to realize how virus serious this thing could be.

I was able to get a glimpse of us leaving. This ship was turning so fast when I noticed we were leaving. They did not waste any time to get out to sea. This means we have another sea day.

The crew was very helpful for us, they added a few events on the schedule and gave us all $100 on-board credit. This was not their fault and they treated us well. I am grateful we arrived home and non of us got sick. I am grateful for friends who helped me find happiness in that day so that the intense disappointment faded like the beaches of Grand Turk at sail-away.

Grand Turk

As I look back, I realize with all that is going on it was likely a good decision. It is also a good reminder to make the best of each day, learn to go with the flow, stay safe, be grateful, hug those loved ones. Check out my full day of adapting to new circumstances, in my new video.

Check out the Video

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