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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Diary of a Cruiser Chapter 5 Breathtaking Infinity Bay Roatan

When I awoke this morning, the Carnival Glory had already been firmly secured to the Mahogany Bay pier in Roatan, Honduras for quite a while. I have been to this port once before and only ventured as far as the Mahogany Bay Beach adjacent the port.

Today, we are heading to Infinity Beach and Resort, a brand new experience. I love that my friend, Carl, has arranged all the details to and from and all that, he is very good and I trust his plan as it has always been a good time!

…”From chuckles to full on guffaws that make your eyes water and you lose your breath is what you get from this group of friends. There is not much in life that can match that. I am so very grateful for those moments and those people, all of which have been forever stamped on my heart.”

Prefer to watch? Check it out!

I woke up a little later than I should have because I was up late doing some pretty fun stuff such as the Love and Marriage Show, Quest Show, and Casino time on the ship. I definitely need to pick up a coffee before anything. It is a good thing I don’t need any math skills for a Beach Day!

The Atrium is the perfect place to wait for other people from our group. With my coffee, I sat down in the big orange chair. Goosebumps appear on my legs because the chair is cold where the jean shorts end and my skin touches the pretend leather. On the other hand, it’s nice to have warm hands from the coffee.

I am excited and a little nervous to visit Infinity Beach. I have been to Roatan before, but I’ve never left port. It has either been Coxen hole port shopping, just never beyond the gate where they post a sign leave at your own risk. That has always been in the back of my mind, and it has deterred me from wanting to adventure farther. The other time, I spent a glorious day at the Mahogany Bay Beach, you don’t leave the port for that either. So this is a very new experience for me. I know it’s usually a lot of worry without any substantial backing, but that is the real me, I do worry.

My thoughts go to my friends, I can’t help think of the fun I’ve already had on this cruise. From laughs to full on guffaws that make your eyes water and you lose your breath is what you get from this group of friends. There is not much in life that can match that. I am so very grateful for those moments and those people, all of which have been forever stamped on my heart.

It wasn’t long and we were all ready and off the ship. The air is warm and the sunshine greets me like an old friend. It’s a beautiful port. Lush and green, to the right you can see the port beach and the ski lift chairs in the sky and to the left is the Duty Free shop where you cannot see beyond because of the trees.

Mahogany Bay

In this port, like many others they force you through the duty free shop. It is air conditioned with lots of goods and snacks, it’s actually a nice looking shop, I just did not need anything and was carrying plenty already.

I passed the Mahogany Bay welcome sign up the path from the Duty Free Shop and then continue up the slight incline to the port area. This really is a nice area if you do not want to leave and just shop or go to the beach with direct access from this port. I love the beach area here, it is so very nice, clean, safe, and beautiful. It’s just a walk down the hill through the jungle looking trees, there are benches along the way and natural photo op spots. It’s also a great place to get a nice picture of the ship from the ocean. See my pictures from my last trip to Mahogany Bay.

The port is one of the nicest I have seen, there are wide paths to walk, places to sit, really cool stores, and a couple places for drinks or food. I think you could see a few Diamonds International type shops, but many others too.

Mahogany Bay Port

It is hot and muggy out today, I am already warm and I have quite a trek ahead of me. I am heading all the way through the other side of the port past the taxi and bus area, up the hill, out of the secure port area to meet the privately arranged taxi. Whew! It was definitely a little hike, but well worth it, we reached our guy at the bottom of the hill. I will endure this minor headache to see what lies ahead and a little water will help. Although, so would that advil I stuck in my beach bag, oh wait, I didn’t so there’s that. I brought the largest water from the ship so that I could have plenty and my head thanks me.

The taxi was a van and many from our group were coming along, it has quite a few seats so its roomy but only because we did not fill the whole van. I think there was a sigh of relief when there was air conditioning.

And we are off on the small roads of Roatan. It seems they are working on improving a lot of the roads, I saw construction and some of the buildings are being rebuilt. We stopped at a couple overlooks where you could see a couple of ships – Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas and the Norwegian Dawn. It was neat seeing the ships from on top this hill or small mountain. Colorful shops lined the edge of the parking space and vendors young and old were trying to entice anyone to come look at their goods.

We also drove by what is called West Beach. This is an obvious tourist area. There are people walking and shopping, crisscrossing the street as the cars slowly drive by. A few restaurants out on piers over the ocean mixed in with watercraft rentals, water taxis, and beachy things shop. It was super cute and nothing unsafe about it. You could tell many tourists come here to spend their day and I completely understand why.

Soon we arrived at Infinity Bay Resort. They have a swim day pass for $20 all day, pool and beach. Out the door of the resort and down the hill I was greeted by a huge infinity pool, it is clean and bright, flowers and plants line the area where they have loungers and sitting chairs with tables. There is a bridge that cuts the pool in half with “Infinity Bay” written across it. Looking past the pool you can see the ocean, and it definitely calls to my heart.

The beach is incredible, the water is that light blue for the entire beach, it turns darker out a ways where some of my friends snorkels that day. I am so excited to get in that water. I found my way back to the group to check in and pay for our wristband, but not before I was stopped 3 or 4 times by beach vendors. I almost bought a bracelet as they are very convincing that I should take their deal. They had some cute ones with turtles or shark teeth. It was a good deal I am sure, I just don’t think I need anything. Off to find our chair and get in the water. They offer food and drink in their bar area right off the beach, too.

Infinity Bay Beach

The water was cool, and my feet were filled with delight to feel the sand under my toes. No shells!! I love this beach, to my right as I walked in was a pier with a couple small boats, to my left I saw a blow up water slide and underwater space masks as an excursion. I was right where I needed to be, the sun warm on my face and the cool of the water surrounding me. I believe I was out there over an hour before coming back in.

I found the bathroom which was near the bridge over the pool, its down the stairs. I nearly fell as the tile was slippery, that would have been a surprise. I could only imagine breaking something on vacation! Thankfully, it was no big deal. Shake it off!!

I decided to sit on a chair near the pool to dry off and reapply sun lotion. The weather today couldn’t be more perfect, the company of friends also had me smiling. It’s so good to vacation with amazing people. This is absolutely one of my favorite things about cruising.

A couple of lizards or iguanas blessed me with their presence before quickly making their escape in the nearby greenery. I find it so odd to see those large creatures at a pool just feet away from me, yet it must be so normal here, in this little slice of paradise.

I’ve dried off enough and I would like to try that pool. It’s so intriguing, there is a waterfall at the bridge and it is curvy and interesting, plus, you can go to the edge and look out at the crystal clear water. If you stand back it looks like the pool is connected to the ocean, so your crystal clear blue green keeps going and going as far as you can see.

Infinity Bay Pool

Climbing in the pool was not hard there were steps and railings to help. After the near fall I may have been a bit more careful than I needed. I spend the next hour at the pool, soaking and visiting. It was exactly what I needed today.

It’s back to the ship for all of us. I can feel I got a little sun, but it’s not bad. It is 130pm and I am hungry, we all are. I chose not to eat at that restaurant on the beach and will eat back on the ship. The taxi was able to drop us right at the port so we didnt have to make the trek up the steep hill. A small walk through the port shopping, and I won’t lie, that Mahogany Bay Beach was calling me. If I wasn’t tired and hungry I would have gone, and I may regret it, that beach is lovely. I feel it is one of the prettiest beaches at a cruise port I have been to with such a breeze to get to, just down a path from the ship. Maybe soon I will be back to enjoy that for the day.

Carnival Glory at Mahogany Bay Port
Sunset in Roatan

Back in the room, I stretched out on the bed, here I had a moment to think, this day really was a highlight of my week. Good times, good friends, and making memories, that’s what it’s all about. Finally showered and changed, I am all ready for the evening.

I was a little early to meet everyone for drinks at the Alchemy Bar, so my husband, Brian, and I played a little in the casino, we ended up ahead a couple hundred dollars after just a few minutes and hitting a good bonus. That’s exciting! What a great way to start the evening!

Just a short walk from the casino, is the Alchemy Bar. It looks like a science lab, with flasks and drawers for ingredients. We sit around a round counter on high stools watching what appear to be science experiments. One French Kiss for me, drink that is, although I cannot say I mind the other. My drink is red and it has berries at the bottom, sparkling wine and lime juice. It’s a sip and snack all on one! We also enjoy a complimentary tray of nuts, cheese, and olives a clever combination when you eat them together. Chatting turns to laughing as the first drink sinks in. We all clink and drink, cheers! I would say we are all in a good place when it’s time for dinner.

There is a steel drum and band playing as we walk past the casino, down to level 3 to main dining room. It’s nice to have music in various places on the ship, there is easy listening music in the Atrium Lobby too.

Once we arrive at the restaurant,we are shown to the table near the back. I have pre-ordered my meal, as a gluten free vegetarian. It’s an Indian Dish with chickpea, basmati rice, and thin rice cracker, plus the chocolate melting cake, very good.

There is a hum of chit chat and laughing in the dining room. No doubt, people reliving the day, the adventures they went on or spending the most relaxing day at the edge of the pool. Our table was not excluded from that chatter, not all of us went to the beach and there were stories to told on both sides. Also, I think I may have caught an almost proposal happening among the conversations. Sometimes I just sit back and let everyone do the talking, I love seeing people interact and I am taking in every moment, and I am so lucky to be here at this moment with these people, so very lucky.

Of course I never mind dinner takes a while with friends, it is longer than usual, which is fine. I’m so full I don’t think I can move a whole lot anyways, but if I sit, I may fall asleep.

After dinner, it’s to the casino, it’s time to see if we can repeat our Max bet group pull. All of us get our turn to hit the button. This is so much fun with friends, the excitement is high, we are cheering each other on, and happy even with small wins. We did not come out winners, but the smiles on our faces show that we are winners, in friendship, that counts for something, right? Better luck next time.

I am getting tired, so I go and sit by the windows on the couches bear the casino. This is a neat spot and you can people watch. Often there is a band playing on the small stage near the casino bar. It’s nice to relax a bit.

After a short visit, I decide to head to bed, it’s another nice sea day tomorrow, and I am looking forward to it!

What an amazing day in Roatan with friends!

Infinity Bay Roatan

Thank you for being here! Check chapter 6 aboard the Carnival Glory – Sea Day!

Chapter 123456

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