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New Cruise Terminal

Travel & news discussion about the Turks & Caicos

New Cruise Terminal

Postby KarenS » Mon May 15, 2006 10:17 am

A new kind of cruise terminal has opened at the quiet island of Grand Turk in the British West Indies.

From the Miami Herald: "Unlike other port facilities, which are basically passenger processing centers, the new $40-million Grand Turk Cruise Center built by Carnival Corp. is a destination in itself. It has a swimming pool, changing rooms, lockers and showers, an 800-foot beach and cabanas as well as the usual complement of retail shops. It also is home to the Caribbean's largest Margaritaville, the chain of bar/restaurants owned by musician Jimmy Buffett.

That's not all. Carnival is helping the island government pave roads, spruce up buildings and create attractions for the expected 250,000 passengers who will visit the island this year -- and many more coming in 2007.

Carnival's venture into Grand Turk came about because it needed a distinct island destination that could be reached on four- and five-night cruises from New York as well as from Florida ports. The line already was going into the Bahamas, and Cuba was not an option. Grand Turk fit the bill.

'For the first time, we were going into an [island] with no real tourist infrastructure. There were only four taxis on the whole island. So we took an unusual step,' said Giora Israel, Carnival Corp.'s vice president for strategic planning. Carnival decided to help the island become tourist-attractive.

'We needed a recreational area at the port to complement island attractions, but we didn't stop there,' Israel said.

Carnival is spending several million dollars to restore the lighthouse and the old prison, to create nature trails and establish a museum in the abandoned salt ponds, which once provided the island's main industry and cover 25 percent of the island. The salt museum won't be ready until the end of summer.

Another innovation at Grand Turk is a hop-on, hop-off bus tour, which Israel says is the first of its kind for shore excursions. The $44 tour includes admission to the restored prison and lighthouse, to the nature trails and beaches. Passengers can stay as long as they want at each site and reboard the bus at any stop.

The new terminal, opened in February, is three miles from sleepy Cockburn Town, the capital of the Turks and Caicos Islands. It is near the spot where astronaut John Glenn splashed down in his space capsule after his history-making 1962 orbit around the world. The NASA and U.S. Navy installations that existed then on Grand Turk are no longer operating, but Israel said Carnival is talking with NASA about opening a museum about Glenn on the site.

Obviously, the advent of the terminal and the resultant flood of tourists will have an impact on the island, whose population is only 3,000. But Lindsey Musgrove, the Turks and Caicos director of tourism, says the locals welcome it.

'They're opening stores, restaurants, clubs and car rentals. It's definitely helping the economy,' he said. Also helping bring in tourists, he added, are twice-weekly Spirit Airlines nonstop flights from Fort Lauderdale to Grand Turk, started earlier this year.

Despite its sudden development as a port of call, the island has been able to handle the influx of visitors well, Israel says. 'We hadn't planned to handle a large amount of passengers in the first few months, but on April 17 we had two ships in and 5,000 passengers came ashore,' Israel said. 'We handled it well.'"

Any reports or comments on this new addition?
Karen for
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