Grand Turk Island

19th century old wooden houses
The Turks and Caicos National Museum
The amazing Governor’s Beach

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Grand Turk Island

Diving into Crystal-clear Waters

During an MSC Cruises shore excursion to Grand Turk Island, a stroll down the main drags of Cockburn Town, which run alongside the gorgeous blue ocean, will take you past many of the island’s architectural highlights.

The Salt Raker Inn and Turks Head Mansion, two of Grand Turk’s oldest hotels, are fine examples of the wooden houses built in the 1830s and 1840s by Bermudian shipwrights who came here to collect salt. Other colourful buildings like the General Post Office line this area of Front Street, many of them constructed with ballast and timbers taken from the trading ships of the time, and covered with purple and orange bougainvillea as well as the occasional Turk’s-head cactus, recognizable by its red fez-shaped flower. The Turks and Caicos National Museum is among the island’s highlights. Here you can examine the remains of the Molasses Reef wreck, the oldest recovered shipwreck in the Caribbean, dating from around 1515.

After the wreck was discovered in the 1970s, some morons mistook it for a treasure ship and blew sections of it apart with dynamite looking for treasure. Key remains on display include the enormous main anchor, cannon and other weapons, hand- and foot-cuffs of prisoners and some tools. But above all, a holiday to Grand Turk during your MSC Caribbean cruise means outdoor activities. Of the good beaches that line the west and east coasts, the pick of them is Governor’s Beach, where the powdery sands dissolve into a turquoise sea.

It’s a superb stretch of white sand, backed by casuarina trees and fronting onto a magnificent turquoise bay. Be sure to bring water, as there are no facilities on the beach. On days when cruises are in port, ships will entirely monopolize the view: a surreal sight as they dwarf the tiny island.

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    Turks and Caicos

    Creole flavours
    Creole flavours

    The tiny but gorgeous islands of the Turks and Caicos are scattered over a long swath of sea to the south of the Bahamas.

    The fantastic beaches and the great diving on all of the islands keeps this country in the upper echelon of West Indian destinations for an MSC cruise to the Caribbean. 

    The country comprises two groups of islands – eight inhabited and around forty uninhabited – separated by the Columbus Passage, a deep-water channel up to 6000 feet deep. 

    To the east, the Turks Islands include Grand Turk and Salt Cay, the former the long-time home to government, the latter a tiny island named after the salt industry that once dominated the country. 

    To the west, the Caicos chain includes South, Middle and North Caicos and the island of Providenciales, known as Provo and home to the great majority of the nation’s tourist development. 

    A cruise to the Turks and Caicos will reveal the major attraction on all of the islands, the coasts: truly sensational white-sand beaches that stretch for miles offering world-class diving, snorkelling, deep-sea fishing and bonefishing

    Inland there’s not much to see other than low-lying scrubby vegetation and, particularly in the Turks Islands, large expanses of featureless salinas from which Bermudian settlers and traders harvested salt during the islands’ early development.