Grand Turk Cruise Port: Pier, Facilities and What’s Nearby

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As the only cruise port in the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Grand Turk Cruise Center is considered the gateway to this Caribbean paradise. The massive port and complex offer visitors a wide array of amenities and entertainment options directly at the port.

This comprehensive guide will cover everything you need to know about the port, from location details to facilities and nearby attractions. We’ll help you know what to expect, and how to get the most out of your visit.

Whether you want to lounge on the beach or dive into the island’s unique history and culture, it’s time to plan your visit and prepare to discover the charm of the Turks and Caicos Islands!

Grand Turk Cruise Port Location and Address

Grand Turk Cruise Center, also known as Grand Turk Cruise Resort, is a massive cruise port and entertainment complex conveniently located on the southern end of Grand Turk, the most populous island in the Turks and Caicos Islands and the home of the territory’s capital city, Cockburn Town. 

The dedicated cruise port and surrounding facilities were opened in 2006, following a significant investment from the Turks and Caicos Tourism Board and Carnival Cruise Line. 

The port and its facilities can be found at the following address: Grand Turk Cruise Center, TKCA 1ZZ, Turks & Caicos Islands 

Grand Turk Terminals and Piers

Despite the vast array of amenities, the Grand Turk Cruise Resort’s actual port side only features a single pier. This pier stretches from the middle of the complex and leads towards a large indoor cruise terminal.

Grand Turk Cruise Dock
Photo Credit: SF photo / Shutterstock

The pier stretches 1,033 feet, allowing it to act as a two-berth for full-sized cruise ships. When cruise ship passengers disembark, they are led along the pier to the terminal, which features all the basic terminal facilities you would expect from a major cruise port. 

After exiting the terminal building, passengers are welcomed to a 13-acre complex that offers a wide range of entertainment options, restaurants, shops, and more. 

Which Cruise Lines Use Grand Turk Port? 

Since the Grand Turk Cruise Port revolves around a single pier, individual cruise lines are not given a specific berth. Instead, cruise ships are directed to whichever of the two berths is available. All cruise passengers are then directed to the same terminal building, which cannot be bypassed, as the pier leads directly into it.

You can take a look at the official port schedule of when cruise ships will visit right here.

Cruise Ships Docked in Grand Turk
Cruise Ships Docked in Grand Turk (Photo Credit: Chris Bradshaw / Shutterstock)

The following cruise lines regularly host itineraries that visit the Grand Turk Cruise Center: 

  • Carnival Cruises
  • Royal Caribbean Cruise Line
  • Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Costa Cruises
  • Holland America Cruise Line
  • Marella Cruises
  • Princess Cruises
  • Silversea
  • Virgin Voyages
  • Windstar Cruises 

As mentioned, Carnival Cruise Line invested heavily in constructing the complex to retain its prominent presence. As part of the investment agreement, its ships have priority access to the pier, and the company even maintains 75% of all seaport taxes the port collects from other cruise lines. 

Terminal Facilities and Services 

The terminal building offers all the basic services you would expect of a Caribbean cruise terminal. It has numerous bathrooms, an air-conditioned interior, currency exchange booths, a tourist information counter, and help desks for each major cruise line operating out of the port.

Grand Turk Cruise Center Terminal
Grand Turk Cruise Center Terminal (Photo Credit: Ihor Koptilin)

Unfortunately, the terminal building does not offer free public Wi-FI; however, Wi-Fi is available in some restaurants and cafés within the complex on the other side of the terminal building. In fact, the Grand Turk Cruise Center is home to the only Starbucks in all of the Turks and Caicos Islands, and it provides free Wi-Fi to paying customers. 

The terminal building and the pier leading to it are both highly accessible. The single-floor building is completely wheelchair accessible, and there are even wheelchair-friendly bathrooms. If you need mobility assistance, you can also communicate your needs with your cruise line, and they will make the appropriate arrangements.   

The Grand Turk Cruise Center Amenities

At just under 400 feet beyond the pier, visitors will walk through the entrance to the main attraction of the Grand Turk Cruise Center – the enormous entertainment and relaxation complex.

Grand Turk Cruise Center
Grand Turk Cruise Center (Photo Credit: Darryl Brooks)

The entire complex cost $50 million, which is an enormous sum for such a small British Overseas Territory. The result of this investment is a beachfront multi-purpose facility surrounded by beautifully landscaped grounds.

Read Also: St. Thomas Cruise Port – Piers, Overview and What to Do

The fact that some cruise passengers feel they don’t need to leave the Grand Turk Cruise Center to enjoy their time on the island is a testament to how much it has to offer. The following are just some of the amenities open to visitors: 

Freeform Swimming Pool

Just beyond the terminal building, guests can swim for free in one of the largest swimming pools in the Caribbean. The pool also features complimentary chaise lounge chairs, or visitors can pay extra to rent a private poolside cabana for the day. 

FlowRider Artificial Surfing

Across from the pool, visitors can find one of the most exciting attractions in the port – the Grand Turk FlowRider. FlowRider uses high-pressure jets to simulate perfect surf waves. Participants can surf belly-down on bodyboards or try to get up on an actual surfboard. Even watching from a distance is fun, as many first-time surfers wipe out. 

Flowrider
Pool and Flowrider at Grand Turk Cruise Port

If you want to try the FlowRider, we recommend purchasing tickets ahead of time, as demand is high. Some cruise ships visiting the port allow you to buy tickets while you are on board. 

Cruise Center Beach

To the immediate left of the cruise terminal building, visitors will see Cruise Center Beach, one of the nicest cruise port beaches in the world. Guests can swim in the sparkling waters, stroll along the beach, or relax on one of the many beach chairs.

Keep in mind that these beach chairs and loungers can be challenging to get in the afternoons, but there are clamshell beach chairs available for rent.

Grand Turk Cruise Port Beach
Grand Turk Cruise Port Beach (Photo Credit: Claude Huot)

You can also rent floats and snorkeling equipment from the centrally located Beach Rental Hut. Those who choose to snorkel can discover actual 18th-century cannonballs, anchors, and many tropical fish.

If you want a more relaxed beach experience, the port’s South Beach is on the right side of the terminal. It has a more laid-back atmosphere since it does not feature beach chairs and is not maintained to the same degree as the main Cruise Center Beach. 

Restaurants and Bars

The port complex is home to Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, a tiki grill called Jack’s Shack Bar and Grill, and a beachside restaurant called The Beached Whale Bar & Grill. Each of the three options has a menu that features locally inspired dishes and drinks. Margaritaville even operates a swim-up bar in the main pool!

View of Margaritaville
View of Margaritaville in Grand Turk (Photo Credit: Meagan Marchant)

As mentioned, there is also a Starbucks within the Cruise Center, so you can easily enjoy an iced coffee and get your caffeine fix.

Shopping

The cruise center also includes a 45,000-square-foot shopping center with a large duty-free shop, several jewelers, a Ron Jon Surf Shop, numerous gift shops, and convenience stores that sell a wide variety of snacks and beverages.

Transportation Options from Grand Turk Cruise Port

Those looking to travel beyond the Grand Turk Cruise Center have several transportation options. 

For the most part, cruise passengers opt for taxis, which are available directly outside of the Cruise Center in a well-marked taxi line. This tends to be the most accessible and most affordable way to get around Grand Turk, as most taxis will offer a flat rate to the most popular sites on the island. 

There is also a car rental facility just outside of the Cruise Center. Advanced reservations are recommended, especially during peak tourist season in the winter months. If you choose to rent a car, you have two options – Island Auto Rental and Island View Rentals.

Buggy's at Grand Turk Cruise Port
Buggy’s at Grand Turk Cruise Port (Photo Credit: Darryl Brooks)

The first specializes in typical cars, while the second offers open-top Jeeps and golf carts. While golf carts aren’t recommended if you plan on traveling far, they are legal to operate in Cockburn Town and can be a fun way to get around. 

Both rental options have pickup and drop-off services besides the Cruise Center, making the process fairly seamless. 

Unfortunately, the only shuttle buses operating out of the cruise port are used for excursions, so you cannot take any form of public transit to navigate the island. That said, the area is very walkable, and there is very little traffic if you decide to drive yourself or take a taxi. 

Getting Between Grand Turk Cruise Port and the Airport 

JAGS McCartney International Airport (GDT) is just over a mile from the Cruise Center, so it is fairly easy to get to. Since there isn’t a shuttle service, most people will take a taxi, which is both quick and affordable. If you are just going directly to or from the airport, ask for a flat fare rather than paying the meter rate. It’s always cheaper.

Language and Currency

Given its status as a former British colony, the official language in Turks and Caicos is English. Despite the territory’s lasting connection to Britain, the U.S. Dollar (USD) is the sole official currency. ATMs in Grand Turk and elsewhere dispense U.S. Dollars.

Grand Turk Cruise Port Area
Grand Turk Cruise Port Area (Photo Credit: Mateus Andre)

Like other places in the Caribbean, tipping for good service is customary, so it’s a good idea to keep a few smaller bills on you for tipping cab drivers and servers. 

Nearby Amenities 

While the Cruise Center offers plenty of amenities, there is also plenty to do just outside of it: 

  • Snorkel at Boaby Rock Point: Located a 23-minute walk from the cruise port, this secluded white sandy beach is the southernmost point of Grand Turk. When conditions are calm, the turquoise waters offer some of the best snorkeling anywhere on Grand Turk. This is because the relatively shallow waters are home to two coral reefs. 
  • Relax on White Sands Beach: For cruise ship visitors wanting to escape the crowds of the Cruise Center Beach, White Sands Beach is located roughly 1.5 miles from the port. The shallow water might not be the best for swimming, but the beach is very peaceful. Plus, you can walk to the top of the sand bar to see the remains of Gun Hill – a light British cannon fortification that was once used to protect the island from invaders. 
  • Take an Island Tram Tour: The pickup station for the unique historical sightseeing tours is just outside the Cruise Center. These informative, open-air tram tours take roughly two hours. Enjoying a narrated adventure around the entire island is one of the easiest ways to get the most out of your stay if you are limited on time. 

Things to Do in Grand Turk 

For those with more time on their hands, the island of Grand Turk has plenty to offer. We highly recommend going beyond the Cruise Center and exploring the following: 

Explore the Colonial History of Cockburn Town

The downtown core of Cockburn Town is about 3.5 miles away, so many visitors will take a cab into town. The territory’s capital city offers plenty of stores and restaurants worth visiting, and it is filled with historical landmarks and colonial-era architecture.

Cockburn Town
Cockburn Town (Photo Credit: Ramunas Bruzas)

Both Due and Front Streets are home to many surviving examples of British and Bermudian-style buildings. Just by taking a casual stroll down these streets, you’ll see the H.M. Prison, Victoria Library, and St. Mary’s Church. All three retain a historical charm that will make you feel like you have traveled back in time. 

There are also many cannons and bronze anchors scattered throughout this part of the city, and several statues are also housed in the main square outside of the Government Offices.

Visit Turks and Caicos National Museum

This small museum is simple but worthwhile. Filled with artifacts from European shipwrecks, the historical salt industry, and the island’s native population, the museum has exhibits covering the entire storied history of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Turks and Caicos National Museum
Turks and Caicos National Museum (Photo Credit: Steph Couvrette)

You can even learn about a historic event that connected the island to the space race—when the Friendship Seven space capsule and astronaut John Glenn landed off the island’s coast. The museum is located on the north side of Cockburn Town, so it is a 3.7-mile taxi ride away. 

View Grand Turk Lighthouse

Located on the island’s most northern tip, the Grand Turk Lighthouse was built in 1852 and is its most iconic landmark. Not only are the views from this popular destination amazing, but it’s also located on the doorstep of a peaceful and secluded beach. It is well worth the 6-mile journey.

Grand Turk Lighthouse
Grand Turk Lighthouse (Photo Credit: CheckOutSam)

Dining In and Around the Port

The Cruise Center is home to several restaurants, all offering diners the opportunity to try locally-inspired dishes.

You’ll want to venture into Cockburn Town for a more authentic taste of Grand Turk cuisine. Peaches Restaurant and Barbie’s Bar & Restaurant both offer local dishes, like conch fritters, fried lionfish, grilled mahi mahi, and coconut conch chowder.

Wandering the streets of Cockburn Town will lead you to many other restaurants and bars. If you’re a beer lover, try some of the craft beers from Turk’s Head Brewery. While the brewery is located on another island, its beers are widely available in most bars and offer a refreshing taste of the island. 

Shopping In and Around the Port

The Cruise Center is also home to an indoor shopping mall, so you can easily purchase souvenirs without traveling far.

Craft Market at Grand Turk
Craft Market at Grand Turk (Photo Copyright: Cruise Hive)

Front Street in Cockburn Town also has several souvenir shops that carry locally-made goods. Rather than purchasing the mass-produced goods in the gift shops in the Cruise Center, having a chance to pick up a one-of-a-kind, hand-painted souvenir can make a trip into town worth the cab ride.

We also recommend picking up Grand Turk sea salt, which has a uniquely flaky texture and reflects the island’s once-thriving salt industry. 

Seasonal Weather Conditions

  • Spring: Warm and sunny weather with average highs around 85°F makes it a popular time to visit.
  • Summer: Summer weather tends to be hot and humid, with occasional showers. Expect average highs of roughly 90°F.
  • Fall: The milder temperatures of around 80°F and dryer conditions make the fall one of the nicer times to visit the tiny island.
  • Winter: Winter is the most popular time to visit, which makes sense when you consider it is mostly dry and sunny across Grand Turk. Daytime highs also usually sit around an enjoyable 79°F.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

Is there a beach at Grand Turk cruise port? 

Yes, Cruise Center Beach is a stretch of sand that is open to all cruise passengers. There is even direct beachfront access just steps from the cruise terminal building. 

Is the pool at Grand Turk cruise port free? 

Yes! Access to the swimming pool is free for all visitors. However, some private poolside cabanas with waiter service must be rented for a fee. 

Is Grand Turk a tender port? 

No, cruise ships dock directly at the Cruise Center, making it easier for passengers to come and go from their ships.

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