Grand Turk, which has remained closed to cruise ships since Hurricane Fiona caused significant damage to the dock, is set to reopen and will welcome its first ship back this week.
While the entire island is not quite ready to serve visitors, guests will be eager to return to the popular port of call and the reopening is essential for the island’s economic recovery.
Grand Turk Dock Repaired
Carnival Cruise Line brand ambassador John Heald announced on his Facebook page that Grand Turk, while still showing effects of the devastating hurricane, is ready to receive cruise passengers again.
“After being through the eye of the hurricane and after receiving some serious damage across the island, I’m so happy to say that this week Mardi Gras will return to Grand Turk,” Heald said.
The flagship of Carnival Cruise Line, Mardi Gras is scheduled to visit Grand Turk on Thursday, October 13, 2022, as part of a 7-night Eastern Caribbean voyage that departed Port Canaveral on Saturday, October 8.
Mardi Gras will not be the first vessel to return to the island, however. Carnival Sunrise is scheduled to call on Grand Turk on Tuesday, October 11, as part of a 5-night roundtrip Eastern Caribbean sailing from Miami. Carnival Freedom will also visit the beautiful island alongside Mardi Gras on Thursday during that ship’s 5-night Eastern Caribbean itinerary.
In addition to the three visits coming up this week, other Carnival cruise ships also frequent Grand Turk, including Carnival Legend, Carnival Spirit, and Carnival Magic.
The island also has calls scheduled from Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Infinity and Holland America Line’s Nieuw Statendam before the end of the month, with additional visits from Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, and other cruise lines later this year.
Hurricane Fiona’s Impact on Grand Turk
Hurricane Fiona was a Category 3 storm with maximum sustained winds of 115 miles per hour (185 kilometers per hour) when her eye crossed directly over Grand Turk on Tuesday, September 20, 2022.
Large-scale power outages and cell service disruptions occurred on the island, along with building damage and vegetation debris. The dock suffered some of the most severe damage, with extensions torn off the end of the dock and retaining walls near the beach also damaged.
Fortunately, no hurricane-related deaths were reported from Grand Turk.
“We thank God that the Turks and Caicos Islands was able to hold strong through Hurricane Fiona – with only minor damages and without any lives lost,” said Josephine Connolly, the Turks and Caicos Minister of Tourism, shortly after the storm passed and preliminary damage assessments were complete.
Now, the dock has been sufficiently repaired for cruise ships to safely berth once again, but there will still be challenges for guests. Even three weeks after the storm, some areas are still without power and cleanup is ongoing.
“There are still some areas of the island as you will see that are still needing to be repaired, and there may still be some power problems here and there,” Heald said. “But, this most beautiful and most popular port of call is open again and I know how much the people there will welcome the return of our ships.”
Importance of Cruise Visits
Local tour operators, retailers, and restaurants are sure to welcome the return of cruise ships to Grand Turk, as the island relies on tourism as a major source of revenue. In the first quarter of 2022, the island received more than 173,000 cruise ship visitors, numbers that were welcomed after the pandemic shutdown kept tourism away from the island.
Grand Turk only began welcoming cruise ship visits again from mid-December 2021, but the port has rapidly returned to pre-pandemic levels of visits.