Grand Turk Ultimate Snorkeling Adventure? 1-27-14

Getting ready to depart, exploring the ship

Another great vacation just had started for us, a nice 8 day cruise to the Caribbean islands celebrating our 28th anniversary. We started with Grand Turk and continued on to Puerto Rico, Sint Maarten (St. Martin), and St. Thomas. On this cruise we were prepared for the trip. We took our allowed 12 bottles of carbonated drinks and 2 bottles of wine plus we purchased a liter of JWBL which was to last us 8 days and to be enjoyed in our room. I also purchased a little surprise for my wife; room decorations to make her feel as special as she deserves to be. As we had gotten to the room and settled down we headed to the Lido deck (deck 9 where the pools and food were) and started exploring the ship, there is nothing better than to know where everything is at with your own eyes. The ship’s crew always does a great job at letting you know where the fun is at and what the schedule is for that day. As we went to the Lido deck we were surprised to find Indian cuisine being served from 12:30 to 3:30 (on the Carnival Fun Times Daily schedule). We love humus and naan! We checked out the pool at the bow (the front of the boat) and the hot tubs, the same mirror image pool and tubs were at mid ship and aft (the back of the boat), the only difference was that the pool at aft had a retractable roof, so in the colder weather we departed in was an indoor pool and as we got closer to Grand Turk it was an outdoor pool. It was great to see that as we have boarded smaller ships that only have a pool at mid ship. This time we were able to choose where we wanted to be, at the almost crowded bow pool, at the laud music mid ship pool, or at the a bit emptier aft pool. Nah! Later on we went to the serenity pool which is for 21 and older. It was enough about exploring the ship and so we started to unpack and settle down in our cabin. Next, it was to hit the lunch buffet, relax, get some excursions at the desk, relax, eat dinner and relax. At dinner we met a nice group of people some with a language barrier but the night went along nicely. As we came back to our cabin we were unpleasantly surprised to see a green paper at our cabin inbox, our bicycling tour in Sint Maarten had been canceled due to negotiations with the vendor. ARRRRGGGG!!!! Now we had to spend more time looking through the Shore Guide and shop for a replacement excursion. Here are some pics on the ship.

Room decorations
Room Decorations

Our allowed drinks for the voyage

Soft Drinks and allowed wine   Part of the allowed 12 soft drinks per person

The lobby

Carnival Freedom 2014-22   Carnival Freedom 2014-11

Part of the casino and Havana bar

Carnival Freedom 2014-2   Carnival Freedom 2014-9

Aft pool with retractable roof

Carnival Freedom 2014-17   Carnival Freedom 2014-10

Mid ship pool

Carnival Freedom 2014-14   Carnival Freedom 2014-13

Kiddie pool on the sides of the ship and us getting ready to depart

Carnival Freedom 2014-3   Carnival Freedom 2014-7

First formal nigh dinner party

Carnival Freedom 2014-5 Carnival Freedom 2014-6

Grand Turk!
We booked an early a.m. 2 snorkel trip to the 7,000’ drop Wall and to the Oasis Reef it was called “Ultimate Snorkeling Adventure”. Like everyone online says you cannot see anything but darkness after you get past the 30’ depth. The drop is immense and snorkeling may not be the best way to enjoy that drop. If you are a certified diver it would probably be better for you to enjoy it that way. I must say that I did enjoy it. I cannot take credit away from such a marvel. I did go down to about 25’ free diving and the snorkeling crew showed off by passing me and disappearing into the darkness of the depths. I took a few pics while down there and immediately went up for some air. The crew had some chum inside water bottles making the yellow tail snapper and Bermuda chubs come up to the surface near the bottom at the 30’depth I only saw tangs and parrot fish there but the drop was something to witness and worth it in the end. After 20 minutes or so of snorkeling I saw a few fish dash towards what seemed like chum on the water, the fish went crazy and there were plenty of them so I went to take a few snap shots of them. To my dismay it was not a crew member with a chum bottle, it was a tourist chumming the water as she snorkeled, CRAAAAPP!!!  I was swimming around PUKE!!! And so was my wife! Watching this made her a bit sick but she endured it until we got back on the boat. She is such a trooper; she even free dived down to see the wall up close.


Grand Turk Wall diver   yellow tail snappers in Grand Turk

yellow tail snappers in puke-Grand Turk 2014    Grand Turk Wall Yellow Tail Snappers
At the Oasis Reef there were a few baby nurse sharks, lots of yellow tail snappers, a few groupers, tangs, parrot fish, and other reef fish. It was nice swimming and petting the nurse sharks and the crew held them for everyone to pet, as the cats of the sea are so used to tourist they came close by me many times allowing me to pet them on my own.  I had tons of fun at this stop, but the reef seemed to be in need of nourishment? Perhaps they should leave it alone for a few months at a time and choose a different spot for a while and allow it to restore a bit.

nurse sharks in Grand Turk

oasis diver boat Grand Turk   Oasis Reef Grand Turk

Oasis Reef Grand Turk    Oasis Reef Grand Turk

After the snorkel trips was over the captain of the boat passed closed by the beach and recommended a restaurant to go and eat some local food. We got back to the dock and off we went to have a few refreshments and food at Margaritaville it was a fun stop and off to the ship we went.

Grand Turk Wreck   Grand Turk 2014-48

Margaritaville drink   DCIM100GOPRO

We were about to get changed when I noticed some people snorkeling on the beach and realized that there may have been some reef there and also the was an area that was cut to make the channel for the ships to dock. So back down we went and I dipped into the water off to explore the area. The whole place was filled with Brown and Blue tangs, also many parrot fish and a few snappers. The channel area seemed empty but some small reef fish like blue damsels and parrot fish were present. As I went on a ballyhoo followed me and as went to it it took me to a sunken cannon and then I saw a few anchors that had been set there as part of the ocean decorations (artificial reefs). That was a nice surprise for me and so I took a few snap shots.

Governor's Beach Grand Turk

Grand Turk Governors Beach

ballyhoo   tangs in Grand Turk

Governors Beach    anchor at governors beach

DCIM100GOPRO    sea urching at Grand Turk

On our way back to the ship we stopped for a photo

Grand Turk Feb 2014   Grand Turk Feb 2014

Once back to the ship, the cold mint towels and cold refreshments awaiting us were great!

Grand Turk 2014-53    Grand Turk 2014-54

I got a bit tired so I went on to the beach and then it was time to get back on the ship where we were surprised by a Gold, Platinum, and Diamond guess party. On this voyage we just made it to Gold so they gave us our bragging pins and off to the party we were. It was a thank you party where we had free alcoholics as well as nonalcoholic drinks and hors d’oeuvres. This night we had a nice dinner and watched a nice show and we then hopped to the comedy club where we laughed our pants off with new and old jokes we heard before but modified a bit. On this same night we received a $5 voucher to play roulette at the casino; we had to match the voucher and ended spending $10 playing roulette. After spending the $10 for our free $5 off to gamble, we decided to end the night and to the cabin we went to prepare for a day in Puerto Rico.

Grand Turk 2014-58 Grand Turk 2014-57 Grand Turk 2014-55

Grand Turk 2014-56 Grand Turk 2014-60 Grand Turk 2014-59

I will be updating this post with pic corrections and hopefully some video.