Grand Turk in the wondrous Caicos Islands is exciting, glamorous and fundelicious. With exotic cuisine savored to a Calypso beat in a remarkable beachside setting, Grand Turk will charm you into a genuine Caribbean mood. B. J. and I enjoyed our visit there almost to the maximum. We gathered seashells from the adorable beach only to discover that we could not bring them aboard our elegant ocean liner, the Westerdam. Disappointed, we deposited our pretty seashell collection on the dock before boarding our cruiser.
Passing through the checkpoint, we made our way to our cozy stateroom to freshen up and relax a little on deck before dinner. The Westerdam would soon be carrying us through the Windward Passage between Haiti and Cuba into the blue Caribbean and on to our next stop on our cruise, sensational Grand Cayman Island.
Sailing on the Westerdam was smooth. This was our fifth cruise to the Caribbean and the glossy sea had never been more agreeable. We joined other gleeful voyagers on the impressive promenade deck to delight in the awesome Caribbean panorama, the balmy breezes, music and the tantalizing aroma emanating from the poolside grills.
Nestled snugly in the in the calm, turquoise waters of the Western Caribbean south of Cuba, lies the peaceful British Overseas Territory known as the Cayman Islands. Consisting of three islands just 480 miles south of Miami, Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman are pieces of paradise in the Caribbean.
The Cayman Islands offer something few destinations can match…exquisite natural beauty infused with commitment to making your visit a Caribbean dream come true. There is a barefoot elegance that promises to make your stay truly funtabulous. Grand Cayman, Little Grand Cayman, and Cayman Brac provide the activities and attractions to make one’s Caribbean island experience larger than life.
Add to that, one of Holland America’s newer luxury liners, the Westerdam, to sail the ocean blue and you are whisked into a world of delightful fantasy.
Our stop is the largest of the three-island group the exquisite Grand Cayman--a garden in the Caribbean. The name “Cayman” is derived from a Carib word for crocodile, although the Caymans were first called Las Tortugas by Columbus when he observed in 1503, the hundreds of turtles living on these uninhabited islands.
The Cayman Islands, a British Crown Colony since 1670, were settled by a motley collection of British Army deserters, shipwrecked sailors, retired pirates and African slaves who gained freedom when ships carrying them foundered on Cayman reefs.
B. J. and I stood anxiously on deck as the captain skillfully maneuvered the Westerdam into position off Grand Cayman and our Port-of-Entry, George Town. We were aghast at the stunning scene spreading before us. We absorbed the amazing view for a few minutes before going below to board a tender bound for the island.
Visitors are ferried ashore in large tenders. Tenders are boats designed to carry passengers to shore through shallow waters where the big ocean liners cannot go. The tenders can pose a crisis to B. J. or anyone else inclined to seasickness. Rough water causes the tenders to bob like corks.
The water was tranquil that day though and the short trip from ship to shore was fun.
B. J. was elated. She loves to shop in the Caribbean Islands. In George Town, the attractive sights and stores are all within easy walking distance of the waterfront. When you want to move on from George Town, shuttle vans are available to transport visitors between George Town and one of the most dazzling beaches in the Caribbean, Seven Mile Beach.
Ship organized excursions cover most of the island’s attractions, concentrating on the Western end of the island where Stingray City and Seven Mile Beach are located. B. J. and I always book our land excursions on board the cruise ship; it is easier that way.
Shopping is B. J.’s delight. Grand Cayman carries an assortment of duty-free goods. George Town, where the majority of shops are located is very clean and orderly with no roadside peddlers.
Grand Cayman’s indigenous animal species include iguanas and parrots. Bird watching is popular here, with more than a hundred species of birds observed, including those on spring and fall migrations. The iguanas are all around and over you. You have to be watchful or you will step on one--and they bite.
Finally yet importantly is the local gastronomy.
Breezes By The Bay--Tropical Grill and authentic Caribbean eatery is a magnificent scene like a postcard from the Caribbean that affords the perfect “Island Restaurant” experience, right on the water, in downtown George Town, Grand Cayman, the capital of the Cayman Islands. Breezes by the Bay is a “snap shot” of all the island flavors, colors, sights and sounds that make Grand ,Cayman the premier destination in the Caribbean. The view, the casual, fun approach to waterfront dining “island style” – all of these make Breezes by the Bay the perfect place for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner.
After Grand Cayman, it was back aboard the Westerdam and on to Cozumel.