Monday, April 7, 2014

2014 Carnival Breeze Southern Caribbean Cruise - Day 3 - Grand Turk

Monday, March 17, 2014 - Grand Turk

Grand Turk Dive

We had an early morning because of our scuba excursion in Grand Turk. We were scheduled to arrive at 7:00 AM but were warned that the gangway would close shortly after around 7:30 AM due to another ship coming into port. They suggested that everyone with excursions at or before 8:30 AM be prepared to exit the ship before the gangway closed to be sure that we didn't miss our excursion. However, we didn't make it off the ship before the closing of the gangway.

I think it was too early for breakfast in the Lido Buffet to be very crowded. We were able to eat quickly, and luckily for us, the gangway had reopened so that we could exit the ship. There was a Carnival representative pointing people towards their excursions which was very helpful.

When checking in for our excursion, we had to sign a waiver which basically said that if we get injured or die, Oasis Divers will not take responsibility. It's a little nerve-wrecking to sign your life away like that.



Like I said earlier, Max and I just got our scuba certifications. Just got as in the weekend before our cruise. Our open water dive for certification was pushed back one weekend due to our two weeks of snow in South Carolina (strange), and then we had to push it back another weekend because the first time we tried, Max was too sick and congested to be able to clear his ears. We were a little worried because we had already booked our scuba excursion, so we had to get certified that weekend, but everything worked out!

Being newly certified, we hadn't even gotten our certification cards, yet. So we brought our dive logs with us. The first guy that we spoke to was a little unsure what to do when I handed him our dive logs and pointed to the seal and the stamp which indicated that we were certified. He handed it to someone else who flipped through our logged dives and said that we were good to go.

After everyone else, it was just a short walk along the beach to the dive boat. They took us in the dive boat down the beach to where their dive shop is located, and along the way fitted us with fins, masks, weight belts, and whatever gear we didn't bring.

Max and I brought our own mask and snorkels, mouthpieces, and booties. The mouthpieces and booties turned out to be unnecessary because our regulators were already outfitted with mouthpieces, and the fins that they provided were full foot. You might want to bring your own fins because the ones that they provided were not very good. I have very small feet, and the fins that they gave me were very short, but I didn't find it to be a problem in the water. I think the others had more of an issue with the longer fins because they weren't stiff and didn't propel you very far in the water.

At the dive shop, we were fitted with BCs, given regulators, and had the option to rent a wet suit. All wet suits for rent were shorties - some long sleeved and some short sleeved. They took the time to make sure that everything was a good fit.

Our first dive at McDonald with a planned depth of 65' for 45 minutes. They told us to make sure that we did not go below the dive leader because the wall goes down to 7000 feet! We saw a shark as soon as we got in the water, but besides that, there wasn't a great deal of marine life. However, there was a really great "cool factor" of swimming under the coral arch and out into the open blue waters.

Being a new diver who is also pretty big, Max sucks up a lot of air. It's something that we are told will improve over time as he gets more comfortable diving. Shortly into our dive, he was already at the halfway point for his air (and I had used maybe 600 psi.... being small has its advantages). He made sure to communicate with the dive leader about how much air he had the entire time.... perhaps too much because the dive leader thought he was freaking out and told him to calm down. Max ran out of air before everyone else, and I decided to be a good dive buddy and go up with him.

I'll note that of the four children on our dive (I say children, but they were all between the ages of 12-16), none of them chose to do the second dive. I think the first dive rather exhausted them, and I know that two were having trouble clearing their ears.

We had over an hour between dives which is good. After logging our dives, I realized that based on dive tables, we reached our absolute maximum. However, our dive leaders had computers, so I was not too concerned about our residual nitrogen levels.

All of the aluminum tanks had around 3000 psi - some a little more and some a little less. The tank that Max was given for the second dive only had 2600 psi, but we were able to switch which really helped because I suck up much less air. In fact, even though he started with more air than me, he finished with significantly less.

Our second dive was at Fin Bar Reef with a planned depth of 45' for 45 minutes. This site had a fantastic amount of marine life, and we were lucky enough to spot another shark and a stingray! Max was much better about his air this time and had to go up just a few minutes before everyone else.

Now, I had rented a Go Pro from Borrow Lenses so that we would have a camera for diving, so I had never used it before. I just wanted to try one out before making the commitment. I was very pleased with the image quality and video quality. However, it was really different for me to not have a viewfinder... I didn't like blindly taking photos. Also, the lack of buttons was a little confusing before I read the manual.

Grand Turk Dive

Max was quite jealous of my scuba selfie. He was mad at me for not telling him to take one!

Grand Turk Dive

Grand Turk Dive

Grand Turk Dive

The extending pole looks like a good idea because you can really get up close to the coral...

Grand Turk Dive

Grand Turk Dive

We also took video. Max had the Go Pro for the first dive and was really upset with himself because he would often forget that he was holding a camera and move his hands around. I don't think that my footage was much better... but I hope that I was at least able to splice it enough so that our video montage is somewhat entertaining....


Grand Turk Dive from Victoria Shingleton on Vimeo.


I left my D7100 on the ship, but I did bring my Nikon 1 with me.

Grand Turk

Grand Turk

Grand Turk

Grand Turk

They brought us back to the dive shop to unload equipment and give people a chance to purchase souvenirs. We could wait on the boat and they'd take us back to where we started, but Max and I decided to walk back along the beach.

Grand Turk

Grand Turk

Before re-boarding the ship, Max and I stopped by the Margaritaville store to purchase t-shirts and shot glasses. We also had to browse through the duty free store, as Max was in awe by the over-sized liquor bottles. He had already purchased a 3-liter Crown Royal on the ship and convinced me to go halvesies with a 3-liter Bacardi... the liquor store on the ship had price match and assured us that their prices were the same or better as anywhere in port. Well, I paid $43 for that bottle of Bacardi, and it was being offered in Grand Turk for $38.... I had a feeling that was going to happen which is why I really wanted Max to wait until the end of the cruise to make these purchases.

Grand Turk

Grand Turk

I was wishing I had my D7100 for these shots, but the Nikon 1 did okay.... I would have loved to grab my camera and get back off the ship just to take a few pictures around the port, but our departure time was 2:00, and the line to re-board the ship was ridiculously long.

Grand Turk

Grand Turk

Grand Turk

The difficulty with an early afternoon departure is that everyone is trying to re-board the ship at the same time. I believe we waited ten minutes.

Grand Turk

After returning to the ship and eating lunch, Max was ready to get his tan on. We found chairs by the pool to lay out in. Unfortunately, the DJ was playing country music. Despite my southern upbringing, I absolutely despise country music. I have to say that this is the most country music I have ever heard on a cruise. Most people on the pool deck seemed to be enjoying it, as many people were singing along loudly. Eventually, I looked around to get a glimpse at those belting out, "Save a horse, ride a cowboy," and came to the realization that almost everyone else on the pool deck was completely hammered. Don't get me wrong - I don't hate a party. I just hate country music.

When returning to the room, Max realized that he was sunburned. I realized that I had tan lines. I was incredibly confused considering that I had taken my straps down to tan..... and that's when we realized what had happened. On the boat, we had our shirts off and got a lot more sun than we had realized. Then walking back, I put my shirt back on, and Max left his off.... which is why his chest and shoulders were burnt. At that time, neither of us had on sunscreen. I had forgotten how strong that southern Caribbean sun is!

Grand Turk

Max and I always arrived to dinner before the doors opened. This *never* happens when I cruise with my family... we always arrive "fashionably late." It might have helped a bit that the dining room was just one floor above our stateroom.... the location was very convenient.

I noticed that the dining room was.... quieter. And that's when we realized that almost no one else had arrived to dinner that night. Our service was absolutely spectacular. We felt the special attention as our glasses were continuously refilled... and our Diet Cokes actually had bubbles in them!

Before dinner, Max had lost his temper with the bubble-less Diet Cokes. We were planning to go to Guest Services after dinner and let them know how dissatisfied we were and ask if they could remove the package from our account. However, we each had three really good Diet Cokes at dinner, and Max decided that if we continued to have good Diet Cokes at dinner, then that was worth it.

The appetizers were really good that night...

Grand Turk

Smoked Chicken Quesadilla

Grand Turk

Black Bean Soup

Grand Turk

"A Study in Sushi"


Grand Turk

Max's favorite sushi was the ahi tuna, so he requested another plate of sushi with just tuna.

Grand Turk

And then Max got the everyday flat iron steak as an entree. I had requested that the sushi be me entree.

Grand Turk

For dessert, I ordered the warm fig, date and cinnamon cake. Max was initially really skeptical, but after he tasted it, he wanted to trade.

The dining room staff danced for us tonight, and I won our waiter over by agreeing to dance with him. That's when I realized just how empty the dining room really was and why we were getting so much attention.

Our head waiter's name was Subrata, and our assistant waiter was named Myat (not positive about the spelling). We had another assistant waiter, but I don't recall his name.

We knew that we were getting special treatment when Subrata insisted that he take our photo outside of the dining room. He also brought a chair to set beside me where I could place my camera. That chair was there every night after!

I was really glad that we were lucky enough to be there on a night when the dining room was practically empty and that our dining team really stepped up our service from then on. This was the wonderful dining service that I remember from the early 2000s, and honestly, it was something that I wasn't positive Max would ever get to experience.

Grand Turk

After dinner, Max and I went to the Punchliner Comedy Club to watch Tom Foss's adult show. As always, it was standing room only when we arrived. However, two seats opened up shortly after, and I was grateful. Max, again, found Tom Foss hilarious. I thought his adult show was much funnier than his preview show. And he poked fun at the girl with blue hair which made me laugh. "Wait - I just freaked out the girl with blue hair?"

Grand Turk