Because we had an early port call and I didn’t want to miss our arrival into port, Christmas began at 6:40AM for me when my phone alarm went off. I promptly made my way down the hall to Deck 7’s “secret deck”, which is the area on the Carnival Conquest that is on the forward-facing sections of Decks 6, 7, and 10, and aren’t on the ship maps, so it is usually very quiet and serene. Because of it’s proximity to the bow, it makes for a great place to watch a ship pull into port. My first view off of the secret deck was this:
We were at dock with Holland America’s Koningsdam, which had kind of followed us throughout the sea day. I was hoping for a jaw-dropping sunrise, and while this one wasn’t great, it surely made for a warm welcome and a great start to Christmas Day. Speaking of warm welcomes, look at the sign!
By this time, it was 7:15AM. While I know most people like to sleep in while on holiday, my family and I cannot relate, as there are certain times when we want to begin our exploring early. This was one of those days. Our port stop was from 7AM-2:30PM, so it was essential that we utilized as much time as we could. We all met upstairs on the lido deck, had an easy breakfast of fruit, yogurt and eggs, and prepared for our day out. We headed back to the room to pack. Basically, our day bag consisted of immense amounts of water, sunscreen, and everybody had a book that they were going to read. Finally, we were ready to begin our day. We headed to the elevators, down to Deck 0, down the gangway, and began our walk down the pier into shore.
A good tip for those who are not attracted to the loud noises of Margaritaville and the alcohol-infused antics that go with it, fear no more. Today, we went to the right after getting off of the dock, and we were met with empty chairs as far as the eye can see. No one really comes over here because there is not a very good beach strip, and what is there on that side of the dock in somewhat rocky, but for what we were looking for: seclusion and a nice place for sunning, it was perfect. Since we were not wrestling for other for chairs or beach shells, we grabbed the first set that we saw, and made residence. We had a gorgeous view of the ships!
We spent a good part of the day just sitting. We each had brought books, and would go between pages, sides of our bodies, and the beach shell and the open sun, all day. I will say, there is minimal shade offered at this side, as it is very rocky and aside from the few palms pictured above, it cannot support vegetation. If you are sensitive to the sun, I would certainly recommend snagging a set of seats with a beach shell.
I decided that I wanted to take a stroll down the beach, past Margaritaville, and towards Jack’s Shack. Jack’s Shack is an area popular with my cruisers who want to get away from the loudness of Margaritaville, and enjoy playing with the dogs that frequent the area. I walked through the shopping center, and onto the main beach. It was PACKED.
You can’t really tell the crowd size by just using the above picture, but just know that I have no pictures of the crowds because there were so many people, I feared that if I took a picture, someone would think that I was taking pictures of them, because ther really wasn’t much to see other than masses of people. It was so crowded that it was uncomfortable. I have only ever been to Grand Turk when one ship was in, so having two made the already-packed area turn into something similar to South Beach in March with college kids. I definitely am glad that we spent our day at the secluded area!
I kept walking down the beach area and came across this pretty little photo-op.
Finally, I made it to the end of the cruise area! The Koningsdam rises so far over the Carnival Conquest, that you can’t even see it at this distance!
I walked around Jack’s Shack and saw an expensive menu, and many people using the wifi at the bar. But in order to stay in a chair, you had to pay for its use. The only two things that Jack’s Shack offers that is different from the main area is A) seclusion, which the other area where I stayed had, and B) free wifi, which the Fruits Café in the cruise center had, so I cannot justify paying for Jack’s Shack if you have all of the free options right there. The only advantage was having the soft beach at your feet, which for someone like me is not a big deal. Most of the time, I would actually just go to the shower whenever I got hot, and cool myself off that way for going back to my chair. But hey, to each his own! We may try this option someday to see what the hype is, certainly if we are ever there with two ships again.
I had a pleasant walk back, making a beeline past the tourist-infested beach strip and taking the route through the shops. Before I went back, I went to Froots to use the wifi. You do not need to buy anything in order to use the wifi, so I just sat down at a corner table inside and connected, wishing all of my friends and family a Merry Christmas and posting some of the photos that I had accumulated so far.
Once I was done, I went back to my lounge chair, making trips every 25-30 minutes to go under the shower or into the water and wade to cool off, before going back to my chair and repeating the process, usually on the opposite side of my body. I took this picture when I returned from one of my swims. I really like this picture, I wish I had reached out to whoever was reading that book to see if they wanted this picture of them!
We had been on the beach and in the sun from about 7:45AM, and it was now close to 11:45AM. We were getting a little hungry, and since we had to be on the boat at 2PM, had decided that we would forego lunch on the island and go back onboard at 12:45PM, and just eat once we got back on the boat. We did our last rounds of tanning, and I went on a photo hunt down the other direction of the shoreline.
Before we knew it, it was around 12:45PM, and we had decided to head back onboard. We waited in a long line to get on the ship, but it was soon forgotten once we sat down on the lido and enjoyed some burritos at Blue Iguana together! We enjoyed some more time at the aft pool and hottubs, and watched the Koningsdam inch out of port at exactly 2PM, and we followed around 2:30PM. The rest of my day was spent reading, getting ready for formal night, dining, catching the show with our group after dinner, but most importantly, daydreaming of our day in San Juan on the upcoming day. Stay tuned for the next blog addition!