Grand Turk Cruise Center Officially Opens

The Grand Turk Cruise Center—the Caribbean's newest cruise facility—held its "official" opening ceremony with a reception attended by government officials from the Turk and Caicos Islands and representatives from Carnival Corp., the operator of the $42 million center. Although the Grand Turk Cruise Center welcomed its first ship on Feb. 25 when Holland America Line's Noordam made its inaugural call at the facility, the official opening marks the completion of construction. Coinciding with the official opening is the launch of a new FM radio station, GT Cruise FM, which offers a mix of Caribbean tunes, as well as news and information on Grand Turk Island and the cruise center. Since the first cruise call 11 weeks ago, the Grand Turk Cruise Center has hosted 15 cruise ships from five different cruise lines, carrying more than 25,000 passengers and 11,000 crew members to the shores of Grand Turk. The Grand Turk Cruise Center features a state-of-the-art pier that can accommodate two large Super Post Panamax vessels and a 13-acre complex that serves as a gateway to the island for tourists. The facility features an expansive recreation area that includes an 800-foot white-sand beach, a swimming pool, cabanas, retail shops and the Caribbean's largest "Margaritaville"-themed bar and restaurant, owned by Jimmy Buffet. Nearly two dozen shore excursions, including horseback riding, kayaking, scuba diving and a unique "Hop On, Hop Off" bus tour visiting island attractions, are also available. In addition to Noordam, the new port will host year-round and seasonal visits by such Carnival Corp. ships as Carnival Cruise Lines' Elation, Princess Cruises' Crown Princess and Costa Cruises' Costa Magica. Also visiting Grand Turk this year are Crystal Cruises, Silversea Cruises, Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas, Hapag Lloyd and Fred Olsen. For information, visit [].