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Home > Member Reviews > Paddy41's Port Reviews of Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Thomas, Tortola

Paddy41's Port Reviews of Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Thomas, Tortola
Carnival Miracle cruise in March 2013
Member Name: Paddy41
Cruise Date: March 2013
Embarkation: New York (Manhattan)
Destination: Eastern Caribbean
Member Review: Paddy41's Carnival Miracle Review
Grand Turk
Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
This island is SO flat. Last hurricane they had demolished 85% of the buildings and you'll see why that would happen.

We rented a golf cart ahead of time for $80 from Nathan's golf carts. We had to walk through Carnival's Margaritaville to the gates where the golf carts were waiting. Be sure to have your driver's license with you. One thing they didn't tell us was that the golf cart comes with 1/2 tank of gas and you have to return it with 1/2 tank of gas. We put in $5 in gas and that put it over 1/2 tank so no problems there except being sure to find a gas station. The island is only 7 miles long and 1 1/2 miles wide with the ship docked at one end. We were looking for Cockburn Town and ended up driving right through it without realizing it as there are no tall buildings and nothing that really looks like a store. Before we knew it we were at the other end of the island at the Lighthouse. There are large reefs off this end of the island and have been many shipwrecks. Coming back we found the museum. That was well worth the $5 to explore it. One room was about Molasses Reef where they have found one of the oldest ships so far off any island in the area. They believe it to be one of Christopher Columbus' ships but no way to prove it. Another area was about John Glenn landing his shuttle in the waters off Grand Turk. Another area displayed visits by Queen Elizabeth, Princes Phillip, Charles and Andrew to the island. It was a very interesting museum with a neat little gift shop. We bought some salts. Salt used to be mined on the island. We continued on toward the ship and found Jack's Shack where we stopped and had our free rum drink which we had registered for on his website. We tried the jerk chicken and the conch. The jerk chicken was very good but the conch was rubbery. After that we returned the golf cart and went aboard the ship. Glad to have missed having drinks at Margaritaville because a lot of people got very ill from some of the drinks (and I don't mean from how many they drank). Rumour was it was the mixes. Really enjoyable day. The sun was shining but there was a lovely breeze. Be careful though. I was sitting on the right side of the cart and my right arm and leg did get sunburn while my husband, who was driving, got sun on his left side.

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San Juan
Port Rating: 2.0 out of 5+
I don't give San Juan a high rating because it is so busy. Very difficult to even cross the street at the pier. There were 3 ships in though and this is the busiest I've ever seen it. Also my rating may be due to being here before several times. It was impossible to get on the free trolley near the pier but once we walked a few blocks we got on to one a little further away and enjoyed the ride around to the fort and back. It was a lovely, breezy day and it was a Sunday so there were a lot of locals around as well making it even busier. There were many, many locals flying amazing kites on the fort lawn. Neat. We went into the Butterfly People where we have bought many times before. But their prices are getting too high for us now. Spicy Caribbee near trolley stop 8 was an interesting shop. I bought a ginger sauce and one called Island Thyme Delight. Near the pier is a coffee shop called Cafe Cola'O and it has the best coffees. We also bought some coffee beans to take home. Vendors set up tables near the ships and it made for a nice atmosphere, even though it was very busy.
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St. Thomas
Beach Break Rating: 4.0 out of 5+
A cruise critic member booked a group of us an open-air taxi using Godfrey. He was at the pier on time, charged $20pp and took us on about a 25 minute drive to Sapphire Beach. Picked us up 4 hours later and brought us back to the pier. Reliable. Safe driver. Sapphire Beach: rent a lounge chair for $7. The area looks like it was once very nicely kept but showed signs of definitely having gone downhill. Washrooms were not nice. Only two for women and when you had to line up you could see directly into the men's urinals. Yuck! Canopy structure there with no canopy. We did have a nice day with a breeze and sitting and reading was great. I did not realize the strength of the sun and did get sunburn on my legs. Water shoes were advised and we had them on but even with them the water was so full of stones, pebbles, rocks, even boulders that it was not at all enjoyable. There was about a foot drop where the waves hit the shore. Not safe for little ones. And the undercurrent was very strong. I was in and out in no time. There is a reef to one side of the area but the current was so strong my husband did not want to attempt it with his snorkeling equipment. I would definitely go to a different beach another time. I am not a shopper but if you are then go shopping in St. Thomas.

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Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
Complete opposite to Grand Turk which is flat, Tortola is mountainous. We had not booked an excursion and just walked into town. It is about a 10-12 minute walk. There was one other ship in port but there was lots of room to walk around. We went to the spice shop at the main intersection. My husband loved the mango tea they were sampling and bought some for home. I bought their Island Fish Spice and a pepper blend. There didn't seem to be much else to see in town so we started walking back. A fellow was filling up an open-air taxi with people for $15pp for a 2 1/2 hour island tour. Seemed reasonable so we hopped on. We had a wonderful time. The view from higher areas is amazing. He made one stop at Cane Bay beach for 30 minutes and we had ice cream. I saw rum punch advertised at 2/$7. The beach looked very nice and there were a lot of people in the water. The driver pointed out how what looks like eaves-troughs to us on the houses does actually funnel water down to the lower level of the house where there is a cistern for their water. The roads were narrow and you seem to be looking right down from the edge of the road at times. The driver went fairly quickly on the downhill but we really enjoyed the whole trip. He dropped a lot of people off in town but took us and others right back to the ship. Well worth the money.

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