Royal Caribbean no longer has the lock on cruise-related surf simulators. While locked on land, cruisers will find the Grand Turk FlowRider -- featuring a concept nearly identical to those found on Royal Caribbean's Freedom, Liberty and Independence of the Seas -- the new centerpiece of the Turks & Caicos' port facility at Grand Turk.
The FlowRider, open to all passengers coming off ships at this increasingly popular Atlantic port of call, is a surf simulator that forms a "wave" by shooting a steady stream of water over a cushioned surface, creating a layer of agua that can be glided across ("surfed" on). You can either lie prone, a la boogie boarding (anyone can do it) or stand up in the traditional surfing style (if you have the balance).
Visitors to Grand Turk can try the simulators for the following rates: $24 for a half-hour of body boarding or $34 for an hour-long stand-up surfing session (passengers using Royal Caribbean's onboard surf simulators pay no extra fee). It's unclear how many rides you'll get in that time period.
Grand Turk, which is an emerging as an alternative port to the more commonly visited towns of Nassau and Freeport in the Bahamas, is an evolving cruise destination. Development has been spurred by Carnival Corporation's effort to create a dedicated port facility there, incorporating souvenir shops, ice cream stalls, bars, restaurants such as Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville and a pool area. Passengers literally can while away the day right on site -- without ever venturing out into the wilds of Grand Turk.
Want to surf on the Grand Turk FlowRider? You can queue up with other passengers and pay the fee or sign up for a shore excursion visit via participating cruise lines.
Most of the ships that call at Grand Turk are members of the Carnival Corporation family of fleets; Carnival Cruise Lines is its most common visitor, and ships from Costa, Princess Cruises, Seabourn, Holland America -- all Carnival Corp. owned -- and Fred. Olsen are among those that also visit there.
Interestingly, the Carnival Corp.-owned port facility is not a stranger to Royal Caribbean's Freedom-class ships, which pioneered the FlowRider concept in cruise travel. Though the port is not officially listed on Freedom-class ships' itineraries, several RCI charter cruises (in which organizations that organize full-ship charters can, within reason, request ports), do visit occasionally, bringing ships equipped with the FlowRider to a port ... also equipped with a FlowRider.
--by Dan Askin, Assistant Editor
Surf Simulator Debuts in Grand Turk
June 13, 2008