For our last port day we did not schedule an impact activity but instead gave the students an opportunity to choose their own adventures. Most of our group had never cruised before, some had never been out of the U.S., lots had never swum in the ocean (it was only my second time) or gone ziplining or snorkeling or any of that good stuff, so even though it was more of a “fun” day it was still a good way to get everyone out of our comfort zones a little bit. We had about 5 hours in port in Grand Turk so we had to make the most of a brief stop. One group maximized the time by booking an excursion that squeezed in a dune buggy ride, horseback riding, ziplining, and snorkeling. They got back just in time to board the ship and they were exhausted, but very happy!
I went with 7 students who had chosen a snorkeling and conch diving excursion. Back in the fall in Cozumel was my first time snorkeling and I loved it, so I was excited to go again. Students had mixed experiences: swimming in the ocean was more daunting than they expected, and using the snorkel mask definitely takes getting used to. It’s not natural to breathe with your face in the water, and some of them said it was hard to remember to breathe through their mouths instead of their noses, or that the mask felt too confining. But everyone ultimately was happy and excited that they went, and I do think it’s much easier to do the second time than the first time, so I hope they will all try it again. After snorkeling we tried out diving for conch. I got back in the water for that part but didn’t actually dive, just looked around under water a bit more and then got out. My lesson learned yesterday was to take off my rashguard when I’m not actually swimming–otherwise I get too cold! Finally, we went to a small beach at Gibbs Cay to visit the stingrays. It’s amazing to see them just gliding around under the water. The guides knew how to catch and hold them so we could touch them and give them kisses. I touched one but did not give a kiss, even though it’s supposed to be lucky. (I don’t kiss the Blarney Stone either!)
It was a tremendous day that seemed to go by in a flash. Grand Turk is unbelievably beautiful with aquamarine water and gorgeous beaches. I definitely want to go back and spend more time there. Chris and I finished the day with fried plantains on the beach before collecting the students to board the ship and head for home. We’re on our final sea day now and will dock in Port Canaveral early tomorrow morning.