In the wake of Hurricane Ike and the destruction it left behind, citizens on the island of Grand Turk can still count their blessings. While it may sound frivolous when considering residents' personal hardships, The Grand Turk Cruise Center, which is operated by Miami-based Carnival Corp, has scheduled an Oct 8, 2008 re-opening date. An engineering survey has confirmed that no damage was sustained to the cruise ship pier, which can accommodate up to two ships at one time. Minimal damage occurred to the facility's retail and restaurant complex.
"We believe we can complete repairs to the cruise center within a 30-day period and bring cruise ships back to Grand Turk," said Giora Israel, Carnival's vice president of strategic planning and port development. "We will be able to provide many of the wonderful, beach, snorkeling, and watersports experiences that Grand Turk is famous for, along with the oversized pool and food and shopping opportunities at the cruise center, including the extremely popular Margaritaville restaurant."
Why so soon? The rush isn't selfish, although it may appear to be. Quite the contrary, as Israel explains: by returning cruise ships quickly, important economic benefits will accrue to Grand Turk as the island moves forward with its recovery efforts. In addition to its existing staff on the island, Carnival Corp will bring in a number of skilled workers who will be housed and fed by the company. Those individuals will not only repair the cruise center complex, but also assist in the repair of some of the island's key attractions. The cruise center's lush landscaping, much of which was lost as a result of the storm, will be replaced on a gradual basis over the next several months.
"We will be investing millions of dollars in the coming months to help Grand Turk quickly re-build its cruise-focused tourism. Bringing tourists back to the island as quickly as possible will play a major role in driving the island's overall recovery," said Israel.
The Grand Turk Cruise Center is the largest private employer on the island and the cruise center staff, combined with shore excursion operators, comprises approximately 80 percent of non-government jobs in Grand Turk. Carnival Corp will also be providing financial and logistical assistance to shore excursion operators to enable them to resume their businesses. Cruise passengers and crew members will be offered the opportunity to participate in volunteer-oriented excursions for those who wish to assist in the island's recovery effort.
The Grand Turk Cruise Center serves as a gateway to the pristine island of Grand Turk, which is world-renowned as a diving and snorkeling jewel, and also features magnificent beaches, striking aqua-blue waters, and a variety of fishing and watersports activities. The first cruise ship scheduled to call at Grand Turk will be Carnival Cruise Lines' Carnival Destiny on Oct 8. Carnival Cruise Lines is the largest cruise-line user of the Grand Turk facility. Several other cruise lines, both from within the Carnival Corp familyof brands and from other cruise operators, also regularly call at Grand Turk. Additional information on the Grand Turk Cruise Center can be viewed at www.grandturkcc.com.