Connect with us


Review: Jack’s Shack Grand Turk



Located in the Turks and Caicos Islands is the Grand Turk Cruise Center, a cruise port that was built by Carnival Corporation in 2008. The port is designed to berth two cruise ships at a time and has one of the largest Margaritaville’s in the Caribbean inside the terminal gates. Guests usually flock to the giant pool with swim-up bar, or sit on the beach right in front of the cruise ship.

Jack's Shack

For the guests that want to experience Grand Turk in a not-so Grand way (and free Wi-Fi), they can make their way down to Jack’s Shack. Jack comes from the northeast and was an engineer that was hired to develop the Grand Turk Cruise Center for Carnival Corporation. While he was down there, he was approached to help build a dive shop for one of his friends, and you could say the rest is history.

How To Find Jack’s Shack

Jack's Shack

When you disembark your cruise ship in Grand Turk, you will have to go through a gift shop before you can access the cruise terminal area. One you’re through the shop, turn left and walk down to the beach. When you’re on the beach and looking at your cruise ship, to your left will be the dock and to the right is miles of beach. You will to turn right and keep walking. You will eventually come to the end of the Carnival port area where you will notice there are no more beach chairs. If you look on the shore you’ll see pink houses, keep walking for a few more minutes and you’ll come up on (or smell the jerk chicken) from Jack’s Shack. Or you can look for Topher. Once you see him you know you’re close because he’s normally on the beach welcoming people.

Meet Topher, The Caribbean’s Most Famous Dog

Jack's Shack

Topher (short for Christopher Columbus) is a Goldendoodle that came to Jack’s Shack several years ago as a little fluff ball. Now, he’s still full of energy and loves to entertain the cruise guests. There is nothing this dog won’t do. He goes paddle boarding, digs deep in the sand looking for crabs, swims, and patrols the beach to make sure no other dogs move in on his territory. As nice as he is, he’s really territorial. If stray dogs come on the deck at the shack, Topher gets aggressive with them and barks them off of it.

Pick The Bar or Beach… or Both

Jack's Shack

If you want to grab a cocktail when you’re at Jack’s Shack, you can belly up to the tiki-style bar and get an island concoction or local Turk’s Head beer.

If you want to go straight to the beach before other people do, get yourself a chair or ask one of the friendly workers there to help you get situated. The blue beach loungers are free but there is a $10 charge if you want to get an umbrella (and believe me, in the Caribbean sun you’ll need one.) The water is warm, blue, and clear, just as you’d expect at an idyllic Caribbean island. Grand Turk is a great port to forgo an excursion and just have a laid-back beach day, and Jack’s Shack is the perfect place to bury your toes in the sand.

Jack’s Shack accepts cash, and credit cards with a $20 minimum.

Drink Menu

Jack's Shack

  • Janet’s Mojito $10 (fresh mint, lime, white rum, and soda)
  • Mermaid’s Take $10 (blue raspberry, vodka, soda, and lime)
  • Golden Doodle $10 (Red Bull and dark rum)
  • Dark and Stormy $10 (Ginger beer and dark rum)
  • Jack’s Shack Rum Punch $10 (coconut rum, topical punch, grenadine, and dark rum)
  • Reef Recker $10 (coconut and pineapple rums, blue curaçao, and juice)
  • Sandy Vagina $10 (coconut rum, vanilla vodka, and pineapple juice)
  • Blue Margarita $9 (tequila, lime, blue curaçao, and sprite)
  • Jazzy Cockatoo $9 (coconut rum, mango juice, and dark rum)
  • Paranoia $9 (white rum, lime, sprint, and peach schnapps)
  • Sex on the Beach $9 (vodka, cranberry, pineapple, and peach schnapps)
  • Señor Peniz $9 (jalapeño infused tequila and mixer)
  • Pina Colada Virgin $6, Full Strength $11

Food Menu

Jack's Shack

  • Jerk Chicken $10
  • Burger $10 (cheese add $1)
  • Hot Dog $10
  • Butterflied Shrimp $17
  • Cracked Conch $11
  • Fresh Local Fish $12
  • Grilled Italian Hotdog $8
  • Conch Fritters $8
  • Chef Special (see chalkboard)

Side orders with an above order $4, separate $6

  • Fries
  • Salad
  • Rice
  • Hot Jerk Sauce $10 bottle

Don’t Forget About the Free Rum Shot

Jack's Shack

Sponsored Link

You can go to the Jack’s Shack website and sign up or print your voucher for a free rum shot while you’re visiting. It’s very simple and you can use it even if you don’t buy anything, just hand them the voucher and you’ll get a shot of rum, easy as that.

I have been to Jack’s Shack a number of times over the last few years and always enjoy my beach day there. If you’re looking for a quieter, smaller alternative to Margaritaville, I highly recommend taking the walk down the beach to this fun spot.

Final Thoughts

Jack's Shack

Is Jack’s Shack significantly cheaper than Margaritaville? Not really. But it does offer a break from the crowds and has locally sourced food that is cooked right in front of you. If you plan on using your credit you’ll want to ask them if the credit card machine is up. Hurricane Irma did a number to Grand Turk and the internet is still spotty. Once you go to Jack’s Shack once, you’ll return time and time again.


Continue Reading


5 Waterproof Travel Items You Cannot Forget On Your Next Cruise



The blissful view of an endless horizon, the sound of the ocean and the constant excitement of a new destination are all part of the reasons why we love cruise vacations so much. But this blissful existence can be shattered in the event of bad weather and the ruin of some of your most precious belongings. By their very nature, cruises bring you in close contact with water so it’s best to always be prepared for the worst. Thankfully, there are now many ingenious and attractive ways to weather-proof all of your packing items. Here are some of our favorite objects you shouldn’t leave land without.

Be Ready For Anything


When we think of cruises, we think of glamour and fun, not soaked-through clothes and malfunctioning electronics – and that’s the way we want to keep it! Firstly, it’s as important to know what not to pack as what is essential, and how to ensure everything will return in one piece. These are our best bets on things that can withstand even the most severe sea-dunking while offering daily usefulness.

1. Aqua Shoes

Flip flops might suffice while on deck but if you disembark and are hoping to indulge in some rock pooling or water sports then a pair of aqua shoes are an excellent all-weather option. Sturdy, light and easy to slip on, these specially designed shoes offer enhanced grip on slippery surfaces while protecting your feet from sharp rocks. What’s more, they are comfortable, quick to dry, and take up far less packing space than traditional chunky sandals.

Sponsored Link

2. Underwater Camera

The fine sea mist that feels so refreshing on your skin in the hot sun is the same damp air that can ruin your expensive digital SLR camera. Moreover, as anyone with kids knows, you are never safe from a hefty splash when sat by the pool. For these reasons, having an underwater or water-safe camera is a great addition, meaning you can keep your high-quality shots for the safety of land and still have fun on the beach and at the pool.

3. Dive Watch

Just as you might be worried about fine jewelry tarnishing amongst the waves, so too might you be concerned about wearing your expensive watch. However, many elite brands sell models that can operate at great depths. For instance, HydroConquest models from Longines are renowned dive watches that can be submerged at depths of up to 300 meters, and are actually cheap to pick up if you know the right place to look.

4. Water-Tight Phone Case

For many of us, it has become our most treasured item, so don’t run the risk of breaking it on your first day by the pool deck! A waterproof phone case is essential when aboard a cruise ship, where your general proximity to water makes all electrical items potentially disastrous. Tough, durable and letting you move with confidence, many of these watertight pouches are large enough to let you even keep all of your belongings, not just your phone, in a safe place.

5. Water-resistant Sun Cream

It’s important to distinguish between sun creams that can withstand exposure to moisture and those that can’t, as a nasty burn could be awaiting you otherwise. Look out for labels marking the product as ‘water-resistant’ and clearly stating the period of time they can be relied upon to withstand water contact, such as 30 minutes or 60. Moreover, if you plan to be doing some scuba diving or snorkeling excursions as part of your cruise, take a look at these reef-safe sun creams that will ensure you won’t be damaging the delicate ecosystem with harsh chemical agents.

What do you take on your cruise? 

Continue Reading


Review: Maya Chan Costa Maya Beach Excursion



If you plan on taking a Western Caribbean cruise, there is a good chance that your ship will be stopping in Costa Maya, Mexico. Located on the Southern end of Mexico, just north of Belize, you will find the Costa Maya Cruise Port. As with any port, you’ll find that the ship offers a wide variety of excursions. (This is, after all, another way for them to make money.) But if you’re the type who doesn’t mind breaking free from the heard — and are responsible enough to get yourself back to the ship on time so as not to be left behind — the all-inclusive resort of Maya Chan might be a good fit.

The price for all-day access is $59 per adult. The price per child is $19 for those up to three years old; $39 for kids aged 3-17, and $49 for those between 8 and 17 years old. (They do offer a bit of a discount if you have a large group. To find out if you qualify, contact them directly when you’re making your plans)

And what do you get for the price of admission?

Maya Chan

  • An English-speaking Maya Chan representative who will meet you at the port
  • Round-trip transportation from the pier to the resort and back
  • Beach chairs and day beds
  • A pre-assigned, private shaded area for each party
  • An all-you-care-to-eat Mayan food bar as well as open bar
  • Free WiFi
  • Changing areas
  • Facilities
  • Kayaks and snorkel gear

It’s worth noting that for planning purposes, they request that guests make reservations in advance. Once you do, they’ll generally respond within 24 hours and request payment via Paypal.

Upon Arriving in Costa Maya 

Maya Chan

On many itineraries, Costa Maya winds up being the final port of call before the ship begins heading home. It also often ends up being a relatively short visit, with the ship both arriving and departing earlier than it does other ports. It’s not at all unusual for the all-aboard time to be around 1:30 p.m. That was the case during my recent visit, when the ship arrived at port before I was even awake, and we set sail again at 2 p.m.

The pier is Costa Maya is pretty long, so give yourself plenty of time to disembark and make your way down the pier. Once you exit the cruise terminal gates, you’ll see someone from Maya Chan waiting for you at a clearly marked tent where guests board shuttle buses. And while the resort is only about four miles away from the actual terminal, it can take almost a half hour to make the journey. Because of this, the folks at the resort makes sure to stay on top of the departure time of your ship so that they can have you on a shuttle back in plenty of time.

Welcome to Maya Chan

Maya Chan

Once we arrived at the resort, we were immediately greeted by a guide who took us on a quick tour of the property. Given that we had pre-paid before even setting foot on the ship, we were able to bypass that step and head straight for the beach. There, we were introduced to our servers and brought to the private area where we would be spending the day. There were a line of chairs and two day-beds, and the area had our name on it so we knew it was intended for us. The sun was shining, the water was sparking and it was clearly going to be a great beach day.

Sponsored Link

Food & Drinks

The food was very impressive (and gluten-free). The chef, who has been cooking authentic Mexican cuisine at Maya Chan for years, fires the grill up around 9:00 a.m. and they begin serving foot at 11:00 a.m. Trust me, by then you’ll be salivating thanks to the incredible smell of the steak, chicken, pork and fish coming from the grill.

Maya Chan

Unlike some resorts where the drinks come at an additional costs, they were included here. And this isn’t a situation where they basically limit you to a pre-made rum punch. In fact, we had quite a bit of fun getting creative with the bartender, who whipped up all kinds of frozen concoctions for us.

A Few Useful Tips About Maya Chan

  • Get there early. Like I said before, many ships wind up having relatively short stays in Costa Maya, so you want to make the most of the time you have available at the resort. Consider getting off the ship as soon as the gangway opens. Yes, that could mean that you’re walking off the ship at sunrise, but it also means you’re sitting on the beach sipping a drink that much sooner. (Hey, you’re on vacation!)
  • Bring sunblock. The Western Caribbean sun can be brutal. Even though there are umbrellas and plenty of shaded area throughout the property, it doesn’t hurt to be protected. Especially if you plan to walk the beach or go for a swim!
  • Take advantage of what’s available. Heck, take one of the floating mats out on the water and the staff will even bring you out a drink! (Did we mention you’re on vacation?)
  • Pamper yourself. Massages are available on site for a nominal fee.
  • Bring your appetite. If you’re hungry — and you definitely will be — head for the lunch line a little bit early. They start serving at 11, and the line can get long really quick. Since most items are made-to-order, it can take a bit of time… although it’s definitely worth the wait!

Final Thoughts

I thought this was a great excursion if you’re looking to experience the authentic Costa Maya. The resort has character, friendly staff, amazing food and is far enough away from the cruise terminal that it tends not to be overly crowded, and yet doesn’t take forever to get to. It’s worth noting that like Costa Maya in general, the Maya Chan does not have the most pristine beaches. But the staff works very hard to keep it clear of sea grass so you can enjoy the property.

I’ve only been to Costa Maya a handful of times, and this is the first trip on which I’ve had a chance to experience a port day that wasn’t experiencing the area immediately around the pier. The chances I’ll be returning to Maya Chan are very high.

Read More: Carnival Magic in Costa Maya

Continue Reading


Everything You Need To Know About Carnival Horizon



With the highly-anticipated launch of the Carnival Horizon coming soon, cruisers are seeking out as much information as they can get… and we’re here to help. Whether you’re already booked or deciding if this is the right ship for you, read on for a look at the vessel’s restaurants, entertainment options and more!

Fast Facts

Her First Voyage: The Horizon will do several round-trip sailings out of Barcelona beginning on April 2, 2018, before setting sail May 9 on a 14-day transatlantic to New York City. 
Number Of Passengers: The ship will be able to carry 3,960 guests at double capacity.
Her Stats: While it’s never polite to ask a lady such things, Horizon will weigh in at 133,500 Gross Tons. She’ll be 1,062 feet long and 15 decks high.
Itineraries: Upon arriving in New York City, Horizon will spend the summer doing 4-day sailings to Bermuda and 8-day sailings to the Southern Caribbean. In September, the ship will relocate to Miami to do a variety of Caribbean-bound voyages.

Carnival Cruise Line

The Carnival Horizon is the second Vista-class ship, and will be followed by the Carnival Panorama in 2019. She’ll be a true sister-ship to Vista, featuring many of the same restaurants and features which proved popular on the first-in-her-class vessel, including the SkyRide and the wildly distinctive LED Dreamscapes featured in both the atrium and casino. (People who’ve never actually seen the Dreamscape funnels in person sometimes struggle to understand their appeal, but trust us: They are seriously cool. Need proof? Look at some of the cool images featured... and then imagine them moving!)

What’s New On The Horizon?

Given the popularity of Vista, it would have been easy for Carnival to simply crank out a twin sister. Instead, they’ll be introducing several new concepts, dining venues and a whole slew of new entertainment options. In a promotional video for the shows, Robb Wagner, media producer for Playlist Productions, explained that Carnival was upping their game by “introducing video game technology” and “using that technology to create immersive environments” designed to “make the audience feel more like they’re stepping into a world versus sitting down to watch a show.”

READ MORE: Full Details On Horizon’s New Shows

Among the new shows being rolled out, the one we’re perhaps most intrigued by is Soulbound, a New Orleans-set spectacle combining soulful songs with special effects which will take viewers to a variety of locations… including a haunted cemetery and apothecary. (Anybody else think that, given that last set, the Alchemy Bar will be the perfect place to have drinks before or after seeing Soulbound?) The other shows are Celestial Strings (which combines classical and pop music in a garden setting, complete with “aroma-infused” sets) and Vintage Pop (in which contemporary songs are given a classic jazz vibe with a little help from a 6-piece orchestra). In addition to these, Amor Cubano: A Caribbean Dance Romance —  which made its debut on the Carnival Vista — will be imported. Meanwhile, if there’s one big change many are hoping to see on Horizon, it’s better sightlines than can be found on Vista, where many of the theater’s seats have obstructed views.

Guy Fieri’s Newest Restaurant

On the food side, Carnival Horizon will offer a couple of concepts that are new-to-Carnival, including the latest offshoot of the line’s partnership with celebrity chef Guy Fieri. This time around, Fieri’s offering up Guy’s Pig & Anchor BBQ Smokehouse. And because it’s a crime in at least 4 states to eat things like smoked brisket or babyback ribs and not wash them down with a cold beer, the joint will also serve as a brewhouse offering up an exclusive line of Parched Pig beers. During the day, the restaurant will serve up free grub, while the more extensive dining menu will come with a fee. (And yes, the ship will also have a Guy’s Burger Joint, aka the perfect poolside grub… and yes, the Burgers will still be free.)

Another first-for-Carnival addition will be Bonsai Teppanyaki. The for-fee restaurant (which will be open for lunch on sea days and dinner every night) will offer a menu spotlighting authentic delicacies from the Far East. But as anyone who has ever experienced a Teppanyaki restaurant knows, half the fun is the show put on by the amazingly talented chefs. It’s also the perfect setting for group fun, as the chef’s work at custom-built stations at the center of an eight-seat table. Bonsai Teppanyaki will feature to such set-ups, but with seating limited, it’s definitely a venue one should plan to make reservations for.

Sponsored Link

Rendering of Bonsai Teppanyaki by Carnival Cruise Line

Horizon will also feature an assortment of the venues which have proven popular on other ships, such as the  JiJi Asian Kitchen, Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse, Cucina Del Capitano. For all your grab-and-go needs there’s also the BlueIgunana Cantina (located near the midship Beach pool), as well as the Seafood Shack and Pizzaria del Capitano (both located by the aft-facing Tides pool). There is also, of course, the various options offered by the buffet. And if you happen to be hanging out in the adult’s-only Serenity area on sea days, you’ll be able to enjoy one of the healthiest options on board, the do-it-yourself salad bar. Finally, for what promises to be the best dining experience you’ll ever have at sea, sign up for the once-in-a-lifetime meal that is offered by the Chef’s Table.

Pick A Room, Any Room

Havana Cabana Suite – rendering: Carnival Cruise Line

As on the Vista, the Horizon will offer the widest variety of stateroom options ever featured on a Carnival ship. The Family Harbor staterooms and suites are perfect for both single and extended families, especially given that they include access to a special lounge featuring snacks, games and a comfy place for clans to hang out and maybe even make new friends. But the most popular rooms on the ship will surely be those located in the Havana area. Ranging from interiors to suites, these beautifully decorated rooms also come with exclusive daytime access to the Havana Bar & Pool (which isn’t open to other guests until after 7 p.m.). It’s important to note that all guests staying in the Havana area must be 12 years old and above.

The Cloud 9 Spa rooms are perfect for those looking to get their relaxation groove on. They grant passengers free access to the thermal spa, Elemis toiletries, bathrobes, slippers and more. One of the nice things about the Spa rooms is that they come in everything from an interior to a suite, making them affordable to a wide variety of budgets.

Important Things To Keep In Mind

Carnival Horizon

  • As the Carnival Horizon is a new ship, it could take a while for the kinks to be worked out. Those sailing on the first few voyages should — as with any new ship — keep that in mind. If you’re the type of person for whom a few bumps in the road can ruin an entire trip, it might be worth letting the ship and her crew settle in before taking them for a run.
  • When trying to decide what stateroom is right for you, be sure to consult the deck plans. Make sure you’re not located above a theater or below a bowling ally. Until the ship has been sailing for a while, actual reviews of various decks, let alone specific cabins, won’t be available… so using the deck plans will be your best bet!
  • One of the coolest sections of the ship, the Havana Bar & Pool, is off limits to guests who aren’t staying in the Havana section… until after 7 p.m. But be sure to visit, because it’s got spectacular views and is sure to be one of the hottest spots on the ship nightlife wise.
  • Be sure to check the Fun Times to see when restaurants which are only open limited hours are serving. There’s nothing worse than getting psyched up for a meal… only to find out the restaurant isn’t open!
  • The newest venues on the ship — such as Bonsai Teppanyaki — will also be the most popular. Once you’ve locked in your trip, consider making reservations so that you can enjoy the restaurants you consider Must-Do.

Continue Reading

Sponsored Link


Sponsored Link

Send this to a friend

Hi, this may be of interest to you: Review: Jack's Shack Grand Turk. This is the link: