Friday, January 14, 2011

Cruise Round Up: January 4: St. Thomas

(Lots of photos today- click to enlarge, I kept them a bit smaller...sorry if the formatting looks crazy. It looked fine before I clicked "publish" but who knows what Blogger will do to it!)

This morning we woke up and had breakfast in the Posh Dining Room at 8:30, this time I had the pancakes, and they were very good. I love that they have pineapple juice- it’s excellent.

After breakfast we left the ship and went first to the Paradise Point sky ride which we bought tickets for through the ship (I believe the ships tickets were actually $1 less than if you bought when you were there.) At 9:15ish there was not much of a line, just a couple minute wait for the sky tram to come back down the mountain to pick us up. I’m not really a fan of these things, but this one wasn’t scary- it didn’t really shake or rock much. The views were nice, but it was a bit overcast. We go to the top and walked around a bit (there is not a bird show right now), there is a nice hike set up, but when the excursion booklet says “a few steps” they really mean a TON. There were optional steps (and clearly built for someone MUCH taller then me- they were tough- and eventually ran out and got into just ground… it would be smart to not be wearing flip flops…), but the “few” you had to do were strenuous for one party member. We looked in a few shops, and I thought about buying a gorgeous sundress "$25, but she’ll give it to me for $20" (same price as the one I looked at in Target, but a heck of a lot prettier- wish I had bought it) and a travelmate bought a floppy sunhat ($20, no haggle store). Then we looked into the bar, but decided against bushwhackers so early in the morning, and decided to descend the mountain. We again had to wait about 5 minutes, and there was a bit of a queue to get down the mountain, however, when we got all the way down we found out that going early was smart. There was a huge line- and at 24 people every 6 minutes, it would be a very very long wait- I’m not sure it would be worth it, really. Already, the price was a bit high ($20), I think it would be better at half of that.

The view from Paradise Point: (The Carnival ship is the Dream. Our ship is in front of the Celebrity Ship.)

Anyhow we went back to the ship to change and came out and found a cab (David’s sightseeing taxi) to take us to Sapphire Beach. Originally, it looked like we lost the cab lottery- a second group joined us, and unbeknownst to us the 30 minute drive through the shops was not on the way- they wanted to drop off a ring at a store to have a stone reset!!! So we waited a few minutes for him to drop the ring off, and get back in the cab, and then we headed to the beach. Except they were going to a different one. I bet myself we’d go to their beach first, and sure enough we did- and on the complete opposite side of the island. Lose the taxi lottery indeed. I was a bit annoyed as we asked specifically for the beach and were directed to this taxi because the one in front of him was headed to Magen’s Bay. Anyhow he drops this group off and then comes back and tells us that he has gotten a call that Sapphire Beach is awful today- winds are super high, and the waves are rough. We ask him if the place we are at now has good snorkeling and he tells us we should just stay with this group. So we decided to take the chance and stay at Secret Harbor Beach Resort. Turns out we won the taxi lottery, as I later met people that day who had come across the island to this beach because Sapphire was so rough- so David saved us some time and fare to find a new beach when the first one didn’t work out!

Secret Harbor was a nice, very very quiet beach. It had a place to eat, and a bar. There were chairs and hammocks (for guest or for rent) but we just set our towels down in the sand. I’m not much of a swimmer, so I went out in the water about chest deep and it was so clear you could see your feet. The boys in our group went snorkeling off the beach and were both very impressed with the fish and the coral- lots to see! As the day went on the beach got more crowded, but I would never describe it as being crowded- an excellent day.

After about 3 hours we were just about done with our beach day, and had another 30 minutes until the driver came back for us. So we went up to the bar where he was there early! But in no rush to leave, so while the other group did more pictures, we had some drinks (pina coladas and painkillers- I just had a few sips of the pina colada, very good but I could taste the rum, and I don't like that) and then were ready to go. I didn’t describe the ride in, so let me describe the ride out- it was a complete mad house. Another taxi tried to poach us from David as we were leaving (David wasn’t having any of that!) but I wasn’t switching cars! David’s truck had proved the power of his brakes on the way in. Giant hills that we would fly down, and then stop fast to avoid hitting cars in front of us. And I really don’t think it was a case of him being a bad driver, but everyone being a bad driver! There were only a few truly scary parts- when we were on the
edge of cliffs… but for the most part I just reminded myself that these people would surely lose their taxi licenses if they were in the habit of dumping tourists of cliffs! It was an open safari style truck, and if we chose to play “corners”, Michael would have been a goner- completely open on his side.

So we came back to the cruiseship with about an hour until we left port. I immediately odered room service, expecting a wait, but it came quickly. A BLT, a chicken fajita wrap, some fruit, and a chocolate cake. Kevin said he didn’t want anything and went off to go on the slide. (He said our next cabin neighbor’s boy was there and told him he went to slow and did it wrong, so he made him go again…) When Kevin got back it turnd out he DID want food, so he had half of each sandwich, and I had half of each sandwich. The chocolate cake wasn’t to my liking (but the mousse on the side was!) so Kevin had that too.

Then we went to the pre-dinner show, a juggler. He told a lot of bad jokes, but did some pretty cool juggling- it was a good show. Something I was surprised about is that the entire ship seemed to be very dressed up. I was exhausted so I decided I’d wear jeans and a nice shirt (with sequins! That makes it dressy…) and almost felt like I should change my jeans.

Then it was time for dinner. I took my watch off, and that completely improved the dinner experience. (I think Nabil was also in a better mood too. He still isn’t a chatty waiter, but really, other than on cruise ships, where do you expect that?) Dinner was still slow, but without a time to compare it to, I just enjoyed it. Tonight I broke my “no sign and sail charges” promise and ordered a virgin strawberry daiquiri. Our bar waitress Dunja is just so nice, we all hate disappointing her by not ordering anything (she tells us it’s even worse to bring our own drinks then to not order them- lol). So while our waiter might not be quick to serve (do they have fist fights down in the galley to get the food out? The table next to ours often has dessert before we have main course), our bar waitress is exactly what you expect from a Carnival server. Tonight for dinner, I had the quesadilla appetizer (yummy), the polenta plate (not to my liking, I didn't touch it after the initial bite. I think Kevin ate it) and the cheesecake (better than room service, but not too good). After dinner, we pretty much just went right to bed- I’m loving all the ports, but this cruise is exhausting.

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