St. Thomas

So it was late and the boat was rocking but I wanted to write about my impressions of the cruise so far. It’s pretty much what I expected, meaning it really is a bunch of white Americans on vacation – really ‘getting away’ in a place that is exactly like home. I mean, the ship is like any 4-star hotel in any American city, and we are ushered off the ship for a few hours each day where we pretend to enter a different world when in fact it’s really just like home because the entire economies of these islands are dependent on tourism. So unlike other places in the world, whether they are tourist destinations or not (like, from cities like Paris to those like Saigon), this place is specifically geared towards Americans. Also, everyone that we are with the is also on vacation. That sounds really obvious but it really makes a huge difference. So unlike people moving around us going about their day, we are just the same as everyone else there for that moment – just trying to get a little warmer and a little drunker (generally speaking of course). I don’t mean to sound down on this whole thing because I’ve barely been here 24 hours and I’ve really had so much fun. I’m just saying that it isn’t really my type of vacation. It’s far too fake, really – maybe I need some more adventure or reality or something.

Anyways, the day started off with Jean’s alarm going off at 7 because she had planned to go to the gym, Well it went off for a few minutes and she didn’t get up so finally it went off. Then room service came with breakfast at 7:30. Well we didn’t really get up for that either so we put the tray on the desk and went back to bed. Finally a phone call around 9 woke us up and it was the Mazzilli parents wanting us to get a move on and meet them on land. We got ready really quickly, putting on our bathing suits even though we didn’t want to go to the beach, and then headed off the ship. It didn’t really take too long and in moments we were on St. Thomas! And….it was raining. Only a sun shower though and it would continue to rain throughout the day yet never would spoil our plans. Well everyone was still waiting for Nick’s parents so Jean and I went to check if kayaking was full for St. Kitts tomorrow, which it was. Course when we returned, everyone was gone. Wtf? Sarah called us though (Jean) which sucked because now we are all roaming so it’s $1.29/min and $0.50/txt. Anyway, Nick had hailed a van and we were off to one of his client’s restaurants called the Blue Moon Cafe, which also had a small hotel attached and had a very small and very private beach. It was beautiful and we immediately went into the water. There was a dock a ways out so we went out there to hang out and ended up taken pictures of all of us jumping off of the dock with Sarah’s new waterproof digital camera. She got some really good shots. After a while of doing that, we headed into shore and realized that because Jean and I hadn’t really planned on going to the beach, we hadn’t brought any towels with us! Luckily there was a freshwater shower and the air was warm enough to make us comfortable.

Sarah and Chris had already rented snorkel gear from a little shop and Katie and I agreed to go snorkeling with them. She and I went up to get masks, a snorkel, and flippers for only $7.50/person, then we started exploring. We went all the way up one side of the little alcove that we were in and there were coral reefs and SO many fish to see! It was so calm and peaceful and the water was as clear as you can imagine. We saw blue fish, black and yellow fish, squid, a lobster, sea urchins, and tons of other cool things including iguanas that were perched on the rocks in the cove in which we were swimming. We must have been out there over an hour, with Sarah taking pictures the whole time underwater. I ditched the snorkel a lot and dove down deeper to get a better look at the life along the ocean floor. Unfortunately that whole breathing thing kept getting in the way so Sarah and I are SO excited to SCUBA in Bonaire! Neither of us are too scared, which is good, I guess maybe because we are both certified lifeguards, haha. After seeing all there was to see in the cove, we headed back in to meet the rest of our group and get some lunch. Of course the moment we step under cover, it starts to rain really hard, so the timing couldn’t have been better. First we had drinks at the small bar that was there – always with the drinking…I had a strawberry/banana daiquiri – very island-ish. After a few minutes, we went inside to the restaurant and Sarah, Claudia and I split 3 entrees of pulled pork quesadillas and curried chicken salad. Both were really good. We all looked at Sarah’s pics that she had taken underwater and had some good conversation before heading over to the bar so Chris could conduct some shady business. Sarah had the idea to try cigars so we bought 2 of those and think we may try them tonight because there is a cigar lounge onboard. Jean and I wanted to buy postcards so we picked some up at the dive shop and then we all got back in the taxi to head back to the boat. We stopped along the way to take some pictures and let me just say at this time that St. Thomas is very beautiful and VERY mountainous, which I did not know. The roads twist and turn, sometimes 180 degrees down a steep hill, and btw, they drive on the left but their steering wheels are still on the left too! I guess it’s all what you are used to, but it looked very strange to use and we didn’t actually even notice about the other side of the road thing until a few minutes into our taxi ride because the roads are so narrow. Back at the port, Jean and I shopped at the little carts but everything was really overpriced and no unique so we decided to get gifts for people elsewhere because this was still the US and hopefully the other places would be cooler. OH! Side note that Ruth and Rich came to St. Thomas 35 years ago on their honeymoon and stayed at THE SAME place where we went today. They had no idea we were going there, and the name had been changed, so it was extremely eerie to have that happen but also very cute! I mean, this place was SMALL – what are the odds!? All in all a very good day on the island and we essentially did our own excursion for a small fraction of the cost.

Back on the ship, Jean decided to go to the gym so I stayed back to shower and just relax before dinner at 6. This bathroom is far more spacious than I remember the bathroom being on the Bermuda cruise about 13 years ago, so that’s nice. I named some pictures, painted my nails and got ready for dinner. I was glad to see that I had only tanned today, no burn, because I only put on sun block really quickly and then immediately went into the water which was dumb as hell. Oh and Sarah’s dad (Nick) picked me a nice pink flower that I put in my hair and looked pretty good. Jean came back and showered quickly and we went down to dinner together. The seating arrangements had been changed, but it was really for the better as we were now all seated next to each other with 1 10-person table and 2 5-person tables. After quickly looking at the menu, it was clear at least to Nick, Sarah, and I that tonight would be a seafood night. I had scallops and lobster for an appetizer along with a second appetizer of this shrimp and potato soup, and a caesar salad. For an entree I got this ‘seafood potpourri’ which included shrimp, crab legs, scallops, squid, muscles, clams, and some white fish in a light butter sauce. Oh yes. Nick also ordered an extra entire plate of crab legs so those were passed around the table and actually he and I ended up finishing them off together because their goodness must have been too much for people to handle or something. Really with these crab legs when it rains it REALLY pours! For dessert, I had pina colada ice cream. It was a really good meal and actually not as filling as last night because it was all fish. Ok, now to be a critic. People say that on these cruises, this is the best food they have ever had. This is certainly not the case for me and I don’t know where these people are from. I mean, it’s really good and you can get as much as you want, but it’s really not the best. I’ve had shrimp twice the size of the ones I had tonight and lobster meat that would make this pale in comparison. BUT, it is consistently pretty good and if quantity over quality is your thing, then ‘yes’, best food ever. Really I’m not complaining, I’m just saying.

After dinner, everyone except Jean (who had a spa appointment) was heading off to some show, and I was all set with that so I went back to the room to write this, then Jean came back about an hour later. We were supposed to meet everyone for ballroom dancing at 9:45 so we went down the the 5th floor and Jean got a coffee and we each had a chocolate dipped strawberry. We also found the sushi restaurant. Oh, something odd on this ship is that no one thinks I’m 21 and they remind me to bring my ID if/when I come back if I want to drink. No one else, not even 18 year old Katie gets ID’ed, so I don’t know what the deal is but I guess it’s a good thing? Anyway, we all met up in the dance club on the 7th floor and it looked kinda lame but Sarah had to stay to be with Molly. The rest of us decided to hit the casino. We all played slots and I budgeted $10. I think I won about $12.50 but I didn’t cash out and just kept playing because everyone else had allocated like $20-$40 to gambling so they were taking a bit longer to lose all their money, haha. I just don’t think gambling is fun I guess, it makes me nervous and I’d rather buy something concrete. After that, we decided to go up to the 15th floor to get some air on the deck. There they were playing Spiderman 3 on the big screen so we watched that for a bit before deciding it was super boring and that we should really be going to bed. It’s now 11:54pm and we are in the room ready to watch some tv and sleep. Breakfast at 8am with everyone tomorrow followed by disembarking in St. Kitts. Chris, Sarah, Jean and I are going to try to find a kayak place once we get off the boat. Goodnight from somewhere at sea….

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