Day 5 – St. Thomas – Really Blue Waters!
Hi everyone –
St John US VI
Monday dawned bright, warm and sunny. The temp was reported to be about 78 degrees, but it feels warmer – probably all the sun and humidity. St. Thomas is a lot drier than we expected – in fact, cactus grow on the hillside next to the cruise dock! There are iguanas everywhere, big and small, an object of great interest to anyone with a camera. And the water is REALLY BLUE!
Actually, the blue is more like turquoise. You know the pictures you see of the US Virgin Islands and the incredibly clear bright blue water? It’s all true!
The US Virgin Islands were purchased from Denmark in 1917 for $25 Million in gold, because the US wanted a base of command closer to the Panama Canal due to problems with Cuba. A gallon of milk costs $12!!! A gallon of rum – $2. Just about everything gets shipped in.
Sailboats are anchored in the same harbor as the cruise ships, and they are gorgeous to see. Most are live-aboards, as the attached skiffs give them away. You hear dogs barking from some of them – not that ours would ever be able to stay enclosed for that long! And there are quite a few still wrecked on the beach from Hurricane Earl about four months ago.
An early start to the day meant the alarm clock – ick! We had purchased coffee cards yesterday and made use of them to get mochas this morning. Hard to imagine that after a huge dinner last night we were hungry, but we were!
The early rise for the trip was well worth it. We boarded a ferry, Island Girl, for the half hour ride along the southern shore of St. Thomas to St. John Island and Trunk Bay, a famous area for snorkeling. Actually, you probably couldn’t make a bad decision about a beach around here! The dozens of beaches throughout the islands are all public, and they all seem to have some good to great snorkeling or diving available. And guess what – there’s a Capella Island in this chain too!
Originally we thought that an hour or more in the water would not be enough, but truth be told, we both found that to be more than enough time! We had plenty of time to see many different fish and types of coral, though the periodic clouds made photos difficult to frame. Besides, we hadn’t eaten in a few hours and we were hungry – again!
The return to the harbor revealed a few more cruise ships. We seem to be jockeying around with the Royal Caribbean Allure, Noordam from Holland America, a Regent ship and one other. While it doesn’t look very big, this harbor can handle 9-10 cruise ships at a time, the second largest in the Caribbean. We passed the afternoon on the balcony, watching the boat repair drydock next door attempt to float and direct a small cutter back in the water, and the various ships returning with visitors. The cutter kind of looked like a baby being taught how to swim, surrounding by small pangas (skiffs), a small tug, and another cutter riding right alongside.
Tonight is formal night, and it’s also the night we are celebrating our anniversary. We get an extra special something tonight with dinner – not sure yet what that is – and we also have canapés coming beforehand, something that happens on formal nights. The champagne tower happens tonight too, and we hope to enjoy it – last time we were at dinner instead! And there’s still bubbly that we haven’t yet opened!
Nap time now!!!
Formal night was a blast! It was the night we selected to celebrate our anniversary, and the kitchen made us custom GF carrot cake to enjoy! That was truly special. We have “our” table now – we don’t’ need reservations, just go when we want and tell the maitre’d who we are and we have servers who know we get the ‘special’ bread. The headwaiter briefs us on what goes into the various dishes and makes sure we’re making GF selections. On Monday night, he showed us the menu for Tuesday, which includes a pasta with mussels preparation that Yvonne wants to try. They’ll make sure to have our pasta prepared for us.
The food on the ship is fabulous – and for two foodies like us, that’s important! We’ve already become addicted to an oriental rice pudding that is made for breakfast – cooked white rice soaked in cream and honey overnight, with raisins, served cold. We now have ideas on how to make it in both a sweet style like this (dessert?) and a savory style that could be an accompaniment or intermezzo. Luckily, we’re taking pictures of the food we love the best so that we can remember what we want to try when we get home!
Last night was also the Captain’s welcome party. This is the time when the champagne tower makes its appearance. Each manager d’hotel does this differently; on this cruise, the women put a hand on the manager’s arm and he shakes the bubbly bottle over the glasses. On other trips, the manager actually pours into the top glass and lets it cascade – a lot more stylish!
We also had a chance to catch up with Lloyd, our Vines waiter from the Crown last year, and met another couple that was on the ship then too. It does get to be like old home week, because you get to know the servers and staff and recognize them. And there are many passengers who are loyal to Princess, making it fun to share stories and compare ports!
On Tuesday, we’re on Tortola, part of the British Virgin Islands. A catamaran sail and snorkel with beach time is our afternoon’s adventure there. Busy, busy, busy!
Love, Y & J