Saint Croix U.S. Virgin Islands

All posts tagged Saint Croix U.S. Virgin Islands

Caribbean Chronicles Part Three

Published 16/02/2013 by julierkendrick

First stop St Croix, US Virgin Islands.

After a pretty restless night, sleeping in a new bed in a room that moved I woke up to hear Trevor and Sam chatting on the balcony. Stepping outside I walked into a wall of heat and had my first glimpse of St Croix. Pastel coloured houses nestled into the side of the hills and as I looked along the jetty to the white sandy beach I could see a row of brightly coloured shops and cafés. It was 8.30am and people were already streaming off the boat towards the little town. From my vantage point on deck 10 they really did look like loads of little worker ants.

However, before we joined the throng into St Croix we wanted to explore the ship a little more. 14 decks to be discovered. We had already found the promenade on deck 5 with the shops and eateries and a four piece jazz band constantly performing happy lively music so we ventured further afield, this time to deck 12. 4 jacuzzis, two salt water pools and hundred of sun loungers were situated at the front of this deck. A running track snaked its way round the whole of the top of this (although why anyone would want to run in this heat is beyond me). Deck 13 was accessed by steps leading from the pool deck to, yes another pool deck and hundreds more sun loungers. Even with 3000 people on board you can never feel cramped here. The view was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, and it wouldn’t be the last. Vast blue sea, the bluest I could have imagined as far at I could see, meeting the pale blue sky of the horizon. With the sun glistening off the waves, this was paradise.

Paradise

Paradise

Anxious to get into the little town, we changed into shorts and T-shirts and I mentally apologise to the citizens of USVI for my pasty white body desperate for the sun to change its hue.

“Welcome to St Croix”, a security official invited us through a gate into a little square of palm trees, bright colours and Caribbean music. Little trinket shops had Sam reaching for his money to buy his first souvenir. After about half an hour we stopped in a little café for a snack where I was offered an iced blueberry latte. As weird as it sounded it was delicious, like a muffin in a cup. Afterwards we took a little stroll on the beach before it was time to head back to the ship for dinner and evening entertainment.

Sam has been on at us for ages that he wants to eat lobster and luckily for him it was on the menu in our restaurant of choice that night. He did baulk a little when it appeared in front him, eyes and all but to give him his due, he ate it all. Trevor was also relieved as it was the only thing on the menu that cost extra so at least it wasn’t wasted.

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Sam and his lobster

Bellies full we wandered down to deck 3 into the Lyric Theatre where we were shown to our priority seats, definitely the best in the house. We were treated to a fantastic show from the 16 singers and dancers, completely up to Broadway standard and I hankered back to my youth and my time on the stage with envy of these talented performers. Afterwards, weary and sun kissed we went back to our cabin and sank into bed.

The next day we arrived at our second port of call, St Maarten where Trevor informed me that we were going to walk under the sea wearing a huge helmet.  Although I had no idea what he meant, I was looking forward to it. First, though we made a trip off the boat into the tax free shopping centre just on the island. Sam bought a jazzy Caribbean shirt and decided to wear it straight away. Once back on the boat we got changed into our swimming gear, grabbed towels and the underwater camera and off we went.

A short boat ride took us to a catamaran moored just off the shore and we were given a talk by a Canadian guy called Mike. He showed us the huge helmets we would be wearing that weigh 75 pounds. However once in water they become almost weightless. They looked like something an astronaut would wear with a big handle on the top. We would then walk down a ladder off the side of the boat into the sea, 20 feet down where we would then be taken around an underwater trek. I was very excited now as was Trevor. Sam, however was nervous and wasn’t sure he was going to do it. After some encouragement from us he said he would give it a go and the crew said that they would stay with him so that if he wanted to go back up they would take him.

Trevor went first and I followed with Sam by my side, but only two steps down the ladder he panicked and was brought up again. I didn’t want him to worry so I said I’d stay with him but the crew wouldn’t hear of it and assured me that Sam would be fine and that they would convince him to come down.

The helmet was placed over my head onto my shoulders and I started the descent. As soon as I went under I was surrounded by the most beautiful tropical fish that darted around me in shoals, never once bumping into me. 20 feet is a pretty long way down and I had to pop my ears a few times before I reached the bottom where everyone else was waiting. We were standing on a wooden path flanked by a rail to hold on to. As we waited for the rest of the crew to join us I figured Sam had backed out but all of a sudden I saw his little feet descending the ladder holding firmly onto the hand of the girl diver. Both Trevor and I beamed at our little boy and his bravery and the girl handed him over to Trevor but stayed by his side the whole time, just as she had promised.

As we made our way along the trail the crew coaxed various sea life creatures to us and gave them to us to hold if we wanted.  The first thing I held was a huge water spider, something that no one else wanted to touch. It crawled up my arm and felt like sticks poking at me, very strange.  A little further along I put my finger into a sponge which sucked onto it, again a very strange feeling. The next thing I was given was a big sea urchin placed in my palm. The girl diver indicated for me to turn my palm face-down and when I did I felt the urchin’s suckers grip my hand and when it let go I felt the popping of each sucker as it released its hold.

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Sea Urchin

Although Sam didn’t want to touch any of the sea life I was still so proud that he managed to walk the whole trail without panicking and going back up.  Trevor took loads of photos with the underwater camera but we have yet to see if they came out or not.

After an amazing experience we travelled back to the dock by boat and then boarded the ship once again, just in time to change for dinner.

Next time we visit Antigua and St Lucia.

Pip pip me hearties.

Julie 🙂

Caribbean Chronicles Part Two

Published 13/02/2013 by julierkendrick

Finally, after the mammoth journey, we were in San Juan and as I woke up to the sun streaming into our hotel room I felt myself start to relax. Trevor was looking out of the window and told me he could see the ship. Scrambling to look I was awed  by the size of the huge boat which had docked in the harbour just across the road. Once Sam saw it he was almost impossible to calm down and started leaping around like a gazelle.

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After a lovely breakfast of eggs, French toast, bacon and orange juice we brought our cases down to the bell boy and waited to be told where to go. After what seemed an age but was only an hour and half we were directed to a bus for transfer to the ship. One of the other passengers told us to expect boarding to take time as we had to have a sea pass created with all our details on so we could come and go from the ship as we pleased. Plus, with almost 3000 people boarding that day it was unlikely it was going to be a speedy affair, but once again I was wrong. At least this time it was in our favour.

When we arrived at the dock we had to show our papers to the security officer who was directing everyone to join one of 3 queues, all of which we fairly lengthy. However once we produced our papers the man’s face broke into a huge smile and said “Aaah you have a suite you are very special guest.” It was true, I had decided that as this was going to be the holiday of a lifetime for us, I wanted to do it properly and had spent extra money booking a Grand Suite with a balcony so that we could enjoy watching the ocean and sunsets and beautiful scenic views. The guy led us past all three queues straight to the front of the boarding line and showed us straight to the desk where our sea passes were made up in record time and before we knew it we were boarding the Adventure of the Seas. The whole process took about 5 minutes and I have to say it was amazing walking past the hundreds of people queueing for about the 50th time but this time in the boiling heat. We stepped into the belly of the ship to be greeted, by name, by some of the staff and told to go and have lunch and wait for our cabin to be ready. Wow this was starting off very well indeed.

Stepping into the glass lift and pressing floor 11 as we had been directed, we watched as we ascended over the most fabulous promenade. Shops, cafes, bars, even an English pub all waited for us to explore. Everything seemed to be made of gold from the handrails to the fixings for the gigantic chandeliers which hung everywhere. Never in my life had I seen such ostentation done so well.  Calypso music welcomed us to the 11th floor where we were shown into the largest buffet restaurant I had ever seen. Sam’s face was a picture with his mouth open, for once not having any words.

Sam has found the food

Sam has found the food

So, we come to the food. Everyone I have ever spoken to about cruising has told me that the food is spectacular and that there is nothing like it. Yep that pretty much sums it up.  Salads, chicken, fish, fruit, pasta, soups, breads, desserts, every type of food imaginable was there for our enjoyment. I can only begin to imagine how many people it takes to make this amount of food 3 times per day every single day for 3000 people. Not only that but this was one of about 8 restaurants on board, mind-blowing.  I can’t even remember what I ate now, I just know it was delicious and I am so glad I am not on a diet right now.

Soon enough an announcement came over the tannoy system that cabins were ready so we excitedly rushed to find ours. Of course that was easier said than done and we got lost at least three times, ending up in the theatre, the ice rink and the promenade before finding out corridor.  Sam put the car key in the lock and pushed open the door to our suite.  WOW! A huge double bed, a sofa bed, a beautiful bathroom, a mini bar, big flat screen TV and a double balcony were ours for the next 16 days. Not too shabby for Mrs Julie (as I was to be called from now on by the staff).  We could certainly get used to this, especially when we found out that we have our own personal concierge, Fernando who makes up our room twice a day, and who gave us his card telling us to call him any time if we needed anything. We found out later that the general sea passes are blue whereas ours are gold and it is a great buzz to produce it and be given special treatment like VIP seats at shows, priority dining, and access to the VIP pre dining area.

We set sail at 8pm on an overnight cruise to our first port of call St Croix in the US Virgin Islands. Don’t go away, my next blog will tell you all about St Croix and our next stop St Maarten where we had an amazing encounter with a huge astronauts helmet and millions of tropical fish.

Our mini bar area, stocked I may add.

Our mini bar area, stocked I may add.

Ahoy there mateys, til next time.

 

Julie 🙂