November 28, 2017

Day 4 – St Thomas

We arrive in St Thomas before 8:00 AM and the ship is quickly cleared. The Jewel of The Seas shares our dock at Crown Bay. I didn't catch all the details but there were several reasons we were not able to dock at the main dock near the center of town. A ship being used to house FEMA has taken one berth, construction has further reduced space, and also that the fees have been raised there. Could local politicians want more revenue for the cab drivers?

I decide to walk around the shopping area near the pier, and not take a taxi into town.

Most, but not all, of the major shops are open. Most have electricity, but few have air conditioning. Looking at the hillsides around the port there are many roofs covered with blue tarps. One building looks like the entire upper levels are gone. Around the bay there are still numerous yachts and sailboats grounded on the shore, millions of dollars in property being pounded to rubble by the tides and waves. A nearby government building currently sports a blue tarp roof. A dock is being used as a parking lot for all types of emergency vehicles from electric utility trucks to what I assume to be nation guard vehicles and medical emergency response vehicles.

Visible through the windows of several closed stores are boxes and boxes of merchandise that obviously has been soaked with water. Without venturing past the immediate area of the ships dock, I have no idea the conditions of local housing. Considering the damage to concrete commercial structures I can only imagine it is substantial.

Seeing the first passengers returning to the ship, our collective contribution to the local economy is substantial. Many passengers are talking about their new jewelry purchases, often with the added comment that they really didn't need it, but the purchase would help the local economy.

Now that Thanksgiving is over, the ship is being decorated for Christmas. A large tree towers the two decks of the dining room, and all the railings in the atrium are decorated with lights, balls and greenery. Even Mario, the concierge host, has an 18 inch tree on his desk.

I have heard nothing about the top tier party, and haven't heard how many loyalty passengers are on board. What I do know it there are many many more than the diamond lounge and concierge lounge can handle, and Royal is making no attempt to expand the area to accommodate all the guests. So far in the Concierge Lounge one of the bar tenders starts setting up about 3:00 or 3:30. The lounge is supposed to open at 4:30, but no additional servers arrive until about 4:45. As a result service is pretty slow until after 5:30 when quite a few passengers start leaving for dinner. This should improve as the cruise progresses and some guests just give up on trying to go to the lounge. Exactly what Miami wants.

We leave port about 5:00, headed to our next destination, Martinique. The seas remain slight, and our cruising speed will be just above 16 Knots.

This ship is one of few in the world that is powered by turbine engines. The design was popular for a couple of years, and Royal and Celebrity both have a class of ships with them. Within just a few years the economics of fuel cost changed, and today these are far from the most efficient ships, though they are some of the cleanest as far as air pollution. One of the big downsides is that these are very inefficient while we are in port, or cruising at very sloe speeds. Think jet engines used on 747 aircraft. Our engines are similar.

Pork scallopini for dinner in the Windjammer followed by listening to Anna on the piano in the Centrum. The entertainment tonight is described as an "International Instrumentalist". The reality is that he is a flute player, originally from Ireland and now living in Las Vegas. He was very good, and the audience enjoyed his performance. Truthfully, if he was billed as a flute player, the theater probably would have been empty.

Our arrival is expected at 11:00 in Martinique tomorrow morning.

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