March 09, 2023

Day 6, St Croix, USVI

Passengers are already disembrking the ship before I even head to breakfast. St Croix is probably the least spoiled of any islands that cruise ships stop at in the Caribbean. Any shore excursions that we would have an interest in have been sold out for weeks, probably since before we booked this cruise.

I elect to stay on the ship, others are going to walk into town for a little sight seeing and probably a beer. The water here is very clean, many turtles and fish can be seen beside the pier. Diving and snorkeling are popular activites.

Today is another day of practice for the crew. A fire to extinguish, flooding in an engine room compartment, and loading of some of the life rafts. All a drill of course, but the more they practice the better and easier it will be when it is for real. Fortunately it has been years since I have been on a ship with an emergency.  That was a fire in the laundry room directly under the theater. I shouldn't tell you that many passengers refused to leave when they were told to evacuate. They insisted it was just part of the show. Of course the fact that the show was halted, the curtains drawn and the house lights turned up before the announcement was made several times from the stage didn't seem unusual to them. Anyway I digress.

It is a short stay in St Croix and we are underway at our scheduled departure of 2:00 PM.  Yesterday we were missing 2 passengers in St Marteen, I don't know for sure whether they eventually made it to the ship or were left there. Everyone is accounted for today.

As we leave, the seas are almost as flat as glass. The captain tells us to enjoy ourslves as the seas will be increasing over the next day and a half, partly from strong NorthEast winds, and partly because of a very strong storm in the Atlantic east  of new england producing 30 foot swells which travel unimpeded towards the Caribbean.

Several humpback whales are spotted  by a few passengers mid afternoon. They migrate thru this area this time of year.

There is a georgous sunset today, with some passengers catching the elusive green flash as the sun sets over the horizon. The seas continue to build as the captain predicted, and by dinnertime sloshing of liquid in your beverage glass is apparent. It is prudent to watch where you walk, and be prepared to grab a handrail should the ship suddenly roll to port while you are expecting it to go to starboard. Stabilizers greatly reduce the roll,  but impart more sudden unexpected movements to  the ship.

The show tonight is a couple of comedians. Not bad, just plain fun, they were enjoyable.

By bedtime the ship  is rolling and pitching a fair amount. Most passengers are having no difficulty walking, some are beginning to complain while others are enjoying the feel of actually being at sea.

Tomorrow we will be at sea all day as we head to Coco Cay, Royal's private island in the Bahamas. The skies remain clear, and the temperatures in the lower 70's.

Day 5 Phillipsburg, St Maarten

We arrive and are cleared to disembark by 10 AM. There is a plan to meet at The Lazy Lizzard 2 for lunch. But first a little background is appropriate.

Nik had owned and operated The Lazy Lizzard for many years until the facility was destroyed by a hurricane and the ensuing looting. I would visit every time I was in St Maarten to have a few adult beverages and often lunch. Devastated at his loss Nik floundered for a few years including a 3 month stint in central Florida before deciding his true passion was the bar and restaurant business.

This year he decided to reopen, not far from his old location. With a temporary sign, and a half decorated space, he started a soft opening this past week. Many of his previous staff have returned, but today he is without a chef.

It has been several years since I took the water taxi in St Marteen. Today I took the wrong one. There is a large one which only goes to the two larger docks along the beach, and a smaller one which also goes to the marina dock where I wished to go.  I get off as close as I can to where I think the new restaurant is. I thought I should walk to the right, but Google maps keeps telling me to go to the left. A quarter mile later and I know Google maps is wrong and turn around.

Eventually we  make it to the new location. Had I taken  the correct water taxi it would have been a few hundred feet instead of a mile or so.

It is good to see Nik, a cold Diet Coke is the first order of business.  Adrienne and Steve have been waiting for us since I boarded the wrong ferry. Pann and Terry have been at the beach and soon join us for lunch.

Steve helps Nik get the location corrected on Google. Several rounds and we order lunch.

After a large basket of BBQ chicken wings and the hottest fries I have had in months we head back to the ship. A short walk to the correct water taxi, hop on the  boat, walk 25 yards and get on the shuttle to return the the ship. The shuttle drops us off at the gangway and we are back at our temporary home mere minutes after leaving The Lazy Lizzard 2.

A TUI ship is at the next pier, much larger than us, probably came form Europe. Royal previously had  an interest in TUI, but divested that interest several years ago.

The usual cocktails in the concierge lounge and dinner in the dining room. I have yet to see the lounge at capacity, a good thing for the passengers as we can always find seating.

The seas are very slight as we depart St Marten heading to St. Croix.

The show tonight is "Tango Buenos Aires". An excellent performance performed to a nearly full theater.

By bedtime the seas have picked up slightly, the skies remain clear and the temperatures a balmy high 70's.