Saturday 28 January 2017

The Glory Days: St. Thomas

St. Thomas is the oceanfront paradise of the U.S Virgin Islands. There are a million things to do on the island: shopping, sailing, snorkelling, sightseeing, diving and dining. We've docked at St. Thomas during every one of our Caribbean cruises, so we've definitely taken advantage of the snorkelling, sailing, shopping and sightseeing excursions they have to offer in the past. We were also very familiar with Downtown and the port area so we decided to take it easy this time. There are two ports at St. Thomas: Havensight and Crown Bay. Havensight is the port you'd want to be docked at. Thankfully, the Glory did docked at Havensight, the busier port with a shopping mall.

It was a very dry, hot day in St. Thomas. We had no real plans, but to revisit Downtown and the port area. We walked around the port area for a little while visiting the duty-free jewellery stores and liquor stores. I took this opportunity to buy some souvenirs for my colleagues. From the port, you can catch a taxi to Downtown for $4 per person. Since we had plenty of time, we decided to take a little ride. We didn't stay in Downtown for long, they do have the same stores as the port area - Diamond International, Little Switzerland, etc. They also have some American stores, such as Billabong and Foot Locker. The fiancé stopped by Billabong and bought a t-shirt. One nice thing about the Downtown area is that it is directly across from Havensight. You get a beautiful view of the island and the ships docked at the port. We took a few pictures before grabbing a taxi to get back to the port, which cost another $4. Tip: Be sure to ask your driver which port he/she is headed to before getting into the shuttle, you do not want to end up at Crown Bay when your ship is at Havensight during boarding time!

If you are in need of supplies, you're in luck. St. Thomas has a K-Mart. It is probably the only American big box store near the port on the island. Although the prices are a bit high, they have everything you may need. It's not a super far from the port, and you can definitely walk there in 7-10 minutes. However, if you are buying heavy items and you are not a fan of long walks in the heat, I definitely recommend taking a taxi because it is HOT. We'd walked to K-Mart during previous visits, so we decided to take a walk to buy some toiletries. On the way to K-Mart, we passed by a local grocery store. One of our favourite things to do is see what grocery stores have in foreign countries, so we popped in to take a look. There was nothing super interesting - after all, we were on U.S. soil, and most items were probably imported from the U.S. But we did decide to buy some pop. Pop on the ship is expensive! Be sure to buy cans, as they do not allow bottles back on board. They may allow the odd bottle or two, but a pack of 6 is a big no-no. We didn't end up buying anything from K-Mart. But next to K-Mart is McDonald's, we were sweaty and thirsty from our hike so we treated ourselves to a passion fruit sundae each.

We walked back to Havensight and passed by The Shops at Yacht Haven Grande. The Shops at Yacht Haven Grande is just around the corner from the port, a two minute walk. The outdoor shopping centre boasts local stores and high fashion stores, such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton. We were passing-out-hot-and-tired at this point, so we decided to pop in a few stores for their air conditioning. These stores are duty-free so if you're looking for a brand name item, this is the place! When we were cooled down, we finally headed back toward the ship. There was a very long line of people heading back onboard, so it was back to being in the heat! While we were in line, the fiancé went back to purchase two bottles of Hennessy Pure White Cognac. These babies were selling like hot cakes! Why, you may ask? Hennessy Pure White Cognac is hard to come by as it is only sold in Europe or the Caribbean.

Despite a very long line back onboard, we were back on the ship by 5 pm. Sail away was at 6 pm but so was dinner, so we skipped sail away and cleaned ourselves up for dinner.

I had a minestrone soup, a beet carpaccio with arugula salad and ceviche, while the fiancé had beef tongue, ceviche and prosecution (not pictured). For our entrees, I had pasta and he had a stew. We also used our wine gift card for a bottle of Moscato.

There was no Playlist Productions or comedy show during the evening, so we ended up watching the Love & Marriage Show with Eric, our cruise director.

It was another early night for me as we were sailing into Puerto Rico bright and early the next morning. Stay tuned for our exciting DIY day in San Juan!

Wednesday 4 January 2017

The Glory Days: At Sea

Happy New Year!

Apologies for my absence! I've fallen behind on my cruise report. The hustle and bustle of the holidays had consumed my life for the last six weeks, but now that I'm done eating and socializing, I can finally get back to my blogging.

Our third day was the first of two sea days. We slept in with not much planned for the day. Thank God brunch on the Lido deck didn't end until 11:30. We made it just in time before the omelette station closed! During our meal, we met a friendly woman from Naples, Florida who was cruising with her mother from Naples, Italy. She noticed we were engaged and gave us some very interesting marriage advice!

We returned to our cabin to change into our bathing suits, and headed up to the deck for some sun. Unlike other ships (the Vista), we had no problem finding two chairs. We lounged by the main pool, and ordered some drinks to settle in. Shortly after, Eric, our cruise director, announced it was time for the The Very Hairy Chest Contest. Since we were sitting in the perfect spot, we decided to stay for the show. There are about 10 contestants, so the show took longer than usual. Both the men and women participating were such great sports; they had the entire crowd laughing. We spent the rest of our afternoon basking in the sun.

We returned to our cabin in the late afternoon to get ready for our first formal night of the cruise. While I was blowdrying my hair before dinner, my hair got caught in the hairdryer. I hadn't noticed but the cabin hairdryer was missing a filter, which is why my (medium length, not even that long) hair got caught. We didn't have scissors, so the fiancé had to pull my hair out from the hairdryer. It was excruciatingly painful. My hair was in a massive clump and I had to go up to the spa to get the knot cut. It was a scary moment for me because I honestly thought I'd be missing a patch of hair. Moral of the story: Make sure your hairdryer has a working filter!

As for dinner, it was lobster night!

The fiancé had fried oysters and a caesar salad (not pictured) to start while I had two of my favourite soups - mushroom and Italian wedding. For our mains, we both had lobster. For dessert, he had the creme brûlée and I had a very decadent malted chocolate hazelnut cake. As we ate, the serving staff serenaded us.

The Playlist Production show of the night was Motor City. Once again, the cast put on an incredible performance singing (and dancing to) hit classics of the 60s, 70s and 80s. I had a great time bopping along to songs like Brick House and Respect. We also caught the two comedy shows of the night, performed by the same two comedians as the night before (Jeff "Big Daddy" Wayne and Chris Wiles).

As usual, I decided to turn in early for some shut eye. When we returned to the cabin, our stateroom attendant had left us a $25 wine gift card. I'm pretty sure we received this gift card due to my traumatizing hairdryer incident. Thank you, Bagus!

The fiancé ventured back out to the casino as I was getting ready for bed. Unfortunately, the ship was undergoing water maintenance, and there was no running water on the ship. It was only 2 AM and the night was still young! I did manage to get a few cups from the dripping faucet to brush my teeth. By the time my fiancé returned around 4 AM, the water was running again.

Day four is a stop at one of our most visited ports: St. Thomas! We are always happy to be in a familiar port, and St. Thomas is a port we have visited during every Caribbean cruise. Stay tuned, I'll be sharing what we did on our casual "on-your-own" day. I'll have it up before the end of January, be sure to check back on the blog!