St. Thomas in the morning

Day 5 of the recap of my recent Celebrity Cruise aboard the Solstice with my husband to the Eastern Caribbean for our honeymoon.

Today our ship was arriving bright and early in St. Thomas, in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Shockingly for those reading this post, we had breakfast on our balcony. And to confirm, we had breakfast in our room each and every morning on this cruise that it was available. Unfortunately there is no option to have room service on the last morning. The choices were just awesome. We truly enjoyed our breakfast in our room each morning.

Our ship was scheduled to arrive in St. Thomas USVI at 7 a.m. I watched us pull in around 6 am, but we weren’t cleared through customs until 8 a.m.  Behind us came two other ships. We were docked at Havensight.

Great things about the port of St. Thomas in no real order:  1.) use US Currency, 2.) those with national service can use their cell phones in port, 3.) it’s easy to get around.

I am not typically a gal who does many shore excursions. I am a big fan of scuba diving, and the Eastern Caribbean is not known for their diving… I typically go on cruises to relax, not to be running from port to port doing activities. However, this was our honeymoon and I was bound to do something different than I typically would on a cruise.  I searched for a shore excursion prior to the trip, and found one that appealed to both of us.  It was a day trip (6 hours) on a sailboat.

To spend our day on the sailboat, we were told to taxi to Sapphire Beach Marina. This is the part that is always an adventure. Trying to get to your shore excursion at the time required. We got off the ship and asked someone in charge of taxi’s for a taxi to the beach. We were put on a taxi that was already leaving the port area. $10 per person and half hour drive in an open air taxi we arrived at the beach.

We spent the day on the New Horizon sailboat. The crew today consisted of a captain and a 1st mate.  There were about 12 people on board with us today- apparently there is typically more. They increase the crew if there are more passengers. The boat was set to make two stops on our day at sea. We boarded and were given a couple of bread options to choose from – chocolate and banana nut. We were also given a choice of juice/water.  We sailed to Honeymoon Beach– on St. John. We were left to snorkel or hang out on the boat. The water was very inviting. We jumped in for a swim and quick snorkel. The water was a bit more fun to swim in than to snorkel, but it was fine. The snorkeling does not compare to that in the Western Caribbean, but it was still fun.  After snorkeling they started serving drinks- mixed drinks, blended drinks, beer and pop.  The crew also set up lunch for us – pasta with meatballs, italian bread, green beans, fruit and brownies. It was a nice spread especially for being served on a sailboat!  We sailed on to Christmas Cove, on Great St. James. More snorkeling and more drinks. It really was a fun fun day!  [Email me if you are interested in booking this shore excursion for your upcoming cruise. christy@www.packyourpixiedust.com]

As an experienced cruiser, I felt comfortable booking a shore excursion on my own. With that comes the added responsibility of making sure you work out all the details – ship time vs. local time, the logistics of the transportation to the excursion, etc. The one advantage to booking the excursion with the cruise line is they figure all of that out, and just tell you where to meet – typically on the pier or in a lounge on the ship and at what time. Easy.  But some advantages of doing your own excursion are: you usually save money and you can try something different.

We had a couple of hours before the ship departed when we were dropped back off on the ship. We had the choice to do some shopping or head back to the cabin. I had never been to this pier before. The port I am used to has shopping in a normal city. This pier is in a small industrial area has the same shops as usual, but in small stores in rows of strip mall like buildings.  It would make shopping more convenient, because everything is close together. But it was just not inviting.

So, to our cabin we went – up the 10 flights of stairs from floor 2 up to 11. We snacked on cookies and snacks from our butler. If you were not in a suite or concierge class cabin, you could go up to floor 5 and have a snack from Cafe al Bacio (there is not a charge to eat the snacks here, only if you want specialty coffees). The other snack options in the late afternoon can be found at the Mast Grill or the Oceanview Cafe.

So, we had our snacks. And dealt with the sale of my husband’s house. (Which had to be done this week. Another reason to make sure you have valid Power’s of Attorney in place before you leave town. With the POA’s, my mother was allowed to sign on our behalf for the sale of his house.)

Dinner tonight was again in the Grand Epernay Restaurant (the main dining room). On the menu were the famous meatballs and short ribs. Since we had meatballs with lunch that day, neither of us ordered those. My husband ordered and enjoyed the short ribs. I had the NY strip steak from the ‘everyday’ menu. It was good. For dessert they served chocolate souffle, which wasn’t on the menu, but was offered.

That night the show was a husband and wife team of comedy and impersonations (Karen and Don Grainger). We did not attend as we were tired from being out in the sun all day.

Stay tuned for the next post – the final days at sea. Until then – Happy Travels!

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