Shut Up and Let's Just Snorkel

Published: December 23rd 2007
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After spending the entire day in Puerto Rico as a walking zombie, I awoke this morning completely rejuvenated and ready to start exploring. The first port of call on this cruise was Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. I had heard much about the over commercialized nature of the island of St. Thomas. However, I wanted to see a part of the Virgin Islands that was a bit untouched. Prior to the trip, I had done a little research and discovered that the nearby island of St. John's was pretty much untouched by mass tourism.

On St. John's you would find stunning natural beauty, white sand beaches, and the only tropical rain forest in the US National Park System. With all that in mind, we decided to take the cruise sponsored excursion to St. John's. After breakfast at the Windjammer Cafe, we checked out the view of Charlotte Amalie from the outside deck. The view of the harbor was stunning with all the boats anchored in the harbor. It was still early in the morning but we can already tell that it was going to be a great day to hang out on the beach.

Once we got off the ship, we hung around the dock for a little while and waited for everybody who was going on this excursion. We started talking a little with 2 older women from New York. They seemed pretty clueless as they had just purchased a digital camera but had no idea how to operate it. Finally, everybody had arrived who was going on this excursion and we all walked over to the ferry that was going to transport us to St. John's. We all got seats on the upper deck to enjoy the view as well as soak up the sun's rays. The ferry's route was to cruise along the southern coastline of St. Thomas before pulling into Cruz Bay on St. John's.

The ride along the coastline took us by some very upscale 5 star resorts as well as some expensive homes. Some of the expensive homes we saw were owned by Madonna, Alan Alda, Michael Jordan, and Tim Duncan. The coastline of St. Thomas was absolutely beautiful but before we knew it, we were crossing the channel towards St. John's. While I was enjoying the view and the cool breezy air,
On the Ferry to St. John'sOn the Ferry to St. John'sOn the Ferry to St. John's

Cruising past the homes of Michael Jordan and Tim Duncan
I started feeling a few drops fall on my head. I thought it was just mist from the sea when all of a sudden the sky broke open into a full on downpour. Everyone ran to seek shelter but once the upper deck was clear, the downpour had stopped. This sporadic rainfall which would last only a few minutes was going to be a common occurance on this cruise.

We pulled into little harbor at Cruz Bay and once we got off the ferry, we all boarded these trolley like vehicles that would take us around the island. While driving through the windy hilly roads, I noticed that people here drove on the left side of the road. I thought this to be quite odd since the Virgin Islands are part of the United States. We made a few photo-op stops at scenic overlooks but at the third scenic stop, we had a view of the most gorgeous beach I have ever seen. The waters were crystal clear with white sand and the rainforest coming right to the edge of the beach. Everyone in our vehicle was in awe of this view. Then the driver explained to us that this beach was where we were going to be snorkeling. Everyone immediately became excited to be spending time at this beach. This beach was called Trunk Bay beach and was part of the Virgin Islands National Park. Once we arrived, those of us doing the snorkeling had a quick introduction to the equipment as well as where to snorkel. Having been snorkeling before, I felt like yelling "shut up and let's just snorkel". Everybody else used the time to just relax and lay-out on the beach.

Once Shea and I received our snorkeling equipment, we found a shady spot to lay out our towels. I decided to dip my feet to test out the waters only to find it a bit chilly and not as warm as I was expecting. It took us a while to get used to the fins, the snorkel, and the goggles. Since I hadn't been snorkeling since 2003, I found it quite difficult to get used to breathing through my mouth. Every once in a while, I would breathe through my nose or dip my head deep enough to cause water to enter the snorkel. This would cause me to start choking
Beautiful Trunk BayBeautiful Trunk BayBeautiful Trunk Bay

Voted one of the world's top 10 most beautiful beaches
on a mouthful of sea water. The flippers seemed to be restricting my movement and I was really contemplating taking them off. Once I was out where the water depth was beyond where I can touch the ground, I started getting a little panic attack and had to swim back to the shallow end. After gathering myself and calming down, I was finally able to get the hang of things and swim out towards the reef. The reef wasn't anything spectacular. It was a good 15 feet below the surface of the water so you couldn't really see anything up close. There didn't seem to be that many fish either. Down in the reef, there were signs explaining what you were seeing as well as arrows directing you where to go. At some points of the snorkel, it got a little too congested with other snorkelers. I was getting worried of being kicked in the face by someone's flipper or kicking someone else in the face with mine. After a while, it all began to get a little boring so Shea and I just swam around taking photos of ourselves with our underwater camera.

The remainder of our time here at Trunk Bay, we just sat around admiring the landscape and took more photos. After a little less than 2 hours, we were back on the trolley to take us back to the ferry. The ride back to St. Thomas seemed to take much longer this time. We endured another heavy downpour which Shea and I waited out drinking beers along the side of the boat. Back at the port, we decided to return to the ship in order to freshen up as well as have lunch. Why spend money at a restaurant when lunch is free aboard the ship? After lunch, we decided to take a taxi into Charlotte Amalie to check out with the town has to offer. The drive was only about 5 minutes and for $15, we probably should have just walked it. After being dropped off and not knowing where to go, we just ventured through a few alleyways and side streets trying to find anything of sightseeing value. All we found were just more tourist shops and a plethora of jewelery and diamond stores. Not surprising, since St. Thomas is known for their duty free shopping. With not much else to see, we just decided to catch another taxi back to the terminal and explore the shops there.

Tonight, instead of hitting up the Windjammer Cafe for the buffet dinner, we decided to have dinner in the formal dining room. I was content with skipping out on the formal dinners but Shea was insisting that it would be fun. Tonight's dinner was the first of 2 formal dress up nights and the ship was abuzz with everybody dressed up in their best outfits. While wandering the ship during the first dinner seating, we noticed everybody having their pictures taken. Although it would have been nice, we decided not to have our photos taken. The costs for the photos would probably have been a budget buster. However prior to our dinner during the second seating, we did have our photos taken with the ship's captain in the Schooner Lounge. He was having a meet and greet session for anyone interested for about 45 minutes. At dinner, we met out waiter Radimoj who was from Slovenia as well as 2 of our dinner mates. Josh, a used car salesman and Jessica, a nurse, were a recently married couple from South Carolina. First impressions of them were very good. They seemed like genuinely nice people and we made good small talk. However, we just did not seem to have very much in common with them. I wasn't overly impressed with the dinner tonight. The buffet style dinner at the Windjammer Cafe would probably have been more satisfying. After dinner, Shea and I just wandered the ship and took photos of ourselves all dressed up in our best outfits.

Additional photos below
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The American and US Virgin Islands flags

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