Graduation Caribbean Cruise Friday, May 30 - June 7, 2014

Published: June 6th 2014
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Sunday, June 1, 2014

Today we are visiting the island of St. Thomas. When visiting this island in December 2013, we have vivid memories of all the mega yachts lining the harbor, however this time, there were very few yachts. I suspect most of them headed to the east coast for the summer. Cindy and I had a late tour this morning; however Jenny and Marcus needed to get off the ship early, 8:15 am. There tour was swimming with sea lions, this sounds really fun. Michael and Brian’s tour was with Cindy and I along with Brian’s family, Charles and Cathy. Our tour started at 9:30 am. Cindy and I ate breakfast in the dining room. We really enjoy eating breakfast in the dining room. We meet a really nice family from the Boston area, Peabody. Their daughter is a junior in college. Cindy and I ate eggs and toast this morning.

We met our tour guide at the pier and after a few minutes of waiting, we proceeded to your bus. Our bus was not your typical bus, rather an open air bus. I was not sure I was going to like this; however it ended up being ok. Our tour today was called a Lovely Island and Beach Tour. It is a half day tour visiting a few sites on the island and ending on the beautiful beach of Megan’s Bay beach. During our tour, the tour guide shared some of the following pieces of information about St. Thomas. Saint Thomas is an island in the Caribbean Sea and, together with St. John and Water Island, forms a county and constituent district of the United States Virgin Islands (USVI), an unincorporated territory of the United States. Located on the island is the territorial capital and port of Charlotte Amalie. As of the 2010 census, the population of Saint Thomas was 51,634 about 48.5%!o(MISSING)f the US Virgin Islands total. The district has a land area of 31.24 square miles (80.9 km2).

The island was originally settled around 1500 BC by the Ciboney people. They were later replaced by the Arawaks and then the Caribs. Christopher Columbus sighted the island in 1493 on his second voyage to the "New World". The Caribs barely survived the first decades of contact with Europeans, either due to disease, deportation into slavery or being killed.

In 1917, St. Thomas was purchased (along with Saint John and Saint Croix) by the United States for $25 million in gold, as part of a defensive strategy to maintain control over the Caribbean and the Panama Canal during the First World War. The transfer occurred on March 31, 1917, behind Fort Christian before the barracks that now house the Legislature of the U.S Virgin Islands. The baccalaureate service for the transfer was held at the St. Thomas Reformed Church as it was identified as the American church in the Danish West Indies.

Our open air bus drove away from port and up the mountainous and lush green terrain. We stopped at two beautiful overlook areas; Valdemar and Beacon’s Points. The mountain range area was called Raphune Hill. The views from this vantage point were breath taking. You can see the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean as well as the beautiful island of St. John. The tropical breeze was just incredible and so relaxing. Cindy and I visited this island 25 years ago and snorkeled there. We took several photos from both look out areas, some included our cruise ship in the background. There were a few interesting observations when we were at Beacon’s Point. One is this tour guide said the haze that we were observing sub-Sahara desert dust. He claims that when they see the sub-Sahara desert dust this means no hurricanes. Being in the insurance industry I like hearing this, ha. The other observation was we saw a female Iguana digging a hole to lay her eggs. I posted a picture of this in the blog entry. The last observation was a caged tropical bird, parrot I believe.

Following our overlook stops, we then drove to Botanical Gardens called St. Peter Great House and Botanical Gardens. This area was serious lush and very tropical. We were greeted by beautiful tropical flowers and small glasses of rum punch. Some of the flowers included birds of paradise, ginger, and trumpets. I included a few photos of this area. We only spent a short period of time here.

Once done at St. Peter Great House and Botanical Gardens, we drove to the beautiful beach of Megan’s Bay for beach time. During our bus ride, we met some super nice ladies, all from the Maryland area. I swear they were the funniest people I have met in a long time. They were full one liners. We arrived at Megan’s Bay beach and the area was absolutely beautiful. The beach area was lined with white sandy beach and leaning palm trees and mountains on both sides, as well as very lite surf. We are scheduled to be here for 2 hours. At some point during our beach stop, we all went into the crystal clear water. Surprisingly the water temperature was cold. It is hard to believe because it is summer time and in the Caribbean. During our two hour stop, we also walked the beach, took photos, and just laid in the sun. I little sunburn went around, even with sunscreen. We read about this beach before booking the tour and they said that the area was always packed with visitors; however it is the off season for tourism, so we basically had the beach to ourselves, relatively speaking. We all really relaxed here on the beach, how can you not when the area is super beautiful. Once our two hours were done, we had to head back to the port to reboard our ship, L. One nice observation at this beach is they had a changing area and showers. This is a big help considering salt water is pretty rough on your skin. There was also a nice, but small bar and restaurant area.

Once back at the ship, we had not eaten lunch, we dropped off our stuff and then headed to the Windjammer for a lite lunch, it was 2:00pm, dinner at 6:00pm.

Tonight is the first formal night. Cindy and Jenny had hair appointments around 3:00pm. This is a tradition they have been doing for formal nights since we started cruising.

After a quick shower, getting dressed in our formal wear, we heading to the Centrum area to take a ton of photos. We also had our traditional drink before dinner, something we started when traveling with Cindy’s parents. We had the drink of the day in the Champagne lounge. The drink of the day, in our take-a-way glass, is Paradise Punch. The Paradise Punch included Bacardi rum, coconut rum, peach schnapps and pineapple and cranberry juices, shaken and served on the rocks. Always a good price, $6.75 including the glass.

Our dinner started at 6:00pm and it was really great seeing everyone dressed up, particularly those at our table. I included a group photo of us at the dinner table. The food was awesome as usual. The dinner theme is Saffrone. A little about Saffrone. This spice arrived in Scandinavia in the 1300’s, the rare Asian ingredient was reserved as a luxury for special occasions. The menu items include the following.

Starters: Shaved Cantaloupe and honeydew melon, bay scallop gratin, oakwood smoked chicken breast, traditional lobster bisque, double-boiled chicken consommé, chilled banana and rum soup, roman vignole salad, royal shrimp cocktail, and escargots bourguidnonne.

Main Course: Shrimp Ravioli, artichoke-filled crepes au gratin, roasted duck, pan fried silver corvine fillet, carved filet of beef tenderloin, and grilled salmon vignole salad. I don’t remember all the desserts, however they were awesome and everyone partook in desserts.

Following dinner, we took some additional photos with Jenny and Marcus. One area we missed earlier was the stairway; this was a beautiful spot for taking photos.

Before calling it a night, we attended the famous Royal Caribbean Battle of the Sexes game show. This show is seriously entertaining, women against the men. I will not get into the specifics on what type of adult games they did, but just image. I included one photo for your imagination.

We called it a night since we had another tour scheduled for the morning time. We will visit a new island for Cindy and I, St. Kitts. We are looking forward to our day tomorrow. I can’t wait to write about it.

Additional photos below
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