June 2011 Eastern Caribbean Cruise highlights
Just back from a great vacation in the Eastern Caribbean. We left Houston on June 18th and headed to Orlando.
With the extra time, we rented a car on Priceline from Hertz for $22 and headed to Downtown Disney for the evening. I was surprised over Hertz's definition of a mid-size car as I was given a choice between a Jetta and a Corolla. I picked the Jetta so I could try out a VW and zip around. Cute car, terrible color though.
Anywho, we enjoyed a peanut butter and fudge sundae at Ghiradelli's and did some browsing in the Disney stores before we settled in at Happy Hour outside of Raglan Road.
A BIG THANKS to Sunshine Rewards. I had a left over WDW gift card from 2008 (I know who does that?! ) and it gave Mike and I an extra $100 to eat and drink away that night.
Sunday we went back to the airport to drop off the car and catch the bus to Port Caneveral. We made it onto the cruise ship by 1 and had lunch at 1:30 before hitting the pool and beginning my read-a-thon.
Our ship was Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas and the ship was nice but the cruise director was a total douche and the activities he planned were lame. The semi cool activities planned all charged money so we mainly stuck with the pool area, our room, the flow rider, and the gym.
The first day we went to the RCCL private island of Coco Cay in the Bahamas. We started the morning with Yoga on the Beach (way too hot) and then spent the rest of the day laying on the beach and eating. We also got in the water a little and swam with some stray sting rays. Overall a peaceful day minus the 10 minute rain shower.
Day two was a day at sea and we spent the day doing more of the same: exercising, eating, drinking, laying, and reading. Very lovely.
Day three was in St. Thomas, USVI
We planned our excursion to have a short tour of the island and then end at Magen's Beach. Magen's Beach was named one of the top 10 most beautiful beaches by National Geographic so it had some high expectations to meet.
I was very much expecting a flat, sandy beach type island but what I saw was much different.
To keep with tradition, Mike and I found the local beer of the island and did our usual photo with the bottle before downing it. Blackbeard's Ale is a darker beer - like a Newcastle Brown Ale or an Oktoberfest. There was a little bit of an odd taste that I couldn't place but it was like a spice that was added in for flavor. It wasn't a bad beer but it bugs me that I can't figure it out.
A view of the port
Magen's Beach from above
Local Beer #2 Carib
Looked like a Corona but had a weird after taste. After trying it twice I gave up on it and went to Heineken.
Finally at Magen's Beach
Thumbs up for St. Thomas overall. I could totally spend a week there and be a happy girl.
Our last port of call was St. Maarten. A very interesting island as it is half Dutch and half French. You see welcome signs everytime you cross a border between the two sides. Since the border isn't a straight line you see these signs frequently. Also everything is kept fairly separated between the two countries. There is an airport on both the dutch and the french side so they can both have their own airport and things like that. They also don't share the same currency and the languages they teach in school are different - Dutch, English & Spanish on the Dutch side and French, Spanish, and English on the French side.
I really really wanted to love St. Maarten but for some reason the island was just "okay" after spending the previous day at St. Thomas. Not sure why that was.
Our excursion took us on a lovely island tour by a semi-airconditioned passenger Hyundai van. We saw the Dutch side and then headed to the French capital of Marigot. One thing about St. Maarten is that they are known for their salt. This is the first salt pond on the island. When the salt is ready to harvest, the water will turn pink. The Dutch were heavy exporters back in the day while the French were hoarders to keep their fish preserved.
There we were left for an hour and a half to "shop". After 20 minutes Mike and I did the usual and found a place to have a beer and sweat until we went to our next stop. Normally I'm a shop till you drop girl but the French side prices everything in Euros so with the conversion factor there were no bargains to be had coupled with Mike's pure hatrid of flea market environments (so sad) so no souvineers for me.
Once we got back on the bus/van, we headed for the private resort that was on the Dutch side near Phillipsburg. This was touted to be a private resort that is all inclusive, thus the reason we paid a little extra. We drive up and it is a Westin Hotel that is beach front and to the side they have some chairs in the blazing heat for "us". Lovely. Then we see the limited menu and know this is not going to be like our experience in Cosumel last year at the all inclusive. Add in bar drinks with more sugar than rum and hot beers and we weren't the happiest people but we made do and still had a good time.
This beach wasn't quite as calm as Magen's Beach but the sand was really cool since it was made of volcanic rock.
Our last two days were spent at Sea. I continued my Read-A-Thon at the pool and did a little boogie boarding at sea.
The Flow Rider was the highlight of the boat. Very fun and would do it a million times again.
Surfin was a tad harder than it looked
So I stuck to the boogie board
Next year my goal is to climb the rock climbing wall so I'm working on my upper body strength right now and losing the flab in the middle.
So there you have it. A one week cruise with Royal Caribbean. It was a fabulous time and Mike and I really appreciated the extra money we earned with SR so we could enjoy our excursions, coke cups, and buckets of beer.
I'm happy to give you a distraction. Maybe we should start a Wordless Wednesday Thread each week in the forums where the only thing you can post is a photo.
Loved reading about your cruise Cate! Thanks for sharing your photos. Sounds like ya'll had a wonderful time.
Love your TR! I've always wanted to do this cruise with Carnival. I'm glad to hear the good report on St. Thomas as that's one of the places I've been looking at. Still undecided as to where to go this Summer. That's sad I know. LOL.
Anyway, great pictures and I love the idea of Wordless Wednesday.