This would be my favouirte day of the whole trip.
We woke up late, mostly owing to our late night the evening before. That darned Michael had no hangover, despite the number of cocktails he had the night before. Today, we had breakfast delivered to the room and while they missed one of the items ordered, it was still nice to eat in the room. Our promenade room served us well here because the two sofas (one is the window seat) made a grouping around the coffee table for breakfast. The breakfast was tasty and we set off for the day soon after.
I must say that the port in St. Martin would be the nicest we would encounter. Everything was clearly signed and very clean looking, almost in a very Disney-version of pristine. They were giving away samples of the local drink, which was guava berry and there were a few souvenir and duty free shops, a launch for the water taxi to downtown and a good taxi area. You stood under the sign for the place you wanted to go and they grouped you to share cabs. We were off to Orient Beach almost immediately. Because our minivan-cab had 7 people, each person paid $6. For our return trip, it would just be Michael and me and it would cost $9 each, I believe.
Orient Beach is easily the nicest beach I have ever seen in my life. The sand is white and cool and the water feels like bath water, truly warm and refreshing. The beach is lined with restaurants and clubs and they all have padded deck chairs out front. We found an area we liked and a guy came and took our money. We were next to Kon Tiki at a little place that has since closed, I believe. They told us that they weren’t going to stay open through the summer. The cost for the chair seemed pretty standard on the beach. For $7 each, we got a chair, an umbrella and a drink.
Mike got settled in and we had a short splash in the water. I had been wanting to try parasailing so I went off to the booth and signed up. It was $45 for the experience and would have been $40 if I was a party of two or more. Mike is not a fan of heights and they were generous in saying he could come on the boat for free. I used my Visa and was impressed that he offered me the carbons afterward. In case you're wondering when you visit, I used the parasail that looks like a yellow happy face.
Those who know me would not be surprised by the fact that ten minutes later, I already had misplaced the ticket he gave me. We searched through everything and could not find it. Luckily, I’m fairly good natured and people tend to look out for me. I returned to the booth and asked him if I needed the ticket and he smiled and said I would be fine. Of course, immediately after I returned to my chair, I found the ticket in a pocket I had searched three times.
My swim trunks had a water wallet that consisted of a plastic envelope that folded over twice, had velcro and two ziplocks. It not only tended to keep the water out but me as well. I did not like this feature and island places seem ok with wet money. One of the places I visited even had a little "clothesline" at the cash where she tended the bills.
We basked in the nice sun for a while and then it was my turn to parasail. The fellow came and got us and took us out to the powerboat in a dingy. We toured around for a while as some people ahead of me went and they strapped me into my harness. Then, he said "who’s next?" and I was off. They hooked me in to the parasail and off I went. I have to say that this was very pretty and I was having fun but in case you are sitting on the fence about trying it, I can tell you it was not as "thrilling" as I thought it would be. There were none of the swoops or drops that I thought I would experience. I was not disappointed; it was just a different experience than I expected. While they’re letting the rope out, you just get further and further behind the boat at a decent height. When the slack is exhausted and the rope has some tension, you find yourself rising up in the sky. I could see islands at quite a distance and it was very peaceful and quiet. They reeled me in most of the way and then dipped me in the water for fun. I shrieked. I had seen them to do this to every single rider and it was still a surprise to hit the water. I’m sure you could ask them not to do this, if it made you feel nervous, but it was just a fun dip. You don’t twist about or anything. The landing on the boat was very gradual and the driver seemed to be very good at going just the right speed and direction to bring you in gently. I had a blast and later, Michael would say that he couldn’t believe how high up I had been. The pictures prove him right but I can tell you that it truly was not too frightening.
People ask what we did at Orient Beach. I say that I parasailed and that it was fun, freeing and a lasted about ten minutes. Invariably, if they know the beach, they ask if I went nude and I tell them it’s the same answer as parasailing. For those that don’t know, since the beach is in France and there is a clothing optional resort at one end, you will see some toplessness and some bottomlessness. It increases the more you get to the right end of the beach (facing the water). I know some people don’t go there because they have kids or feelings about nudity but I think that it could be a good lesson about body image. Certainly, most of the people who choose to go nude would be considered average by most anyone. Some of them are extra-average. I think that over-reacting to this just teaches kids to be ashamed of their bodies. That said, I was nude for all of ten minutes of the many hours we spent there. I was doing fine until I saw the women with the telephoto. Certainly, there seemed to be as many women "looking" as men, which sort of surprised me, in a rather chauvinistic way. I was amused that the women sitting next to us leaned forward to get a glimpse of Michael as he changed and only mildly insulted when they chose to skip me. Lastly, I could not get over how darkly tanned everyone’s naughty bits were!
We had a good lunch of chicken panini and a good chat with the folks at the restaurant. People in St. Martin seem to enjoy the Canadians because some of us speak French. We had a nice chat with the attendant, whose French was very Caribbean-accented but we found the cashier to have a textbook Parisian accent. We tried our best to only speak French to them and they seemed to like it. Mike is fluently bilingual and I try my best.
It was starting to look like it might rain and so our beach attendant got us a taxi. We got back to the pier and it was sunny on this side of the island. We shopped the pier a little and then boarded the ship. I wish I had got a St. Martin t-shirt because this day was the best of my trip.
Mike went back to the room for a nap, being rather sun-drowsy, and I decided to try the casino. My "system" is to bet high and quit as soon as you win. I won another $100 and left. I have never won so consistently in my life and I was starting to believe in my ability at these machines. Silly me.
We showered and then met Greg and Sean at the Viking Crown for drinks before dinner as we sailed out of St. Martin. They also joined us for dinner and people at the tables around us seemed to breathe a sigh of relief that we were not alone anymore. We had a nice meal of lobster and shrimp and Edwin brought everyone seconds. In all honestly, my lobster was bland and not very tasty. Everyone else at the table disagreed so I’m willing to admit that I may just have had a bad one (or two).
We went to the interent lounge after the dinner. I wanted to research our next cruise (yes, we’re hooked) and before we went to the re-booking lounge, I wanted to know the numbers. We had discussed cruising with Celebrity because we had heard that they have more sophisticated ships and exemplary food. The food on RCL was fine so far so we will be looking for Celebrity to knock our socks off to live up to their reputation. We decided that we wanted to try the Southern Caribbean, too.
Tonight’s show was a pop music production and was really well done. My only complaint was that they didn’t feature very much older music for the older crowd. There were lots of seniors happily listening to the extended Madonna medley. I would have happily listened to some Lena Horne or Etta James, too. I must say that the Royal Caribbean singers and dancers exceeded my expectations. I thought they would be the equivalent to theme park singers but they were really good. The choreography was quite involved and I’m impressed. The lead singers, in particular, were uniformly strong. They played at other venues (parades, concerts in the promenade, the nightclubs) and they were great.
The late night activity was Quest. It is best described as an adult scavenger hunt/game show, but you will not need to leave the room. It was very fun and we were exhausted from laughing by the end. There were a couple of couples in one section (it was held in studio B) who brought in armloads of things that they thought would be requested and the Cruise Director shamed them big time. We were all pleased by this. As the cruise director said, "what are you, nine?" The winners of the game didn’t win much more than a key chain so I don’t see why you wouldn’t come prepared for anything more than a fun evening.
We all went back to the Cosmopolitan Club next and the waitress already knew what we would want. I don’t know how they do that. Following that, we went and viewed the chef’s buffet. It was incredibly pretty and reminded me of Hilary Clinton’s book about entertaining at the White House. I was amazed at how they used the food in such an artistic way. There was caviar in an ice sculpture and bet it didn’t last long once they allowed folks to eat (the first 45 minutes are for photos only). I’m sure that folks’ pictures of this buffet form some very good advertising for the cruise line but I can never eat that much just before bed.
We went next to the dungeon for the Friends of Dorothy gathering. There were lots of people, but again, it seemed to be just the four of us at the FOD and a few lurkers. We stayed until about 2 a.m. and then went to bed. Again this night, the DJ took a sudden turn to urban/hip-hip and the dance floor cleared. I don’t get that.
Upcoming: Celebrity Equinox - February 2018 * Independence of the Seas - October 2018 * Celebrity Edge - February 2019