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Epic So. Caribbean trip report Jan 26-Feb 6 lots of photos


mimmy52
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Monday, February 3, Basseterre, St. Kitts

 

We arrived in St. Kitts before 8:00 am and docked next to the Anthem of the Seas.  We are still having beautiful weather and calm seas.

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I was in the theater at 8:00 for our 8:10 meeting time for our excursion called "Best of St. Kitts with Fairview Great House."  Since Sis and Bil had canceled the rest of their excursions, it was Bro, Sil, and me.  Well, we weren't the only ones in the theater, but there were a lot fewer compared to other days.  The first tour was called and about half in the theater left, then our tour was called and it seemed as if the rest of us left. 

 

We found our tour guide and followed her into St. Kitts where we joined a long line.  Entering St. Kitts

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We had entertainment

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They don't use buses on the islands but long vans (although sometimes I refer to it as a bus), so maybe 12-14 at a time were taken from the line and led to transportation.  You definitely don't want to get the seat where there's a wheel well.  There was a woman in our van who used a wheelchair, but she didn't get off at any of the stops.  It was hot that day and not all that cool in the van, but I hope she had enjoyment from watching the scenery.  I admire someone willing to go and she seemed to be by herself too.

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We drove through town in a lot of traffic and the usual sights were pointed out: government buildings, churches, schools, banks and as we got under way, hospitals.  It sounds as if there are a lot of doctors here.  We passed Independence Square which was a nice park and the Immaculate Conception Co-Cathedral.

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I can't remember if this was anything special or if I just decided it would make a nice picture.

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We passed the ferry terminal

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And two small trees covered with snowy egrets.

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I think this was just the entrance to upscale housing.

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Our first stop was Fairview Great House, built in 1701.  The parking lot was crowded.

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Fairview Great House was first the residence of a French military commander, then home to various families, a hotel in the 1960s, sat vacant for a while, then renovated for tourism.  We gathered around the dining room table as the guide told us about the House.

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We had 30 minutes free time and were welcome to look around on the second floor, but I decided to start with the botanical garden outside.

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Even though I didn't see a lot of flowers, it smelled really good outside.

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There was a pool in the back and it is free to anyone who lives on the island.  As our guide explained though, they are all busy working.

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There is also a lovely place to sit on a covered patio and enjoy the breeze. You could buy refreshments.

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I never did have time to go back inside to the second floor before we were off again.

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I liked the pink license plates in St. Kitts.  On our way to the next stop.

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These small roadside stands always interest me.

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Our guide would pull over to point out certain things of interest.  Trouble was, he was hard to understand when he used the microphone because he had it so close to his mouth and he talked loud which distorted his words.  He pulled over to talk about road construction.  A hurricane had destroyed a large section of the road we were on and it was being reconstructed.

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I take pictures of pretty houses too.

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We came to a herd of sheep being driven to fresh grass.

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And we passed the ruins of an old sugar mill

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Shortly after that, we came to our second stop, Caribelle Batik.  The parking lot was so jam-packed here that an attendant had to guide each van in.

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We were at Caribelle Batik ostensibly to see a batik demonstration but I think mostly to shop.  The grounds were beautiful though.

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There was a line to enter the area where the demonstration was supposed to take place.  It was also the shop.

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This was as much as I saw of the demonstration.  It was so crowded in there, everyone was being jostled, and this area for the demonstration was small.  

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There was a wall of photographs of famous people who had visited, and our guide was pointing them out to me and asking if I recognized any of them.  Some were royalty, one was President Jimmy Carter.  I recognized them and he seemed pleased.  I didn't stay inside long though.  It was so crowded it was hard to move forward, most of the space taken up with batik clothing for sale with customers crowded around the clothing.  I had to push my way through to get outside.  I spent the rest of the time there admiring the grounds.

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Judging by the number of bags carried back on the bus, the stop had been a hit. As we continued to the next stop, our driver pointed out various trees and told us how the leaves had been used before other medications became available.  Before they had toothbrushes, they used the leaves of a certain tree to clean their teeth.  We also saw of lot of hens and roosters beside the road.  The drive was interesting.

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Then we came to our last stop, the Brimstone Hill Fortress

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The hairpin turns up the mountain were scary. 

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The driver was almost constantly honking his horn, and there were plenty of reminders in case you thought it wasn't necessary.

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At the last couple of turns he had to position the large van to get through two narrow openings.  A regular bus would never have made it.

We had arrived.

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I guess this could be called the changing of the guard.  I felt sorry for the men who did this.  It was a hot day, those uniforms looked hot, and the little box they had to stand in looked hot too.

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It was a climb up a ramp with steps to the high point of the fortress.  A view after I got to the top.

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Another guard was stationed here.  They were certainly trying to be as authentic as possible.

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I headed back down before I'd climbed to the very top of the walls.  I hadn't found the stairs and I wanted to walk around below for a while too.  I didn't want to be the last one on the bus.  The views were interesting from below too.

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I joined Sil at the snack stand.  She hadn't attempted the climb.  Once I saw her drinking a Coke, I was thrilled. Coke products!  I had one too.

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A few minutes later, it was time to head back to the ship.  Once again the driver had to position the van on a curve to get through two narrow openings.  This is one of them.  The van goes through with only inches to spare on each side.  The fortress was my favorite stop of the day.

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We were dropped off by the shops in Basseterre.  Everyone seemed to be heading back to the docked ships, and most of the town seemed empty.  All aboard for the Epic wasn't until 4:30 so I was surprised, but maybe passengers planned to eat on the ship, then go out again.  Town was very close.

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There was a long line waiting to get through.  They expected to see a photo ID and many people had to dig through their belongings to find it.

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We went right to the buffet to eat.  I had lentil soup and a tuna salad sandwich.

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There's a wine vending machine in the Garden Cafe.  It wasn't included with the beverage package, but if you wanted wine all you had to do was go to the beverage station.

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We saw they had Cartoon Trivia in the atrium.  We didn't plan to play but we went to O'Sheehan's for a drink and watched over the railing.  I think I had a mudslide.  I know at some point on this cruise I did, and I loved it.  It was very filling though, like a milkshake.  

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They had some old cartoon characters but at least half were new that we didn't know.  Some we recognized like this one but couldn't place.

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And we knew this one was a Care Bear but didn't know which one.

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Bro and Sil went back to their cabin after that and I went to deck 16.  The Viking Sea was docked near us.

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I never did get in the pool.  I'm a germaphobe and am very leery of pools.  Hot tubs are totally out for me.

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But the slides looked fun.  Doesn't mean I went down one though.

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I was back in my cabin when I saw from the bridge camera that the sun was setting so I went back to deck 16 to take a few pictures.

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The five of us met in Maltings for a pre-dinner drink.  It was crowded and noisy as usual. Four people next to us were playing cards and one of them spilled a milky drink.  Was it ever messy!  It even went under the glass on the table.  The waiter cleaned off the table top but all that yuck was still under the glass. 

 

We ate at Taste.  We now ask for a round table (easier to hear each other talk) and off to the side where we won't smell the smoke.

 

I had smoked lobster ravioli for my appetizer.  I'd had it once before and liked it but this time it didn't seem as good.

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My entree was Broiled Rainbow Trout. Very pretty but so dry I ate only half of it.  

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To make up for the disappointing trout, I had two desserts.  Chocolate fudge cake without the fine print which said poached apricot compote, pistachio cream.

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The other was chocolate lava cake.  Maybe I had more wine than usual with dinner because these pictures are really blurred.

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This must have been the pound cake with vanilla pudding and that picture looks ok.

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We thought we would see the Wheel of Ill Will Game in the Atrium since that sounded like fun, but there were no chairs available.  We moved on to Headliners and Howl at the Moon and found a table with high chairs near the back.

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We'd had a lot of fun at Howl at the Moon the other night, but tonight it was off to a slow, kind of boring, start.  It's all about song requests and the songs requested weren't that great.  And the three musicians didn't seem to interact with each other very well.  It got going better when some faster songs were requested.  I guess the slower ones must have had big tips.  Sis and Bil went back to their cabin but Bro, Sil, and I stayed on.  When Rhonda was going to play a Gladys Knight song, she decided she needed some Pips.  Two guys in front were tagged immediately, then Brian walked around with the microphone looking for another.  He even tried to get someone from outside the Comedy Club.  When he came back in, he headed straight for Bro.  The audience chose who was to lead and the other two were to follow his movements.  I loved it.

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Those were great pictures of the fort.


I never liked being called out of the audience to go up on stage.  One time in Vegas I was picked out of the audience at a ventriloquist show and made a complete fool of myself.

 

As Anthem of the Seas departed St. Kitts the North Star observation globe had been raised.  The folks inside that thing must have had a heck of a view.

 

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On 2/22/2020 at 4:10 PM, Oakman58 said:

Those were great pictures of the fort.


I never liked being called out of the audience to go up on stage.  One time in Vegas I was picked out of the audience at a ventriloquist show and made a complete fool of myself.

 

As Anthem of the Seas departed St. Kitts the North Star observation globe had been raised.  The folks inside that thing must have had a heck of a view.

 

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It looks like a device to fling trouble-making passengers onto another ship.

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On 2/13/2020 at 7:11 PM, mimmy52 said:

Found my excursion group and the buses were nearby.  A couple of photos taken from the bus on the way to the caves.  There's that pointy hill I saw from the ship

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The cave is near the airport

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One of the things mentioned on the bus was Mancinella trees.  They are extremely poisonous and we were not to touch any part of them, not the bark, not the fruit.  The fruit is the size of a cherry but is green and looks as if it would be hard like an apple.  A Mancinella tree

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There was a pavilion that served drinks and snacks and had a free bathroom.  We waited while some folks made the trip.

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The tour description warned there are 50 steps to enter Hato Caves but there's a hand rail.

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At the cave entrance

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Looking down

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well someone must have touched that poisonous tree to string lights on it!! guess they used gloves.....

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Tuesday, February 4, Roadtown, Tortola

 

The ship was pulling into Tortola this morning when I went up to the buffet for breakfast, so I took some photos before eating. Once again, beautiful weather.

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We docked next to another Marella ship, this time the Explorer 2. Even with the explanation of its logo, I still can't help thinking emoji when I look at it.  This one even seems to have hair.  It's just a happy, one-eyed emoji.

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Our excursion wasn't until this afternoon, so I spent a little time playing around with the controls in my cabin.  There are four buttons that control the mood lighting.  You can keep it at one color or have it slide from one color to another, they can be brighter or dimmer.  The light switch turns them off (or on) and there's another light switch by the door that also controls them.  The phone makes a nice night light if you need it, or you can turn that off by pressing the little light bulb in the upper right hand corner.

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I can open the porthole if I choose.

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This switch near the porthole controls whether the blinds are open or closed.  If they are open, you can see people passing by (although they're more like shadows) but they can't see in.  Still, it can be a little unnerving.

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I called Bro and Sil to see what time we should meet for our excursion.  Sil said they were just about to go to O'Sheehan's so she could get a cup of tea, so I joined them.  It was breakfast time in O'Sheehan's. Sil had breakfast.  They had stayed at the comedy club last night until almost closing.

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Since I'd had breakfast, I had hot chocolate and tomato juice.

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While we were in O'Sheehan's, a crew emergency drill was announced.  It was interesting to see crew members lining up wearing their life vests and carrying emergency equipment.  When I went back to my room, I noticed every door had an "evacuated" tag.  When I went down to guest services to get change for the excursion today, I ran into Sis.  She said they had just sat down in Taste when the emergency drill was announced.  Most of the waiters left and the people taking orders didn't know what they were doing, so she was ticked off.

 

Rather than sit in my cabin, I took a few more pictures from the ship.

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Bro, Sil, and I decided we should get something to eat before our excursion since it was going to last 3 1/2 hours.  The Garden Cafe buffet closes from 10:30 to noon, which seems to me like an exceptionally long time.  The buffet on MSC was open all the time.  We went to O'Sheehan's which is supposed to be open 24 hours, but that must mean just the bar because we had to wait until 11:30 to be seated.  The fish n chips at O'Sheehan's is really good.

 

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We brought our gear with us to O'Sheehan's, so we left from there to find our excursion group at the end of the pier, meeting time 12:20 although we got there a few minutes early.  Most people had been smart and arranged morning tours (Sis and Bil had planned this excursion and Sis doesn't like mornings--but now they'd canceled) so there were only a few signs and easy to find the one meant for us.  DSC06687c.thumb.jpg.8b34f8c0d869e2d436a85abab9311bdf.jpg

 

While we were waiting in line, the man standing in front of me said he went on an excursion yesterday to Nevis.  They went on a large boat and the captain said he would signal with the horn three times when it was time to leave and he gave the departure time.  When they heard the horn, they were to return to the boat.  They'd gotten about a quarter of the way back to St. John's when some people realized one of their group wasn't with them.  They had to return to Nevis, and the missing woman was just standing on the beach waiting.  People who had been on other excursions with her said she'd been late returning every time. 

 

We didn't have to wait long before they walked us over to the safari bus.  We passed the Explorer 2 and the Epic along the way.

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The safari bus has a cab in front that pulls the "bus."

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We climbed into the last row of seats, first the man I'd been talking to, then me, Sil, and Bro.  It could seat four people comfortably.  The problem was, five people were supposed to be in each row, so a woman using a cane made for person number five and suddenly we were all very chummy.

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On this excursion, I learned I am a rude person.  Once we got out of the city, our scenic drive started.  You might have noticed that I enjoy taking pictures.  So did the man next to me who was by the opening (not really a window).  There was just enough room for the two of us to get our cameras situated in the opening.

 

But then the woman seated in front of me leaned back with her phone, filled what I had been using as my photo spot, and proceeded to take a video.  A video that went on and on and on.  I was getting frustrated.  Her friend sitting next to their window was slumped forward somewhat blocking their opening, but I didn't understand why she couldn't ask her friend to lean back so she could take a video.  Usually I'm the kind of person who would just fume silently.  But I wanted some pictures.  So I asked her if she would mind taking her video out of the window nearest her.  She turned around and said, "I wouldn't mind if you had asked politely."  I was taken aback.  I told her I was sorry and that I thought I had asked politely.  I have no idea what she would have considered a polite request.

 

Then I felt bad because I thought maybe she didn't know the woman sitting next to her.  I quickly found out she did know her when the video-taking person decided to show me how difficult it was to take a picture out of the opening next to her friend.  She put one arm around the back of her friend and another in front of her so that she was kind of hugging her as she took pictures.  Then I felt really bad thinking this woman must be her mother and must have health problems that made her unable to sit up straight.  Imagine my surprise when at one of the stops I saw that the person by the window was a teenage boy.  But in the words of the witty nonagenarian in her review, "I didn't let it ruin my vacation."

 

So I did manage to get some scenic photos.

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The view of the ships was on the opposite side of the bus.

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We stopped at a small building that housed restrooms and there was a place to get water or juice too.  Sil had noticed at a previous photo stop that the woman with a cane on the end of our row had trouble getting down from the bus.  The last step down was a long one.  The driver had brought a stool for a different woman with a cane to use, so Sil suggested to him that he let the lady in our row use it too.  She said the driver got very snippy with her. 

 

Some pictures from the viewpoint.

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When we got back on the bus, I was surprised the woman in front of me hadn't taken the window seat so she could take her video, but oh well.  I've been the mother of teenagers, so maybe it was easier for her to inconvenience a stranger than to expect her son (I presumed it was her son) to cooperate.  But we had more great views and at one point passed a long mural that showed the everyday lives of the island inhabitants as they were in the past.  This is but a tiny part of the mural. 

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We came to the beach part of our excursion at Cane Garden Bay.  There were so many vehicles, our bus had to park a distance away by a cemetery.

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Needless to say, the beach was crowded.  The lounge chairs didn't seem to be in great shape.

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Bro parked us down at a table with a tablecloth and chairs belonging to a stand selling drinks, food, and ice cream.  We all got Carib beers and Sil and I got chips.

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After our refreshment, I walked to the water.  The surf was slapping the beach and I saw several people fall when the surf pushed them, so I decided not to go in.  But it was pretty.

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Now I have to resize more photos before I finish today's adventures.

 

 

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One of my favorite things to do is walk on the beach.  I did start out, but didn't go very far.  It got too crowded.

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The tide was already coming in and there were times it reached to the first row of loungers.

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A hen was walking around with her chick.

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A rooster was strutting around too.

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I went back to our table.  Sil and Bro got another beer and I got a Coke.  It was cute.

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There were a number of vendor stalls set up between the beach and the road.

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It seemed we had been here just a short time when a lot of people left, the lounge chairs were empty, and umbrellas were folded.

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And another rooster.

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All too soon it was time to head back to our bus.  I think we were at the beach only for an hour.  We walked back to our bus past the cemetery fence.

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A man in the row in front of us on the bus said he'd lost his wedding ring in the ocean.  He had  his hands out and the surf just took it away.  He'd lost 30 pounds so he surmised that was the reason it came off so easily.  His wife was furious because she'd told him to take it off before he went in the water.  I'm pretty sure she was joking when she said, "30 years and now it's over."

 

We took a different road back and saw different scenery.  It was a very bumpy ride.  There must have been a speed bump every few feet, at least that's what it felt like.  At one point the bus scraped some low tree branches and a guy toward the front yelled, "Stop! Stop!"  Fortunately the driver in the cab heard him and stopped and the guy got out and went back to collect his iPhone.  He'd been taking pictures and the tree whisked the phone right out of his hand.

 

Once we got back to port, there was a welcoming committee.  A row of crew members were clapping and dancing to music

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and a jiggly green man.

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We got back about 20 minutes before the all aboard time of 4:30.  At 4:40 there was an announcement calling for two people to check in.  We still left port at 5:00 so they must have made it back.  I took a few pictures as we left port.

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I met up with The Four for a pre-dinner drink at Shaker's Martini Bar.  It was much easier to hold a conversation here than at Maltings.  Around 7:00 we went to Taste.  I had the standard Caesar Salad for an appetizer.

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Barramundi was my entree.  It was good although the portion was small and the potato that came with it was kinda tiny too.

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Dessert was creme brulee but I'd eaten it before I thought of a picture.  After dinner Bro and Sil were tired and went back to their cabin and Sis and Bil went to the casino. I went to the theater where Epic Broadway Cabaret was being performed.  I guess the title Cabaret should have told me what it was but it was just one person after another coming on stage to sing.  I'd expected a little more of a production.  After half an hour, I'd recognized only one show tune.  I left.  I went to Spice H2O to check out the glow party but it hadn't started yet.  If I'd been with someone I probably would have waited and had fun, but I decided I was too tired to stick around.

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On 2/27/2020 at 8:07 AM, Oakman58 said:

I hate riding in those Safari style buses.


I love the photo of the Giant Jiggly Green Giant.


The size of that Barramundi looks more like an appetizer than an entree.

 

Belated thank you, Oakman58.  I was surprised the barramundi was so tiny.  Maybe they were afraid they'd run out so they halved the portions.

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Wednesday, February 5, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands

 

This is the last day of the cruise.  I don't want it to end, yet I'm also looking forward to going home.  I didn't buy the internet package and I was really feeling out of touch.  I woke up way too early again, but we were already in the process of docking, a couple of hours before the anticipated time of 8:00.  The sky lightened as I got ready, then went up to take a few pictures before breakfast.

 

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That is one large shopping area.

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In the buffet, we can pick up our own plates and serve ourselves.  I guess the thinking is that even if we pick up germs, we won't be sick until we're at home so it doesn't matter.

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I'm on my own today for an excursion.  I had originally chosen Magen's Bay Beach to be with Sis and Bil but when they canceled, I didn't think it would be much fun at the beach by myself.  Bro and Sil are going to Coral World this afternoon, but that didn't interest me.  My excursion is "Panoramic Views of St. Thomas and Shopping" scheduled for 8:50.  I was on the pier in plenty of time and got to enjoy watching stilt man dance.  He was very good.

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There was some confusion because there were two excursions that started with panoramic views of St. Thomas and when it was finally straightened out, there were 12 of us on this one.  The safari bus is smaller than the one we were on yesterday.  The bus today has three rows of seats versus five on the one yesterday.  Even with 12 of us we weren't crowded.  Only the middle seat had five people but they were all together.

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It had started to sprinkle as we walked to the bus and once we drove off it turned into a steady rain.  Not a good omen for seeing panoramic views.

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By the time we were driving up the viewpoint road the rain had stopped.  There were great views along the way, but our driver--we were told to call him "88"--didn't stop until we were at the top of the mountain. He said this was the highest point in St. Thomas.  Then he drove into a parking lot for our first stop.  There was only one other safari bus there.  It looked like a fun place.

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We walked through the store and out to a viewing platform in the back for a spectacular view of Magen's Bay.  88 pointed out some of the islands we could see.  Tortola was one.

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I took a lot of pictures but they all seem to be the same.

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It would be nice to own a vacation home like this with such a great view from the swimming pool.

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The store had a bar near the viewing area and claimed they were famous for their banana daquiries.  By the time I could tear myself away from the view, there was such a long line at the bar that I didn't bother.

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The large store we were in was part of the shopping experience part of the excursion.  Many, many t-shirts to choose from and even Columbia sportswear.  A lot of jewelry and other souvenirs too although I didn't take a picture of those.

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When it was time to leave, all the other safari buses seemed to have arrived.  A view of them from our safari bus.  There were also a lot more parked in front of us going on up the road.

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Once we were all on the bus, 88 gave a woman behind me what seemed to be a program of some kind, possibly from a retirement or honors banquet.  He asked her to read the passage he pointed out.  It was all about him.  I forgot to write in my notes what it said about him other than he seemed to be a much-loved coach and had led his team to a lot of victories.  He talked a lot about his family and seemed very proud of them.

 

We drove downhill to another viewpoint, a place where there had been a lot of buses parked on our way up.  He was smart to take us to the Mountain Top first since we didn't have to have elbow clashes with others trying to get a view and some photos.  And now we had this lovely viewpoint all to ourselves too.  We could see the Epic and two ships docked behind it.

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A picture of 88 talking to some of the passengers.

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He took pictures of some of us.

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Docked at a different pier, the Allure of the Seas.

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Our last stop was the Paradise Point tramway.  He had tickets for us.  Not everyone wanted to use the tramway now, some wanted to shop downtown first, so he said he'd drive them there.  I was ready to go up.  We waited for the tram to arrive.

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Pictures on the way up.

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Some people walked up.

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We arrived at the top.

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The views from Paradise Point were gorgeous!  There were several terraces for viewing.

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The Carnival Conquest

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The Regal Princess

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The NCL Epic

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And off in the distance, the Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas

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There were a lot of small shops here, what seemed to be local vendors although I could be wrong.  I looked through the shops but nothing caught my eye except in the store with local art and what I liked was over $900.  I thought I'd sit down for a while and admire the view.  There was a large bar area.

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I couldn't find an empty table but then I saw some tables with umbrellas in an uncovered area.  The very last table was unoccupied.

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I hadn't planned to eat anything, just to get a Coke, but the menu was on the table and one of the appetizers was Onion Petals.  I like onion rings so I ordered onion petals to see what they were like.  The petals were larger than I expected and there were enough to share if I'd been with someone else.  They came with a delicious sauce, a hint of orange and enough spice to make my lips burn.  Apparently the sauce is too spicy for a lot of people because the waiter told me several times that he could bring a different one.  I liked this one though and didn't plan to eat all of the petals anyway.  Maybe it was the waiter who didn't like this sauce.

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It was really nice sitting there and enjoying the scenery and the beautiful weather, especially knowing that tomorrow I would be back in winter.

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I finally managed to drag myself away from this lovely spot and headed back to the tramway and down.

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This is the entrance to the tramway.  When 88 brought us, he had parked in a lot behind the building so we came in the back way. (Pirate museum is next door.)

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It's very close to where the ship was docked.  The walk back took me through the Havensight Mall but I was ready to get back on the ship rather than shop.  There were several restaurants in this area.  This is only one of those that I passed.

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When I got back, my room was just being cleaned so I went to the buffet and had an egg salad sandwich.  You can tell I'm not a foodie.  I enjoy simple food but the fact that someone else is fixing it for me is what is so great.

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I don't think I could ever get tired of the harbor view.  Everyone was talking about this yacht.  Do you even have a yacht if it doesn't come with a helicopter?  Not a great picture but the helicopter is on the first yacht lower left hand corner.

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The smaller yachts, possibly embarrassed that they can't have a helicopter.

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Another picture that isn't so great but the Allure of the Seas looked as if it was parked on land rather than docked in the water.

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I always enjoyed sitting in the Great Outdoors.

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Information about disembarkation had been in the Freestyle Daily.  We planned to do self-assist and information was it would start at approximately 6:45 am.  We were supposed to put pink tags on our luggage if we were doing self-assist.  We didn't know why we needed tags at all, but we followed the rules.  I stopped at the guest services area to pick up my pink tags.

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On the way back to my cabin, I noticed there were self serve cookies back in the studio lounge again.

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I called Bro to leave a message about checking in today for our flights and was surprised when he answered.  He and Sil had canceled their excursion to Coral World. They didn't want to ride on another safari bus and spend the afternoon walking.  He had tried to check in for the flight this morning but the internet had been so slow, he hadn't been successful.  He still had extra minutes from the internet perk he got so he had enough for me to check in too.  We set up a time to meet.  While I waited, I decided I was still hungry so I had fries and a beer in the Great Outdoors.

 

After we checked in for our flights--the American Airlines website was still slow but it was doable--I did some packing, then went up to the quiet zone on deck 18 for a few last pictures.

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I don't think I ever saw anyone using the loungers in this first section of the quiet zone.

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Some final pictures of St. Thomas from the ship.

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I guess most passengers are still in St. Thomas.

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Everything looked yummy when I passed by the food offerings in the Great Outdoors.

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I couldn't resist having a sun-dried tomato/asparagus/onion quiche and a chocolate chip scone.  They were both so good!  Were these delicious foods set out every late afternoon?  If so, it's probably a good thing I didn't know.

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I wanted to read for a while and found one of the padded wicker chairs toward the back of the ship on deck 15.  The chair was very comfortable but I became uncomfortable because the man sitting with his wife on the couch next to me was on the phone and was facing my way while he talked.  I wouldn't have minded if he'd had an interesting conversation but it must have been business.  Even that wouldn't have been so bad except he kept punctuating his conversation with coughs and all the uncovered coughs were going my way.  I moved, then read until time to get ready for dinner.

 

Met up with The Four in Shaker's Martini Bar.  We can hear each other's conversation a little more easily here than at Maltings.

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For some reason, it took forever for our drink order to be taken.  It took so long that we decided to take our drinks with us to Taste.  They weren't able to seat us at a round table but the square table for five worked out and as usual it was off to the side away from the smoke from the casino.  We were given bread and water immediately, but then it was if they forgot about us.  They were really slow taking our meal order and we had been there 45 minutes and they still hadn't taken our drink order.  About the time our appetizers came, we were able to place our drink order.  I had baby spinach salad with orange segments for my appetizer.

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It took another long time before our entrees came.  I don't know what was going on that night for service to be so extraordinarily slow.  My entree was grilled Atlantic salmon.  I love salmon, but I prefer it when it is not overdone as this was.

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Akita came by to say hello.  She said she'd been told we were there.  We told her we sure wished she had been our server tonight.  Funny how irritating a wait can be even when you don't have any plans for the evening.  But I didn't let it ruin my dessert.  I had two.  The chocolate lava cake with ice cream.

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And a salted caramel chocolate tart with vanilla.  Both delicious.

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Although Burn the Floor was in the Epic Theater tonight, it didn't start until 9:30 and I still had to pack for our early departure in the morning, so I never did get to see it.  

 

I'll finish up with debarkation and our flights tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thursday, February 6, San Juan, Puerto Rico to Miami to St. Louis

 

Got up early this morning and we are already in Puerto Rico.

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Joined Bro and Sil at the buffet.  Sis and Bil planned to eat breakfast at the airport.  Made sure I had everything packed, then walked my luggage to Bro and Sil's room to wait for the ok to disembark.  Our flight isn't until 11:30 but we've heard so much about disembarkation problems in San Juan that we don't want to take any chances.  Plus Bro said that when they were on the Epic before, everyone was trying to get off at once and it created a huge problem.

 

I took a few last minute pictures of San Juan from Bro's balcony.

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And watched the refueling barge.

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The sky lightened.

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As soon as the announcement was made that self-assist passengers could disembark, we were on our way.  We managed to catch an elevator immediately.  Used my key card one last time to leave the ship, then walked the short way into the terminal.  Facial recognition went quickly although I was asked a few questions and Bro and Sil were not.  Maybe I look shifty.  But disembarkation proved to be quick and easy.   As we were leaving the terminal, I was surprised to see a long line of passengers waiting to enter.  It was only 7:00.  I would think they'd have quite a wait.  I wondered if they were there that early because they'd come directly from a flight.  I couldn't imagine any other reason.

 

We took a taxi to the airport.  Upon entry, the first thing we had to do was put our luggage through xray so we could get the USDA APHIS sticker.

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When we got near our gate, we saw Sis and Bil.  We had thought maybe they were behind us getting off the ship.  Bil said they saw from their balcony when people started leaving, so they left too before an announcement was made.  Their flight to Miami leaves an hour or so before ours.  Our early departure from the ship meant we had some time in the San Juan airport, but I never mind that.  It means I'm not worrying about getting there on time.  Our flight to Miami was on time and had no problems.

 

When we landed in Miami, I looked at the connections sign and saw our flight to St. Louis left from gate D53.  We were already in D concourse, so that was easy.  I liked their decorations.

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Then we turned a corner and came upon this.  I thought at first it was a real person.

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We had a couple of hours before our flight so we had a leisurely lunch at the Islander Bar and Grill.  I had a delicious Mahi Mahi sandwich, better than a lot of meals on the ship.

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While we were waiting for our meal, I checked the departure monitor again and saw we'd been moved to gate D60.  Ok.  After we finished our meal, I checked once more and now we were leaving from gate E20.  We started following the signs to E, and I suggested we take the Skytrain since the escalator was right there.  We paused and must have looked particularly pathetic because an airport employee led us all the way to our gate.  We went up two escalators, onto the Skytrain for one stop, off and down an escalator, walked for a while, up another escalator and onto a different Skytrain for one stop, down an escalator then a bit of a walk to E20.  Whew.  I'm sure we would have made it on our own, but it might have been eventually.  I had my fingers crossed that they wouldn't change our gate back again to D concourse.  Sis and Bil are on this flight with us and they rode in a cart to get to this gate.  So we had to sit an extra hour in San Juan and they had to sit an extra hour in Miami.  

 

Our flight left on time.  No problems until near St. Louis when we hit turbulence and bumped around for a while.  Bad weather had passed through the day before and while the streets were now clear, when I emailed Bro the next day he said he had quite a time scraping ice off his car.  My husband picked me up, and Sis and Bil got an Uber.

 

I had decided even while I was still on the cruise that I wouldn't go on another cruise unless I could afford a balcony cabin.  There were too many times when I'd have ten minutes or so before it was time to be somewhere, so too little time to actually do anything but it would have been nice to spend that time on a balcony.  Plus sometimes it felt confining to me.  I tried to be outside as often as I could, but it would have been nice to be on a balcony with a book.

 

In the almost month that I've been back and have been writing this overly long trip journal, life has had its hectic moments.  My husband had a chest rattling cough and the medication for it gave him scary hallucinations.  Be careful if you take any OTC medication with "DM" on it.  At one point husband made me leave the house with him, get in his truck and drive away because there were four men in our basement who wanted to harm us.  I knew this was just a hallucination, but I called 911 and had an officer check things out so he could see there was no one in our house.  After the officer left, he thought there were four people in his truck.  That's when I took him to the ER.  The doctor figured the hallucinations would be gone when 55 hours were up and 48 hours had already passed.  By the next morning he was fine (but still coughing).  

 

Then our sweet little orange-ish cat got out accidentally and was gone for almost two weeks.  I was frantic.  We have a wooded area behind our house and I thought he'd become food for a coyote, fox, or owl, but a neighbor managed to lay a trap for the cat and he is back.

 

And then a beloved uncle died.  I need a vacation!  I probably would have finished this report sooner, but life intervenes.  Happy cruising!

 

 

 

 

Edited by mimmy52
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