VACATION DAY FIVE: ST. THOMAS, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS
Arriving in St. Thomas wasn’t scheduled to take place until around 10am, so we had a bit of time to have some breakfast before watching the ship dock.
One of the cool things about cruising is being on the upper decks (or in a room with a balcony) and watching these massive ships gingerly maneuver their way into port. In some cases (like this one), there were two other ships already docked there that we had to move around. In other cases (like Grand Turk) there was a very VERY small area to dock at, so the margin for error was great.
But these ships are state-of-the-art and 99% of the time I didn’t even know we were docking (on this night at dinner, I didn’t even know we had begun to leave until my dad mentioned it as you could see it through the back window).
St. Thomas is one of three major islands (along with about 50 other small islands and cays) and is only about 31 square miles in size. Without question, this stop was one of the most beautiful locales I’ve ever seen.
The houses were almost all built into the side of the beautiful grassy hills, the waterfront properties did not seem to be over-run with commercialization, and the water was the bluest I had ever seen…
The view to the immediate left of us was spectacular. It was a lagoon absolutely filled with yachts and sailboats, but in a way that was more beautiful than it was congested.
Carnival offers excursions at every port, whether they be snorkeling or going to the beach or hiking through historic properties…if you have a few extra bucks to shell out these excursions are really amazing (and because they’re booked through Carnival, they’re guaranteed to not be rip-offs, either). The only thing is that “a few extra bucks” is putting it nicely, so we never went on any Carnival-booked excursions…though we talked to many people who did and each had a great time.
I had done a bit of research on St. Thomas and knew my options were basically shopping, snorkeling, going to the beach on the other side of the island, or going up the SkyRide and taking in the views down below. I chose the SkyRide. When we got there we found that the mobile tram came around every seven minutes, so we didn’t have to wait too long to jump on and make our ascent 700ft above the island. The top of the tram was a location called Paradise Point…and it really didn’t take long to figure out why once you were up there.
Breathtaking. That’s really the only way to describe the view when you’re up there. And on top of everything else, there was a nature trail that we could have hiked (but didn’t because my dad didn’t want to make the trip up with us and was waiting below) and there was also a bar/restaurant overlooking the island that we didn’t go to (again…didn’t want dad to wait).
I have a big fear of heights, so going up and coming back down weren’t the greatest experiences for me but it would be impossible to say that it wasn’t worth it. The views we soaked in were some that we’ll never experience again (probably) in our lifetime and it was totally worth it.
I mean c’mon…how many couples can say that they’ve been to Paradise?
So we made our way back down and were quite thankful that we had gone immediately to the SkyRide once we had docked before doing anything else. The line-up of people had grown exponentially and it looked to be at least a 30-minute wait to get up the hill. Still…I’d say it was still totally worth it, especially if you were going to check out the restaurant/bar and/or the walking trail.
A quick tip: walk straight from the ship to the SkyRide if that’s what you want to go on first. It’s literally a five minute walk. Do NOT let any of the taxi guys try to drive you or give you “tickets” or anything like that. I know that they’re just trying to make a living, but where the ride itself is just so close to the port it doesn’t make any sense to do anything other than walk there.
Once we got back down and met up with my dad, we decided to check out the shopping area that’s located directly next to the port for the cruise ships. It took all of ten minutes for my dad and brother to get bored with waiting for Sunshine and I, so they took off back to the ship. We spent (at least) the next hour going in and out of shops. There were a TON of jewellery stores and a TON of souvenir shops, so there was plenty of opportunity to pick up something to take back home.
One of the things that Sunshine had noticed was that the cost of power must be pretty reasonable in these areas because 90% of the stores had their doors WIDE open and the air conditioning CRANKED. And not just a bit of air, either…it sometimes took your breath away when you walked into a store because they had it blasting at the entrance (y’know…the OPEN entrance?). Anyway…we just thought that was really interesting.
We made our way back to the ship to have lunch and just relax. We found dad sitting on Lido Deck in an area that was sheltered and right next to a window…so we ate while over-looking the lagoon below. It really was quite the scene to take in. Once finished, we decided to go up top and have a game of miniature golf.
Okay…let that sink in for a second. We were in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, on a beautiful sunny day, on top of a gorgeous cruise ship playing miniature golf. HOW AWESOME IS THAT???
She beat me by one stroke (wait…that’s what SHE said…heh).
Before cleaning up for dinner, I asked Sunshine to pose on a camel that was located in the casino area of the ship (Deck 5, if I’m not mistaken). How much does Sunshine love me?
We cleaned up for the evening and head out. If I remember correctly, we had dinner and went to an illusionist (who really wasn’t that great, but it was a magic show included with the cruise so who cares?), and then karaoke (of course). I’m sure there were other things done that evening but it doesn’t really matter…these cruise ships always have something on the go. Is everything for everybody? No, but there’s a LOT for everybody and you just need to pick your spots. We were very happy to have chosen ours.
Tomorrow we’re in San Juan, Puerto Rico! Until then, here was our nightly towel animal…