Life, LIBERTY, and the Pursuit of a Sweet Vacation – St. Thomas.

“But there’s this one particular harbor
So far but yet so near
Where I see the days as they fade away
And finally disappear…”

That harbor is Cruz Bay… More on that soon though!

The word of the day was “ambition.” I had intended to do a lot this day. The plan was to head over to St. John with a group where we then go to Trunk Bay, followed by lunch and drinks in Cruz Bay. Afterwards we’d head back and then head up to Paradise Point to have some drinks with others before getting back on the ship.

I set my alarm for 6am. I intended to catch the early rays of morning as we sailed into the Havensight harbor of St. Thomas. I had a light breakfast since the only thing open at that time was Continental Breakfast which is basically pastries that I wasn’t supposed to have. I had some coffee and took some medicine for my issues to keep them at bay. I was going to enjoy the day to the fullest, digestive issues be damned! Back in my cabin, I got all my stuff together, including my roommates who among some others were going to join me through the day.

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We made port in Havensight. It was a beautiful day, even with spotty rain showers peppering the horizon. Sun shining between them. I made my way down the forward stairs to deck 0 by myself. The late night sail-away makes me love the arrival in St. Thomas because it’s so less hectic. While waiting for clearance, Amberly and Stacy joined me, followed by my friend Janet and her parents. When we were given the all clear, I was first to step off the ship onto the pier. We were the only ship in port that day aside from a massive yacht, so the things were not very busy just yet. Stepping off the ship behind us, were Marsha, Ticia, and Joan. We had all made it a point to be off the ship early to catch a taxi to the earliest ferry possible to St. John from Red Hook Bay.

VIDEO – Getting on the taxi

At this hour in the morning, most taxis were only just arriving for the day. We walked to the back lot area to catch a cab. I knew that most were the open-air trucks and hoped we’d get one for the ride over to Red Hook. Of course they happily obliged. We crammed ourselves onto the truck and took the 20 minute ride over. There was a lot of cool stuff to see including the locals commuting. It cost us $10 a person when we made it to the ferry terminal at Red Hook. Inside the terminal, the ferry prices round-trip between Cruz Bay were $14. Those of who have not been, the terminal is actually a pretty chill place. There is a cool little bar, ample benches and tables, and the back of the building is open the elements. there is no AC.

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VIDEO – The ferry ride over to Cruz Bay

It wasn’t too long before the ferry was ready for boarding. We all took seats on the roof deck for the ride over. We took photos and applied sunscreen. It was great to be heading back over to the island I now consider my home away from home. I’ve been coming to St. John when i get the chance since a ridiculously awesome bachelor party trip in 2010. The water was calm today so the ferry only took about 20 minutes to cross the channel to Cruz bay, the sound from the massive turbo diesel engines of our ferry drowning out most of the sound aside from the occasional splash when going across another boat’s wake. Arriving in Cruz Bay was like a homecoming of sorts. We grabbed a taxi and while driving around, the only change that I noticed was that Castaway’s was now known as something else. Every other place remained the same. Man, I love this place.

After a 15 minute drive, we arrived in Trunk Bay. If you get there early enough, you can avoid the $4 entry fee and pretty much have the beach to yourselves. When we stepped off our taxi, it was a trip down memory lane with the familiarity of the first time I had experienced this paradise. Trunk Bay is often voted one of the top 10 most beautiful beaches of the US. A good reason behind it is that it’s part of a park and protected (rightfully so). Few places are as calming and easy on the eyes. We walked out onto the beach and setup our gear and towels under some trees. I hung a few items on the branches overhead but nothing that would damage the tree, then began to enjoy this paradise.

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VIDEO – Snorkeling with the fish and  with the Stingray

Over the course of time we were there, we enjoyed the warm water, and soft sand. There were many fish swimming in the bay and we even had a stingray visit us. Amberly had brought her snorkel mask and tube and we all took turns using it to look for the sting ray and tropical fish. There were all sorts of fish, many if them had these beaks of sorts. I found out it’s called a Ballyhoo. There were also parrot fish as well. Occasionally some rain would come, but it was always very brief before the sun would re-emerge. life was good in Trunk Bay. Some of the girls purchased some food from the shack. A couple burgers, some fries. They all seemed to enjoy it. I was saving my appetite for lunch in Cruz Bay.

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Eventually time did come for us to head to Cruz Bay. We piled on a taxi and took the ride back, making stops along the way at the usual overlooks. I love the beauty of this island.

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Once in town, we split up a little. Myself and some others headed up the beach, over to The Beach Bar for some lunch and drinks. Some others stopped in some of the shops for a little while to look around. At The Beach Bar, I had some of the local beer, Virgin Islands, Island Summer Ale. One regular ale, one with mango. I enjoyed both. Also, because I had taken my medicine, I was feeling adventurous and decided to order the nachos that I adore from the place. Ticia ordered some crab dip that was just as delicious. People were enjoying beers and mind-erasers. A couple who were visiting on the island sat at the bar with us and enjoyed some drinks as well as conversation. I stopped in the little shop the place has and picked-up a new t-shirt. I noticed Janet purchased one of the tumblers they have available. I continued enjoying my beer and nachos while Amberly and Stacy joined us. It was excellent being there and even with each time I go, I’ll never forget the first time I was at that bar.

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We decided we’d catch the 1pm ferry back over to Red Hook so that we would have time to join many of the others at Paradise Point in Havensight. The ferry ride over was slightly sad for me and I didn’t really want to look back. I always hate leaving St. John and think to myself, how hard could it really be to call this place home? Too hard for now unfortunately.

The cab ride back to Havensight was much the same as from except we were in a van. There was also a very, very, minor accident along the way (there was no reason for those people to stop). Once back, we split up with some leaving the taxi for the ship and the rest of is riding over to the gondolas that would take us up to Paradise Point. The ride up and down cost roughly $20 if I’m not mistaken and you’d get a red arm band so they knew you could ride them from the top back down. As we had got to the top of the stairs, I caught the 1st gondola. The girls who were behind me, ran to join me in it, making one of the staff a little mad. Stacy didn’t make it to the first, having to take the 2nd, and there was nobody in the 3rd, haha.

VIDEO – The tram ride up to Paradise Point

When we reached the top, we walked down some stairs and into a small shopping area on the upper level. It was there that I noticed some beautiful birds. Parrots of all kinds were just hanging out and squawking to their heart’s content. A woman in the corner of a shop shouted “I’ll take a bunch of photos of you with them for $20.” SIGN ME UP!!!, I replied! I had always wanted to have a photo taken with birds of paradise. Boy did she deliver. 4 birds, parrots on my head, shoulder, and arm, and a cockatoo on its back in my hand. It seemed rather content just laying there too. How cool was this! They were all so chill and the whole time I was trying not to crack-up. She took a couple of photos with her camera and then with my cell phone. In the end, she printed out one photo for me that I gave my mom after the trip.

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After my photo shoot with the birds. I headed to the lower level, pausing to take a couple photos of the awesome view. It really is Paradise Point! What a spectacular view!

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Still full of my nachos I ordered a pina colada from a rather absent-minded waitress. She instead brought me back the same drink the others ordered which still happened to be good. I couldn’t really complain. We stuck around there for a while, taking photos and talking crap with one another. Before a long while though, it was time to head back down the gondolas for the pier and the ship.

Once back on the ship, I took one of the most refreshing showers ever. I headed out on deck to catch sail-away, but I decided to make a brief pit-stop at the Diamonds Steakhouse on the ship. I wasn’t thrilled with the menu for the night, so I figured it would be a good opportunity to treat myself to some delicious steak. I booked a seating for 8pm.

Sail away wasn’t as beautiful as it had been the previous times we had departed St. Thomas, but was still good. There is no such thing as a bad view of St. Thomas. I walked around the open decks mostly aft enjoying the last sights of St. Thomas before heading inside to look for people and put some of my crap away before dinner.

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The Diamonds Steakhouse did not disappoint that night. Although I had taken my medication earlier in the day, I decided to play it safe and order stuff I knew would be easier on my guts. I started with the shrimp. There were onions on it that I removed, but the shrimp were very large and still pretty tasty. Next was the signature caesar salad. My main was the surf & turf. A delicious lump of filet was delivered with one of the largest lobster tails I had ever seen. I was bound to get my protein and iodine that night. Dessert, I opted for the sorbet and ice cream selection, of course, requesting sorbet only. Most of this stuff I feel I could enjoy in the main dining room, but rather enjoyed in the steakhouse. Of course I ordered a glass of some good merlot as well.

After dinner I walked around the ship a little more bumping into people here and there. I was feeling a little tired though and decided to hit the hay a little earlier. I also convinced myself that with the sea day being tomorrow, I could wake up around 3am to get some photos of a mostly empty ship. I usually get these photos when I’m able to board early, but this had not been the case this cruise. I headed to bed for a while and set my alarm for 3am.

When 3 did roll around, it was stuff tough to get myself out of bed. The ladder creaked as I tried to quietly get my camera and shoes without waking up my roommates. I can’t remember how successful I was, but I don’t remember waking them up. Of course, at this time the public areas of the ship were a ghost town aside from the people trying to eat their way to sobriety at the pizza buffet and occasionally youngster who was probably out past their parent’s set curfew. The only others out at this time were staff cleaning the ship and Guest Services who smiled as I walked past. I was cool to see the ship this much at peace and I relished in it.

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After I was done taking photos and before I headed back to bed I went out onto the forward open deck on deck 6. I always make it a point to try to see the stars and keep an eye out for shooting ones. The beautiful skies did deliver me one shooting star that night and it was enough for me. I headed back to bed a very content person, ready for the sea day tomorrow.

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