Day 22 - Sunday 30 December - St Thomas, US Virgin Islands

Slept through til 6am, hurrah. Still pretty tired though.

Watched our arrival into St Thomas. The initial view was not over a container terminal for a change. It was off to the side slightly. But then the Celebrity Summit pulled in and that was our view for the day.

US Virgin Islands flag on Queen Mary 2
US Virgin Islands flag on Queen Mary 2

St Thomas from Queen Mary 2
St Thomas from Queen Mary 2

Looking into the bridge of the Queen Mary 2
Looking into the bridge of the Queen Mary 2

Celebrity Summit arriving at St Thomas
Celebrity Summit arriving at St Thomas

Bird flying over St Thomas
Bird flying over St Thomas

Had a pretty leisurely start. Had breakfast in Kings Court (which was actually a bit of chaos). Then meetup time was 10:00.

Walked off the ship and got onto one of the local taxis which are open sided and hold 27 people. They don't really have private car taxis here (I think there are some but they are quite expensive). We were on a tour, but just took these public taxis with no other tour guide.

Hurricane damaged building
Hurricane damaged building

So they drove us into Charlotte Amelie and dumped us and said see you in two hours.

Blink.

Ok so the brochure said we'd be going to the beach first, then the shopping, but it's not unusual to swap things around. So that was fine. The problem is that Charlotte Amalie has to be one of the most boring shopping districts I've ever been to in my life. There's dozens and dozens and dozens of jewelry stores and that's it. BORING.

So at first we avoided the shops and walked up the hill, up the 99 Steps, to try and see Blackbeards Castle, but it was closed for renovations so that was a bit boring. There was a nice view of St Thomas on the way though. Saw a cute lizard on the 99 Steps too.

Hotel 1829
Hotel 1829

Three Queens statue
Three Queens statue

Blackbeard's Castle
Blackbeard's Castle

Blackbeard's Castle
Blackbeard's Castle

St Thomas panorama
St Thomas panorama

View over St Thomas
View over St Thomas (the ship on the right is the Norwegian Gem - now the third time we've seen her since New York!)

View to Fort Christian
View to Fort Christian

99 Steps
99 Steps

Lizard at 99 Steps
Lizard at 99 Steps

99 Steps
99 Steps

Back down the hill and the only map we had wasn't very good or useful so walked along the main street of Charlotte Amalie looking for anything interesting among the hundreds of boring jewellry stores. We went down a couple of alleys looking for something different and in the end found a beer garden and just plonked ourselves there. Had a couple of local beers, and had "shark bites" (just fried chunks of spicy fish) that was super delicious. Unfortunately the food took ages to arrive, so as soon as we'd had it we had to head back to the taxi. Didn't get to see anything else, not that there was much to see.

Stu at Beuchert's Beer Garden
Stu at Beuchert's Beer Garden

Lizard at Beuchert's Beer Garden
Lizard at Beuchert's Beer Garden

Shark Bites at Beuchert's Beer Garden
Shark Bites at Beuchert's Beer Garden

Next they took us up to Mountain Top which has a lovely view of Magens Bay. And the biggest souvenir shop I've ever seen in my life. It was enormous. Didn't buy anything though. Except a "world famous" banana daquiri. With a keep cup.

Reproduction of the Liberty Bell at Emancipation Garden
Reproduction of the Liberty Bell at Emancipation Garden

Fort Christian
Fort Christian

View over St Thomas
View over St Thomas

Mountain Top tourist trap
Mountain Top tourist trap

Stu and Kaz at Mountain Top
Stu and Kaz at Mountain Top
Photo by Stu

Inside Mountain Top tourist trap
Inside Mountain Top tourist trap

View north east to Magens Bay
View north east to Magens Bay

View north east to Magens Bay
View north east to Magens Bay

View north east to Magens Bay
View north east to Magens Bay

Stu with banana daquiri at Mountain Top
Stu with banana daquiri at Mountain Top

View over St Thomas
View over St Thomas

Then they took us down to the beach at Magens Bay.

Lizard on the road!
Lizard on the road!

Drake's Seat
Drake's Seat

Did I mention that I was stressing all day about this tour? How do you mix a beach day and a shopping day? What shoes do you wear? Sandals for the beach or comfortable shoes for the walking around? Which camera do I take? Will it be safe to leave the big camera (and my phone which is worth more) on the beach? Is there changing rooms at the beach? (I don't want to be wearing a swimming costume around all day). Once again the Cunard documenation was appalling regarding the excursion. These guys really need to lift their game.

Anyways, so there was in fact change rooms, so got changed, but the beach was super crowded. Walked along the beach for quite a while until we found somewhere with a few less people and some available shade on the beach. Found a big patch of driftwood and was able to hang my bag on it so didn't have to put it on the sand, so that was good. And the water was so calm I could keep my hat and sunnies on. So we could swim near our bags and keep an eye on them. So turned out to be ok. We met a couple of locals (they thought the water was COLD haha). Chatted to one of them for quite a while (she'd lived in Atlanta and DC for years but came home to USVI, and was still doing repairs to her house which had been damaged in the hurricane). Got out and then wandered back down the beach, ending up at the bar where we got some rum punch. Living the dream - rum punch on a Caribbean island beach. Hrmmm. :) Didn't bother to get changed, as this was our last stop before getting back to the ship.

Beach at Magens Bay
Beach at Magens Bay

Water at Magens Bay
Water at Magens Bay

Beach at Magens Bay
Beach at Magens Bay

Had a nice view of the place on the way back.

View over St Thomas
View over St Thomas

Crystal Symphony and Crown Princess at St Thomas
Crystal Symphony and Crown Princess at St Thomas

Why did the chickens cross the road?
Why did the chickens cross the road?

Queen Mary 2 at St Thomas
Queen Mary 2 at St Thomas

Stu about to board the Queen Mary 2 at St Thomas - possibly our last time ever boarding the Queen Mary 2
Stu about to board the Queen Mary 2 at St Thomas - possibly our last time ever boarding the Queen Mary 2

Ultimately I was disappointed in the tour. It just didn't know what it wanted to be. Would have been a lot cheaper just taking those taxis ourselves. And we didn't get to see the iconic view of the harbour, you can only get that it seems from doing the cable car (we probably should have done "Views of St Thomas" instead of this one). Not that it would have mattered, the Queen Mary 2 was way way way over at the western end, away from all the views anyway. There were three other ships in port at the eastern end, including the Norwegian Gem and two others. But sadly I never got to see a Behemoth of the Seas :(

Anyways. Back on the ship, had showers and got changed, then sat out on the balcony with some bubbly and waved at all the people on the Celebrity Summit as they waved goodbye to us departing.

Crowds gathered on bow of Celebrity Summit - not fair, we can't do that on Queen Mary 2!
Crowds gathered on bow of Celebrity Summit - not fair, we can't do that on Queen Mary 2!

Drinking champagne while departing St Thomas
Drinking champagne while departing St Thomas

St Thomas from Queen Mary 2
St Thomas from Queen Mary 2

Water Island from Queen Mary 2
Water Island from Queen Mary 2

Sunset over the North Atlantic and Peurto Rico with Sail Rock
Sunset over the North Atlantic and Peurto Rico with Sail Rock

Got ready for dinner and went to Princess Grill (the sweetie was finally well enough to come to fancy dinner).

Mediterranean jump shrimp at crevette cocktail with saltine crackers that I had for entrée
Mediterranean jump shrimp at crevette cocktail with saltine crackers that I had for entrée

Tournedos rossini, toasted brioch, wild mushrooms, lyonnaise potatoes and buttered spinach that I had for mains
Tournedos rossini, toasted brioch, wild mushrooms, lyonnaise potatoes and buttered spinach that I had for mains

Blackberry cheesecake, blackberry compote and blackberry sorbet that I had for dessert
Blackberry cheesecake, blackberry compote and blackberry sorbet that I had for dessert

After dinner I went with Bryan and Jan to the 20:45 show which was the Backstreet, sorry, Barricade Boys. They did a few songs from Les Mis, a bunch of others, and Bohemian Rhapsody! Which was pretty cool.

Backstreet, sorry, Barricade Boys
Backstreet, sorry, Barricade Boys

Then to bed.