March 09, 2019

That Time I Went to St Thomas...

St. Thomas was my last stop on my 11-day Thanksgiving NCL Gem cruise. What I was most excited about is that St. Thomas is one of the US Virgin Islands (as opposed to the British ones) which meant: cell phone service!!! 

**waits for reader's to get over the fact that I "should unplug because I'm on vacation" which is not something I want to do**...

I bought an excursion for this one because we had $50 of excursion credit and found an excursion called "Harbor Safari, Shopping & City Explorer," which was only $35, so I figured we'd get a tiny amount of information about the island as we rode a boat over to the shopping area. 

I briefly considered cancelling it to take a $21 cable car ride, but we were more interested in a small tour.  Frankly I would have booked the cable car originally, had it been available when I booked the other one. Very sad that it wasn't.
Here's a misc. photo because too much text is boring.

So, as it turns out. Between the time that I booked it, and sailing, they changed the excursion significantly, but didn't change the title. What this means is that it wasn't obvious to me when I read the updated description that they took out the most important part (it was so long ago that I'd booked it that I didn't discretely remember what the original one said. 

Magically (I don't want to explain cause it's boring) I was able to find the missing part of the excursion description:
As you cruise along, the guide will elaborate on the history of Charlotte Amalie, regaling you with stories of pirates, plantation life, and battles for possession of St. Thomas. The Danish named the port to honor Charlotte Amalie, the wife of King Christian V. Throughout the centuries, the port has had its ups and downs. In the early 1900s, the waterfront warehouses were in disrepair due to hurricanes, fires and diminished trade. Today, those warehouses have been restored and are home to hundreds of duty-free shops.

Doesn't that sound great!? I did. Worth $35 even though we'd have to walk back from the shopping area to the ship. But no, that part was gone and there was no stories of pirates, no stories about waterfront warehouses. I might have walked around the shops more if I remembered the significance of the structures!

So the boat ride around the harbor was nice - good thing we got a seat on the outside part of the boat so I could take photos, but it wasn't what we wanted. Not for $70. Okay, true. We paid $20 because of our credit. But I could have used my credit to pay for the cable car and not even have to pay anything for it!

Here's a thing that I don't know what is!

We got off at the shops and walked around a little bit. We considered doing the cable car anyway, or taking a taxi to Magens Bay Beach. My interest in the beach was that I heard that those fish that will eat the dead skin on your feet live naturally in the bay and I wanted a free fish pedicure!

We decided to do the beach because it sounded nice and maybe I could really find the pedicure fish. A taxi was $8 per person each way. Maybe they take credit cards, we should have asked. It's also $5 per person to get onto the beach (free fork kids under 12). We paid it to our driver who paid it to the guy in the kiosk.

It was a nice ride up and over a mountain to the other side of the island. No - you don't want to walk, I promise. On a whim, I asked the driver if he could tell us any history about the island. He had such good stories! Sorry, I don't remember much of them cause my brain is bad, but it was worth the $16 taxi ride. I do remember him telling us about why they drive on the left even though St. Thomas is a US territory. Basically, just that they tried, but people were stubborn, and then they stopped trying.

The beach was beautiful. We were there November 23, a Friday and there were very few beach goers. Possibly because of the short time that we were in port - not worth the cost of the excursion for most of our fellow cruisers. The was was nice and warm. A little cooler than I like but perfect for Husband.

So where were the pedicure fish? I thought maybe they hang out in the rocks on the edge of the bay. I didn't find any there, but we did see some other cool fish. After a bit of scouting we decided to give up and just hang out in the ocean.

After a while we sat on the edge of the water because it was a little cloudy and I was cold. I know. And then Husband noticed something. Tiny, nearly invisible white fish had found us. It was the pedicure fish!

My feet look weird because that's my heels.
They seemed to like being on the edge of the water because of the sand that gets kicked up. Though that also made it hard for them to not get washed away. I was able to enjoy it enough that the taxi ride was worth the money to get there Plus the beach was really nice. 

But alas we had to leave this little slice of paradise and go back to the ship. The ride back wasn't as fun as the ride there because everyone was going back so they were packing us all into the vans, but we we're returned quickly back to the dock. 

Before we made it back to the boat, husband remembered the craft brewery he had looked up. We had about 10 minutes and the bar (The Tap & Still) was right there in the dockyard so we rushed there to see if we could take it to go.

And yes, Husband was able to get a pint in a plastic cup to take with us. I forgot to take a picture of the beer. But that wouldn't make you able to taste it anyway, so here's the draft menu instead.

We took it with us and finished it off as we stood in line to get back to the boat - as was to be expected for a port at which we had to get back on board so early 1:30pm! 

One good thing about that crappy excursion: it forced us to get up early and not miss the bit of fun we found on this lovely island.

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