Thursday 13thJanuary 2011 – St Maarten
I woke up to my idea of port hell this morning! 6 ships were scheduled to be berthed and the late arrival of the monster Allure of the Seas had delayed everyones berthing times. Captain Paul did not sound like a happy man to be kicked into last position for berthing time this morning. So who was out there? Holland America Neiw Amsterdam, MSC Posisia, Aida Aluna, Celebrity Summit and Allure of the Seas. That equates to in excess of 20,000 passengers going ashore. My idea of hell. We stood up on deck 19 and looked down at all the people walking along the dockside in the direction of duty free and the water taxi. I could quite happily avoid the lot of them and stay onboard, but St Maarten is one of my favourite Caribbean ports so I didn’t want to miss it.
We started the day with a visit to Seventeen for Breakfast, purely for research purposes. We dined al fresco on the open deck and the breakfast was excellent. All freshly cooked to order. The setting was wonderful but I didn’t think the venue delivered the personal dedicated service that I would have expected for suite guests. Fantastic concept and idea but it needs a bit more polish.
Its already oh so hot in the Caribbean sunshine and we had for shore as soon as we can in the hope that we can avoid some of the crowds. You should have seen the queue for the water taxi, we opted to avoid that and walk into town, but even that had to be done at everyone elses pace as the pathway was rammed with passengers from all 6 ships. It was really really busy as we walked along the front and to was before 10.00am. its usually pretty deserted at this time of day. The beach was packed and the dekchair touts were out trying to get your attention to sit on their chairs. We stopped for an ice cold drink along the front. $1 for a beer! Bargain! Not that I drink beer but the rum punch wasn’t much more. I wish I could say it had cooled me down and refreshed me, but I was melting as we tried to look in the shops. The secret was to locate one with good air-conditioning and just stay in there as long as possible. I was even happy to stand in the electrical shop while Mr C chatted about iPads to the guy behind the counter. He was going to make a purchase, but it turns out they were about the same price as in the UK. We stopped for another drink in the Greenhouse and a few nibbly bits before walking back in the direction of the ship and straight back onboard.
Straight in the lift and out by Breakers bar. Yes, my idea of P&O heaven. A deserted deck, an open bar and waiters on hand eager to serve. Didn’t take me long to settle under my sun hat and just do nothing! Perfectness! I was brave and ventured down to the pool below for a dip to cool down. Not the easiest of pools to negotiate with a bad back down the steep ladder. Once I was in I had no chance of being able to touch the floor at either end of the pool so I was soon in panic mode and out of there.
It wasn’t long before I was looking at the insides of my eyelid, but no sooner were they closed than one of the blasted ships in port would honk its dam whistle. Why? The Holland America ship was threatening to leave port for what seemed like hours so I was glad when she finally slipped her lines and gave us a better view. But then there were repeat performances from the other 4 in dock and so there was no chance of any shut eye. It got down to Celebrity and Royal Caribbean in the new berth opposite and us. Our 60’s 70’ sailaway party was in full swing and we did not leave quietly. I would have liked to see Allure leave before us just so I could get a better view of her inside outside bit, but I wont loose sleep over not getting a better look.
We had pre dinner drinks in Planet Bar as Avalon has been selling the benefits of the Martin Menu up there. I had the Melontini again but Ive had better. It gets very busy in here pre dinner, with a lot going to view the wall!
60’s & 70’s party out on deck this evening with the lads attended under protest. It was busy, mega busy, and we stood for ages waiting for a seat. We eventually got one up by Breakers. But the heat and sunshine has zapped us. Its hard work this Caribbean cruising lark! The lads were so engrossed in lads world that we wondered if they would notice if we slipped away. It was an easy mission. They thought we had gone for a dance, but really we were in the lift and heading for our beds. I was washed, makeup removed, dress hung and put away, jewellery off and put away, lights off and asleep before Mr C came through the door in a panic, having just realised his wife was missing! Men!!
Friday 14thJanuary 2011 – St Kitts
My peace and Caribbean view was disturbed this morning by Carnival Victory being what seemed like an arms length away from my balcony this morning. They all gawped over as we had breakfast served by the Butler and became the topic of many a photo shoot.
Im not a lover of St Kitts, or its monkeys that seem to be around every corner, so we had planned a day of blissful relaxation in The Retreat. For those of you that read my previous post, you will know my day did not pan out as we had hoped and the Retreat did not live up to our expectations. See the previous post if you need to catch up.
By 1.30pm we were back on deck 16. I loved the normality of all of it and lack of expectation. Mr C ordered a bucket of Bud, by way of celebration while I tried my hardest to get a decent cocktail. I had it on great authority, that if a drink was on the micros I could have it, despite whether it was on the drinks menu or not. But it wasn’t to be and I had to settle for something else despite knowing what I wanted.
Carnival Victory was so dam noisy and invaded our noise space all afternoon. Highlight of the afternoon was when they announced the ‘Battle of the Sexes’ and invited passengers to come and take part. The old guy behind me got up and put his shirt on and told his wife, in all seriousness, that he going to take part. He must have had fun looking for it and I didn’t see him come back. He must have stood like most of the other passengers watching from Azura’s railings.
We opted for pre dinner champagne in the Chadwick Suite this evening. It was supposed to be pre, pre dinner drinks, but time ticked by fast. Must have been something to do with the impromptu, girly hair session.
By the way, have I told you how fab our cabin steward is? He is like having a mini butler. I’ve heard so many stories of the stewards becoming more or less invisible these days, them having too many cabins to clean, no interaction with passengers as they used to in the days gone by. Well, Sidney could not be more visible. Every time we step outside the cabin he sticks his head out of the cabin he is cleaning to say Good Morning/Good afternoon etc. Always telling us to have a nice day/evening and always asking if we need anything. Tonight it had completely slipped my mind that I would need champagne glasses and I rushed out very late in search of him. I could have bleeped him but thought my method quicker. Indeed it was, because I opened the door and he is there. Ive no sooner put in my request for glasses and a couple of cans of soft drink and he is back with a tray, and asking if he can be of any further help. 11 out of 10 for Sidney. A credit to P&O!
We were hoping to dine in the Verona Trattoria this evening but we were too late to even be offered a bleeper. Im told it is so popular that they can be full by 6.45pm with no further bleepers to be handed out. We had no choice but to dine in Oriental as we don’t do the cafes!
The lads were defeated once again this evening and headed for their beds straight after dinner. That left us ladies to do some people watching in the Atrium and observe the ballroom dancing below, it was another semi formal night this evening, and possibly not a s well adhered to as it was the first time around.
We went to see the best remaining barman in the P&O fleet this evening. We have decided we need a Clifford in every bar and all will be well with our P&O world. Clifford made us the most perfect Cosmopolitan we have ever tasted and he had two very happy ladies sat at his bar.