3/11/13

Caribbean Cruise: Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S.V.I

Approaching St. Thomas, USVI by cruise ship

This is one of the best reasons for having a room with a balcony!  As you approach each island, you have an amazing private viewing area.

Sailboats at St. Thomas, USVI

Sailboats at St. Thomas, USVI

Welcome to Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands

Cruise ship port at St. Thomas

If you travel a lot, one thing you know for sure, is that plans can change.  Even though we had a great time on the beach in Grand Turk, we were supposed to be on an excursion called Gibb's Cay Stingray Encounter and Beach.  I LOVE to snorkel and had done tons of research for the best snorkeling experience.  I picked Gibb's Cay because no one in my family had ever swam with stingrays, and while we were a little scared, we decided to face that fear and go for it!  Unfortunately, that excursion was cancelled the day we arrived on the ship.  Being that I am an over the top trip planner, this annoyed me, but all that planning payed off because I knew all the other options available.  So I quickly booked another snorkel experience for St. Thomas called Castaway Ship Wreck Cove Sail and Snorkel.  We had planned to take a taxi to Coki Beach and Coral World Ocean Park, but I decided we couldn't come to the Caribbean and not snorkel.  Problem averted...kind of.

Three iguanas looking at the docked ship

We arrived to some very curious onlookers. There were lots of them sunning on the rocks.  I think I discovered which one was in charge in this video below. 


Here is a picture of the grumpy leader that I thought looked like a painting.

Iguana on a rock

This port also had a little area just off the ship with some shops and a place to catch a taxi, but it was much smaller than Grand Turk's cruise center.  Most people left the area for an excursion.  We only had to walk from the ship to the catamaran and off we went.

Castaway Girl Catamaran with the Noordam in the background

You can see it was cloudy, but with blue skies, and we were hoping it would stay that way.  No such luck.  As we arrived at our snorkeling spot, the rain clouds started moving in.  I am a fan of storms and interesting weather, so I still thought it looked beautiful. 

Rain clouds over the ocean and rocks

We were still able to get our snorkeling in.  I took pictures with an underwater camera and now I can't find them anywhere.  I'll keep looking, but in the meantime, I'll just have to tell you about the experience.  I prefer shallow water snorkeling with coral, which is why I didn't pick this excursion originally.  The water was very deep, but there was a ship wreck under us, which was cool.  But it was way to far down for the normal person to swim to.  One of our guides swam to it and scared the mother in me when she disappeared into the ship and came out another place.  It was very "Little Mermaid"ish and I would have loved to be able to do something like that.  But I had to settle for regular snorkeling.  On a snorkeling scale of one to five fishes, I would give this one a two.  Unlike the Bermuda snorkeling excursion that I would give a four.  I'm still waiting for a five, but I will have that perfect snorkeling experience because I'm determined!  After the snorkeling was over, we loaded back on the catamaran and started drinking the complimentary rum punch.  Some people got a little nutty when they started playing dance music.  It was entertaining.

Rainy day in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

The next part of the trip came as a fun surprise.  It started to rain...A LOT!  Pretty much everyone on the catamaran tried to fit under the covered area, but not me.  I had the best time sitting out on the net in the rain.  I can't really explain why I enjoyed it so much.  I think it was because I felt like a part of nature, almost as if I was a fish.  Okay, that sounds weird, like I said, it is hard to explain.  But I loved it!  The rain was just pounding down on me because the crew was trying to get back ASAP.  And there I sat, with a big grin on my face.  Very unexpected ending to our excursion that I think was my favorite part.  

Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

As we got back on the ship and said good bye to St. Thomas, I had to smile at myself and wonder if I was the only person leaving who was glad the blue skies went away while we were there.  :)


Day dream about other places on Friday Daydreamin'  , Travel Photo Thursday and Travel Tips Tuesday

28 comments:

  1. Beautiful pics Sonja! And I absolutely agree about balcony cabins!

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  2. It looks like a fabulous adventure and some great pictures too. Sorry you didn't get to swim with the stingrays.

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    1. Well, thanks, I still plan to do it at some point. Hopefully I can get some good pictures of it when I do. :)

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  3. OH, WOW!
    I'm so jealous, I'm lost for words!
    Thank you for sharing this amazing adventure!!

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    1. Thank you for the great comment! Glad you enjoyed the post.

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  4. I am so jealous! I was in St.Thomas yeeeears ago, what a beautiful place :)

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    1. It is...along with all the other islands in the Caribbean. Can you imagine living there?

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  5. Oh my. What a beautiful place! I love your photos, especially the iguana one that looks like a painting!

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    1. Thanks, I'm hoping to get a better camera soon, but that shot did look pretty cool.

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  6. K wait...what boat are you on?!

    Looks awesome!

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    1. We were on a Holland America Noordam ship. Then for the snorkeling, we got on a catamaran. It was fun!

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  7. Your pictures are absolutely gorgeous! I've only been to the British Virgin Islands, but I was blown away by how colorful everything is!

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    1. Thanks, Katie! I agree, I thought it was all beautiful!

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  8. Beautiful pictures, Sonja! I love the lizards- how very entertaining. My family was able to swim with the sting rays in Cozumel. The excursion the ship arranged actually filled up but since there were five of us, they opened one just for us. Another couple ended up coming with us but they were great. It was very commercial but it was our first snorkeling experience so we didn't really have anything to compare it to. We really enjoyed it and loved having the area to ourselves. We were kind of rushed through it though...guess why? There was a storm blowing in. :)

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    1. That's funny! Those islands are beautiful, but apparently it rains a lot. I think I could get used to that if I lived there. ;)

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  9. Glad to see those iguanas are still around in St. Thomas. My kids were so fascinated with them. Beautiful pictures! I'm glad you were able to enjoy your excursion despite the rain. You are such a water person. :) I used to love warm rain as a child but need a lot of sunshine as much as possible. I hope you find the underwater camera soon.

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    1. So they've been around a while, huh? That's funny, they must like it there. :)

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  10. These pics make me want to go on a cruise now :) (just not on Carnival, haha)

    I have been to USVI a few times and always loved it...really gorgeous islands!

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    1. No kidding...cruising is not having good press lately. But, yes, I would love to be in the Caribbean right now as well. It is snowing here today. UGH!

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  11. Such beautiful pictures! I'm enjoy reliving past cruises through your pictures! The iguanas in St. Thomas were really something!

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    1. Glad you are enjoying the pictures!

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  12. I've been seeing a lot of wonderful beach pictures today and they all are calling to me! Guess I need some time on a nice warm beautiful beach. Charlotte Amalie is stunningly beautiful.

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  13. What is it about sunshine and turquoise water that we can't resist, It looks VERY appealing.

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  14. I can't imagine taking a cruise and not having a balcony. We share your enthusiasm for watching from our balcony our approach and departure from ports of call. Beautiful photos.

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    1. Thanks...I love taking photos! Also love the balcony!

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