Thursday, March 5, 2015

Cruise Log Part 5: Land Ho!

Tuesday, the 9th, we arrived in St. Maarten (or St. Martin, depending on what your nationality is).  We had booked a catamaran sail, but when we checked the tickets that were delivered to our room, we saw that there was a weight restriction.  When we booked our excursion, we specifically looked at restrictions and there was no mention of a weight restriction.  We looked at several sailing excursions and some did give restrictions, but this one didn't which was why we'd booked it.  It also included going to a cove for swimming.  We went down to the excursion desk the night before and they said they'd look into it, but when we went down that morning, they said that it was a liability thing and they couldn't override it and neither could the catamaran captain.  So, they refunded us the price of the tickets.  That left us with one excursion for the day which was a tour of both the French and Dutch sides of the island.

We got on an air conditioned tour bus, but apparently I chose the wrong side of the bus.  Since it was driving around an island, it depended on which direction the driver went--if he went counter-clockwise, it was best to be on the left of the bus and if he went clockwise, it was best on the right.  I chose the right side and chose wrong--he went counter-clockwise.  So, most of the attractions were on the left side of the bus, and we were trying to see them between people's heads and through the windows.  Taking pictures was virtually out of the question.  It was a really neat island though.  So small, yet holding two different countries.  And there's no border crossing, just a sign marking the border.  The island's economy is completely tourist based--they don't produce anything there.

The old French fort
The bus stopped near a shopping district and some open air booths and we went through the open market, buying souvenirs.  I got a beautiful blue quilted bag, with a few bursts of other bright colors that said "St. Maarten/Martin" on it.  It included an attached accessories bag, a scrunchie, and a sarong/scarf that all matched.  In these markets, bargaining is part of the process.  Other islands are different, but St. Maarten was definitely one where you could negotiate prices.  We bought magnets at all of our stops, since we started being religious about that during our summer trip, though we had been buying magnets along the way all along.  I was looking for items for the kids and the grandmas.  I found little bottles of sand and I contemplated buying that because I kicked myself after the last cruise.  I wish I had started collecting bottles of sand from each beach we visited.  Even if I bought my own vials and painted the name on it or glued seashells to it, but I have never done it and now I have missed out on Dominican Republic, St. Thomas, Tortola, Bahamas, Miami, and Atlantic City.  I saw a cute hand-painted ukulele that I wanted to get for Billy, but I found that most shops carried the exact same things and I walked on.  I ended up finding a shop that had awesome Dr. Suess-inspired t-shirts, such as "Brat 1" and "Brat 2" or "Monster 1".  I was going to get those for the kids, but decided instead to get "Sis 1", "Sis 2", and "Bro 3" with St. Maarten screen printed on the bottom.  I was getting tired and didn't haggle as well as I had been.  And we didn't make it back to the open air market to find the ukulele I had wanted.  I figured they might have them at some of the other islands, but I never saw another one.  I am kicking myself for not getting it when I saw it!

We found a place called "That Yoda guy movie museum" so Scott had to stop there.  I'm not a Star Wars fan or aficionada, but it seems that the creator of Yoda has a museum there with Star Wars stuff, including some Yoda figures.

We stopped at a little cafe to sit and drink a Coke and use their free wifi for a bit to communicate for a bit with our family.  Then we got back on the bus and went back to the port and onto the ship.  We spent a little time at the pool and I went down one of the 4 slides.  But, then nature called and I went back to our room.

We took a nap and when I got up, I put on the most brightly colored clothes that I had brought and went down for the second "Thriller" class.  We had dinner in one of the general dining rooms, called "Taste".  As near as I can tell, those two dining rooms right across from each other have the same food, just different atmosphere.  I think the third dining room might be the same, but it's larger and has a stage for live performances.

After dinner, we went upstairs to the upper deck where the 80's party was going to take place.  Probably the most fun I have had in a long time.  I love the music because it's my generation.  They had fireworks over the ship.  When it came time for the flash mob to do "Thriller," the problem was that the "stage"/dancing area was not raised up--it's just part of the floor, only made out of different material so you can see where it is.  We were told that if we got lost, the cruise directors would be in front of us and to just watch them.  However, when we rushed to the "stage", there were still other people there and we couldn't see the cruise directors at all.  And since the other people didn't take the class or apparently learn the dance somewhere along the way, they weren't quite doing the choreographed moves that we had rehearsed.  And there was a photographer that was trying to get pictures, and she focused on me but every time she would set for the shot, I would need to turn.  So, finally after several attempts, she asked me if I could just pause for a second, so I froze in the classic claws in the air stance and let her take her picture and then I had to hurry up and figure out where we were and catch up.  It could have been better managed geographically, but it was fun, nonetheless.  My husband took a video of the whole thing and I still haven't watched it.  Then the 80s party continued with songs that were near and dear to my formative years and I sang along and chair danced and everything!  It was a blast.  It was also funny watching drunk guys trying to hit on women, especially when they were married.

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