The places on the itinerary were outstandingly green. These are where people derive the definition of the world tropical. The clear, salty waters are light bluegreen, the sands are white, and the people will always negotiate a deal. I only visited beaches in St. Thomas, St. Maarten, and St. Martin. Unfortunately, I did not have the chance to try conch fritters or rum balls. Gas prices in the Caribbean: ($ per gal)- Nassau, Bahamas: $5.50. Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas: $4.28. St. Martin: $6.44.
Before I begin explaining my visit in the Bahamas, no I did not go to Atlantis, but everyone else did. All of the passengers were only allowed a short amount of time to visit Nassau. We had to return to the ship by 2 PM, and assuming my party leaves the ship around 9:30, that did not give us much time. Nonetheless, We returned around 12 PM.The weather was humid and rainy. Between the city and the dock, there was the colorful terminal that hosts numerous shops and music. I loved the soup and necklaces I saw, but they were too expensive for me. The first thing I did was visit a gift shop across the street from the terminal. There, I bought my brother a tiger’s eye necklace and a ship in a bottle for me (total: $20). At another shop, I bought my dad a starfish for $5.
My cousins paid for an hour private tour of the island in one of the taxi vans. We toured less than half of the island, but we had the privilege of seeing what most tourists don’t. There were many ministries for education, youth sports, etc. in beautiful buildings. I also saw a sliver of the US embassy. Throughout the island, one could see two resorts in the distance: the notorious Atlantis and the Chinese project, Baha Mar. The tour guide drove us to the construction site where we took pictures of the buildings. China invested $3.5 billion to build this resort, and all of the workers are Chinese, not Bahamian. The goal of the resort is to outshine Atlantis, by far.
One major issue we saw was the living conditions of the poor. The poor people lived in very small houses and did not have running water. In order to get water, the government supplied them with a community pump where everyone must gather their own water. I saw some poor people sitting outside of their home under a roof trying to cool off in the hot, rainy weather. The rich people had large, colorful homes that took up lots of property. They also had a separated garage about the size of the poor people’s homes. According to the tour guide, the price to live in the rich people homes was unthinkable, but most of the rich people pass down their homes to the next generation.
Here’s a gem.
In Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, it was finally nice to be able to call my family without adding roaming charges. After all, St. Thomas is a US Virgin Island. From the terminal, my party took a taxi to the ferry (tickets are $7/person) to St. John where we took another taxi to Trunk Bay. Trunk Bay was a beautiful beach. Compared to Los Angeles’s Venice Beach, the place felt like a secret hideout. The shoreline immediately touched the trees instead of a busy boardwalk. The only similarity was the fact that tourists dominated the place. Admission for everyone 17 and under is free, but adults pay a small fee. Trunk Bay is known for its coral reefs; in fact, there was a group of sea life activists who were promoting the preservation of the coral. It was the best place to experience snorkeling for the first time. Though I used rental gear, I did not get herpes. I really enjoyed snorkeling, despite consuming the first 20 minutes to keep my breath under control, but I was burnt out towards the end when the mask kept coming loose and I inhaled salt water. I was burning and gagging. The lifeguards constantly warned swimmers not to stand on the coral or the hill. We came back from Trunk Bay to the ferry, and we took the first taxi (yes, the man returned for us) to the downtown flea markets.
There, I bought $9 Larimar earrings (originally $18 before negotiation) and fake Raybans for $10 (originally $20). Most places sold Larimar or blue opal jewelry (the kind of stuff you’d find on AliExpress), fake designer handbags under $100 (bad quality), or tropical shirts. One place sold peace pipes, and I would have bought a phallic peace pipe if it did not cost $30. I also purchased a mango and banana smoothie for $5. That was alright. I would not buy it again because it lacked flavor, but the fruit was supposedly fresh. I would like to thank Hannah, who bought me a purple “St. Thomas” bracelet.
Thank goodness we were docked until 7 PM, for I had time to enjoy the island and call my brother on the phone.
The final destination on our itinerary delivered. We arrived in Phillipsburg, St. Maarten (the Dutch side), and we had until 4:30 PM (or so) to visit the island. Originally, one of the families did not catch up with the 3 of us families, but when we stopped our taxi at the beach near Princess Juliana Internation Airport, we were surprised to see our friends. Luckily, the taxi was large enough to take the 18 of us to Orient Bay in St. Martin (the French side). Orient Beach is known as a nude beach, but we hung out on the clothed side (we have young children, for god’s sake). Some male visitors showed up in thongs while another male visitor donned fishnet boxer briefs with a built in thong. A few of the children in our party witnessed uncovered female breasts, but the fishnet boxer brief guy seemed to win over the kids for the most obscene view award. Personally, I would have been curious to see the nude side. Nude bodies are pretty normal to me, now; I think they should be. One bad thing about the beach was that people were not allowed to put their stuff in the sand, so we were required to rent lounge chairs owned by the restaurants along the beach. They were $20 per 2 lounge chairs. I assume that our lounge chair purchase went to Bikini Beach, for that was the restaurant behind us.
The water was so fresh, calm, and clear. I could swim farther than I could in California beaches. About a hundred feet away from the shore, a large trampoline was set up. We assumed it was not free, so we did not bother with it. Most of the kids in my party enjoyed jetsking ($50 per 30 min), but I guess they did not have enough time to include me. My cousin wanted to take me parasailing to make up for the missed jetski opportunity, but the credit card machine was broken. The kids invited me to snuba with them, but I had enough trouble breathing during snorkeling. Nonetheless, I made something like a sandcastle with the younger kids of the family that was left behind earlier in the trip. It was just that family and my family left at the beach. The three of us kids buried each other’s legs in sand. When we felt hungry, my cousin bought calamari and chicken nuggets from Bikini Beach (and her friend funded her husband and my cousin Dean’s Blue Moon thirst). There was free wi-fi at Bikini Beach, so I tried to call my dad, but I realized it was 9 AM back home and my dad was not awake, yet. I think the password was bikini1, bikinibeach1, bikini123. Something like that. It was not “therealone”, contrary to online belief. When in doubt, however, just buy some food from them and ask for the password. The chicken nuggets were dry, but the fried calamari was so big and juicy that we ordered another one.
The day before, I felt a little sunburned from Trunk Bay, so I applied sunscreen everywhere on my body… except my back. I had not been sunburned in 10 years prior to that moment. I spent the rest of my cruise babying my red, raw back and applying Australian Gold cooling aloe gel (courtesy of my cousin Kaitlynn). By the way, a generic aloe w/ lidocaine can be bought for $10 in the medical facility in the ship, opposed to the $15 Australian Gold version in Del Sol. However, my cousin bought the Australian Gold gel for approximately $8 in a gift shop by the Phillipsburg terminal.
When we first arrived in St. Maarten, I purchased a Crunchie bar ($2) and a 16.9 fl oz bottle of water ($2) at the local terminal general store. I did not buy any souvenirs until I returned to the terminal, where my cousin, her friend, and I walked around. I purchased a treasure chest for $6 and a small conch shell for my boyfriend. I saw the local Del Sol and Cariloha stores. I regret not asking for a Cariloha lei; it was free. One store sold numerous shirts of many sizes for $5, which is good for people who ran out of clean clothes on this trip.