Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Wednesday, November 16, 2016 – Philipsburg, St. Maarten, N.A. – Mostly Sunny – 85F

Distance from Charlestown, Nevis to Philipsburg, St. Maarten: 74 Nautical Miles

As is pretty much always the case, it is a picture perfect day in St. Maarten.  There are also eight ships here today – Quest is barely a blip on the radar compared to the monsters docked at Philipsburg.  Among the giants are the new P&O Britannia, The Anthem of the Seas, and the new major domo of cruise ships, the Harmony of the Seas, the largest ship on the seas.

In the picture below, the Anthem of the Seas (background) is docked while the Harmony of the Seas is backing into her docking spot.  Together, those ships are carrying about 12,000 passengers (if nearly full).  And that’s just two of the ships paying a visit to this port. (I found out later that the Harmony OTS was on her maiden voyage).


Anthem and Harmony of the Seas


P&O Britannia (and a ship behind her)

As is our usual routine, we are going to walk around the town and end up in our favorite spa for some pampering.  This time out, I actually texted the spa to a) see if they were still open; and b) whether they had any openings today.  They responded and we are on their schedule.

After another very nice breakfast, we walked to the Water Taxi pier and purchased two all-day for $7 (or in our case, a round trip) pass for the taxi.  This time, the Water Taxi dropped us off at the far station.  That was fine with us, because we had intended to get some steps in.

The beach was beautiful (surprised there weren’t more people out there).

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Philipsburg Beach

The spa folks recognized us and were happy to see us.  We both had great treatments and the owner said that next time we came, she would have champagne waiting for us – we’ll see since the next time we are due on the island is well into next year.  I should mention that the spa is located in a new mall complete with a fancy restaurant and and upscale clothes store.

We then walked around the town, even venturing beyond Front Street to Back Street.  Staying in the shade we walked to the water taxi drop-off – a fair distance.  We made a stop at a jewelry store for the obligatory free beer (always a bit warm).  This water taxi stop cannot be the main one since we waited over 45 minutes for our taxi to arrive – they run much more often at the main terminal. 

There was some local entertainment while we waited for the water taxi.  A woman in some kind of Carnival costume danced her way down the strip mall leading to the pier.  Along the way, she picked up some sidekicks.  I captured the whole thing on my cellphone.



“The Rhythm is Going to Get You”

The taxi eventually showed up and we were soon back on the ship for lunch.  After lunch, we hung out on the open deck – all of the ships provided nice shade.

When you have this many ships docked, the order of leaving is very important – we are staying late because tonight is “The Azamazing Evening”.  One of the first ships to go was the gargantuan Harmony of the Seas.  The only way I could get the whole ship in the frame was to shoot it in panoramic mode.


Harmony OTS Departing

We had dinner up in the Buffet and then waited for our deck to be called to head out to the pier for the “Azamazing Evening”.  I was able to get a picture of Ellen at the entrance to the “Canyon of Ships” (below) – between the Britannia and Quest.


We managed to get pretty good seats for the performance (the back row but OK).  There was a warm up band playing when we got there and it looked like just about everyone was attending.  Rum punch was the refreshment of the evening.

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Pre-Show Show

There were guys on stilts walking around to provide additional atmosphere.


The Main Act was “The Unconventional Quartet”, a string quartet composed of two guys and two girls, two or three violins and one bass.  The songs were apocryphal but entertaining.  I tried to get shots from various angles.  The finale involved flag bearers/waivers joining the musicians on stage.  It was all very professional and entertaining.

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“Unconventional Quartet” Performs

Based on our past experience, we knew a fireworks show would cap off the evening.  Wanting to get a better view, we left a bit early and headed to the top deck.  While we were walking back, the nearly new P&O Britannia (their biggest ship) was departing. The ship had to back all the way out because there wasn’t enough room to swing the big ship around.


Britannia Leaving

From that vantage point, we could see both the launch site and the fireworks themselves.  It was pretty neat.

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Azamazing Fireworks

A very nice day in St. Maarten.

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