Tuesday, March 24, 2020

December 5, 2019 – St. Maarten, NA – Mostly Cloudy – 86F

Even though the ship got into port here early, and people are up early to go on their excursions, I did get my nice table in the corner.  Today, the waffles were done perfectly so adding cottage cheese, sour cream, and various preserves along with some scrambled eggs made for an excellent breakfast.  The coffee was also good and hot.

When we visit St. Maarten, I try to go a spa that I’ve been patronizing for almost five years.  I texted the owner a couple of weeks ago and made an appointment for this morning between 10 and Noon.  This will be the first time I have been back to her place since the island was battered by hurricanes a couple of years ago.  The spa has been rebuilt and I am anxious to see what they have done.

Disembarking the ship at a port of call on this ship is a brand new experience.  Passengers are scanned out in the "Destination Gateway" on Deck 2.  It is a wide open area - kind of like a large lounge with comfortable looking couches and TV monitors.  It might be possible to feel crowded here but there is a lot of room.  It's bright and welcoming.   

There are only three ships here today – along with Edge, the Grandeur OTS and MSC Preziosa are docked.  

I got off the ship around 9:30 AM, took pictures of the Edge docked,

and walked over to the taxi dispatch area.  I got in line and told the dispatcher that I wanted to go into town and she told me the fare would be $3.  She told me to walk along with a bunch of other riders to a cab that had just pulled up.  The ride to Philipsburg is pretty short (a tiring walk but a short ride) and I know it pretty well.  I started to get concerned when the cab took a different than usual turn in town and started to head away from the city.  From the back seat, I asked the driver what was happening and all of the folks on the cab chimed in that they were going to Maho Beach.  I told the driver that the dispatcher had sent me to this cab knowing that I wanted to go the city.  He told me that Maho Beach was about 30 minutes away. 

I had no choice but to take in my free tour of the island – this was an $18 ride.  We went up and down hills and across bridges and stopped for every speed bump on the island (and there are lots of them – I thought we were in traffic but everyone was slowing for speed bumps.  We passed by Queen Juliana International Airport, which is significant because Maho Beach is right on the approach to the airport and, besides sand and surf, people come to this beach to watch the planes come in a few hundred feet over their heads. 

The driver dropped six people off at Maho Beach and I hopped into the front set.  The driver showed me his ticket and said that it said he would be paid for seven people coming here.  I told him I would still pay him the three bucks plus tip for my ride so this would be a bonus day for him.  Some pictures of my impromptu journey are below.

The ride back seemed shorter and I arrived at the spa around 10:20 AM – he dropped me right at the door.  I was recognized by the owner right away even though it had been over a year since my last visit.  The spa had been repaired and looked a lot better than the original.  One big improvement was the installation of A/C in the treatment rooms – it used to get pretty warm in there with just a fan.  The session was just OK this time (with a little attitude on her part) – I paid her $60 (the price was always $50 and I threw in a $10 tip).  She seemed a little disappointed with the tip, which I don't like to see. She asked me when I would be back and I said I would let her know.  Based on her attitude this time, I am probably not going to return here next time we are on the island.  It was a good run.

Before returning to the ship, I walked to the beach and boardwalk areas - it was a beautiful day and perfect for pictures.

I went down to Front Street to find a cab and I saw a guy sitting next to one of the white van cabs.  I said I needed a trip back to the pier and he said $6 and I said the trip here was only $3 – well we arrived at $5 and a quick ride later I was at the cruise port.  It turned out I was his first fare of the day and I told him I hoped he had more coming.

I met Ellen and we went to the Oceanview Cafe for lunch – salads and pizza.

We went out on deck 5 to see the newly designed tenders - they are more like little, stubby, yachts.  They have bucket seats.  There are no tender ports on this itinerary so we won't get a chance to check them out - but they are impressive.

I am about 60 percent through “Verses for the Dead”, which I am reading up in Eden. 

Tonight we are dining in the Normandie Restaurant – we are restarting the cycle tonight.  As a bonus, we managed to get a window seat with this view.

We both had the standard broiled salmon for our entrée – I had the Greek Salad and Boston Lettuce/Gorgonzola Salad, Cream of Broccoli Soup, as well.  Ellen had the baked Brie and potato cheese tart for starters.  I had the Opera Cake for dessert.

On our way to the theater we stopped at the Grand Plaza to see who was on tonight.  The Nauticals, a show band, was playing at the top of their amp level.  

But then, the bartender show started up (a la "Cocktail") and the noise level was unbearable.  

We hustled off to the relative quiet of the theater.

Showtime tonight featured our second comedian of the cruise – Derrick Cameron from San Diego CA.  He was as funny as the other guy was not.  All of his observations hit home.  He was a hoot. 

We finished the evening off in Eden listening to Florencia.  

This was the same playlist she did two days ago but it did include “Hallelujah”.  Also in Eden tonight was another performance by one of the New Age singer/dancers.

Clocks move back one hour tonight to put us on EDT.

Seas are smooth.

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