Saturday, January 20, 2024

December 17, 2023 – Philipsburg, St Maarten – Warm, windy, 80sFsz

We are back in one of my favorite ports in the Netherland Antilles. And today, we are on tour.

Had another nice breakfast out on the Sunset Veranda, good food and good views (of Philipsburg across the bay).

After breakfast, we headed to the Cabaret Lounge to meet up with our tour.  We are going back to “Orient Beach” because it is a low impact, relaxing excursion.  It's outside and that reduces any chances of picking up something that we didn't ourselves bring to this voyage.

Our tour departed the Cabaret Lounge right on time at 8:45 AM and we walked to the end of the pier and to the right of the shopping area (the cab pickup spot) where our bus was waiting.  This gave me a chance to get a picture of Onward docked.

Before, we made the right turn to the pickup spot (where the taxi stand is), I stopped to take a picture of the new Island Sign - all decked out with Holiday items.

The ride to the French Side of the Island took about 30 minutes – our guide said the bus was making a funny noise because there was some issue with the hydraulics that lift up the bus (I guess the bus was lopsided).  She said a new bus would take us back later.  The bus, in my opinion, needed shocks because the bumps were pretty intense and I was worried that I might reinjure my back. Each bump sent a painful pulse through my lower back,  

As was the case last time, the beach was very picturesque but windy.  

We tried to settle down in the chairs provided but wound up moving back away from the beach to chairs and tables near the restaurant. There was an open bar but that didn’t include cocktails – one screwdriver and one rum punch were on the list so I ordered them.  The bartender, an older guy (everyone else working there is pretty young) was a bit grumpy – I guess he knew we were just on a tour. 

Lunch was included and served at the KKO Restaurant – 

the waitstaff all have an adorable French accents and women - dressed in short or jeans and logo shirts - comprise most of the staff.  They are very friendly and accommodating and the service is good. 

The offerings on the limited menu were chicken and fish.  I had the grilled Mahi and Ellen had the grilled Red Snapper.  

The fish was good – we had an interesting salad before that and dessert (mille flue – layers of crust separated by custard) finished off the meal.  Coffee, if you can believe it, was not included in the meal (these folks are French aren't they).  For drinks, we had rum and coke.

We asked one of the servers to take a rare picture of both of us.

The excursion was scheduled to last five hours so around 2 PM, we boarded the bus – a different one – to go back to Philipsburg. This version of the excursion was shorter than the one we took last year.

I couldn't tell the difference in the new bus - still bumpy and scary.  The ride was quick and we were back at the pier.  We still had a large chunk of the day left so it was spent on the loungers on Deck 5.  Just before dinner, we watch the Mirella Discovery depart against a magnificent sunset.

Tonight is the Azamazing Evening, which will be held on the pier area in the shop area.  Dinner tonight was an Azamazing Buffet held both in the Discoveries Dining Room and up in the Windows Café.  I checked out the Dining Room and it was super crowded so we went upstairs for dinner.  After dinner, we decided that we would pass on going to the site but instead would watch from the Living Room.  There were quite a few other passengers who opted out of the program and watched from the Living Room.

We could see what was going on but couldn’t hear anything. We spent a little time on Deck 11 Forward where we could see and hear the program.  

It looked like a single group and lead singer were the entertainment for this evening.  Some songs were recognizable and some were no doubt island music.  It was a bit chilly and windy up on the top deck so as soon as the fireworks started we went back down to the Living Room.

That ended our day – so back to the cabin.  A nice day overall in St. Maarten and St. Martin.

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