MITSUGIRLY has a JEWEL of a time on my 1st RC cruise in years!
Day 3: St Croix
DAY 2 on the ship: St Croix!
We had never been to St Croix before and I was super excited to visit. I knew that the one thing I wanted to do was to go to Buck Island. It looked so beautiful from the pictures I had seen.
Buck Island is a small island that is uninhabited and about 176 acres. This is a protected area and a National Park. It is known for it's great reef and snorkeling area and I just knew I had to go!
Thanks to the wonderful people here on the boards, I found that there were several vendors that would take you there: Big Beards, Caribbean Sea Adventures, and Jolly Rogers.
It was next to impossible to get in touch with Jolly Rogers. No email, no return calls. Eliminated!
CSA, I had been in contact with them off and on and when I said I wanted to book, they informed me that they were already full. Ugh-Eliminated.
So that left Big Beards. Now I went back and forth about which excursion to book. They have full day and half day sails. I see a lot of people say they have had a wonderful experience with Big Beards, so I felt that I was in good hands.
However, I didn't feel too comfortable with the full excursion because of our time frame in port and the amount of travel involved. Although I try to make the most of our day any time I get the chance.
The half day trip: 9:30am-12:30pm and also 12:30pm-3:30pm. The cost is $75/pp adults, $60 for children, $22 for tots.
...goes to Buck Island and offers 2 stops. One on the beach at Turtle Beach for about 45 min-1 hour, which is supposed to be rated one of the prettiest beaches by National Geographic. The second stop involves the reef and underwater trail where you snorkel for 1 hour. They give you the guided tour for about 10 minutes and the "cut you free to explore on your own". Then you are returned to Christiansted.
The full day tour: 9:30am-3:30pm and is $105 per person/adults and $26 for children 6-12 years old and $25 for children 5 and under.
...same as above but then you go to a beach (which is back on the main land, but feels like you are on another island and is very primitive and secluded). You have a BBQ lunch here, for about 1 hr 45 min, and then you sail back to Christiansted.
So, you have to take a taxi from the cruise ship area (you meet a rep at the taxi station named Ms Gumbs). You also have to pay an extra $16/pp round trip for the taxi that is NOT included in your excursion price. Check in is at 8:30am at the taxi's and check in at Big Beards is 9am.
Note that you must prepay for this tour with Big Beards!
After considering the travel time and the return boat time was 3:30pm, add another 1/2 hour in the taxi puts us at 4pm, then more time for anything that could go wrong (with all aboard time at 4:30pm), I decided I didn't want to cut things that close and I would just do the half day tour.
I mean really when you think about it, $105 x2 + $85=$295 for the full day.
half day... $75 x2 + $60=$210.
This is a difference of $85!!! Do you really think we are going to eat $85 worth of food? It's hamburgers, hot dogs and chips with fruit and rum punch.
I decided to book the half day...then was told they were SOLD OUT! UGH! Go me for waiting for so long. Now I'm stuck with a full day.
I started frantically researching and seen someone comment about how much they enjoyed their trip with Big Beards and they had really wished that they would have done the full day sail instead and was recommending it. So, I felt a little better after that...but still nervous.
Jill at Big Beards said they would make sure that they had enough taxi's waiting for when we returned to head back to the cruise ship and we would make it on time.
So, the day had come! I knew I was going to be a nervous wreck all day, but yet trying to enjoy myself.
Monday morning and time to rise and shine at 6:30am. I was having problems sleeping...truth be known I was VERY worried about the time frame today.
I woke my family up at 7am and we were out the door by 7:15am.
Up the elevators we went to the buffet. Only this time...we noticed something...
All the elevators said "Monday" on them. Hmmm. The day before they said "Sunday" and the hubby even ask me if that might have been the previous name to the ship. LOL So now we know. They actually change them daily to say what day it is. How neat is that!
I feel like such an idiot now.
We made it to the buffet and there was hardly anyone here. That's weird. No crowd and your choice of tables to sit at. No waiting in line for food. Well this is a first.
Then I discovered it...the ABSOLUTE BEST BACON IN THE WORLD!!! Made right here on the Jewel. It was cooked PERFECT and crispy with no fat or chewy stuff and layered in the tray perfect and best part...NO BACON POLICE! Hallelujah! I had found my favorite place to be!
They also had corn beef hash! It was AMAZING <--- I'm singing that word now in my opera voice.
(Notice the potatoes and no hashbrowns discovered yet.)
Well hello there St Croix...
We were able to get off the ship right at 8am. It was a L-O-N-G pier.
We headed out and tried to find this taxi stand they said to go to.
We had to ask a few people, but found it.
The person that was working this "Christiansted Shuttle" tent was actually the person they told me to look for.
I did see little booths set up with vendors there.
We paid for our taxi and got our tickets. We were in the van and leaving by 8:28am
I'm not sure what "Welcome to Fire" means...
I did see a sign along the way that said "Free estimates for basic home repairs from hurricane". I guess the hurricane must have tagged them too?
The driver told us that the oil factory there was the second largest and owned by someone that lives in New Jersey.
I didn't really see much poverty like you do in a lot of the ports in the Caribbean.
It seemed fairly nice here.
I don't know just how many motorist have to hit a fire hydrant before you have to put up a concrete barrier around it and paint it bright red...
We are coming to a dead end...we must be here.
It took us 34 minutes to get there.
Here is Big Beard's
This was the place that you check in and they also had a little "store" inside there. You could buy drinks, beer, chips and so on to take with you on the excursion. We did buy some pop of course and a few extras. They provided some coolers with ice and you could put your things in there to keep them cold, which was nice. I just wished that I would have bought more than I did.
This is the dock area and you can see the huge sail in the air...that would be our boat.
So..I just have to comment on the "choice" of boats they have.
First- those on the half day sail are on a boat with motors and said they were speed boats.
Second-those on the full day sail are on an actual sail boat.
Ummm, shouldn't this be the other way around? Shouldn't the people that are on a full day sail be the ones with the faster boat? They are the ones pressed for time to get back and make it back to the ship on time. They actually advertise their "leisurely sail back to the dock" with their sail boat and I'm sorry, but it kinda irritated me with the thought of being late because we we're "leisurely sailing" along. We need to be in a hurry to get back when it's all over. Sigh, I'm going to give myself a heart attack thinking about this all day.
They had us wait on the dock, in the hot sun, for some reason, instead of getting on the boat and sitting down. The other 1/2 day trip was allowed to board their boat and sit to wait for them to leave.
Our crew was Mike, Kristen and Daniella. They told us a little about the history of Big Beards and how they had been in business for 40 years. The owners name was John, but there was already someone there that had a business named Big John, so he decided to name the business Big Beards...since he had a ... well... big beard. John has since retired and the business was sold off to keep the legacy going. They said John actually did look like the Big Beards picture you see on everything on their logo.
They did mention that the boat we were currently on, did get some damage by the hurricane and it tour up the front and the railing down the side and a spot in the back. So, I guess they did get some damage by the hurricane. I just really didn't hear or read much about it.
I tell you what, these little bitty girls do all the work on here. Mike is the Captain and that's what he pretty much does...drive the boat. Both of these girls were doing some heavy labor with carrying everything from food to barrels of drinks, coolers, lifting the sails...you name it. They were really working hard.
We pulled away from the dock around 9:45am and we were on our way to Buck Island.
Someone lost their boat. The crew mentioned that they had never seen it there washed up on shore before.
Buck Island was in view and I couldn't wait to see this beautiful place.
We arrived at Buck Island some time around 10:45, so it takes about an hour to get there although it sure didn't seem like that long.
It was absolutely beautiful there. The beach was gorgeous and so was the water.
Now notice in the picture where the boat is docked. Yes, it is out in the water. The steps leading down from the boat are in the middle of it. You have to climb down the steps and wade in the water to the beach. So...if you are bringing anything ashore with you, you are going to have to carry it and if you don't want it to get wet, you carry it above your head.
Immediately the mermaid was off to find her special spot to swim.
We were told that we could snorkel to the left and it's somewhat of a grassy area and then there's an awesome place to snorkel to the right where there were some rocks. Well, I wanted awesome so we went right.
The hubby brought his new snorkeling mask with him to try out. He would later use these for scuba and he needed some practice first.
We found the spot that looked like it had rocks and in we went.
I immediately spotted this little guy and I was super excited
A cute little (well not so little actually) spotted trunk fish.
Sakari found a cool snail to show me.
Daddy and Kari snorkeling
My little mermaid posing...
Well obviously the new snorkeling/scuba mask is working...he's still in the water longer than I was.
We didn't snorkel too long because quite honestly, there wasn't much to see and if that's what they considered good snorkeling, I was almost afraid of what was to come.
We did see a LOT of lobsters and I'm talking BIG lobsters. The only problem is that they hide super quick and usually the only thing you can see sticking out are their antennas. They were just everywhere and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get a clear picture of them.
We also seen some squid. Also, too fast to get a picture of them because most of their time was spent running from a guy that was chasing them. Ugh!
We headed over to the left side of the boat just to see if there was anything interesting. The only thing we seen there was a huge conch shell that was crawling along the seabed way down below. There was a crab that had obviously purchased himself a new house and he was in the process of moving it to a better location.
My little mermaid seems to need to see everything up close and loves diving down.
People were starting to get back on the boat to head out to the snorkeling area.
We were ssslllooowwwlllyyy making our way back. Although there wasn't much to see as far as snorkeling, it was such a beautiful island and I could have stayed here all day.
I managed to capture an over/under picture. As you can see, nothing but sand in the area the boat was located.
I almost caught a glimpse of a mermaid under the water by the boat...but a big wave came along...darnit
Sakari found a pretty snail and wanted a picture with it.
They yelled at her to put it back and that she wasn't allowed to remove anything from this place because it was a protected National Park. Duh, we already knew this and there was a snail in it so no matter where we were at, we wouldn't have removed it. Geesh.
Around 11:44am, we were all in the boat and off we went to the snorkeling site.
The snorkeling area is just on the other side of the island. Less than 10 minutes away.
We made it to the snorkeling spot and everyone was standing in line to go down the ladder and into the water. We decided we were going to jump!!!
Sakari insisted that I go first...so I did. Now this girl jumped off a 2 story deck at Little French Key when she was 3 years old...she did it again a few years ago. All of a sudden, she has a fear of jumping off things. Last year in Aruba, she backed out of going on this little baby zip line (IMO). Now she was afraid of jumping off a boat!
But eventually she did jump and was super happy about it.
Hubby decided he would climb down the stairs. Jumping isn't his thing because of his eardrums...or lack there of.
We met up with him. I forgot to mention...you HAVE to wear snorkeling life jackets. It's the rule there (so they said). However, you don't have to blow them up. Just as long as you have them on is fine. I struggle with this with Sakari because she absolutely refuses to wear them and has such a fit about it. But, once she was informed that she didn't have to blow it up, she was good. Mermaids Must Be Able To Dive!
They had some life jackets with words wrote on it. They gave the hubby one that said Married and I got one that said "I'm his".
I looked down and seen this...
We were told to follow the "leaders" and they were going to take us on the "tour". I tried to stay back as far as I can. I'm not a fan of getting kicked in the face by those that kicked like they got some place to be. That's not snorkeling. You have to glide along so that you do not disturb the sealife...otherwise they hide!
There were little "markers" on the seafloor that told you things. The only problem was, it told you various types of fish...which were nowhere to be found.
My little mermaid was ahead of me. She decided to only wear her tail and not take the time to put the entire "getup" on.
We came up and around this corner and I got this really weird feeling. Do you guys notice anything?
The entire seafloor looked like a dead coral graveyard. It was super weird and super spooky looking. I didn't know what to think. Did someone gather up all the dead coral and decide to dump it here? Did a hurricane destroy it? What is going on? This is supposed to be a protected area and it looked dead!!
Pink bubbles? What the heck?
As we kept going, we did start to see more coral, but there really wasn't many fish in the area. I was sorta disappointed at what I was seeing...or lack there of.
There are a lot of places that the coral is so close to the top of the water and you had to be careful. I guess that's why you needed to stay on the path.
More stacks of dead coral
This is seriously just weird...
"The field of the dead"
This is like a scene from a movie of a mermaid trying to find her friends in the forbidden valley of death. I'm expecting a sea monster to come bursting out of the dead coral. It was just so eerie.
At one point we got near the end and they ask us if we wanted to go beyond the path and head out to the ocean...um...ok. So, we did and got about 20' out from the path and they said "ok, you can turn around now...there's no way out". What the heck? What was the point in that?
Hey look...there's actually a fish down here!
And a few more parrot fish.
At one point, my hubs started tugging at me and pointing. I'm trying to figure out what the heck he is looking at. We came up to conversate. He said with so much enthusiasm in his voice "Did you see that blue fish???? It has TEETH!!!" I'm really not sure what type of look I had on my face at that point but I'm pretty sure I took a big gulp of water from laughing at his "parrot fish" story. Sigh. He really must get out more.
Not sure what setting my camera ended up on, but I liked this picture anyhow.
When we got back to the beginning, they cut us loose and told us that we were free to explore on our own. So off we went exploring with Sakari in the lead.
Check out this rock (at least I think it was a rock/coral). It looked just like a fish or eel coming up out of the bottom of the ocean. I stared at it for awhile and it didn't move. I assume it was just a fish rock. Or maybe my eyes were playing tricks on me because of the horror of a coral graveyard I had experienced.
Ok so...I'm thinking National Park=awesome snorkeling. I had seen a few pictures online prior to coming here and I thought they looked pretty decent. I had high expectations upon arrival and I was picturing something similar to my snorkeling experience at Rendezvous Caye in Belize. That was AMAZING! Or even our fairly shallow scuba dive in Roatan. But, I was pretty disappointed at this point. Hardly any fish and if there was any fish...it was your normal "everyday fish" like the parrot fish or blue surgeons.
I had lost all hope...and then...Sakari and daddy spotted this beauty!!!!!!!
HE WAS HUGE!! Like the biggest I have seen so far.
Here's a video...while some may claim my photographs are good, I have never claimed to be good at taking videos. Actually I suck. LOL
And once again, somehow I ended up with a green video. My hand goes back and forth changing the settings all the time and sometimes I forget which setting to put it on and end up with the wrong one.
My husband kept tugging at me and made me go up for yet another conversation. He said he was worried that we were spending too much time around the eel and it was going to piss him off and he was going to come after us and eat us alive! He wanted to go and get out of that area. Sigh. I must have taken about 20 pictures or more of it and about 10 videos. I wanted to make sure I got this picture!
So, move along we did and then the next big surprise came along...
WOW, there was a huge group of blue surgeons everywhere. Sakari thought she could blend in and swim as one of them.
It was amazing. They went on forever. I have only experienced this once and that was our scuba diving in Roatan 4+ months ago. It's definitely an amazing site to see!
Something crawling, inching along like a caterpillar, caught my eye...it was one of the fire devil worms from hell. We have learned our lesson about them years ago. It's not a cute little fuzzy caterpillar. It's the devil.
Hey, one of those fish with teeth!
Just look at them! Isn't it the most beautiful thing!
A school of yellow striped grunts
They were signaling us to come back to the boat and we started to head that way.
According to my camera time stamp, we were snorkeling for about 40 minutes.
Back on the boat where I was confronted by another guy that said "Hey, you're mine!" and pointed at his jacket. His jacket said I'm hers and mine said I'm his. I was almost sure they had told me mine went with the hubbys that said "Married". I would leave the boys to battle it out for my love and take a seat in the back of the boat.
Now one thing Big Beards does is count and count again. They make sure they have everyone. There's 3 staff members and they all have to count everyone on the boat. They all have to count the same amount of people. If it's not, they recount again and go looking for those that are missing. We had 2 missing when they thought everyone was on the boat. They were still in the water. I guess it's a good thing they count.
We zoomed off and across the island we went.
There was an "extra" guy on the boat with us. He had came with the other morning group that was the 1/2 day sail. After they were done, he took a group of ours to do the snorkeling (I guess we had more people on our sail).
So he sat on the very back of the boat and we went through this little channel.
Then he did this...(video-sorry, at this point my camera was fogging from being in the cool water and now the heat)
I have no idea where he was going.
They served rum punch on the ride back. I swear every rum punch I have had taste different and looks different. Why is rum punch such a big thing in the Caribbean. Every excursion I have been on serves this stuff. It's not really my favorite I have to say. Maybe it's just very cheap to make for everyone.
(Sakari doesn't appear happy back there...she's never happy when we have to get out of the water).
Here's the back of the boat. This time around when you went down the steps and to the water, it was a pretty big drop. The water went up to your neck. Not an easy thing to do holding your bags and trying to keep them from getting wet.
We came to the beach area that we were going to have lunch. It wasn't the prettiest beach.
There was a lot of seaweed on the beach and in the water. But, that's mother nature and you can't control it.
Now I know some that have been on this excursion say they went to a private island and others have corrected them to say it's actually back on the main land. It is very primitive. I can understand why they think they are on another island. There's absolutely nothing around here but the beach and a little set up for this excursion.
Getting off the boat, I would find the girls doing all the work again...carrying everything from the food, drinks, coolers, supplies...in the water and up to the lunch area. They immediately went to work preparing everything and cutting up the food. Our Captain did the cooking on the grill.
This time around, I decided to forego the rum punch and just do fruit punch. Now I know what I didn't like...it was the fruit punch they used that made the rum punch taste funny.
Bags of chips...
We decided to head back out to the water since it was going to take a bit to get lunch cooked.
I almost managed to get an over-under picture. Very primitive. No restrooms or anything here.
There were some houses in the distance.
I heard a commotion back at the food area and discovered that it was time to eat.
They had one of those games that you have a string with a round ring attached to it and then a hook on the tree. You try to swing the ring to get it to attach to the hook. Sakari tried it several times and just when she was ready to give up, she made it!
Hamburgers, hotdogs and chips. I would say it was definitely a "cheap" lunch you received for that extra $30 per person!!! I can assure you we each didn't eat $30 worth of food. They are making a killing off of this. So we basically paid $85 for our lunch between all 3 of us (Sakari's was $25 extra). I thought it was a rip off because that's the only thing extra we did on the full day sail.
Here's my $30 plate.
Now remember I said this place was primitive. Well there's not really any lunch tables or anything to sit down and eat. Your choice was to sit on a bench (and there really wasn't a lot of them) or stand at this crate-type of thing and eat. See the picture above? The wood was broken in areas, there was actually some rusty nails sticking out of it on the side I stood on, and for some reason there were tons of spider webs all over it (once again, nothing they can control).
After a day of swimming and snorkeling, I would like to at least sit down to a picnic table or something to have my $30 meal at.
After biting into my hamburger...I about puked. It wasn't even cooked! There's one thing that I can't stand and that's uncooked food. I know some like it, but not me! My food has to be fully cooked. I ended up pinching off the entire hamburger and feeding it to the mongoose! Yes I said mongoose.
The Mongoose of St Croix: They are native to Africa and were intentionally placed on the island in 1884 to help control the black rat population. During that time, sugar cane was the biggest export from St. Croix and rats love to eat sugar cane. So, it was thought the mongoose would naturally prey on them. Most reports claim that the mongoose introduction did not have the desired effect of rat control. (This may be because rats are nocturnal and mongooses aren't.) The mongoose hunted birds and bird eggs, threatening many local island species. They have now become prey of the red boa. The tree climbing boas swing down and snatch the mongoose from the ground.
So there's your history lesson on the mongoose.
They really enjoyed my hamburger.
There was a hug crab with big pincers that was sitting there by the mongoose. I have no idea why it was so far away from the water and they didn't seem to bother each other. (Now mind you, a mongoose can kill a king cobra).
I was still pretty hungry, but had lost my appetite from the uncooked hamburger. I decided to head back out to the beach because I knew we didn't have much time here.
Sakari was doing her job to clean up the ocean and finding trash. She found this glass bottle too.
So it was time to get back on the boat and start our sail back to Christiansted. I knew they had said, in my email, it was about a 30 min sail back. When we asked the captain, he replied "Oh about 30-45 minutes back". SAY WHAT? There's a big difference between 30 and 45 minutes when you are on a time crunch.
It was now 2:47pm and people were still getting back on the boat. COME ON PEOPLE!! We have a ship to catch.
This whole time I still can't understand why the full day trip has a sailboat. We have to get back to the ship by a certain time and sailing is not the way to do it (although they did have some motors on the back, it was still a slow ride).
We were finally pulling up to the dock area and notice the other boat there docked... you know...the "fast" boat the half day sail gets.
According to my timestamp on my picture here...still in the water and not even docked...it is 3:32pm already. Oh geesh. I'm starting to get really nervous! They had better have those taxi's sitting there waiting on us like they said.
We all got off the boat and we were trying to find out what "taxi" we were taking and everyone was searching where to go. They told us to head down the street walking and there were buses down there. We were told to go with the man "in the light blue shirt". There were A LOT of us following him and a bus pulled up and people went running. However, there was a second bus and he told us to come that way because the first bus only held 25 people. More walking.
We walked way up a hill for blocks and blocks. Seriously? Why couldn't they have picked us up at Big Beards the same way they dropped us off. When I was told they would have a taxi waiting to zoom us back to the port, I'm pretty sure I wasn't thinking in the back of my mind that we would be walking a long distance to get to it.
We finally made it to the bus and all piled in. The bus driver got off the bus! And walked away! What the heck! Trust me, I was not the only one agitated about this situation. There was a lot of talk going on at this point about missing the ship.
At one point he came back on the bus and stood there and looked at everyone and someone spoke up and said "Can we please go??? We are going to be late. What are we waiting on? We are going to miss our ship! We have to be back on the ship at 4:30pm!"
Finally we were on our way. The other van that we were unable to get on was now pulled up behind us and waiting. I guess I picked the right bus because we were now pulling out and they were sitting there.
Now let me tell you, this driver was on a joy ride. Going along very slow, being very cautious, a few times coming on the speaker and telling about the area we were in like if we were on an island tour. Shhh, blurp "Yes, this is the oil refinery. It is closed. We lost over 25,000 jobs when they closed" Shhh, blurp.
I felt him put on the brakes over and over and every time I looked up, there was nothing in front of him. I just didn't understand it or his driving. He was more than aware of our time frame since everyone had said something to him and I can't imagine him not hearing the talk between the cruisers along the way. We were a nervous bunch of people at this point. I did not want to be a pier runner. Although it would make for a better story line, "Mitsugirly and family almost miss the ship...watch them on youtube as pier runners", I did not want to be that person!
The ship was finally in site and I was dreading the long walk in port and down the pier.
He told us to pull out our ship cards. We all did and security glanced in and we drove in...and KEPT DRIVING!!!
All the way down the pier and right to the cruise ship door!! Ok, I'm feeling better now.
Only look at this...See the gray and red van in front of us? That's the van that was still sitting back in Christiansted when we left. How the heck did they manage to pass us? (We were in the white bus).
It felt so good to be back. Look at that beautiful wall of windows.
We walked onto the ship at exactly 4:30pm...all aboard time! This is the closest I have EVER cut it to getting back on the ship.
Our picture from that morning...in happier times and before the nerves started.
So here's my recap of our day and final thoughts...
The cost of the full day sail was $105.00 per adult and $85 per child. (For us a total of $295 was paid).
Here's the information they sent me on what's included and what to bring:
You are not allowed to wear shoes on the boat and they must be removed and they put everyone's shoes in one huge bag. At the end, they take the bag, turn it upside down and tell everyone to find their shoes...kinda like a Find Waldo moment.
You must take a taxi to get to Christiansted, costing another $16 per person. So, we now had $343 invested in this day.
Here's the information that was given to me over various emails about the day:
Let's see how it holds up to what really happened.
They said 1 hour spent at Turtle Beach on Buck Island. We spent 1 hour there.
They said 1 hour at the reef snorkeling. We spent 1 hour there basically from the time we pulled up to pulling away (so not quite an hour snorkeling).
They said 1 hour and 45 minutes at North Shore Beach/Big Beards Beach for the BBQ. We spent 1 hour 30 minutes there.
So as you can see, their times are pretty spot on for the most part. They have this down to a science as far as times spent at each place. However, I think getting the whole trip going was the issue and a late start put us behind. I can tell you it wasn't because they were waiting on people or people checking in. We were all waiting at the boat dock (remember standing in the hot sun instead of allowing us to get on the boat and at least sit?)
They said there would be enough taxis waiting for us to return us right back to the ship on time. This is were the problem came into play. There wasn't ANY taxi's actually waiting on us there and there was no mention of having to walk a bit of a distance to find them. Then the confusion of who is getting on what taxi and how many they can actually fit. When you tell me that taxi's will "be there" waiting, I expect them to actually "be THERE" not blocks and blocks up a hill and around the corner away.
They said 30 minute ride back to the port. The next problem was the very slow ride, people passing us, breaks being put on for no reason, joy ride that we had back to the ship and already being late. With this driver, it actually took us 40 minutes to return. Had they not went all the way down the pier with us in the van, we probably would have been pier runners and late. This is a serious problem with me in the whole full day tour.
So...would I recommend this tour?
I'm on the fence about it honestly.
I can say that I wouldn't recommend the full day tour for sure. It just cuts it too close for comfort and if anything was to go wrong (flat tire, construction and so on), you just might miss your ship!
If you have the chance to book the half day tour, sure.
Even if they got you back way ahead of time...is it really worth paying $30 extra for a meal that consists of hamburgers and hotdogs and chips? (Especially when the hamburgers weren't cooked) I don't think so. I would have rather went back on the ship and ate for free or found a local place to eat something decent.
The beach at Buck Island: Very beautiful island and beach. But, not really much there to see in regards to snorkeling at the beach and nothing there except the beach. No restrooms or shade. Just a beautiful beach that I can now say I've seen.
Snorkeling Buck Island Reef:
I'm on the fence about this one too. Basically because there's so much damage to the reef (either by hurricane or whatever) that there really wasn't much to see as far as fish. A few parrot fish, grunts, surgeons, but that was about it. OTHER than the awesome green moray eel and the schools of blue surgeons. So...that made it totally worth the trip for me (not the full day sail, just the snorkeling itself). Any time I see something new, no matter where it is at, it's worth it! But the corals, yea there were some big ones and decent things to see. But, maybe I've just snorkeled so much that I just didn't get that "wow factor" I was expecting.
So, there you have it. MY experience (and although it may not be yours) it's what we encountered. If I was to go back, I probably would book with another vendor because there are others out there that offer half day trips, but I have already been there and done that, so I probably would not return. It's just not on my "gotta do it again" list.
And one last picture from our day to brighten things up. Although you can't remove anything from Buck Island, since it's a National Park, you can remove things from the main island and Sakari collected some fine pieces of sea glass and some shells from the BBQ area.
Now take a look at the sea glass. Do you notice the dark blue one and the turquoise one? Here's some info on them.
ULTRA RARE COLORS: First off, orange is the rarest color. They did not make much orange glass.
The second rarest is turquoise/teal. There were very little amounts of turquoise glass made and not mass produced. These come from Seltzer bottles, decorative glass, canning jars, and electric pole insulators.
RARE SEA GLASS:
Dark blue. This color came from bottles used for medicines in the 1880's and other medicine from the 1950's like Noxzema, Vicks, Pepto Bismol, Milk of Magnesia and even poisons were put in this color of glass. So, it's very rare as well and you are considered lucky if you find one.
Of course the green are not rare and found all over the place when searching.
Sakari has collected sea glass before in ports. She gets a kick out of the different colors she can find. I didn't even know she was finding any at the time. She does know that the dark cobolt blue is rare. Maybe I need to tell her about all the other colors that she might be over looking. She didn't even know about the turquoise/teal colored glass being rare.
I would say this was a good find to have collect 2 rare sea glass pieces on this day. :D
After getting back on the ship and gathering my wits again...we met up with Kia and hung out at the pool until 5:30pm.
My plan was to shower and get ready to go to the MDR for dinner tonight, then I found out it was formal night and I nixed that idea.
At this point, I discovered I had forgotten my next item...ANY dress pants whatsoever! I had tons of dressy tops, but no dress pants. How could this have happened? I always bring dressy pants. Ugh! I would also discover that Sakari didn't pack my dress shoes with all the cute little diamonds on them. She was in charge of pulling out the summer shoes and putting them in the luggage. Failure on both our parts this time around.
So, we ended up at the buffet and ran into Kia and Xander eating.
Once again, everything tasted fabulous with the exception of the corn on the cob. It seemed like it had been sitting under a heat lamp for way too long. Very dried up for the most part. But everything else was good. Including the desert.
Sakari went back to change out of her dress (we were semi-dressed up with what we had to go on lol) and put shorts on so that she could head to the kids club for awhile.
The hubs and I headed to the casino for about an hour. Did "ok"...maybe lost $20, but that was alright and then I was bored really quick and decided I wanted to head to the show and see this fabulous entertainment everyone always says RC has on the ships.
Tonight's show was "Production Showtime" featuring the Royal Caribbean singing and dancing. Hmm, there's no name for the show or what it's about? That's weird.
We watched the show for awhile and it had something to do with "love" and "being beautiful". They kept singing "I am beautiful" and said a few "damn's" in their songs too. LOL I couldn't help but laugh. Now honestly, I did not like the show. I thought it was kinda cheesy. I didn't think their voices were the greatest (some ok) but the dance moves...hmmm. Many were off beat at any given time or playing catch up a beat behind and I seen a couple, here and there throughout the show, that were definitely behind on the others doing the same thing. I wasn't impressed at all. Actually disappointed. I have always read that they have wonderful shows on RC. Ok, maybe the next time would be better.
I was impressed with the curtain screen on the stage though. It was pretty colors, that represented the ocean and coral, and it actually had moving fish swimming back and forth. How cool! Of course this was the curtain prior to the show starting.
I would find out later that we missed the comedian on the first night. Darnit! I love to go to the comedian shows. The first night is always a blur to me every cruise and it takes me until day 2 to get the swing of things.
We looked around in the shops for awhile and picked out some "at a later date" purchases and then picked up Sakari from the kids club at 10pm.
Back to our room and we would find our first towel animal. A sea turtle!!!
They were playing Finding Dori on the big screen at the pool and as much as I wanted to watch it (I love this movie), I knew I had homework to do. Dedication I tell ya! School before fun.
I decided to check the weather back home and found that the kids were having an enjoyable snowball fight while I'm in the Caribbean (sarcasm).
I started on my homework (although I had started on my reading assignments on the plane trip to PR, I still needed to finish it).
We have a test every Tuesday and I had a decent connection on the internet tonight in the room and I decided since my readings were still fresh in my mind, I would proceed to just go ahead and take my test. 100%! Boom, I'm good to enjoy myself until Thursday. I'm glad that's done and out of the way.
Meanwhile, Sakari is doing her nightly drawing. Her imaginary friend Gola and Gola's love Goldy.
I did a little bit of packing for our adventure in port tomorrow and texted my son back home to make sure that the dog and fish were still alive and we were in bed by 1am.