[Editor’s Note: I’m traveling, at my own expense, on a 13-night re-positioning cruise, from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean on Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas. These are my unfiltered, unedited and uninfluenced observations of the experience.]
CHARLOTTE AMALIE, U.S. Virgin Islands
The trip odometer says we have traveled 126 miles from our starting point in San Juan, Puerto Rico. It seems farther, both in terms of miles and time.
We cruised all night to get here, after leaving San Juan about 8:30 p.m. That was about a 10-hour trip. Math wizards would calculate we averaged about 12 m.p.h., but that would not account for the fact that when we left San Juan, we traveled west, not east, and made a counter-clockwise circuit of Puerto Rico before we sailed off toward Charlotte Amalie. Your mileage may vary.
The seas were rough all night, as a 35 m.p.h. crosswind raked us most of the time. But the ship was steady through it all. Perhaps her 137,276-ton weight had something to do with her implacability in rough seas. Another factor: If you consider the southern sides of these islands to be the leeward side. A route on the northerly side might have been more rambunctious; we’ll see when, on Day 4, we start across the open Atlantic.
Analysis of the day: As a critical reviewer of all things related to travel, transportation and entertainment, it’s my job to find the good and day in everything I evaluate. Sometimes, it seems, it is easier to focus on the negative. (I’m often told I do that.) So today, an event early in the morning helped me decide to dwell on the positive. I’ll explain below. Now, for some positives:
1. We like our room. It’s an almost hidden little jewel. It’s on Deck 3 – part of a small enclave of nine (or so) oceanview cabins in an area that doesn’t have many other cabins at all. It is the most convenient cruise ship room I’ve ever had: Right next to the main dining room, just under the casino and right above where you disembark from the ship. More about why we like this great little room, in future reports.
2. The dining room is grand. It’s three stories high, elegantly designed and lavishly furnished. Grand main dining rooms on Royal Caribbean ships are a signature feature, from the dozen or so ships of theirs that I’ve seen so far. It’s the most civilized place on the ship to eat, in my opinion.
3. Good music. Every deck, every area of the ship has piped-in music that suits the area. The main pool area has a fun vibe, with steady, refreshing diet of salsa, island and hip-hop music. The main dining room has a selection of savvy jazz – duly noted were deep tracks from (among others) Diana Krall, Louis Armstrong and Madeleine Peyroux (channeling Leonard Cohen). I’ll try to get some facts and figures later in the cruise about how many different music zones are on this ship, what’s playing, and who made the selections.
4. Adequate guides and information. The crew really does a good job with the daily Compass calendar of events. Essential reading. I also appreciated the St. Thomas guide. I didn’t want to go to all the places suggested, of course (I’m up to “here” with tanzanite, thanks), but there were good ideas about where things were that I wanted to see.
5. In St. Thomas, I loved the way they’ve converted every kind of pickup truck into a six, eight, 12 or 16 passenger taxi or bus of some kind. Yes, this is part of the United States, technically, but there must be some wiggle room here, in regard to U.S. highway rules and regulations. What seat belts?
6. In the Virgin Islands, everyone drives on the wrong (right?) side of the road, like they do in Great Britain. It’s the only place where U.S. citizens drive on the left. This, even though all the cars have left-hand drive, just like in the States. That must explain some of the creative driving here. .
7. Phone service! AT&T actually has phone and internet service here – even if it was their “faux 4G”. At least there were no roaming charges!
8. Turquoise water. What more can you say about it, other than it must be the most pleasing color in nature. At least it is to me, and I spent most of the day gazing at it. St. Thomas has its own special, unique shade of it – in abundance.
9. Good companionship. How great it is to be able to share paradise with a kindred soul, who has the same degree of wonder, delight and contentment with this trip. Priceless. You know who you are.
10. Finally, there was a three-year-old girl this morning in the main dining room, having breakfast with her parents. What a doll. Pink flower in her hair. Perfectly behaved. Acting very grown up. But when the waiter offered a tray full of baked goods, her face studied the array carefully. Until… The very last thing she spied on the tray was a frosted donut! The look on her face, at that moment of discovery, was pure magic.
And that is what put me in the mood to focus only the things that brought joy. Thanks, cutie!
(Tomorrow, Day 3, in St. Maarten.)
April 16, 2012