Happy Spring to all of my readers! Last week I gave you some basic tips to make sure your Caribbean cruise experience is more than just your average vacation. Over the next couple of weeks we will do a virtual island hop to each of the island destinations on the itinerary of the Carnival Cruise Ship, Carnival Valor. First island on deck….St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.
The first stop of our itinerary leaving from San Juan, Puerto Rico was Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, the capital of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Once you exit the ship prepare to be herded by the “official” taxi service operation. It was a bit annoying to be honest because the drivers won’t leave until their open air truck/jeep/van thingamajiggie has been filled up. Apparently this is the norm here so I just had to pack my patience. Simply tell them where you are trying to go and they will pack you onto a taxi. If you want to avoid the herding experience you can walk a bit away from the port and the port shops to catch a normal taxi as the locals do. Be warned, we saw the taxi watch dogs scolding some tourist who were trying to avoid the “official” process.
We had a snorkel excursion reserved for later in the day but we had been told that Coki Beach was a must see location. It was about a 20 minute ride from the port so we set out as early as we could to get there. As soon as we arrived it wasn’t hard to see why this beach was recommended. The sand was pure white and felt like sugar under your toes. The water was an exquisite turquoise blue and crystal clear, although a bit cold. There were chairs and umbrellas for rent and they were nice enough to knock off a few bucks since we wouldn’t be staying very long. If you are looking for a nice place to enjoy a beach day this is a prime spot. There was a restaurant complete with a wait staff for drinks. You can also rent snorkel gear from the equipment hut. After taking in the view and relaxing for a bit we had to say goodbye to paradise and get back for our next adventure.
Our next adventure was on the Castaway Girl catamaran for an afternoon of snorkeling fun off of Buck Island. This was an excursion we booked through the cruise line and their were great reviews for the boat but mixed reviews for the snorkeling experience. It was my mom’s first time so I wanted to find something that wouldn’t be too long for her in calm waters. The Castaway Girl staff was awesome! They were attentive and very knowledgeable about the waters. While in the water, we saw a couple of sea turtles hanging out on the sea floor. The reef had quite an abundance of fish. The reef itself wasn’t much to look at but we did see a good number of fish. One of our guides even dove down and brought up a huge starfish and passed it around for us to touch and feel. Once back on board, the crew had snacks and rum punch prepared for us. We sailed right into a storm as we headed back into port but we still had a pleasant time. I probably wouldn’t do another snorkel trip at this particular reef if I ever visit St. Thomas again. There just wasn’t anything to wow me. However, for first timers you will definitely see fish and the staff will attend to your every need to ensure you have a great experience.
Next up….Barbados!!! Make sure you sign up to follow the blog. You won’t want to miss the next stop on the itinerary.
Lauren G. – Outdoorsy Diva