Thursday, May 23, 2013

Transatlantic cruise from San Juan to Lisbon: 10 nights

sail away party at San Juan
Flying away is just no comparison to a voyage on the sea, especially leaving the port with sail away party. 

 Day 6 port of call St. Martin island 

Last night when the ship left the port (san juan) and with all the excitement around me, suddenly sadness creeped in: I was missing my DH and I remembered the good time we had together at our first transatlantic cruise two years ago. Fortunately we will see each other in 10 days. 

Kids were super excited and both of them wanted to sleep without me on the bunk bed. I said no problem knowing they would come down soon. Yes, after a while they both asked to come down and couldn't sleep without me. I took my two precious baby chicks under my wings and we all had a sweet sleep from the ship's gentle rocking motion. 

This morning we got up and had a breakfast and headed out. The ship docked at St. Martin island and I have arranged a private tour with Joyce. 

Joyce was a really likable person. No wonder she has one of the best reputation in the online travel world. 

1. She took us to the hill overlooking the beach, aqua blue water and our beautiful ship. This was one of the best photo ops throughout the day. 

2. At the back of the island we stopped to see some baby sheep and learned how to tell from sheep and goats: tail pointing down-sheep: tail pointing up-goat. :) kids were just naturally attracted to the baby sheep and goats. 

3. With a long stretch sand bar, it looked promising with some shell collecting. Ds7 did find a big shell and got distracted by the potential money making opportunity: he wanted to sell the shell for $5 and later increase to $250. He was so preoccupied with the potential that he almost ignored the tour for half an hour. Joyce joked he probably would be a good businessman in the future 

4. Per my request, Joyce took us to the butterfly farm. It was a rather small one but the owner's love and knowledge of butterflies compensated for the size. Dd4 asked me to take pictures of every butterfly. :) we learned a couple of things about butterflies. 

5. We proceeded to the famous Orient bay beach. The color of the water and nudity made it famous. Kids were oblivious to the nudity and just enjoyed the waves and beach. I was totally blown away by all the shades of blue and green color of the ocean water. 11 years ago I was on the same spot and memories started to come back to me. Now it was much busier than before even on a slow day. 

6. We kept going and reached the French Capitol: marigot. Today is sunday and not all the business were open. We stopped for a while and left. I had a good French meal here 11 years ago. 

7. Per my request, Joyce took us to the Dutch and French border monument. The northern side of St Martin belongs to French while the southern side is Dutch. Both sides get along pretty well but still it is two countries with different government, school, social benefits, tax and even different cell phone system: calling the other side costs more than calling US. 

8. We kept going and got to the "new" attraction: maho beach by the main airport on the Dutch side. The attraction is that the end of the runway is right on the beach only blocked by the fence. The exhaust from taking off airplane creates a big force that can blow people from the beach to the ocean. Ds7 joined other people and got blasted by the medium size jet plane. It was quite exciting for him. The bar on the beach had a board listing all the flight schedule and a big crowd in the bar and on the beach. It has become a very popular spot. I was mostly Amazed by the water color: very blue, crystal clear and absolutely beautiful, very different from the orient bay we just visited 

9. The island is quite contrasted: beautiful resorts verse local run down houses. Big yachts with heli pad and private jet verse people livingbelow poverty line. The few thing they share is the beautiful beaches and aqua blue water. Quite interesting to watch. The private jet and yachts left a big impression on ds7. He wants those and started to calculate how long it would take him to get if he makes $25/day. :) he was very sweet to promise that he would take all of us for tours in his jet and yacht. :) 

10. Our last stop was Dutch capital, philipsberg. Joyce mentioned there was big population of Chinese and Indians who owned more than 50% of the businesses in St. Martin. Ds7 was looking for a pair of cool sun glasses. Lately he has developed self awareness of his appearance. He wants to look cool and handsome. After we got him the sunglasses, he struck a couple of poses for pictures. 

11. We also visited an area with lots of wild iguanas, wild turkeys and other creatures. Someone was turning it into a park. 

12. The towel animals on bed surprised and pleased the kids. It was an elephant.

By 2pm, we finished our 5.5 hour tour and were pretty exhausted from the Caribbean sun. It was nice to return to our cool and comfortable ship. One great thing about cruise is the 24 hour access to food. It makes my life much easier. Kids can eat anytime with huge selections. 

Tonight we went to dine at the main dining room. Our assigned table was with another five people. Ds7 has been showing great confidence, politeness and proper demeanor. He greeted people, answered questions and carried conversation with people. He is no longer the boy who was shy, refused to talk to people or have eye contact and hid behind mommy. I am still amazed by the change.

St. Martin

Butterfly farm
Orient Bay
back to ship

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