Barcelona and Transatlantic Cruise 2008 – Day 18 – St Maarten

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Today was the last day of the cruise with a port of call in St Maarten in the Netherland Antilles. It was also my first visit to a Caribbean port of call as I have always cruised the Pacific Ocean prior. It was kind of a rude welcome too as it was extremely humid, muggy and hot. Well, maybe not quite hot as the temp was in the mid 80’s but for me, it was extremely uncomfortable. I will take 105 degrees in Arizona any day over that stifling humidity.

We did decide to get off the ship and tour the Dutch side of the island – or at least the part that we could walk to. We strolled through Phillipsborg and did some shopping. I think I should have brought several shirts as the one I was wearing was drenched in about 10 minutes.

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The kids spent the rest of their money they had brought on some souvenirs. Savannah also had some corn rows and beads put in her hair. I think I ended up with a hat and Caribbean shirt. Suzanne bought some other clothes and Caribbean Christmas music.

We also strolled along the beach for a while and end up finding a nice little spot for the kids and Suzanne to do some swimming. I pulled up a chair the local beachside bar and enjoyed a couple of Red Stripe beers while they swam.

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Twice during the afternoon a couple of quick squalls descended on the port town pretty much out of nowhere. One of the heavy downpours lasted for about 15 minutes and the other about 5 minutes. Immediately following the rain, it was almost bearable as the humidity was gone. Of course, it was back in about 10 minutes after the rain stopped.

We also grabbed a quick burger at the bar before walking around the town some more. We didn’t get outside the town and beach area in the harbor but, except for the extreme humidity, it was quite enjoyable. Everyone was friendly enough and the town was clean. There is quite a bit of expansion in the harbor going on as they are planning to be able to service 8 or 9 cruise ships there by 2009. There were two Royal Caribbean ships (Grandeur of the Seas and Adventure of the Seas) also docked there while we were in port.

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After returning to the ship, we went topside to enjoy the sail away. Unfortunately, the band again was not playing at the sail away. That has been one of the few disappointments of the cruise – the lack of the band playing poolside. We have grown accustomed to listening to the band at the pool and missed them on the cruise. I don’t really know why they weren’t either. That and the lack of wifi access in the rooms were our only real issue with the cruise.

As luck (or a good plan) would have it, the Celebrity Summit and the Royal Caribbean ships were all scheduled to depart about the same time. The Captains of the ships had a good time talking to each other with the big horns while leaving. There sure were an awful lot of people on the Royal Caribbean ships. They almost looked crowded as people strained and struggled to get a view from the railings while sailing away.

Before dinner we spent some with the worst task while on a cruise – packing up. We enjoyed another very nice meal in the dining room. Savannah had a penne pasta while the rest of us enjoyed a very nice Chicken Kiev. We enjoyed a rather nice bottle of wine with our farewell meal. Boy, looking at our charges during the cruise, we sure could save a lot of money on these cruises if we just gave up drinking!!

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We had planned to meet our British friends Roy and Jennifer for a farewell drink in the Martini bar before calling it a night. However, they weren’t there when we got there. We hung around until about Midnight before heading to the cabin as we needed to be out of the room by 8 am the following room. Hopefully, we will see them in the morning.

This has been a wonderful cruise!!! It will be hard to leave the ship in San Juan tomorrow!!!

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