Last week I shared with you some of the damage from Hurricane Irma and the Blue Roof Program that is helping residents live in their damaged homes until they can be repaired. This week, it’s all about our excursion on the island. One of the things that was unique about this cruise for us is that we decided not to purchase any of the excursions offered by the cruise line. As I see it, the major advantages of purchasing an excursion through the cruise line are that the vendor is vetted and considered reliable by the line. Probably more importantly, if there is a delay due to a problem with the tour vendor in returning to the ship, it’s the cruise line that’s responsible for either delaying the departure of the ship from port until you arrive or to get you to the next cruise stop at their expense. If you “go it on your own”, you take on the risk of missing the ship’s departure and any attendant expense at rejoining the cruise. A decision to go on your own should be done with caution and with the realization that you probably won’t want an all-day tour. Give yourself plenty of time to return to the ship. It can get very expensive if you miss your return time and you aren’t on a cruise line sponsored excursion.
The advantage of going on your own is that the cost for an excursion is much less when you deal with an independent vendor. There are plenty of independent vendors at every cruise stop. Only a few hundred yards from the ship, we were intercepted by a gentleman with an offer to take an open air taxi/shuttle to the top of the biggest mountain. The fare per person was reasonable and fees legislated by the island government. Our open air tour taxi seated about four people per row and maybe four rows for a tour of about 20 people.
Our driver, Connie, described our journey from the cruise terminal through the city and all the way to the top of the largest mountain on the island. The PA system wasn’t the best but it was understandable and it was a nice open air ride on a nice day. At the top of the mountain, we were disgorged at a very large souvenir shop that has a large viewing patio at the rear. We were given plenty of time to browse the store and to take photos at the viewpoint. The gallery includes a few of the photos. The large panorama above gave us a great view of St. Thomas as well as other islands in both the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. The map below is a photograph of a sign at the viewpoint that names all of the islands in view from the mountain top. Click on either image to enlarge it to get a better view.
If you viewed last week’s Travel Tuesday post, you’ll remember scenes of some of the damage we witnessed on the drive to the top. On our drive, there were one-lane sections of road where the seaward side of the road had washed down the side of the mountain. There were several places where we traveled over freshly set concrete roadway. Those areas had washed out the road completely but four months after the hurricane, the road was repaired.
On the way back down the hill, the taxi stopped in a viewing area where there just “happened to be” a man with a donkey who, for a fee, allowed passengers to take photos with the donkey. I doubt very much that this was a chance encounter. >grin<
After some of the guests on our tour opted for the donkey photos, we continued on to another stop where we could purchase water or something more potent and snap a few pics of the side of the island where the Carnival Magic was docked.
We returned to the ship with hours to spare, well ahead of our scheduled return time. There was enough time to stop at the Rum Hut for an adult beverage. It wasn’t the best quality booze, but the price was certainly right. And it was only a few hundred yards from the ship. The gallery of images below features views of St Thomas. In most browsers you can click on an image to enlarge it and to scroll through the gallery.