This morning we had to have a relatively early breakfast – up to the Windjammer restaurant this time where Craig could get butter without having to ask for it as well as fried eggs (over easy) and bacon. Then we disembarked and had to get a taxi into Phillipsburg – the main town on the Dutch side of the island and there meet out tour which was taking us around both sides of the island and included a visit to Marigot – the main town on the French side. Phillipsburg had lots of interesting things to see – turquoise blue water which was amazing, open markets where the almost stand on their heads to sell you something
. We also saw a funeral parade down the main street – very moving occasion – obviously a policeman who was also beloved by all the Harley owners in the area – so the Police Band marching, many police marching behind them followed by a cavalcade of Harley riders – male and female. Obviously a much loved member of the community. We then found our tour rep. who lead us through a couple of streets to a large coach where we met our driver and tour guide – Alvin Andre – or Double A as he told us to call him. He drove us around both parts of the island sharing all sorts of interesting facts and then we stopped in Marigot where we had about two hours free time to go and have lunch which we did at Chez Rosemary – yummy fish and a bottle of Presidente beer shared between us – it was huge! Once again they had lots of open air market stalls so had a lovely poke around there and then back on the bus and to a resort on the Dutch side where you could have a swim in the ocean – we didn’t bother – and after that back to the ship.
I think it was that night that we were seated alongside a lovely young couple Emma and Drew from Northern Ireland who were on their honeymoon – gee we chatted to some delightful people on this cruise.
I’ve forgotten what I’ve written where and whether or not I actually published it – but at the risk of repeating myself I must just say how wonderful the staff were on this ship – about 2,200 staff from 71 different countries – and everyone single one of them out to make you as happy as they could
. I think I’ve already mentioned Clover who was our stateroom attendant – she was delightful and the creator of all these towel sculptures in the photos. Then there was our head waiter (the Eagle – he always seemed to be waiting to pounce but was actually very pleasant and certainly knew all about good customer relations – he was from Croatia with a name which was unpronounceable. Then there was Alma our main waitress – she was from the Phillipines and ran her station – of about 15 tables with incredible friendliness and efficiency – there was one night we were seated at another station and while they were OK the service wasn’t a patch on what we were used to with Alma. Our assistant waiter was Wichsel from India – he was ALWAYS smiling and just wonderful – he called me Anne but Craig was always Mr Craig – so cute! The other two or three we got to know well worked in the Bolero Bar – the one where you can smoke – and there was Desney – big guy from St Vincent, Raul who was from Chile and Roland from Peru. Roland’s wife also worked on the ship and he said for them it was a wonderful way to get ahead and be able to set themselves up properly in Peru. Obviously Royal Caribbean really look after their staff well as many of the people we talked to had worked with them for 10 to 15 years and took real pride in being ambassadors for the company.
So the day after St Thomas and St John our port of call was Saint Martin or Saint Maarten – the first if you're on the French side and the latter if you’re on the Dutch side. It’s quite weird – it’s only a small island but one side is owned by the France and the other side by the Netherlands. And while they all speak English– one side also speaks Dutch and one side also French.