St. Thomas, USVI

Trip Start Oct 20, 2012
Trip End Nov 03, 2012

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Flag of Virgin Islands US  , St. Thomas,
Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Got up at 11:08 a.m. aboard Norwegian Epic in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. A purple flyer left in my cabin a couple days ago had indicated as a U.S. citizen resident of Deck 13, I was supposed to report for immigration inspection at 7:15 a.m. in the Bliss nightclub. I got a real good laugh out of that since I haven't woken up before 10 a.m. on this entire cruise.

I was able to sleep past 11 this morning without any disturbance. No announcements were made into my cabin, and no one came banging on the door to wake me up. As I was putting in my contacts, I heard an announcement at 11:20 coming from speakers in the hallway that all guests who haven’t yet cleared U.S. immigration should immediately proceed to the Manhattan dining room on Deck 7. Five minutes later, my phone rang. A ship employee asked if I could please come to the dining room. I said I was actually just about to head down. Down at Manhattan, I stood in line for about three minutes, then a U.S. Customs & Border Protection officer glanced at my passport, and a ship employee placed a red circle sticker on the back of my keycard to indicate my passport had been checked.

That formality completed, I headed up to Deck 15 and was walking toward the Garden Café when I ran into Chad and Jason, flight attendants for United Airlines. They were about to go down the waterslides. All three slides were open today (Epic Plunge was closed the last two days). I had planned to eat lunch, go ashore, and then use the waterslides later in the day. But Jason wisely pointed out that there’s no lines now since a lot of guests are on the island, so it’s as great time to go. I went down to my cabin to change into my swimsuit, then returned to the aqua park, grabbed a blue inner tube, and went down the Epic Plunge for the first time. You shoot down a pipe, then emerge into this large bowl, spin around a couple times on your inner tube, then are sucked down the final shaft. It’s a longer ride than the purple and green waterslides, which you simply go down on your back, but it’s more gentle and not quite as exhilarating.

After a couple times going down the Plunge, Craig appeared. He had gotten up early as usual and already completed his time on land. He changed into his bathing suit and joined us going down the Plunge. We alternated taking videos and photos. After getting our fill of the waterslides, Craig, Jason, Chad, and I ate lunch at the Garden Café.

I stopped by my cabin to change out of my swimsuit, then headed down to the gangway at 1:48 p.m. to step onto St. Thomas. Mom and I had visited here in May 2010, so I didn’t sign up for any shore excursions. I had some errands to take care of today instead. My first stop was Just Cuts, a hair salon just across the street from where Epic docked at Havensight Mall. I got a buzzcut for $10.

My next task was to find duty-free liquor. The U.S. Virgin Islands imposes no taxes on alcohol, so bottles are incredibly inexpensive here, especially if you purchase the locally produced brand of rum, Cruzan. I walked 6.5 minutes from Just Cuts to the Kmart at Lockhart Gardens Shopping Center. There’s a decent liquor selection there, though not anywhere near as large as at the large Kmart in St. Thomas’ interior (which is not walkable from the cruise pier). I purchased 10 bottles of rum and vodka – eight to take home and two to consume on the ship during the last three nights of the cruise. The prices were fantastic. For Cruzan rum, a 1-liter bottle of light rum was only $7 and the flavored rums were $8.79. A liter of Smirnoff Red vodka was less than $10. I also bought some other needed products at Kmart such as sunscreen, toothpaste, soap, and a replacement pair of swimming goggles (I lost mine on the ship yesterday somehow).

After making my purchases, I stepped outside and sat down on the bench. My final task while on land was to find Internet access so I could take care of several things online. I figured I’d check to see if any free WiFi was available in the shopping center and was pleasantly surprised to find Kmart had a free Internet connection! Cheap duty-free liquor AND free WiFi? What more could a guy want? :-)

I logged off at 5:15 and hauled my two boxes of liquor bottles and my backpack stuffed of bottles and other goods back to Norwegian Epic, reboarding right around the "All Aboard" time of 5:30. I checked in eight bottles of liquor in the two boxes for “safekeeping” until the last night of the cruise but smuggled the other two bottles in my backpack (Cruzan mango rum and Cruzan guava rum) to my cabin to enjoy during the final three nights of the voyage.

Craig came to my cabin for cocktails, then we headed upstairs a few minutes after 6:00 to watch sail-away from St. Thomas. It was already dark by this time and we could only see the lights twinkling ashore. We also could see a Royal Caribbean ship docked at another pier as we began the last segment of our cruise to Miami.

Returned to my cabin about 7:25 to shower and get ready for dinner. I met Friends of Dorothy at Shakers bar, then a group of seven of us went to dinner in the Manhattan dining room. I started with bowl of New England clam chowder, ate a caesar salad, and then for the main course had the regional specialty of the day, an excellent Caribbean-style grilled snapper fillet with piquant coconut sauce, pineapple rice, and sautéed peppers. Delicious! Dessert was a molten chocolate cake with coconut sherbet.

Jim and I stopped in my cabin for cocktails, then swung by Jim’s cabin and Craig’s cabin. I have an interior cabin, Jim has a balcony cabin, and Craig has a studio cabin, so we all got to see a variety of staterooms. We then headed to Spice H2O for the Halloween party, held outside at the rear of the ship. There were many Halloween decorations and candy around the ship tonight.

Cabin at 12:39 a.m. Got ready for bed, sorted today’s photos, and read. I wasn’t tired enough to fall asleep, so I got dressed again at 2:14 am. and went on a walk around the ship for about an hour. The party was over at Spice H2O, but about 30 folks were still dancing and hanging out in Bliss nightclub. Then I ran into Jon and his Norwegian and Danish friends at O’Sheehan’s Irish pub getting late-night munchies.

Bed at 3:25. We’re at 19º 23.41’ N, 66º 42.25’ W heading northwest toward Miami. We’ve got two sea days before our arrival into Miami early Saturday morning.
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