Ruby Princess – Day 5 – St. Thomas

I’ve been to St. Thomas several times before, but I do love it so was excited to go back again.  This time the plan was pretty much the same as in the past – a little shopping, then head to the beach.  I woke up not feeling great – a little too much rich food, I think – so I decided to skip the shopping and just meet up at Lindbergh Beach.  It was nice to sleep in a little, have a light and leisurely breakfast, and get off the ship after most people had already gone.  It was a little strange when I was walking out of the port area (which always has some shops and such for those who don’t want to venture too far) to see all the Christmas trees and decorations.  It just didn’t feel like Christmas was approaching with the sunshine and 80 degree weather. 

I had a little trouble getting a taxi because I was alone and the trip to the beach was only $4 per person.  In the islands it often costs so much a person and the drivers weren’t going to make anything off of me.  Finally one driver said he would take me – and he had a full size van.  It’s a quick trip and most people were already off the ship so he was good with it.  By the time I got there the family was already there.  Dennis (or Jacques as I’d started calling him) was out swimming with his goggles on looking for fish.  Danielle was at the bar ordering Red Stripes – thank goodness she saw me in time to add one to her order.  I pulled a chair up next to theirs, paid my $6 to the gentleman who was in charge, drank a little beer, then headed into the water. 

When we found this beach 5 years ago, it was pretty unknown and deserted.  More people have found it, but it’s still much less crowded than some of the more popular beaches on the island.  Last time there were 2 vendors, this time none.  The area we sit on is in front of the Island Beachcomber hotel.  There is a great little bar there for drinks and lunch.         

Right behind the beach is the airport, but there are not a lot of flights so the noise is not a problem. 

This hotel is adjacent to the Best Western Emerald Bayand the beach on that side is a little more crowded.  I would definitely consider staying at the Emerald Bay in the future.  I have had clients stay here and after seeing the beach the first time I understood why they enjoyed it so much.    

One of the great things is that this is a nice little cove which is great for swimming.  You can go quite a ways out and still touch bottom – it’s all nice and sandy with no drop offs.  We spent several nice hours here drinking beer, swimming, sunning and having a little lunch.  The only fish we really saw were close to shore – there were a bunch of silver fish about 4 – 6 inches long, when one would come up to you suddenly there would be a bunch of them.  Kind of freaky.  There were a couple of sailboats moored in the cove – I seriously considered swimming out and stowing away on one so I wouldn’t have to come home.              

The taxi drivers on these islands are great.  They know when the ships leave and they start coming around to the beaches an hour or so before you really have to leave to make sure that everyone gets back.  I guess they know that we are going to lose track of time.  We rode back in one of the open air jitneys – this is my nephew wearing the cool sunglasses he bought in town that morning.     

Although we had a fabulous day at the beach, we were looking forward to that night because we had reservations at the Crown Grill.  I’ve always been one of those people who couldn’t understand why, when there is so much fabulous food included with the price of the cruise, anyone would want to spend $20 – $30 to eat in the specialty restaurants.  I decided that as a travel consultant I should try it so that I could advise my clients as to whether it was really worth it. 

We started with the appetizer – most of us had scallops and foie gras.  I’d never had foie gras before, and frankly didn’t like it so passed it off to Dennis.  The scallops were fabulous though!  I had the goat cheese salad which was really tasty.  For the main course my nephew ordered a 22 ounce Porterhouse, my niece and I ordered the Maine Lobster Tails (we didn’t notice the plural and thought we were getting one 4 ounce tail).  This is what we got! 

Amazing.  And we still had dessert to come.

We were at the restaurant for 2 ½ hours.  The service was wonderful – we really enjoyed this experience.  I am a believer now!  This was a fabulous dining experience.  For $25 per person ($12.50 for my 12 year old nephew), you can’t beat it.  I will always recommend that my clients try the specialty restaurant at least one night during their cruises from now on.

I think I’m going to need to spend a week on St. Thomas so that I can see some other beaches, take the ferry over to St.  John and see what else it has to offer.

My latest Adventures in Paradise – Hawaii!

I had a fabulous time in Hawaii recently, visiting with my friend Lisa, sightseeing, and checking out several hotel properties. I arrived on Saturday and Lisa’s improv troupe had a performance that night at the Laughtrack Theater. There were 3 groups performing and they were all hilarious. Lisa did great – I’m very proud of her for getting out of her comfort zone and doing this.
The next day she had a face painting gig (as Lavender Lolly) so she dropped me in Waikiki so that I could check out some hotels and do a little sightseeing.
The first hotel I toured was the Ohana Waikiki Beachcomber. This is a very family friendly hotel in a great location near the International Marketplace and across the street from beach access. The standard rooms are fairly basic with a King or 2 Queen beds and flat screen TV’s. Most of the rooms have just a half sized tub, but there are some with full tubs. Jimmy Buffett’s at the Beachcomber is on the property, as is the Surfing Museum. Unfortunately the museum was closed when I was there and I didn’t make it back to see it. There are some great views from the rooms. The Oceanview room that I saw had a beautiful view of not only the ocean, but also the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Some have views of Diamondhead along with a partial Oceanview, and most Cityview rooms have some Oceanview from the lanai. All rooms have complimentary Internet service and refrigerators. There is a pool, spa and fitness center. And there are tons of shops and restaurants in walking distance.

Not to be missed is the “Magic of Polynesia” show which presents the power and lore of the islands through captivating dance and illusion. Dinner Theater and Show are offered nightly, and you don’t have to be staying at the hotel to purchase tickets.
I learned that this hotel will be changing to Holiday Inn Waikiki Beachcomber in November. They will still be managed by Outrigger Hotels & Resorts so the only real change will be the name.
From there I wandered through the International Marketplace. I’m not much of a shopper, but enjoyed seeing the different items available, as well as the koi pond. It had been years since I’d been through there – it really has grown. Of course, it’s always impressive to see the 100 year old Banyan tree and the koi pond.

I then crossed the street to the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach. Fortunately I was able to take a tour of this hotel as well. The rooms and views are fabulous. The lobby is very welcoming, with a relaxed, seated reception area. There are Hawaiian artifacts displayed in the lobby – you really feel you are in Hawaii at this property. There are 3 restaurants here, Chuck’s Steakhouse, the Hula Grill, and of course, Duke’s Canoe Club which is Oceanfront. Actually, they are all oceanfront, but Duke’s is on the lower level. After walking through both the Hula Grill and Duke’s, I was hungry so when the tour was done I went back to Duke’s for lunch. Mahi Mahi sandwich with waffle fries and a couple of Stella’s and I was feeling great.               Duke’s also offers life Hawaiian music nightly. And for great entertainment, the Outrigger also hosts the “Society of Seven” show Tuesday – Saturday. This show has headlined the Outrigger Waikiki Main Showroom for over 30 years.

The Outrigger on the Beach offers daily cultural activities such as hula lessons, lei making and ukulele lessons. This hotel is in the heart of Waikiki with a beautiful stretch of beach and plenty of activities at the resort as well as all around you.
I also took a walk through the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort – I didn’t take a tour, just walked through the lobby, shops, etc. Another beautiful, although huge, resort in a fabulous location.
I hadn’t spent any time in Waikiki in quite a few years. This was a great morning for me to re-orient myself to where things are. I did some wandering and window shopping until my friend called to say she was on the way to pick me up so we could head over for our 3 nights on the Big Island.

If you’d like to see more photos, you can find them on my Facebook page.