Thursday - 2006 Carnival Valor Wine Cruise

Thursday was our day for St. Maarten. We could see the entire harbour from the ship - there was a tiny shopping area near us, then water taxis did continual runs over to the main town area. Soon after we docked, a pair of Princess ships docked on the opposite site of the pier from us. We were also next to an EasyCruise small ship, and the four of us took up the entire dock area. Bob and I had breakfast, then headed down to check out.

There wasn't a line at all getting off the ship. We walked down into the mall and asked how long it would take to walk to the main town area vs taking a water taxi (they were only $5 for a full day of riding, but we wanted some exercise). We were told it was only a 15 minute walk. It was actually about 10 minutes, and relatively cool in the shade of the trees along the path. It got really hot while you were out in the sun though! Luckily I remembered to bring my hat and my shawl.

We walked down the various streets and the beach area, slowing down in front of jewelry stores to get the cool blast of AC from them. We did go into the two Yoda shops, where "Mr. Yoda" sells his artwork. It was interesting and a little sad that a person who worked on Star Wars so many years ago would be sitting in his shop, talking to each person who came in (i.e. we were the only ones in there) promoting his work on Star Wars and pushing his copies of script pages.

It looked like a lot of people were coming on shore to either sit in a bar, or sit on the beach. We did spot two local police, and one of them was carrying a gun, which was spiral-coil-connected to his belt and in a holster that would have been very hard to draw from. I imagine they don't get much cause here to use said weapon! Eventually we reached the "end" of town, then walked back up to the ship dock again. At one tshirt stand we stopped at, we asked about the EasyCruise ship. We were told they'd been there three days so far. Maybe they had run out of fuel? Maybe they'd all taken a vote and decided to stay here for a while? Rumor is it that it's only $20/day to ride on there ...

They just needed to see our ship card to let us back into that near-dock mall area - and then showed it again to get back onto the dock itself.

We headed back up to the buffet area for lunch. Bob went up to the Fish & Chips to get food from there, and we got a window seat overlooking the harbour. It was fun watching the frigate birds soaring around. Bob was disappointed with the soup and the fried oysters, neither were as good as on the Liberty last year. One of the tunas he brought for me had a long black "speck" thing in it. Hmmmmm. Oh, and for some reason there hasn't been any "sundae station" at all by the ice cream! Last year on the Liberty you could make your own sundaes, they provided the fixings. They don't have that at all here on the Valor. Is it a ship difference? Did they stop offering that? The ice cream makers are there - but no fixings.

There was a "history of wine" movie showing from 4-6 in the Eagle lounge but we weren't really interested. We hung out in the room, and after a while the other 2 ships began running low on people getting on. We could hear them making their announcements - from our balcony - with exact names of who was still missing. We could also see their big screen TV on their top deck! It was pretty funny. When the last stragglers were found and driven up to the gangway, the whole top decks of all three ships began cheering and calling out. We all waved to each other as first one, then the other ship left. When it came our turn, it was pretty easy - the last two people were 15 minutes late, but they never had to call names - and we left pretty much immediately after that, so 15 minutes early.

Tonight was a cocktail party for the wine cruisers, which means that so far only one night has not included free pre-dinner drinks. This was in the disco. They circulated with cocktails, Champagne, appetizers, etc. There was a lot of discussion amongst the members about what we missed from last year's events and what we were going to do if they really did cancel the wine club. Soon it was dinner time, and several people brought a glass or two with them from here into the dinner room.

I'll have to track down my dinner notes for tonight. I know this was the best night so far for melting cake. Bob Dickinson's table wasn't filled - they were probably at the supper club - and our service was really quick. The cakes therefore came quite early, which may be the secret for truly liquid centers. Afterwards we went by the black forest cake area, grabbed a slice, and went up for some port and House watching.

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