Not a long trip from Tortola to St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands, and when I wake up briefly at about 3:00 AM and don’t feel any motion, I assume we are already in port. However, I am not getting up to check and promptly roll over and go back to sleep.
Since we don’t have to report for today’s excursion until 10:30, we have our in-room breakfast at our usual 8:30-9:00 … knowing that it will arrive as it always does at the stroke of 8:30. While waiting for breakfast, I get out on the verandah and get a few shots of the island. Once again we are not facing the dock and have some wonderful views available. It does, however, become clear that today will be a terribly hot day.
Iris and Brooke will be joining us today on our excursion to Coral World and to the Butterfly Garden while Jason heads off on his own boating/snorkeling adventure. At about 10:00, Iris and Brooke come to our stateroom and we shortly proceed to the theater where we will gather before leaving the ship. No need for written authorization today since Iris is with us. Once again it is only a short walk from the ship to the bus which will take us to Coral World. There is no question that we are in a US possession as we drive through the port town which contains such staples as McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Pearle Vision, and many other very recognizable American businesses. I find it interesting that there is a series of Rainbow Shops - the basic shop and a few specialty shops - since Rainbow was one of the last companies I worked for before I left the fashion industry. At that time we did not have any stores outside of the continental 48 states, nor did we have specialty shops. It makes me wonder if the company is under new management or if the guys who owned the company still own it. (I worked directly with the owners during my time there. Once home I found out it is indeed still under the same ownership.)
While the roads we take are similar to those on Tortola - narrow roads winding their way through the hills - they are better built and maintained than their counterparts in BVI. Similar but without as much of a foreign feeling. We also pass through more modern villages and all that entails. However, while it was warm yesterday, and the bus ride was very comfortable, today the heat is such that even the ride on a open bus provides very little relief and then only if you are sitting on the outside of your row.
We arrive at Coral World and get off the bus, put Brooke in her stroller and head in. Iris and Jason had been here on their last cruise and we had planned on taking some time to walk on Coki Beach and maybe even go into the water, but it will turn out that the heat will totally do us in and while we will see most of what Coral World has to offer, we will need to spend quite a bit of time trying to find a cooler spot to sit and rehydrate. As with Tortola, my main objective is photography, and even with the lack of motivation the weather is causing, I manage to get a series of photos that I am quite happy with. (lorikeets, iguanas, underwater coral, landscapes) In one way, we did get lucky with the weather since it was very rainy on St. Thomas yesterday while we were on Tortola, and that rain today is hitting where we were yesterday.
While we are sitting in a spot with shade and a bit of a breeze, I watch Brooke while Sandy and Iris check out one of the souvenir shops. Just then Jason calls and it seems that he had not brought his picture ID with him as he left for his excursion … just his Key to the World, and cannot get back into the secure pier area where the Fantasy is tied up. Not much any of us can do from here … we are at least a 25 minute drive from the ship. Iris considers taking a taxi back so she can go on board and then bring him his ID, but instead she tells him to find a place to eat or get a drink until we get back on the bus - which isn’t scheduled to leave Coral World for at least another 30 minutes. Happily, perhaps 15 minutes later, Jason calls again (lucky this is US territory and our AT&T cell service is active) and lets us know that thanks to a Disney crew member, he was able to get back aboard, and Iris no longer has to come to his rescue. We continue our time in Coral World until it is time to get back on the bus and drive back to the pier.
When we arrive at the pier, however, our excursion is not finished. The Butterfly Garden which is part of our tour happens to be located right at the pier - just a short walk once we leave the bus. As a photographer, butterflies are one of my favorite subjects. During the International Flower and Garden Festival you can always find me at the Butterfly Tent. There are some butterflies here I have never photographed before.
Sandy and Iris even get the opportunity to have one or two on their hand. Brooke is fascinated by them and would like to hold one too, but we all agree that it might end badly for the butterfly.
Finally it is time to walk back to the ship (which is right here, though we have to take the long way to get into the secure area) and have some lunch. We are able to get to Cabanas just before its 2:00 closing for lunch and then it’s time for Brooke to nap and for Sandy and me to go to the Rainforest at the Spa. Later we will meet up with Iris again for trivia. (On the cruise we will take part in a few bar trivia contests including general trivia and Ultimate Disney trivia.)
The show tonight in the Walt Disney theater is Believe and Sandy and I see it before dinner. We will meet Iris, Jason and Brooke at the table so after the show we get ready and eventually make our way to Animator’s Palate where our rotation takes us back tonight. This evening is the night where we all get to be animators. As we get to our table we find a sheet with a place to draw a character with the supplied markers. After we do so, DeJan collects our “artwork” which we will see again later. Once again Brooke is in her element for dinner and is flirting with everyone who passes by. During the meal, classic Disney clips are appearing on the screens all around the restaurant, but as dessert arrives, the Disney magic occurs. Remember those drawings we all did when we arrived? Now they are integrated into those classic clips … are are themselves animated!! Lots of fun!! When we leave DeJan presents us with our original drawings, now containing a gold seal certifying us as “Official Disney Animators”. When we leave dinner we stop off and get our paperwork for the Midship Detective Agency Muppet Adventure. This will take us on a scavenger hunt all around the ship.
Tomorrow will be a day at sea, and to end our day we see the new Pete’s Dragon in the Walt Disney Theater. (Tomorrow we will also watch the original in our stateroom.)