By Gerry Barker
ABOARD AZAMARA QUEST, DAY FOUR – Day four in our quest for sunshine, and still hardly a ray in sight. In fact, anchored just outside Cruz Bay on the picturesque island of St. John, we awoke to rain showers, which have continued on and off throughout the day. Still, it is the tropics, and rain is a daily occurrence most of the year. Plus, a little rain wasn’t going to keep us from revisiting the place where Pam and I had our honeymoon.
But before we get to St. John, a few words about how we concluded day three.
One of the scheduled events in the afternoon was tea time (not “tee” as in golf but “tea” as in Earl Grey). It was staged in the Looking Glass lounge and featured all the accoutrements a “high tea” deserves: fine bone china, finger sandwiches, luscious desserts and of course, scones, complete with jam and clotted cream, with a harpist providing background music. The scones were a tad hard, but now I’m quibbling.
Last night we had the honor of an invitation to the Captain’s Table for dinner. The master of the Quest is Captain Stig Nilsen, who calls Norway home. Actually, we learned when he isn’t commanding the Quest, he makes his permanent home on a boat as well, a Swedish minesweeper he restored himself. Or he did, anyway. At dinner Capt. Nilsen informed us he had officially completed the sale of the boat that very day, a bittersweet moment for him. So we all raised a glass to toast his good fortune and the new boat he acquired, a rescue boat, which will also serve as his home.
Knowing our time in St. John was short, we signed up for the “Panoramic St. John” shore excursion. Luckily, it was one of the ones that didn’t get canceled due to the inclement weather. Tendered to Cruz Bay, our group was greeted by the tour host, a cheerful woman with a British accent. As we all know, the Brits are renowned for “keep calm and carry on.”
And carry on we did, jamming into an open-air minibus for a ride around the island. Question: Since the Virgin Islands are a U.S. territory, why do vehicles drive on the left? Can somebody look that up for me? Despite the rain, it was great to enjoy the magnificent beauty of this mostly unspoiled paradise, three quarters of which is designated as a national park.
The highlight, as it usually is, was an extended stop at Trunk Bay, which makes most travelers’ lists as one of the world’s top 10 beaches. It’s a breath-taking stretch of the purest white sand and dazzling turquoise waters. And lucky for us, the rain stopped during the whole time we were there.
We weren’t quite as a fortunate by the time we reached the sugar plantation ruins at Annenberg. It was pouring. Regardless, a handful of us pulled our umbrellas out and made the steep hike up to the ruins. When we got back to board the bus, we had a little surprise waiting. No bus! Apparently the driver had to move it to the main road. Okay – extra hiking in the rain!
But I have to say our group mostly took it in stride, with very little grumbling or complaining. I was impressed!
Back at Cruz Bay, Pam wanted to sample some of the shopping nearby. (Rain never interferes with shopping, don’t you know.) While there may be bargains to be had on the island somewhere, she didn’t find them in the port area.
Back on board, we grabbed a late lunch and enjoyed a last look at St. John with a glass of wine in the Looking Glass. Now we are headed for our next destination, a little group of islands called Iles Des Saintes in Guadeloupe. And according to the latest weather reports, sunshine is finally in the forecast.
March 5, 2013