By Gerry Barker
ABOARD AZAMARA QUEST, DAY TEN – While we still feel the disappointment of missing Virgin Gorda, it is a glorious (and calm) day dockside in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas. High swells forced a change in our final port of call, and we had evidence of those on the way over last night with some major rocking (not coming from the disco dance floor, either).
If we needed further evidence of the unruly seas, while in port at St. Maarten we saw two of the heavy braided lines that hold the ship in place snap like rubber bands, forcing harbor security to over-zealously route passengers from other vessels away from the vicinity of our ship, just in case.
St. Thomas is, of course, one of the most heavily traveled islands in the Caribbean, greeting over 1.5 million tourists every year. On any given day that are usually several cruise ships here, and today is no exception. Joining us in port at Havensight are two Carnival ships and at the adjacent Yacht Haven Grande, a gathering of what has to be some of the largest privately-owned boats in the world, along with an upscale shopping mall.
Of course, there are beautiful beaches and historic sites, but in St. Thomas it’s always been about the shopping. Most passengers disembark directly to waiting taxis for the short trip to the downtown shopping district, and we were no exception. But rather than navigate the close quarters and charming alleyways of the traditional downtown shops, Pam headed for the blue tents of the vendor area next to the post office, where you can do some serious bargain hunting for clothes, jewelry and knock-off purses.
But a few words about the shopping experience: Expect to be relentlessly solicited for tours and shopping specials. It can get very annoying in a hurry. We also heard several complaining how the big new commercial malls have detracted from the downtown experience as well.
Maybe we were there too early in the day, but unlike other trips here, we returned empty handed. It seemed no one was in the mood to bargain. So we are left to enjoy this sunny, picture-perfect day, watching the “privileged class enjoy their privileges,” to quote one of our favorite movies, “The Philadelphia Story.”
Last night we decided to check out the entertainment in the Cabaret Lounge, featuring two of the Azamara Quest Singers, Amanda Poulson and Australian Andrew Perry, who each performed a set of their favorite songs. Later, up on the pool deck, ship DJ Alex Mac donned suit and tie for his tribute show to Michael Buble. Mac, a native of West Yorkshire, got an enthusiastic reception, especially from his fellow Brits in the audience.
We are here until 6 p.m., when we say farewell to the last island on our tour of the West Indies and head back to Miami. Here’s hoping the seas cooperate and the final leg of our journey is smooth sailing.
March 11, 2013