"" Writer's Wanderings: Celebrity Solstice--St. Maarten

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Celebrity Solstice--St. Maarten

The phone rang early with our wakeup call. Thankfully we heard it. It rings very softly. Perhaps that is so it doesn’t wake our neighbors. We have discovered that the walls are a bit thinner than we’ve experienced on other ships—unless our neighbors are just a bit noisier.
We grabbed a quick bite in the Oceanview CafĂ©—a serving of quiche, some orange slices, and a croissant, and then scurried off to grab our excursion tickets and head for the gangway. The ship arrived right on time, 8 a.m., and our excursion was to meet on the dock at 8:15. When we were all assembled, our guide took us to a small van which in turn took us into town and dropped us into the hands of another guide who led us to. . .yes, Segways again! My husband is in love with them. (Picture is of Phillipsburg looking across the new dock being built.)

This tour took us up and down the boardwalk of Phillipsburg. I was glad we made it early in the day as the sun got warmer and the boardwalk busier as the morning went on. This was more a have-fun-on-the-Segway than an actual guided tour. The boardwalk is nothing more than hotels, shops, and casinos. We zipped back and forth behind our guide about four times in a couple of hours and then turned them in.

The hotel next to the Segway stand had a beautiful open deck with wicker sofas and tables. We sat and sipped a second cup of coffee there before exploring the main shopping street. As I’ve said before, I’m not a shopper and I hate all the “Lady, you looking for jewelry?” and the “Lady, lady, everything is 75% off today.” The question is, 75% off of what price? Since I’m not a shopper, I wouldn’t recognize a deal if it fell in my lap. We found two large bottles of water—not on sale—and headed for the ship with our purchase.

On Deck 14 we claimed two lounge chairs in the shade with a view of the water and the island and read and napped until lunchtime. We were only steps away from the Mast Grill which might explain why I woke up hungry. They had a pleasant offering of salmon kabobs, grilled chicken wings, dogs and kraut, and hamburgers. There were also a few salad choices, some carrot and celery sticks, and fries and onion rings. A nice alternative to the main buffet.

We donned bathing suits and headed for the Solarium pool. Neither one of us sits out in the sun much any more and the Solarium is quiet with a wonderful warm pool. A few laps and then into the hot tub and I was really feeling like I was on vacation. While in the Solarium, we checked out the Spa Grill just to see what they had. Today’s offerings looked a lot better than before. There was a nice dish of salmon, and some melon slices with a sliced meat that looked appetizing. Guess we will need to give it another go. I was sorry I’d had the hamburger—well, maybe not. (Dancing fountain near the main pool outside.)

Back in the room I tried posting to the blog but found it difficult getting on the internet. The wireless network connection showed little to no connectivity and there were about eight other wireless networks popping up on the list. Guess that’s what happens when you have five ships and several land networks in close proximity. Then, either due to connectivity issues or Blogger, my pictures wouldn’t all load—a costly internet session. A straight connection is 65 cents/minute but packages starting at $40 will reduce cost to 43-48 cents. The first day on board ship you can buy a package and get an additional 20% in bonus minutes but you cannot combine it with the 20% coupon you get if you are Elite or Select in the Captain’s Club. Huh? What good is a perk? Apparently , if we purchase more later in the week we can use it.

We dressed for dinner early and went to the Sunset Bar on Deck 15 aft to get something to drink and sit in the comfy chairs set around the lawn. As we passed the glassblowing area, we noticed them setting up and the artist from the night before was working on the dish he had made. The bottom needed to be smoothed. He held it up for us to see the finished product. Truly beautiful.

Dinner in the Grand Epernay was not especially exciting for me. Everyone at the table ordered the Chef’s recommendation, Veal Oscar. Two small chunks of veal were dabbed with crabmeat, a spritz of bĂ©arnaise sauce and served over bowtie pasta. The breadsticks were still excellent and I probably ate way too many.

Since we were in port until 11 p.m., there was no show for the evening. Instead, there were smatterings of entertainment including a movie (The Bucket List), two sessions of The Liars Club (like a game show), Karaoke, glassblowing, and my favorite, the Musical Enrichment Lecture. This evening’s offering with Marlene and Chet Solender was Rogers and Hammerstein. It was excellent.

At 11 we joined the other “supervisors” lined up along the rail on Deck 5 to watch the captain pull the ship out away from the dock and out into the sea again.

Tomorrow: Tortola and the Silk Harvest restaurant.

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