We docked in St Thomas at 10:30, excited to finally be doing the object of our whole trip – Virgin Islands National Park. Unfortunately, it was cut shorter than expected due to the ship docking a half hour late, at the further port, making the taxi ride longer, which also took longer due to dropping off other passengers, causing us to just miss the ferry, which was only running hourly, despite being told it was every half hour. On top of this we learned that they are one hour ahead of “boat time”. So we were two hours late for our private guide that we arranged for in St John, and we had to plan for leaving earlier than originally planned, due to extra time needed to get back to the ship. So, we were down to three hours to explore the park. Our guide was terrific, recommending we focus on snorkeling and some scenic view points and the sugar cane plantation ruins, and excluding the hiking we had planned (which we discovered was a good thing as the bugs were apparently quite bad). We snorkeled at Maho Bay and Cinnamon Bay. Both provided lots of fish, almost all to ourselves. We filled in ferry waiting time with tasting local beers and other beverages. Newlyweds we met on the boat, John and Claudia, joined us on our trip, cutting the expense and adding to the fun. Our return taxi had an accident when another vehicle tried to squeeze past. Luckily the other driver drove off, so no police were called to the scene – our drive just cursed and drove on.
We were up early as we docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico at 7am. What a pretty town! We did have a couple of very short sprinkles this stop but it was a good thing because it was pretty hot/humid and that took the “edge” off the humidity. We took a self-guided walking tour by many old buildings, down alleys, two forts and scenic view points. We then hopped a ferry for 50 cents to the Bacardi distillery, the world’s largest rum distillery, where we did a free tour and got free drinks. Learned a lot, like how Bacardi used to be headquartered in Cuba until Fidel seized all its assets.
We had a ball that evening at a piano sing along activity. Surprised ourselves in many ways: Doug, learned that tambourines have handles, after playing it for half an hour; Fran, drank enough to sing in public, solo with support from the piano player, Dave – and she won a coveted prize – a rubber duckie; we both were surprised when we saw the clock said 1 am.