Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Disney Cruise: Part 4

Our first port of call was St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Foolishly the night before we arrived in port, I wondered if I should set an alarm so we didn't sleep too late. Oh what a silly thought that was! Little did I know that the ship's bow thrusters were basically below our cabin and shook us awake with no sense of subtlety. If we'd been at home, I would have thought we were having an earthquake, but alas, it was just our ship docking... with a lot of shaking and rumbling.

After slathering ourselves up with sunblock, filling our water bottles, and eating a quick breakfast, we were walking down the gangway toward our first steps in St. Thomas. Shortly after leaving the ship, we were welcomed by the hot and humid air of St. Thomas and were very grateful for our filled water bottles in our backpacks!

Prior to the cruise, we'd booked time at the Butterfly Garden and at Coral World for a sea lion encounter. The Butterfly Garden was just down from where our ship docked, so that was a no-brainer first stop for us. The front of the building wasn't overly impressive, but once we got checked in and made our way to the back where the butterflies where ... oh my goodness!

We learned so much about the butterflies (like some get drunk on fermenting bananas ... their favorite food) and had an incredible time interacting with them. Shockingly, the butterflies were quite tame and used to being handled by humans. Before we arrived at the Butterfly Garden, Eric and I expected that the kids would get bored fairly quickly ... not the case by any stretch! The kids were fascinated with the butterflies and couldn't get enough of the experience. They loved having the butterflies land on them and tickles their hands. They were incredible (for the most part) at moving slowly so the butterflies didn't get spooked and fly off. The actual Butterfly Garden wasn't huge, but big enough that we could wander around and peek for butteflies in the trees, plants, rock structures, and arbors for quite awhile. If we hadn't had a 10:30 arrival time booked for Coral World. we probably would have spent a good chunk of the day with the butterflies. As it was, the kids asked if we could return before getting back on the ship.



After our wonderful butterfly experience, we hopped an open-air taxi that took us to Coral World, which was on the other side of island from where the ship docked. We got a kick out of the fact that along the way, our driver stopped to do a quick errand ... oh, island time!! Because of our driver's said "island time" approach to our travels, we had to run to get checked in and to our sea lion encounter meeting spot. Fortunately, everyone seems to run on island time, so we had plenty of time to catch our breath before starting our next adventure. The sea lion trainer (Whitney) approached us, introduced herself (come to find out she was born on Whidbey Island ... hello, small world!), and went over some ground rules about interacting with Remo: no touching his face, no patting him ... only petting, etc. Before we knew it, we were next to Remo's pool and he was swimming toward us.

During our time with Remo, we learned a lot about sea lions, how to tell the difference between seals and sea lions, sea lion habitats, how they're trained, that black teeth are desirable, and so much more. We played with him, danced with him, got splashed by him, and made silly faces together. All four of us had a marvelous time with Remo and Whitney, our two very gracious hosts.

Hello, Remo

Dancing with Remo

Waving hello

Checking out Remo's teeth

Playing fetch with Remo


Silly faces

Annika giving Remo some smootches

Conor and Remo sticking out their tongues

Smootches from Remo

Eric and Remo showing off their brawn

Giving Remo pets and loves

All too soon, our time with Remo was up and we were left to wander around Coral World's other sites on our own. We saw wild iguanas wandering around, a shark tank, a tank of juvenile sting rays and wandered through the small indoor (aka air conditioned!) aquarium. We also went into an area that had some sore of parakeet-ish birds that we could feed and have stand on us. Unfortunately, we were there at the end of their feeding time, so some of the birds were full and wanted nothing to do with us, no matter how hard we tried. Oh well!

One of the resident iguanas

Annika feeding a bird

Eric and Conor feeding a bird

Conor and his new buddy

Did I mention the wild iguanas?

Talk about a view!

By the time we were done wandering around, we were feeling rather spent. The heat really sapped us of all energy and we (foolishly) didn't bring our swim gear not knowing there was a gorgeous beach right next to Corral World. (Talk about tempting crystal clear water!!)

So, we found another open-air taxi that drove us back to the ship. The driver was more of a tour guide and pointed out an amazing amount of facts as we drove back to the dock. We learned about the local economy, school uniform colors, hotels with private pools for each room, which beaches are the best to visit, and why they drive on the left side of the road (back in the day, St. Thomas was a British colony and the donkeys were trained to walk on that side of the road... when the US took over the land, the donkeys were too confused to switch to the right side of the road, so they stuck with the left side!). We had a casual lunch at an open-air restaurant near the ship, and eventually meandered back to the ship... where the cool pools and refreshing AquaDuck awaited our hot and tired bodies. Hurray!

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