Mountain Top

Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands US
The ship sailed from San Juan at 11 pm last night, and was approaching the island of St. Thomas at first light, so the distance is not great. The capital of St. Thomas was the town of Charlotte Amalie and a popular cruise port in the Caribbean, for its duty free goods and other attractions. By 8 am, before many had woken up, let alone take their breakfast, the gangway was open. Passengers had until 6 pm to enjoy the island.

Well my group of passengers had a more leisurely time with breakfast, because we were to visit the Carnival Liberty which docked two ships astern of the Eclipse; the Explorer of the Seas was in between . Spent about 3 hours on board (OK 1 hour was spent clearing security) where we were free to explore the differences among the cruise brands. Some of the few passengers remaining - they must have come to St. Thomas many times - were at the pool deck, children on the water slide, where a Michael Jackson video was showing on the giant outdoor screen. You could watch in broad, Caribbean sunlight! Amazing. We had lunch on board, before disembarking for our arranged bus tour of the island. The purpose-built tour buses on the island have open sides to maximize viewing. Passengers board from the left side and sit 5 in a row and there are 5 rows. The driver is in an isolated cabin from where he leads a commentary.
If one visits no other place in St. Thomas, its Mountain Top is the primary attraction (shoppers may beg to differ). Leaving town, the road ascends rapidly up the mountain (hill is probably the more appropriate absolute description). One can see why many expats and retirees choose to buy or build a home on St. Thomas. There are residences all over the hilly terrain, far apart enough to feel isolated. Each has a sweeping view of the bay below and Caribbean Sea beyond. And a drive to the famous Mountain Top affords these views, including that of its beaches and outer islands. And oh yes, the obligatory shopping stops.