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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Norwegian Epic - Food, Fantasy and Frustration - Day Four, St. Maarten

Finally!!! Land Ho!

St. Maarten is one of the few Caribbean islands that we have not yet been to.  We docked around 8am and we got to stay until about 6pm.  We are not early risers or morning people, so we woke when we woke and stumbled around and found our way down to O'Sheehan's for breakfast. I was a wee bit leery about eating there again after the chicken wings made me so sick, so I stuck with a cinnamon roll to be safe. Everyone else had a normal breakfast and no one felt ill afterward.

Little Lawyer even used her sign-n-sail card to buy us all breakfast, being the 'grown up' and signing the card receipt. In case you don't know what a sign-n-sail card is, I shall 'splain.  When you check in at the beginning of your cruise, you give them the credit or debit card you want to use to pay for things while you're on board.  They attach the card information to your sign-n-sail, so you just use it on the boat instead of your credit card. Everyone has to have one, even little kids.  At the end of the cruise, they tally everything up you've bought with the sign-n-sail and make one big honkin' charge to your actual credit card. It's easier for the cruise line in the end to keep track of everything.

Luckily, we were moored to a dock. Sometimes ships have to anchor out in the water and they make you take a tender (a passenger boat) from the ship to the shore.  Granma doesn't like those...especially if the water is rough or choppy. You can really get tossed around on those things. I think they're fun to ride! But sometimes the ship just pulls right on up to the dock and you just waltz right off the ship on to the island.

Seeing the boat while standing on the dock is way cool. The thing is just humongous. Then, everyone inevitably tries to find where their room is...

No matter what island you find yourself arriving at, when you exit the dock there is always a touristy type shopping area to explore.  There is every tropical souvenir stand you can think of or imagine! St. Maarten's is no exception...

You can also find a meeting point for any shore excursion you purchased through the cruise line. They (the cruise lines) recommend using their approved vendors for any type of activity you want to do at any port, of course.  I can see the reasoning behind this (they make money when you book through them and they can guarantee safety and reliable vendors), but we never, ever do that.  We'll just take off on our own and see for ourselves what's what. We think it's more fun and adventurous that way. So we found one of the local tour guides and got a chauffeured tour 'round the island in an air conditioned van.

Our tour guide was nice, and of course told us all about the Dutch side of the island (the best side, where he is from) and the French side of the island as we drove along.  They had no traffic lights on the Dutch side and very few on the French side; they use roundabouts instead.  That really cuts down on the accidents.

The hills were cool. We don't have hills in Florida, so we ooh'd and aah'd when appropriate.  The scenery was just beautiful, too.  We did make a few stops along the way so that we could get out of the van and snap a few good shots.

One of Papa Bear's "must do" things was to visit the airport on the Dutch side of the island.  The airport, or should I say the airstrip, was really wild.  You might have seen this clip on YouTube (or one similar), but Papa Bear wanted to experience it firsthand. It was rather awesome, and I usually don't get into stuff like that.  However, when you think you can reach right out and touch the wing of the plane that's coming in to land right above your head (and you just might be able to!), the experience is unreal.  All that excitement while either standing on the beach or the dividing wall on between the sand and the two lane road right behind you as cars whiz right on by! Death defying at every moment I tell ya!!

It was also really great light to snap some warm and fuzzy shots of the girls...

Silly faces, anyone?
Kissy, Kissy
De plane, de plane!
This one is my new desktop background...
Yeah, he's girlie...

We stopped next at one of the downtown areas on the French side of the island. Our guide gave us 20-25 minutes to get out and have a beverage, look around, and see what kind of trouble we could find.  We snapped some shots and found a little patio restaurant to procure a beverage. I had one of the more tastier ginger beers I've ever had here.

The next stop was the parking lot of a hilltop restaurant. The view was phenomenal! Our guide just wanted to show us the view and I'm glad he did.

How could anyone not love this?

We did a lot of driving around and the whole tour lasted a little over three hours. He dropped us back off at the tourist shopping plaza by the dock and we tooled around there for a little bit before heading back to the ship. The weather started to turn icky as we were heading back and  the rain storm began just moments after we got on to the ship.

Their lizards look like komodo dragons??

Showers and naps were taken....you'd think we were all 1,000 years old!!

We had reservations for dinner at Le Bistro (for $25 bucks a head, thank you).  Le Bistro is the only restaurant other than dinner service at the Manhattan Room that has a rule regarding dress code:  No shorts allowed. Three guesses as to who forgot to pack Papa Bear's one and only pair of pants!!! My fault completely.  So Granma and I figured it couldn't hurt to explain our situation (that I'm an idiot) and ask if they could overlook my husband's sexy calves and let us in to eat snails and heavy French food.

Nope. They wouldn't budge. And there wasn't a soul in the restaurant either, so we would not have offended anyone with his shorts-wearing. But, no. They turned us away...  Luckily, the didn't charge the reservation fee. Fine, but no sexy calves for you to look at then...

At this point, we decided to see if Cagney's Steakhouse could fit us in without a reservation. Cagney's cover charge was $25 also, and yes, they could seat us right away.

After this dinner, I think we all determined that the restaurants that have a cover charge have the better food. Well, except for the Cirque dinner (for me and Papa Bear, anyway).  A steakhouse is usually not anywhere on my top five list of places to eat, but the food here was really, really good.

The Colossal Shrimp Cocktail was just...colossal - everyone started singing 'Day-O' and thought of Beetlejuice...
Smoked Salmon, Herb Cream and Toasted Brioche
Grilled Portobello with Blue Crab and Mozzarella Cheese Glaze
Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes with Avocado and Lobster Remoulade
Classic Caesar
A very pretty Wedge Salad
16 oz T-Bone
Classic 5 oz Filet
Creamy Vegetarian Casserole
Vanilla Bean and Strawberry Cheesecake
The Espresso Brownie Ala mode with Ice Cream
Orange Sherbet
Creme Brulee
The Dessert Sampler: Bite-sized Apple Pie, Chocolate Brownie Cake and Cheesecake Lollipop

This was Granma's night to not feel well. Not because of the food at all this time, but just because. Hey, everybody gets a turn, right? It's only fair.  So Papa Bear felt the need to have his butt handed to him by the kids at bowling and we headed down to O'Sheehan's to get a milkshake and toss the bowling ball around and work off some of those amazing calories we had at dinner before collapsing into bed.

Good times.

1 comment:

  1. The best review I've found on the Norwegian Epic. I'm printing your entries before departure as we'll be doing the same cruise soon.. I hope you don't mind! And this particular entry has been very useful to convince my wife that it's not dangerous to visit the airport's beach with the baby ;-) thanks! I got my plan for that day