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SeaDream I Caribbean Cruise -- St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands
Our SeaDream I Caribbean cruise itinerary might be called an "almost" all saints cruise, with St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. Barths, and St. Martin among the ports of call.
The SeaDream I embarked from Havensight Pier, just a short taxi ride from downtown Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas.
We sailed roundtrip for seven days from Charlotte Amalie and docked at Havensight Pier, which is used by most cruise ships. We flew into the St. Thomas airport, and the taxi ride to Havensight was very reasonable since the taxi dispatcher at the airport loaded several of us going to Havensight into the same van, which saved a little money.
Havensight has many of the same stores as downtown Charlotte Amalie. Every time I go to St. Thomas, I can't help but wonder how all of those dozens of jewelry stores can stay in business! There are many jewelers at Havensight, but if you can't find what you want, downtown Charlotte Amalie is only about a $10 taxi ride away.
Shopping is a prime activity in St.... Thomas, and the "duty free" goods are very popular. St. Thomas has no customs duties on watches, cameras, perfume, jewelry, liquor, china, or leather goods. U.S. visitors are allowed a duty-free shopping allowance of $1600 - twice the quota of any other Caribbean island and three times that of European countries.Continue to 2 of 10 below.
02 of 10
St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands - Shore Excursion Options
St. Croix is the largest Virgin Island, but is much quieter and less visited than St. Thomas or St. John. The SeaDream I docked at Frederiksted on the western coast of St. Croix. SeaDream offered two shore excursion options in St. Croix.
The first shore excursion was western-style horseback riding for two hours in the rain forest on the northwestern part of St. Croix, which was just a short ride from Frederiksted. The participants enjoyed seeing the flora and fauna of the Cruzan rain forest and thought the views were excellent.
I joined the group going to the Buck Island Reef National Monument for a half-day of snorkeling. This marine preserve has an excellent snorkeling trail through a spectacular coral reef grotto.
We first rode in a van for about 30 minutes from Frederiksted across St. Croix to the capital at Christiansted. There we boarded a large power boat and rode for another 30 minutes or so to Buck Island. The ride took us along the northern coast of St. Croix and was very... scenic. However, the boat was crowded and not nearly as memorable as the sailboat catamaran the Teroro II we sailed on to Buck Island a few years ago. We snorkeled for about an hour and then went ashore on Buck Island and walked along the beach. It was the first of many picture-perfect beaches we would see on this SeaDream I cruise.Continue to 3 of 10 below.
03 of 10
The Dutch Island of Saba in the Eastern Caribbean
Saba is the smallest island of the Netherlands Antilles in the eastern Caribbean. The island looks like a giant volcano rising dramatically from the sea because that's exactly what it is! Although steeply-banked Saba has no sandy beaches, the island is popular with divers, and the SeaDream I offered a half-day dive trip.
We did a van tour of the island, which was a good value. Saba has only one 9-mile road that was built in the 1960's linking its four villages. This engineering marvel built on Saba's steep cliffs is appropriately named "The Road". Before The Road was constructed, Sabans hiked the trails or used donkeys to get around the island. The van stopped in each of the villages, and we had a chance to see a beautiful small Catholic church, the Willards luxury resort, the world's smallest international airport (1300 foot runway or about 400 meters) and several handicraft shops. The local lace and jewelry were especially nice. The views of the island and its... marvelous cliffs and tiny villages made the ride worthwhile.
A few hardy SeaDream I passengers climbed the 1,064 steps to the top of Mt. Scenery, the highest point on Saba, with a local guide. Most (but not all) were glad they made the hike, and they got a certificate stating they had "climbed Mt. Scenery, the highest point in the Netherlands" and bragging rights back home and on the SeaDream I.Continue to 4 of 10 below.
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The Bottoms Village on Saba of the Netherlands Antilles in the Caribbean
"The Bottoms" is one of the four villages of Saba and is its capital. The other villages are Fort Bay, Winwardside, and Hells' Gate. Most of the 1200 full-time residents of the island go by their first name only, and everyone knows everybody! This was very evident as we drove around the island.
Saba is home to the Saba University School of Medicine, where students from around the world spend their first two years of medical school. What a beautiful setting for a medical school!Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10
St. Barths (St. Barthelemy) - Trendy French Island of the Eastern Caribbean
St. Barthelemy in the French West Indies is also known as St. Barths or St. Barts. It is one of the most chic islands in the Caribbean and boasts a refined European atmosphere. The capital of Gustavia looks much like a Mediterranean seaside city on the French Riviera.
St. Barths does not encourage cruise ships to visit, so you won't see it as a port of call on a large ship. At one time, the shopkeepers all closed their stores when they heard that a hoard of cruise passengers was going to come ashore! The 100 of us from the small Sea Dream Yacht Club SeaDream I easily blended in with the other tourists. We window shopped and actually found some good bargains in some of the shops.
St. Barths has more than 20 beautiful beaches and is the vacation home to many rich and famous people. I took the snorkeling trip from Gustavia to a small reef nearby. The snorkeling was interesting and we saw many colorful fish lurking around the rocks. The coral wasn't as pretty as at Buck Island near... St. Croix, but the fish seemed more varied and larger.
Some of the SeaDream passengers opted to rent a car for the day or circumnavigate the island on a very speedy boat.
The SeaDream I arrived at St. Barths in the early evening and anchored overnight in the harbor, allowing passengers the opportunity to go ashore and dine in one of the fabulous St. Barths' restaurants. However, most of us chose to stay onboard and enjoy the wonderful gourmet cuisine on our ship.Continue to 6 of 10 below.
06 of 10
French St. Martin of the French/Dutch Island of St. Martin/St. Maarten
The SeaDream I visited Marigot, the principal town on the French side of St. Martin/St. Maarten. Passengers had a wide selection of shore excursion options on this popular eastern caribbean island. Some people traveled to Phillipsburg, St. Maarten to participate in America's Cup 12-Metre Regatta. This is a great opportunity to sail on a REAL America's Cup sailboat, and I highly recommend the excursion, no matter which ship you are on.
Many of our fellow passengers took the shuttle to Orient Bay, one of the loveliest beaches in this part of the Caribbean. Orient Bay actually has two beaches--Waikiki Beach and Orient Beach. Waikiki Beach has bars, cafes, and all sorts of rentals--water sports equipment, beach chairs and umbrellas. The northern end of Orient Beach is popular with windsurfers, and "curious" visitors to the southern end of Orient Beach can get a good idea of what a Mediterranean nude beach is like. Whenever people talk about nude beaches in the Caribbean,... Orient Beach is usually the first one mentioned. Some of the more active passengers chose to go diving or horseback riding. There are a lot of options on St. Martin!
We wandered the streets of Marigot, which had some good shops, along with an interesting flea market and an indoor, air-conditioned mall. There was a shopping opportunity and location for everyone in Marigot.Continue to 7 of 10 below.
07 of 10
The Beautiful Baths of Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands
Virgin Gorda is one of 60 islands in the British Virgin Islands of the Caribbean. Virgin Gorda doesn't have a lot of activities, but it has a diverse landscape and beautiful beaches. Small cruise ships can anchor at Virgin Gorda, while larger ships include a visit to Virgin Gorda as a shore excursion from nearby Tortola. It's one of my favorite places in the Caribbean.
A visit to The Baths, a group of very large, unusual rock boulders on the western edge of the island, is a Virgin Gorda highlight. The tenders from the SeaDream I ferried us ashore at Spanish Town, where we boarded open air buses for the short drive to The Baths. The hike to the beach from the drop off point was relatively easy. After a few minutes at the main beach, most of us followed the guide for the 15-minute walking trip amongst the boulders to Devil's Bay, a secluded beach at the southern end of The Baths. It's worth stooping under overhanging rocks and wading in ankle-deep water to see this... interesting bay and go swimming in the sparkling water.Continue to 8 of 10 below.
08 of 10
Virgin Gorda - British Virgin Islands in the Eastern Caribbean
After an hour or so at The Baths, we boarded the buses for a ride to the eastern end of Virgin Gorda called the Bitter End. The ride was very scenic and we stopped several times to make pictures of some of the sparkling bays and beaches.
Shopping is limited on Virgin Gorda, and there aren't many places to dine or party. Visitors come for the scenery, seclusion, sun, and relaxation.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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Jost Van Dyke - British Virgin Islands
Jost Van Dyke of the British Virgin Islands has a very casual, laid-back attitude. It is famous for its protected bays and beachfront restaurants and bars. Foxy's at Great Harbour and the Soggy Dollar Bar at White Bay are two of the most memorable drinking spots in the Caribbean.
After a late afternoon sail from Virgin Gorda, the SeaDream I anchored overnight at Great Harbour so that passengers could easily go ashore and enjoy the nightlife at Foxy's. If you visit Jost Van Dyke, you won't have any problems finding Foxy's in Great Harbour. The town's Main Street (and only street) is a sandy path running along the beach. The next morning, our small ship sailed around the point to White Bay, a quintessential Caribbean beach.Continue to 10 of 10 below.
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Jost Van Dyke Champagne and Caviar Splash - SeaDream I
The beach at White Bay on Jost Van Dyke had lounge chairs and plenty of shade for those who don't like the sun. The beach is perfect, and the snokeling along the rocks at the edge of the bay is good. Almost all the passengers went ashore for the day at White Bay. While there, we enjoyed SeaDream's signature Caribbean activity--the Champagne and Caviar Splash and Barbecue.
The crew used a surfboard covered in a tablecloth as a bar. Caviar (and all the accoutrements) and plastic champagne flutes were set up on the bar, which was "floated" in waist deep water. We all had to wade out to the bar, and it was great fun. Later, we had barbecued ribs, chicken, and sausage with all the trimmings.
In the evening, the SeaDream I sailed the short distance back to St. Thomas, arriving there in the early morning. The Champagne and Caviar Splash was a memorable way to end our "dream" cruise on the SeaDream I.