Snorkeling in the Virgin Islands

I’m going to talk about this cruise for a bit because it was awesome and there’s a lot to talk about. So get ready for my vacation shenanigans. I might even be able to talk about it in less posts than this girl talked about her Cuba vacation, but I doubt it.

Anyway, like I mentioned before, hubs and I went on a 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruise with our friends, Linda and Jimmy. The cruise had port stops in Coco Cay, Bahamas, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, and St. Maarten (in that order). I was a little apprehensive about going on a 7-night cruise. I’ve been on two cruises previous to this – both only three nighters – and both times I was bored half of the time and ready to GTFO by day three.

bored to death

Well, I had nothing to worry about. I had an awesome time and I was never bored. I wasn’t too excited about our stops at first. I wanted to do the Western Caribbean cruise but Linda and Jimmy had already done that one last year which kinda bummed me out. But, the fact that I LOVE vacationing with friends won me over so I got over my snobby Eastern Caribbean ways and decided to go anyway.

If you’ve been reading this blog since the beginning of time (or 3 years, whichever), you might remember that Linda was our personal trainer for several years (that’s how we met). This is the second time we’ve been on vacation with her and her husband. The first time was a Carolinas road trip about four years ago, so we already knew we could spend a lot of time with them and not want to shiv them in the kidneys. We also knew they liked to have fun.

IMG_0296

See? Fun!

Anyway, our first stop was in Coco Cay, but since I’m waiting to get few pictures from Linda, I’ll move on to stop #2 – St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.

Lots of ships ported at St. Thomas.

Can’t take him anywhere.

Originally, we had planned a snuba excursion in St. Thomas. Snuba is apparently a thing and I had never heard of it until we got on the ship. It’s not quite snorkeling and it’s not quite scuba diving. When you snuba, you explore 20 feet below water and the oxygen tank floats above you. All four of us were more psyched for snuba than any of the other excursions we had booked. So of course it was cancelled because the ship was an hour and a half late into port because of heavy wind.

We booked another excursion, our distant second choice of snorkeling. We picked a tour with Cool Boats USVI that went to Turtle Bay. We sailed there on an actual ghost ship called Blackbeard’s Revenge. The ship sunk in the 80’s and then was resurrected six weeks later and refurbished. It looked like a bad ass pirate ship.

There’s nothing like the feeling of sailing on a ship that once sunk.

The trip started out pretty well other than the fact that the water was super choppy and there were at least two people barfing into buckets and two others that didn’t look so hot. Those people were not us, by the way. Other than that, it was a good 30-minute sail.

I can’t say enough good things about the tour guides, Shy and Amelia, and Capt. Jim. They were amazing and funny and told stories like they haven’t told them 1000 times before. They did things like scale the boat to open the sails while the boat was in motion.

See Shy up there? You could not pay me to do that. He didn’t even use the ladder. He climbed up by one using one of those thin ropes. Crazy mofo.

We got to Turtle Bay and I was happy the boat had finally stopped. I was starting to feel a little sea sick even though I was sitting in the middle of the boat, which moves the least. We all jumped off the boat and started our snorkel.

The snorkeling selfie.

The water was beautiful but it was so congested with people that I couldn’t swim without hitting someone with my flipper or someone else’s flipper hitting me.

See what I mean?

I bought a GoPro camera right before the trip and I’m an absolute idiot using it. I thought I was taking pictures when I was actually taking video for half a day. Then I had it set on 10 pictures per second for another part of the day and ended up with tons of the same picture. The jury is still out on that camera.

Ok, so back to snorkeling. Besides being congested, there wasn’t much to see except a lot of flat sea floor and a fairly lame coral reef.

A few others saw some turtles and a stingray but I wouldn’t have been able to get there to see them unless I started taking down little children, which normally I would do, just not with that many witnesses. So I saw nothing unless you count the shadow of a turtle in the distance, three fish, and then a turtle once I got back on the boat that mocked me with its frocklicking.

So basically, the snorkel portion of the trip was a bust and I didn’t use much of the free snorkel time after we went on the “tour” where Amelia told us about parts of the reef.

We got back on the ship and our guides started serving us many of these fruity rum drinks called Painkillers (for FREE) and that significantly improved our moods. I was looking the other direction at one point, holding my drink, and felt Capt. Jim filling up my cup. Man after my own heart right there.

Also, our guide Shy memorized all FIFTY people’s names on the boat. He went around, asked everyone their name individually, and did some weird pneumonic thing in his mind for a few seconds each time. Then, after he asked everyone their names, was able to call everyone out in order. He even knew our names when we swapped positions on the boat and were coming out of the water wet and unrecognizable with our snorkle gear on. Crazy. That dude was pure entertainment. I’m sad I didn’t get a good picture of him because he reminded me of Aaron Paul. (Hubs said he reminded him of Dominic Moynahan.)

Everyone being entertained by Shy.

We left a good tip because we loved, loved the guides but the tour itself was meh. I would have preferred a snorkel trip that carried less people and had something to look at. You go to Turtle Bay, you expect to see turtles. Amirite?

We had a little time when we got back to shore before all-aboard, so we stopped at a cute beach pub called Fat Turtle and had a few more drinks and appetizers (to prep our stomachs for dinner, of course). We asked for a local rum suggestion and the waitress recommended Cruzan which is made in the Virgin Islands. We have that all over the place in Orlando, so no. No Cruzan rum for Paula. I went with a Moscow Mule instead (my current favorite drink). I didn’t take any pictures toward the end of the day, so imagine me enjoying many more adult beverages. Pretty much like you imagine me on any normal day.

St. Thomas wasn’t our favorite stop, but we still had a great time. We heard from the locals that if you’re going to go to the Virgin Islands, that you want to take the ferry over to St. John. Apparently St. John is amazing. St. Thomas was beautiful BUT super touristy, which isn’t my thing since I already live in the land of tourism.

Ok, so that was our second stop. I’ll be back with more in a few days. 🙂

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  1. Melissa

    I feel very good about this post. It’s almost like I went on vacation, too, except not. Also, the fact that you could take the camera in the water and take a candid shot of so many butts make it worth the price for sure. I’m sure you’ll figure out how to use it. Practice in your pool and then you will be a pro for your next vacation!

  2. Fabulous pics. I bet U would like to relive this one a time or 2.

  3. Bummer that the snorkeling was a bust. Although free drinks would make pretty much anything much, much better.

  4. The water looks so clear! I like the idea of snorkeling, but I’m far too sensitive of a flower to do it. I got sea sick both times I tried it. I get nauseous just thinking about me bobbing at the top of the water.

  5. I’m still jealous of your snorkel trip even if it was congested and sort of lame. Ours got cancelled and I was really disappointed about it. But I REALLY want to Snuba now. That sounds amazing.
    That water is gorgey! And the tour guides always make the trip. I will never forget my catamaran guides in Jamaica. They were amazing.

    Hurrah for trip recaps!

  6. Ananda

    I’m digging the recap. We did a western caribean cruise last January and so our next choice might be an eastern caribbean cruise. We did scuba diving for one of the at port activities and it was actually so much more scary and stressful than I expected. Of our two couples, only the girls made it out for the actual scuba diving and then I got seasick from it, which I had no clue that could even happen!

    • I didn’t either but it makes sense. I’ve only gotten a little quesy before (on a boat, not in the water) but never full on sea sick. Glad about that!

  7. Love your snorkeling selfie! Bummer that it was so crowded (but seems your first day was way better) and lacking marine life. All in all…sounds like it ended well with the great crew! So far your trip is looking amazing!
    Becky S. recently posted…Purex No Sort for Colors Review & GiveawayMy Profile

  8. I love the snorkeling selfie too! I need to buy an underwater camera so I can get involved 🙂