Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Trip Report: Christmas Cruise on Independence of the Seas [Day 4] St. Maarten

We awoke in port next to the Ruby Princess, whom we had been sailing along with from Fort Lauderdale.

Ruby Princess

St. Maarten was flooded with tourists today with six cruise ships in port. I'd be interested to do a study on population spikes in port cities when cruise ships dock.

At the newer dock, I could see the Norwegian Getaway and Holland America Line Zuiderdam (who was badly in need of a paint job).



Norwegian Getaway

As well as an old friend, the Disney Fantasy!

Disney Fantasy

My mother and Rachel had sailed on the Jewel of the Seas, so they had been on three of the ships in port.

Jewel of the Seas

There is a reason why the Disney ships remain in such pristine condition...

Disney Fantasy

Disney Fantasy

Disney Fantasy

Maho Beach

Normally when we visit St. Maarten, we head to Orient Beach on the French side of the island. This time we decided to switch it up and visit Maho Beach for the first time.

Maho Beach is located on the Dutch Side of St. Maarten, adjacent to the Princess Juliana International Airport (which I would have flown into if I didn't make the cruise ship in Fort Lauderdale).  The beach is unique because large commercial airplanes fly low directly over the beach to land.  Airplanes also take off behind the beach, creating jet blasts strong enough to knock you off your feet.

Maho Beach

Due to the large quantity of cruise ships in port, the beach was very crowded. We were lucky to get four beach chairs ($20 for two chairs and one umbrella - not a bad deal).

You could spot the planes coming in from quite a distance, and you can tell whether they are small planes or large commercial jets by their wing configuration (high wings, small plane).

Maho Beach

Maho Beach

There's also a schedule of arrivals and departures posted at Sunset Bar & Grill.

St. Maarten Airport

Captain Morgan is posted there, too.

Captain Morgan

Maho Beach is chaotic. Sure, if you're headed to a beach that airplanes fly over consistently, you probably aren't looking for a relaxing beach break. However, it's not the planes that create chaos, but the people. Crazy people running to get photos of the plane (yes, we partook), random buses of tourists who come just to see the beach rather than to be at the beach.... it's just restless.

Maho Beach

But it's pretty cool...

Maho Beach

Maho Beach

Maho Beach

Maho Beach

Maho Beach

The portion of the beach over which the airplanes lands doesn't have chairs or umbrellas. I'm guessing that's because the jet blasts from planes taking off would certainly blow them away.

Maho Beach

Maho Beach

I don't know this woman, but she is a wonderful subject...

Maho Beach

Have you seen those advertisements for the "selfie stick"? People usually share the link on the wall of their most narcissistic Facebook friend, saying, "Haha, you need this!" Well it turns out that the selfie stick is no joke. I don't know how many selfie sticks I saw during this vacation - unbelievable! I would give one to my father as a gag gift, but I know that he would actually use it.

Also, nice touch with the matching swimsuits...

Maho Beach

Maho Beach

Dad really struggled taking photos of us with the planes. He would cut off part of our faces or just miss the plane entirely. Every time, he'd bring me the camera. "Check them out." "Dad, you were supposed to get us in the photo, too." "What? You're not in there?" "No, that's just the top of my head. What were you doing???" "What!?! I give up! I'm not taking anymore photos!" And then five minutes later, he'd come back. "Give me your camera, a plane is coming! Quick!"

But the wonderful thing about digital cameras is that there is instant feedback and no film wasted. I'll spare you from viewing the bloopers (at least right now).

Maho Beach

Maho Beach

Airplane

Carib

Airplane

Airplane

Airplane

Airplane

When I showed these photos to Max, he commented that it was really interesting that in all of the photos, everyone is captivated by the landing plane.

Maho Beach

Maho Beach

Maho Beach

Maho Beach

I didn't hang onto the fence as a plane took off, but I watched other people try.  Some would get blown into the water.  It's a powerful jet stream!

Ready for Takeoff

Maho Beach

We were nearing the end of our beach day when Rachel said, "You know what would be a cool photo - if we did the airplane with an airplane!"

Rachel and I monkey around a lot.  Typically, I am flying and she supports me.  But since her foot was injured, it was my turn to base.

Dad didn't get the photo the first time around... well, he took photos of us, just no airplane.

Airplane Fail

The retry turned out to be even more comical.  Wanting to be certain that he got the plane, Dad cut me out of the photo almost entirely...

Airplane at Maho Beach

Sometimes accidents produce the best results.  So if one day "airplaning" with airplanes takes off (pun intended), know this was our great idea.

Port of St. Maarten

Our cab driver back to the ship took a wrong turn and got us stuck in traffic.  It took us half an hour to get from the port to Maho Beach.  It took us over an hour to get back!  Ridiculous!  Our all-aboard time was 5:30, and we rolled into port at 5:00!

St. Maarten

Cruise Ships

Port of St. Maarten

Disney Fantasy

Nice to see that ugly Zuiderdam had left port, giving me a full view of the Norwegian Getaway.

Norwegian Getaway

Port of St. Maarten

In case you couldn't tell, I have a big school-girl crush on the Disney Fantasy...

Disney Fantasy

Disney Fantasy

Independence of the Seas

Disney Fantasy

Cruise Ships

St. Maarten Cruise Ships

Ruby Princess

Johnny Rockets

We got back on the ship so late that the Windjammer had closed in preparation for dinner.  There were only two options for food... Sorrento's Pizza or Johnny Rockets.  So if you don't want pizza, you're forced to either come up with the $6 for a burger and fries, or go back to the cabin and hope that room service doesn't take too long.

In the mood for French Fries, we opted to revisit Johnny Rockets.

Johnny Rockets

This time I got a hot dog.  So that was a good thing.  Because last time I was torn between a hot dog and a hamburger.

Johnny Rockets Hot Dog

And it also enabled me to have a Hot Fudge Sundae.  So I guess I can't complain too much.

Hot Fudge Sundae

I was incredibly disappointed that there was not a ship horn battle, especially with the Disney Fantasy in port!  You don't know how bummed I was that the Disney Fantasy didn't honk "When You Wish Upon a Star."  I think she must have understood my infatuation with her and decided to play hard to get.

St. Maarten

Romeo & Juliet Dining Room

So we basically ate Johnny Rockets, then went and got ready to eat dinner.  That meant we weren't hungry at dinner.

Also, please tell me I'm not the only one here with a dirty mind...

Menu

The unfortunate thing is that on the night that I was perhaps the least hungry, they served the best dish ever - Singapore Noodles.  Seriously, it was my favorite entree all week, and the first time I was actually impressed by the food.

Singapore Noodles

For dessert, Cappuccino Layer Cake.

Cappuccino Layer Cake

Love & Marriage

I was excited for the Love & Marriage Game Show.  It was the first show that actually interested me.  Getting pretty sick of the "Ooohy, oohy, let's get groovy baby!" and "Tarzan, Tarzan, where is my Tarzan?" audition lines.  I've been watching this show for maybe ten years (yeah, as a kid I found that they play it on the stateroom televisions... beware, parents of corruptible children), and they always use the same audition pieces!  Can they not get anymore creative?

The audience members have certainly gotten raunchier, though.  I noticed that though we were voting by applause, two times when it was close, the Activities Director, Alison, chose to go ahead and eliminate the overly intoxicated and affectionate couples.  So if you want to play the game, I would suggest keeping it PG-13 in the auditions because they tend to not want unpredictable, R-rated people on the stage.

The cruise director, Jamie Fentiman, is a bit long-winded for my taste.  Everything he did, he would drag out to last forever.  From the morning show, to Love & Marriage and Quest, Jamie really liked to hear himself talk.  Sure, he had some funny lines, but sometimes less is more.  Stop when you're ahead.

Love & Marriage

The show lasted nearly two hours!  Ridiculous!  We were so exhausted afterwards that we went straight to bed.

Towel Animal

NEXT: [Day 5] St. Kitts