Tuesday was Matt’s 35th birthday!! We got up early since we had a date with a catamaran at 8:15. Getting up to this view from the balcony was pretty excellent.
Since we were in a hurry we’d pre-ordered room service breakfast the night before. While many of the room service items (and delivery) are free, we had $150 on-board credit to burn, so we went all-out for his birthday. I got a truffle omelet (I’ve seriously never seen so many truffles in one place before), and Matt got a salmon and caviar omelet. We ate on the balcony overlooking Castries.
After breakfast, we got off the ship and met up with our tour group. This was our only pre-arranged excursion through Celebrity, so I kind of forgot how it works. You all stand in huge lines waiting for people to show up, and then you usually pile on a huge bus to wherever you’re going. (It’s not that appealing.) Thankfully, our catamaran was docked nearby so we could walk there. We hopped on board, and got a seat around the netting at the front.
My seasickness was definitely less than the first couple days, but it was still always there. I felt a constant sense of motion no matter where we were, and it was exhausting. Still, I was in the Caribbean. That makes everything better.
We headed out of the bay where Castries is located, and turned south. The crew told us a lot of interesting facts along the way, including some strange things about the history of the oil-storage (not production or processing) industry in St Lucia. It was entertaining.
Our first visit was to Marigot Bay. It was gorgeous! It’s a very narrow bay, lined with resorts, restaurants, and docks.
I decided I should probably own this bar. (I like any bar you can boat to.)
This was the Sandals resort, which I tried not to judge too hard because it looked super-nice. Plus, you know, I arrived on a cruise ship, so it’s basically like a floating Sandals resort. Hopefully without all the swingers.
We sailed around in the bay for a bit, and then headed back out and south again. After a while, we turned into a smaller cove with a beach, called Anse de Cochon (i.e. Pig Beach). I don’t recall why it was called that… something about wild pigs, I’m guessing? Anyway, there were a couple other catamarans there with people swimming and snorkeling.
We pulled up near the beach, and the crew threw the rope to a couple of the locals, who tied us off to a tree. Then the locals all jumped in their kayaks and paddled out to the boat to sell their wares (mostly turtle trinkets, bead bracelets, and every purchase came with a free coconut). They paddled around the swimmers, too. So funny.
Matt and I went to swim for a while, and the water was surprisingly cold for how far south we were. We did a loop around the boat, then hung out bobbing in the water and watching the hardcore snorkelers.
After a while, we all climbed back up the stairs onto the boat. The kayakers took their boats out of the water, and untied us from the palm tree. Then the captain announced that the bar was open, with free rum punch and beer.
So you can imagine how it went after that. It was awesome. Here are a bunch of Minnesotans we met, taking full advantage of the rum punch. (We did too.)
Bally chilled on the cargo net.
We headed south again. The crew pointed out Soufriere, one of the main tourist spots in St. Lucia, nestled amongst the hills. It was clearly a former volcanic valley.
Along the way, we spotted a gigantic sea turtle and pilot whales jumping in front of the boat. So awesome!
Next up was the main attraction: Gros and Petit Piton. I’d wanted to see them since we first started visiting the Caribbean. They’re a UNESCO World Heritage site, and they’re really incredibly impressive.
I took about 400 pictures of them; rum punch may have been a factor. I’ll spare you and just post the one here.
The boat turned to head back to Castries, so Matt and I turned around and hung our legs over the side so we could see the coast. There was plenty of rum punch going around, and we got to talking to an old lady who really wanted to tell Matt everything about her life. We noticed we were starting to get sunburnt, so we put on more sunscreen (we’d been really good with the SPF30 so far, or at least that’s what we thought).
We arrived back in Castries around 12:30 or so, and decided to stop back on the ship quickly to change and reapply sunscreen, and get a gigantic bottle of water for the walk into town. We did that quickly, then got back off the ship in search of food and shopping. It took a bit to get through the cruise port (in that area with the red rooftops on the left), but we escaped and headed down the road. We asked someone for directions to an ATM so we could get Eastern Caribbean Dollars, and they pointed the way into town.
There was a shortcut through what appeared to be the fishing docks, and a guy there asked us if we wanted to buy water. (It was a million degrees out, or so it felt.) We said we preferred rum, so he took us into a little shack of a shop that looked to be abandoned. There was a lady behind a counter, who apparently didn’t have rum but could sell us a couple Pitons (the local beer). We asked if we could take them with us on the road, and she said yes. (I’m still not sure it was actually legal, but whatever.) We got them in plastic cups and headed toward town.
Coincidentally, it was also St. Lucia’s 35th birthday!
We walked to the bank that had been pointed out for us and got EC$ from the ATM, then noticed a big open-air ‘sports bar’ restaurant nearby with three different names on it. (That’s how you know things in the Caribbean are good.) We went up to the window by the kitchen and I asked the lady if she had anything vegetarian; she said she could do rice and peas with a salad, and that was good enough for me. They didn’t have a full order of jerk chicken left, so Matt got a plate with the remaining pieces and some curry goat.
The food was excellent, and we got a couple more Pitons at the bar. They had semi-functional wifi there, so we took advantage of our first phone signal in a few days.
After lunch, we walked over to the craft market nearby. As we walked in, there was a pair of Americans sitting on a bench in the shade, looking exhausted. They held out a baggie with a couple aloe leaves in it, saying, “We bought this and can’t use it all, do you want it?” We very gladly took it, since we were burnt to a near-crisp at that point.
We found a lady in the market with a spice stand, and bought half of what she was selling. We refreshed our nutmeg stash (the huge collection we had from Grenada was aging), got some tamarind, hot sauce, peppercorns, and various other things from her. Then Matt wanted to check out the local rum selection, so we were standing there wondering where we should go for that when a guy came up with a rolling cart full of water and soda, and asked if we needed anything. We bought water, and asked him where we could find a nearby liquor or grocery store for rum.
Not only did he show us the nearest one, he took us there, along with his rolling beverage cart. He led us across the street to the grocery store (he said it would be the cheapest spot… we took his word for it) and brought us to the rum aisle. We thanked him and gave him a tip, and he headed out. The store was air conditioned, so I thought about standing in there forever. Instead we picked out some Chairman’s Reserve Forgotten Casks (seriously, they had a fire at the distillery in 2007 and lost several barrels, only to discover them later and bottle them), which was indeed REALLY cheap locally.
It was getting late and the sunburn was really starting to hurt, so we headed back toward the ship again. We cut through the fisheries complex and went back to the port, then stopped in a few shops there to get the required souvenirs. I was really excited about the fact that we had fresh aloe to cover ourselves with as soon as we got back to our cabin.
We did that, and then covered ourselves with sheets and blankets to keep the sun off us, because it was streaming full into the cabin. No, I don’t know why we didn’t just close the curtain. Sometimes these things don’t make sense. Matt had certain feelings to express to the sun as he hid under a robe:
We’d also arrived in our cabin to find a bottle of wine and plate of shimp for Matt’s birthday, from our cabin steward Socorro. It’s possible that Matt laid in bed with the shrimp plate and drank directly out of the bottle of wine, but I’ll never tell. Socorro had also arranged some towel swans on the bed. Bally was a fan.
We watched sailaway from our balcony, and then showered and got dressed up for dinner. We had reservations that night at Normandie, the fancy Titanic-themed (I know) restaurant. We’d had dinner there before, and it was excellent.
They didn’t seem to have quite as much in the way of vegetarian food this time (or were just slightly less accommodating), but I was happy regardless: I had a really good mushroom risotto, then a goat cheese souffle. Of course there was a pile of bread always at the ready, and we had good champagne to drink. I couldn’t even finish the souffle; while it was excellent, it was so rich I couldn’t handle it any more. (That concerned our waiter, so I had to reassure him that I was fine.) Matt decided to go super-oldschool with Dover sole, which they delivered to the table on a rolling cart. The server prepared it tableside, removing the bones with two giant serving spoons, rather than knives. It was incredible.
We were stuffed after those dishes, and figured we’d manage to make room for their awesome tiny dessert assortment. (Since I’m not really a sweets-eater, I like any time I can taste desserts without wasting a bunch of them.) But then the cheese cart arrived, and it was basically a small deli case full of amazing things. I picked out one cheese, and the guy talked me into three of them. He then made a plate with honey, dried fruit, nuts, and various other things before handing it over. Holy crap.
And then the birthday cake arrived. We didn’t know about or expect the birthday cake, but there it was: a big 6″ square chocolate thing with candles in it and ‘Happy Birthday’ on top. Matt did a good job of being appreciative, because we were dying of fullness. After he blew out the candles, they took the cake away, cut it in half, and brought it back for us to eat. Then they brought the tall tray of dessert appetizers, and finally the tiny desserts we were actually expecting. It was dessert torture. I mean, you definitely get your $40 worth out of the meal, but holy crap. It would take six people to eat the entire meal we had. And everything was great.
After dinner, we tried to get into the theater for the burlesque show, but it was totally full already. Instead we decided to just grab a beer at Michael’s Club and go back to our room to hang out for the evening. Between the gigantic meal, the sunburn and my seasickness, we were exhausted. We ended up watching trick-shot pool on one of the sports channels, which I then fitfully dreamed about all night. I finally woke up enough to take a dramamine and ibuprofin for my sunburn, and was able to sleep after that.