A Travellerspoint blog

Philipsburg - Day 16 Sunday December 12

Land-ahoy!! Two authors today..


View Viking Sea 11/2021 on Cybercsp's travel map.

Now a word from Viking:
"Fed by the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean is among the largest of Earth’s seas. This vast body of water covers nearly 1.1 million square miles and boasts a depth of approximately 25,000 feet below sea level at its deepest point in the Cayman Trench. Cradled by Central and South Americas, the Caribbean is bound by the Yucatan Channel in the north and the arc of Antilles islands in the east. For centuries, these historic waters have called the adventurous at heart with its promises of riches. And it all began with the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492, opening the door to an era of colonialization—first by Spain, then successively by the English, French and Dutch."

We have officially moved from Winter to Summer! Our first Caribbean stop is the world’s smallest inhabited island with two sovereigns, specifically France (which refers to it as St. Martin) and the Netherlands (where it is St. Maarten).

Charlie's morning:
Nancy wasn't up for traveling today, so I went ashore alone. Disembarking on the Dutch side of the island, the Viking excursion bus travelled along St. Martin driving through the colorful port city of Philipsburg, which has two main streets, Front and Back streets. There is only one stop light on the island and last week when there were six ships in port, the light was turned off because it caused traffic congestion. Tourism is the island's biggest industry. Prior to this, salt, cotton and tobacco were the main industries. Salt was sent to the Netherlands and cotton was sent to the French side for subsequent shipping to France.

I viewed some of the island's landmarks. Here is a picture of Oyster Bay. Oysters are no longer harvested because of the large amount of landfilling that has destroyed their breeding grounds.

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We crossed the border into France, en route to Marigot, the capital of the French side of the island. Just four streets wide, Marigot actually seems more like a small village than a capital.

Here are some pictures on the way.

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In the distance, you can see St Bart, another French island.

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The bus stopped to see iguanas.

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Here is Orient Bay. Nude sunbathing is only allowed on the French side of the island.

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When I reached Marigot, I had free time to explore independently. Unfortunately, being Sunday, most stores and restaurants were closed. Here are some pictures of the area.

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I also visited a marina where years ago we had a great lunch; however, all of it was destroyed by hurricane Irma. I wanted to see how reconstruction was progressing from our last visit. There doesn't seem to have been much progress.

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The ride back to the ship was uneventful, but here are some beautiful water views

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Here are some interesting tidbits about the island. The Dutch side has 19 casinos, while the French side only allows gambling on animal fights, such as cockfighting. The guavaberry is grown high on Paradise Pike and, when mixed with rum, makes a common Christmas drink. The French side currency is the Euro, while the Dutch use Guilders (which are no longer used in the Netherlands) and the US Dollar. There is no natural source of fresh water, except for rain.

Nancy's morning:
I was afraid to venture out in the van today, so I remained aboard. Some pretty views from the ship. I wonder what it is like to sail in that yacht?

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I rested, took a walk on the pier, and enjoyed the sunshine and decorations. Here is a statue of "Peg Leg Pete" Stuyvesant.

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Here is our neighbor on the dock, MSC Seaview. Very happy that I am not on that circus.

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The rest of our day:

I made the mistake of eating lunch. Enough said. We had our PCR nasal swabs at 2:30 PM. It was very well organized, and we were in and out in a flash.

We met our new friends, Ginny and Ron, for dinner. I picked at dinner, but Charlie enjoyed his hearty sausage Stamppot, a traditional Dutch dish.

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I am going to wind this up now:
It is Monday morning, and here are a few photos of San Juan taken off the deck of the ship this morning.

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It is humid and a bit rainy. We had to leave our cabins by 8 AM and exited the ship at 8:30. Viking collected our airport luggage, and we were sent across the street to the Sheraton, where we will wait in a hospitality room until our airport transfer.

As luck would have it, I am sitting at a table with a gentleman who required IV treatment for his food poisoning issues. He said that the first question the doctor asked him was, "Did you eat the lobster roll at lunch?" With that mystery solved, I think we can end this blog. I am hoping this will not put me off lobster roll for the rest of my life.

I cannot wait to be home, and thank you all for traveling along with us.

Photos are tagged Vikingsea and Philipsburg2021

Posted by Cybercsp 15:04 Archived in Saint Martin Tagged vikingsea philipsburg2021 Comments (2)

Viking Sea Day 15 Saturday December 11

It’s a brand new day!

Feeling much better today after lots of sleep yesterdayl. The last time I experienced such severe stomach contractions, I was handed a baby at the end. Interestingly, today the “outbreak” investigation has appeared to shift towards potential food poisoning, as all passengers are being asked to identify every food and drink consumed on December 9th. For some, this might be quite the Walk of Shame (quantities were not involved). We also had to fill out a CDC Gastrointestinal Illness Surveillance System Questionnaire. Stay tuned…

Since I was in lockdown, our room steward did not come into the room for our nightly turndown service, and so we did not get that cheerful little card on the bed instructing us to turn the clocks back another hour. We were left to wonder why the buffet was still closed at 7 AM (answer: it was only 6 AM).

As it is a slow day, I will catch you up on a few things that we have not addressed. Let’s start with the toilet issue that has been mentioned. Apparently, someone whose cabin is located on our “block“ of plumbing has been throwing wipes in the toilet, which then stresses the system, leading to chaos. So erratically, and until a technician could identify the issue, the toilets would not flush. (Most inconvenient.) We would call to report the problem, and it would eventually be fixed. Guest relations called after two days and offered to move us to a different cabin. But, on a crossing, the empty cabins tend to be the forward cabins(as they are most affected by rough seas), and at the time we were offered a move, we did not know how rough the seas would be. Once assured that if we turned down the offer we could request it later, we decided to stay in our lovely stable fourth floor midship home. This proved to be a sound decision. In fact, one person who did change cabins wound up having to change a second time because of toilet issues, and after two cabin repacks, he wound up in the most forward cabin, quite unhappy. So, one might venture a guess that this toilet problem is more pervasive than one block. Mercifully, our problem appears to have resolved.

The second issue on this ship is that, while the staff is absolutely wonderful, it is abundantly clear that the ship is short staffed. This has led to some ridiculously long waits in food and beverage venues. For example, when you have a ship with almost 700 guests and only two bars open before dinner, you need more than one bartender at a bar. Sometimes, there will be three bartenders at a bar and other times there will be one sole bartender. No matter how fast you work, you cannot keep up with the orders. Often the beverage manager was making drinks. I’m sure this isn’t the best use of his time.

Enough of all this. Back to the blog….
We both walked outdoors this morning, but it was already getting to be very hot by 9 AM (and we expect no sympathy for this observation), so we cut it short. We did some pre-packing, attended an interesting presentation about pirates, had a bit of lunch, and napped.

A lovely fruit plate arrived this afternoon. Again, Viking excels at conciliatory gestures. I would prefer not to learn that.

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Dinner was at Manfredi’s, and the restaurant was relatively empty, which suggests that people have been affected by the outbreak of whatever it is. As it has been a somewhat unremarkable day with too much blog text and not enough photos, here are a few dinner snapshots (rest assured that I did not eat all was offered).

We had an Eggplant parmigiana appetizer

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Two veal choices: Saltimboca and Limone

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and Profiteroles

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capped by a limoncello “compare and contrast” activity.

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The show tonight featured all the resident entertainers from this cruise, and was well attended.

Photo are tagged Vikingsea

Posted by Cybercsp 20:47 Archived in Saint Martin Tagged vikingsea Comments (1)

Viking Sea Day 14 Friday December 10

Oh what a night...and not in a good way… (Thanks to Charlie for writing today’s blog.)

This is our 54th cruise and the first time we have experienced a gastrointestinal breakout. Another first for Viking!

During the comedian's performance last night, Nancy experienced stomach cramps that intensified as the show went on. We returned to our cabin after the show and she spent the night in and out of the bathroom. The one positive was the toilet did work throughout the night (it has been unreliable…a blog entry for another day). Up and down all night, she said that she did not know her stomach could hurt like that, and thought it was food poisoning.

This morning, our Cruise Director woke us with an announcement that there were numerous reports of passengers having gastrointestinal problems overnight. We were asked to call the Medical Center to report any issues. They have started Norovirus protocols: as of this morning, the spa, fitness center, and passenger laundry rooms are closed. We can no longer serve ourselves in the buffet.

Nancy reported in to the Medical Center by 8:30 AM, but they did not have the nurse call until 1 PM. Having provided information as to the time of onset and subsequent symptoms throughout the night, she was told to remain in the cabin for 24 hours. It’s our belief the medical staff thinks this is a Norovirus, and not food poisoning. The cabin attendant delivered some Imodium and copies of all the restaurant menus for the past three days. We were asked to mark everything that we had eaten over the past three days. I guess they didn't care where or what we drank, just if we had food while there (remember the dog biscuits?).

Nancy napped on and off most of the day and I had the run of the ship, which seems pretty empty.

Let’s end with a chuckle. Have you ever wondered what 24 hours in a cabin with only room service and no cabin attendant service looks like? FYI, I nabbed the top bunk.

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Posted by Cybercsp 10:38 Archived in Saint Martin Tagged vikingsea Comments (5)

Viking Sea Day 13 Thursday December 9

Our fourth day crossing the Atlantic Ocean

We attended a lecture this morning about Downton Abbey and how accurately it captured life in early 20th century England (what is fact and what is fiction).

While returning to our cabin we passed one of the historic Viking exhibits. Here is a sculpture of Thor. Notice he is much less muscular than his portrayal in the Avengers. That noted, he does have one well developed body part.

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It was a lovely day of walking, reading, and eating. I enjoyed a massage at 3 PM (always a great use of onboard credit).

Tonight’s throwback Thursday cocktail is the Grasshopper. Charlie consistently sticks with his bourbon.

Here are a few photos from tonight’s dinner in The Restaurant: Shrimp for me and Szechuan Beef for Charlie. We both enjoyed a lava cake for dessert.

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Now, for a great story that began to unfold last week, but we had to save something for the sea day blogs. Meet Mihajlo, our favorite wine steward. He is from Serbia, and one night when choosing our wine, we were discussing how much we enjoyed the white wines from Croatia when we visited there. The next evening, Mihajlo told us that he had located eight bottles of Prosip, (not on the menu), and marked them with our cabin number. Two have appeared inside our cabin, and we drank the last one with dinner tonight. What a treat!

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We went to the 9 PM Comedy show…and then, things took a turn for the worse… (ooh, a cliff hanger)

Photos are tagged Vikingsea

Posted by Cybercsp 14:33 Archived in Saint Martin Tagged vikingsea Comments (1)

Viking Sea Day 12 Wednesday December 8

Our third day crossing the Atlantic Ocean….

A bit of this and that…
One of the wonderful things about an East to West Atlantic crossing is that the six hours that we “lost” while flying to Barcelona are being returned to us, one welcome hour at a time. So we are enjoying six 25 hour days this week.

Michael, the resident guitarist, plays at the Explorers Lounge each evening.

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The constellations that decorate the lounge start to twinkle as the sun sets.

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We were offered bar snacks before dinner. I have never tasted a dog biscuit, but I suspect that this is what they might taste like. These are entirely too healthy for us. Peanuts, anyone?

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We marveled at this beautiful sunset before dinner.

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We had our second dinner at Manfredi’s tonight. Here is our beautiful bread basket, as well as our starters, a Spring salad for me and melon and prosciutto for Charlie.

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Our next courses were very delayed. The couple next to us left the restaurant. (Wine service was not affected, which may have distracted me from my photo journaling). I did get back on track for dessert, although there is an obvious bite from my tiramisu (Charlie camouflaged his pistachio gelato much more effectively).

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As an apology for the service delay, the restaurant manager stopped at our table at the end of the evening to invite us to return on Saturday evening at 6:30, a reservation that was impossible for us to get on our own. I do have to say that when there has been a problem during the cruise, and there have been a number, Viking staff appears to be very anxious to smooth the waters.

Photos are tagged Vikingsea

Posted by Cybercsp 13:29 Archived in Saint Martin Tagged vikingsea Comments (1)

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