We woke up early again for our trip. It seems every time that we go on a vacation we wake up way too early. I woke up first at 4am then went back to sleep. The second time I woke at 5am and stayed up. Joel was up too. Caroline (C---) showed up at 7:50 to drive us to the airport.
Once at the airport it was hectic. We went to our airline and checked in, but they didn't have any seats for us. Joel had to go to the gate to get seats. While Joel went to get seats, Caroline and I went to the kids airline, on the other side of the terminal to check them in. USAir had an enormous line that took quite a while to get through. Since we figured that Joel would be waiting a while for us, Caroline went to get him. He said that they didn't want to give him boarding passes just yet, but would hold on to his ticket. However, Joel told them that his wife still needed to get into the terminal and couldn't without the tickets. So, Joel got his boarding passes and we ended up with aisle seats across from one another. We almost had to desert C--- before the kids were checked in but we made it to the front of the line just in time. As soon as we paid for the kids escort (they had a connecting flight in Philadelphia), we took off and left them with C--.
We ran across the terminal, then slowly went through the security point (hurry up and wait). Then ran down to the gate, but the plane still hadn't gotten in yet. Once the plane was finally in and we started boarding, Joel couldn't sit still. He was antsy and was worried about getting a spot for our large backpack. I can see why Joel hates to travel; he worries way too much! We were in aisle 13 just about the last one to board the plane, so Joel sneaked in to the aisle 25-15 boarding time. Bad Joel! It took a while longer to finish boarding the plane (but not because of Joel), but we probably got off only half an hour late.
As we were landing I really wanted to see out the window, but all I could see from my aisle seat was the ocean. Oh well. We landed at about 3:20. As airports go this one was actually very nice. Gorgeous bays with sailboats can be seen right from the airstrip. Though I'm not sure how much they appreciate the noise of a 747 landing.
We waited short time for the luggage. There was a flight in from Miami before us, so we had to watch all their luggage go around before ours. As we were waiting, I noticed that our transfer said to check in at the Tropic Tours desk BEFORE getting our luggage, so I left Joel and checked in, and Joel met me there after the luggage showed up.
Tropic Tours has large open sided busses. They divided us up by our destination, and we hopped in to wait until our bus was full. Joel loved the view, so wanted to take some pictures. Now I played worrywart and wondered, after he tramped out of view, if he was going to miss our bus. OK, maybe I would have told them to wait ;>.
The bus ride was very pretty. We were trying to take photos as we passed the pretty bays. And Charlotte Amalie was just lovely with boats all over the bay and three cruise ships docked. St. Thomas is much prettier than any other tropical island we have been to yet. All the other islands have been flat as pancakes. This island has hills. Lots and lots of little hills. These hills also made the bus ride fun. Not only was everyone driving on the left, but we were going up, down and around steep curves.
The bus dropped us off right by the Marriott Morningstar front desk. We were escorted to our room and were regaled with all that the hotel had to offer. Each restaurant was described including what they served. Then we were told all the amenities. The bellhop kept up a steady stream of chatter until he left the room. Once in the room Joel complained that he was hungry even though it was only about 5:00. Well all of the restaurants opened at 6:00, or at least that is about all I could remeber from our porters spiel. We chose the Tavern on the Beach. We called for reservations. Then we had an hour to explore the hotel grounds.
We saw all the facilities down by the beach, then went up the elevator and looked at all the facilities of the Frenchman Reef, the sister resort of ours. We each can use the other's facilities. The view from the pool at the Marriott Frenchman is spectacular. They may not have a beach, but they have a wonderful view of the harbor and Charlotte Amalie. We took panorama shots of the sun going down. I really hope they turn out. (A much reduced version of this panorama is at the top of this page. A larger size version is here (104KB).)
Well it turns out we didn't need a reservation. The place was empty. The menu looked fabulous, but I couldn't help but remember the book I read all through the plane flight. It was a story about the inside of the restaurant business and their practices. It can make you never want to eat at a restaurant again. But eat I did. I ordered three appetizers for my meal. The crab stuffed jerked shrimp were the best. Followed closely by the duck wantons. The Thai beef was ok, but the beef seemed old and tough. The obligatory run punch (I love rum punch) wasn't bad, but nothing to write home about. Since it was Christmas Eve they gave everyone complimentary champagne. Joel actually drank some of his! And said it wasn't that bad. So the food was just so-so, for the price (over $60 for the two of us, without dessert) I would say quite marginal. But the setting was to die for. It is right on Morningstar beach. We came as the sun was just setting and the cruise ships were heading out to sea. Joel got in his Kodak moments, while I was serenaded by the crash of the surf on the beach. A perfect setting. Our waitress was also lovely and attentive.
After dinner we changed into our swimsuits to try out the pool. No one else was there and it was dark except for the pool lights. We tried playing pool volleyball, but Joel couldn't see the ball well enough to hit it. (The ball was black and it was dark.) After swimming around for a while, we hopped into the hot tub. It was not very hot. After playing around in that hot tub for a time we decided to check out the other hot tub. It was much warmer, but it was close to the tennis courts so we had to contend with their lights.
The plane trip down was packed. We were lucky to get opposite aisle seats. Having a window and middle seat would have been too cramped on thus full flight.
As always the transfer from the airport is a pain. You wait and wait while they fill the bus. Not even a good picture taking spot (although I tried). We keep saying that next time we will just hire a cab instead of paying for airport transfers, but we never do.
The hotel is very nice. The beach drops off very quickly and there is a surf. Ben would like the waves. No coral in sight. We will have to go to other beaches to snorkel.
The room is also very nice. Large and well stocked with amenities. But the walls are not very thick and for the first two nights kids in the room next door bothered us. I like having a safe in the room. Although there was nothing about the hotel to worry us, we keep hearing stories about the crime in St. Thomas so we were careful to lock everything up in the safe when we left the room. It wasn't that we have that many valuables (except for the camera, perhaps), but it is a pain to have to replace things if they get stolen during the vacation.
As Daphne wrote, the evening meal was nothing special but the pictures came out well. (See the Photo Index for more details.)
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Text and images © Copyright 2000 Joel and Daphne Gould. If there are any problems or questions email Daphne Gould.