I managed to sleep until almost 8 this morning, when a sailor was pressure washing the ship and our portholes. Jack went to the other side of the curtains to watch. The sailor kept spraying Jack’s window, much to his amusement. After that fun was over, I spent some time finalizing my bid for work. I work at an airline, and the bids need to be submitted on time no matter what, or I could wind up sitting reserve for 19 days in my sad little crashpad in Memphis.
I finished my work, and the four of us went for a leisurely breakfast in the Windjammer. Being an airline pilot, my main goal was to see some planes land at Maho beach. I was willing to do other stuff as well, but that sounded like a great, relaxing day to Elle. Way back on our Mediterranean cruise, we came up with the idea of bacon croissant sandwiches for something to carry on our busy tours. Today I had one mostly out of sentimentality. Let’s face it, I could live out the plot of “Cast Away” and still not need to carry bacon on a shore excursion.
After breakfast, we exited the ship at about 11:15. This time we remembered to sign out some towels. We were willing to pay for a taxi to the downtown area, but it was a nice enough day we decided to walk. It took us about 15 minutes without rushing to get to the shopping area, and just as we stepped into Back Street we saw a bus bound for Maho beach. We climbed aboard and read the signs asking passengers to pay up front. I gave the driver $8 for the four of us, and we settled in for the ride. The other passengers didn’t speak much, but they were friendly enough. They also didn’t pay until they got out, but I didn’t see any advantage over paying up front.
The bus ride took about 30 minutes and was comfortable enough. Contrary to what I’ve read, there was air conditioning in both the vans we took. At one point, the driver hopped out to take a leak on the side of the road. I guess you have to take what you can get when you’re driving all day.
We stopped at the traffic circle right by the beach. The driver asked us how long we planned to stay and said he’d be back to pick us up. As it turned out, we stayed later but had no trouble finding another bus back to Philipsburg. While driving, my cell service went from full LTE to 3G to H to nothing as we hit different towers on the Dutch and French sides. I think it was E at the beach, making it more difficult to refresh the airplane schedules.
If you’ve read about Maho Beach, you know that the planes are the real attraction. The beach is a thin, steep strip of land between the road and the water. The water is shallow right at the shore with lots of big rocks, and it drops off rather quickly. There are bars at each end with tables and chairs to rent, but the area right under the planes was open to lay out towels.
We told the boys this was mainly a stop to see the planes, but they both dove right in the sand and started having fun. Elle and I have never really been beach goers; I guess we’ll have to change that for the boys. The water was refreshing, but it was hard for Jack to get in far enough to get wet without being carried off. At one point we were out trying to wash the sand out of our beach shoes when a massive wave came in. It knocked me over on top of Jack! I was able to get off him and pull him above water quickly, but that ocean showed us who’s boss!
I won’t go through every plane that flew over, but we got a good show. We got to see the big jets from American, Delta and Air France, as well as lots of little commuters. I was able to catch a shot of one of our company’s smaller planes delivering packages that absolutely, positively needed to make it there overnight. The highlight for us was the biz jet whose landing gear came closer to the crowd than any of the larger jets.
When we were ready to go, we all got back in the water and cleaned off as much sand as we could. Then the Air France Airbus A330 came in and sand blasted us as it touched down! We did our best to clean up again and made our way back to the bus stop. We waited about 10 minutes before seeing a bus bound for Philipsburg. Once again, I paid the $8 up front, and we were the only passengers to do so. There was more traffic on the way back, but we got to town in plenty of time.
We wandered through the shops as we made our way towards the ship, but Elle didn’t find anything she had to have. As we wandered past the port stores, Elle said, “I’m going to buy a macaron. They look so pretty. As long as they’re not like $6 each or something.” Well, guess how much they were? No macarons for us!
We got on board and the boys and I went straight to the pool showers. We showered for a long time until most of the sand was gone, but we are still finding it in our *already washed* clothes a month later. After showering, we sat in a hot tub for awhile and then headed back to the room. We took Jack to AO and then returned to the room to snooze and read. Max went off on his own, and we didn’t see him again until after midnight.
Elle and I had the Chef’s Table for dinner tonight. It was held in the suite lounge at a table between the seating area and the Coastal Kitchen. We arrived a few minutes early and were treated to a glass of champagne while we waited. Once everyone arrived, they moved us to the table and the fun began. We had a fun group of people with all levels of cruising experience. One of the guys looked just like Eric Bana, and I couldn’t stop looking to see if it was really him (I’m pretty sure it wasn’t.) I hope he didn’t find that too weird 😊 We had lots of fun conversations throughout the night. It made us nostalgic for the old days when just the two of us sat at a main dining room table of 8 with 6 strangers. The captain was making the rounds in the suite lounge, and he came over to chat with us a bit.
Each course came with its own glass of wine that was introduced by our server. The chef then introduced the course before we ate it. We enjoyed all the food, especially the filet mignon. By this point I’ve lost track of how many wonderful steaks we ate on the cruise, but this filet mignon was at the top. At the end of the meal, the chef introduced the dessert, along with a healthy serving of innuendo involving us, ahem, eating his balls. The big spectacle was where 173-degree caramel was poured on the cold chocolate ball, causing it to crumple. It worked better for some than others, but overall the effect was spectacular. The taste was incredibly rich and delicious, so rich that a second one would have been hard to eat. The chocolate martini that came with it was very good, too! Here’s the full menu:
Choice of Roasted Branzino, Filet Mignon or Truffle Tagliatelle. Almost everyone at our table got the filet mignon, although the person who ordered the pasta said it was the best he’d ever eaten.
Here’s the video of Elle’s dessert being transformed: https://photos.app.goo.gl/v8E4ULBue3D7cYp16
After dinner, we made our way down to AO. We picked up Jack and went out to the sun deck that’s accessible only from the starboard hallway on 14. We found it locked during some of the windier times, but tonight it was open. We stood outside and watched some other cruise ships in the distance traveling back to Florida with us. What a peaceful place to end the night!