Our fourth day at sea aboard the Carnival Glory brought us to the U.S Virgin Islands of St. Thomas and St. John's, a place where we enjoyed wonderful sailing across incredibly blue waters, some reasonably-priced bottles of some reasonably-good beer, and a chance to admire one of the largest private motor yachts in the world ... talk about something for everyone!
I had never been to the Virgin Islands before, so everything was new for me. We pass by some smaller islands, in our approach to St. Thomas, and we are accompanied by a number of seabirds, while here and there small fishing boats are already out plying their craft. Some beautiful natural scenery - of course! But there seems little else to recommend the island of St. Thomas from a distance. That changes dramatically, though, as you draw closer, as large and prosperous communities come into view, and you see parks devoted to the remains of Colonial-era structures. A variety of commercial and private aircraft pass overhead en route to or from the airport, and as you hove into sight of the main harbor, you see an impressive gathering of cruise ships already anchored for the day, or waiting their turn to depart for their next destination. In another part of the harbor, a LOT of small, private vessels of all shapes and sizes and means of propulsion.
A lot of attractions and a lot of people visiting to enjoy said attractions, a lot of traffic of all kinds coming and going, and a lot of commerce. Plenty of hustle and bustle around the port and the city ... but also many different ways to escape that hustle and bustle, to get out and enjoy one's self where it's a little more quiet, a little more remote and even more beautiful. That was the course we pursued when we signed-up for one of the umpteen-zillion excursions offered (for an additional fee) to our cruise's passengers ... a catamaran excursion to a national park on the neighboring island of St. John's, then relaxing on a pristine white beach and snorkeling in waters that are so very clear and so very blue ... the likes of which a landlubber such as myself doesn't see from the banks of the Rio Grande or the Susquehanna.
The return trip featured island music and PLENTY of rum punch and champagne, and we got back to the port with plenty of time for me to belly-up to a seaside bar and sample the local brews ... if this was even remotely close to a day-in-the-life in the U.S. Virgin Islands, I'd be scanning the classifieds there, looking for job openings at a local community college!
At other times the excursion seemed like one of the 'Hollywood homes of the stars' tours as our guide noted homes on St. John's belonging to well-known figures such as Barbara Streisand, Kenny Chesney, Alan Alda, Kelsey Grammar (a hometown boy), Michael Jordan and many others. I've read on cruise discussion boards, posts by people asking the best times/places to bump into celebrities ... and I find myself agreeing with some of the respondents, those noting that the celebrities - like us - are trying to 'get away from it all' for a little while, and maybe we should respect that.
Okay, that's cool ... I'm not much of a celebrity hound, anyway. But how about celebrities' conveyances? Well that's a different matter ... and as it turned out, we didn't bump into one ... our crusise ship docked less than a hundred yards from one, and the balcony of our cabin offered the perfect vantage point for admiring that conveyance and others like it.
'Googling' the words Lürssen and Rising Sun, I learned that we were docked next to the Rising Sun, a motor yacht built by the Lürssen company. According to the boat's Wikipedia page, "it was originally purchased by Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle Corporation, and is currently owned by David Geffen. The yacht is the 8th largest in the world with a length of almost 138 metres (453 ft). It reportedly cost over US $200 million to build."
That page goes on to list of variety of the ship's specifications ... but I'm tempted to log-into Wikipedia, edit that page, and and one more spec ... it really is a very, VERY beautiful craft. And that was an added and unexpected attraction to our fourth day at sea ... to my list of first-time experiences such as catamaran-cruising, snorkeling and Virgin Island beer-drinking, I could now also include 'docking near the 1%.'
All-in-all, a good day ... a great day, really.