Tag Archives: St Thomas

Shop Local on Cruises

DSC_0654

Buy it whenever or wherever you find it. don’t be disappointed later.

TRAVEL THERE:  HAVE MORE FUN CRUISING WHEN YOU SHOP LOCAL

So I’ve told you all about our be-jeweled shopping experiences, but when you’re in the islands, don’t forget the local markets.  We didn’t shop in any jewelry stores in St. Maarten.  Perhaps if we did, my Diamonds International bracelet would have another charm.  In Marigot, St. Martin, on the French side, we enjoyed a local arts and crafts market.

Shopping Local in Marigot

You’re always at a disadvantage at your first port of call.  Though we weren’t in jewelry stores, there was some lovely jewelry in Marigot.  The difference was that it was all handmade from natural materials, like shells, wood and natural beads.  Had I really known then what I know now, I would have picked out a trinket for my mother there, but I wasn’t as well educated then.  The prices were great.  We got a cap for Bill that said, “Bad to the bone,” for $5.  Debbie bought the first part of my birthday present, a sundress for $20 dollars.  The jewelry that I liked ran from $40 up to a whole lot.  We saw some beautiful wood carving, but we weren’t in the market for it.  All in all a pleasant and affordable shopping experience.

We didn’t get a chance to shop with the locals in St. Thomas, because we were too busy getting free jewelry, but there was what appeared to be a very active market near the main shopping district in Charlotte Amalie.  If we’d had more time there, I think we would have enjoyed it.

Nassau’s Straw Market

If you’re looking for something made out of straw, though, I’d say Nassau’s Straw Market is the place to go. We passed through it on our way to find a taxi to take us to Atlantis and were overwhelmed by the experience. That’s not my favorite kind of shopping.  The first thing that assails you as you enter the market is the sheer number of items for sale. The aisles are narrow and there is no degree of separation between the booths. What’s more, the goods are stacked up almost to the high roof. This is not a place for the claustrophobic.

After Atlantis, I came back to the Straw Market, because I was desperate.   I remembered fondly the natural handmade jewelry in Marigot, but that’s not what they have at the Straw Market.  They have straw.

My mom is not the sort that you can just give the first thing you happen upon. She has very discerning taste, and it’s complicated by her arthritis, her un-pierced ears and her indifference to scarves and shawls. She doesn’t wear hats either and purses have to be of just the right size.

The Bahamian natives are not bashful. If you so much as glance their way, they start trying to bargain with you for whatever they think might have caught your eye. If you don’t glance their way, then they’re going to say or do whatever they need to do to get it. Well, anything is a bit of an exaggeration. I have been places where they are more aggressive No one grabbed my arm to stop me or cursed me out for not shopping with them.

Local Bargaining

Still, I was was happy when I saw an attractive straw clutch offered by someone who seemed more interested in their phone call than my American dollars. Deb and I considered the pros and cons of her offerings and she eventually got off the phone.

“Twenty dollars,” she said.

“American?” I was getting good at this.

For you, yes.” I considered her offer while Deb and I compared similar clutches at her booth. People nearby started waving handbags of all sorts at us. “Seventeen fifty,” the lady said.

“Fifteen,” I countered. It was well worth the twenty, but I wasn’t about to pay the first price. I had the feeling I could have gotten her down even further by playing the walk-away game, but I felt sorry for her stuck in the loud crowded market all day and pulled out my money.

Success!  I’d found something for Mom.  It wasn’t really enough, but I corrected that problem with some costume clip earring that I found a few door down from the Straw Market.

When it comes to shopping local, first be sure to know what currency you’re bargaining in.  Then be sure to bargain.  Some prices are set, but usually you can get a little off, even if it’s just to get Euro prices for American dollars.  If you see something you like, buy it when you find it.  That goes for local shopping and jewelry shopping.  The boat was not going back to St. Maarten, so I couldn’t get Mom one of the cool bracelets I saw there.

There’s not much of the cruise left, but come back next week and hear about dinner at La Cucina.

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Jewelry Shopping – St. Thomas vs. Nassau

Nassau Bahamas

Shopping in crowded Nassau. Faces of innocent bystanders hidden. Perhaps their husbands didn’t realize they were shopping!

TRAVEL THERE: IS JEWELRY SHOPPING BETTER ON ST THOMAS OR NASSAU

I’ve already told you what a good time we had shopping in St. Thomas. Our tour dropped us off right at Charlotte Amalie’s Main Street and we had about an hour of blissful shopping. There were few shoppers and most of the stores we entered were absolutely gorgeous.  With just enough exceptions to prove the rule, all the clerks and shopkeepers were marvelously polite and eager to please.  It was like being in shopping heaven.  Too bad we really didn’t appreciate how lucky we were.

The Shopping Seminar

Having enjoyed our shopping in St. Thomas so much, we were eager to attend the shopping seminar on our third at-sea day on the Norwegian Epic.  We hadn’t planned on shopping at all in Nassau, but we’d caught the island shopping bug.  The seminar was interesting, not grippingly so, but a pleasant way to spend the morning.  I was hoping for more in the way of drawings and give-aways, but the idea was to get us to spend our money, not to give us anything.  I learned a little about a new diamond cut and the new vein of tanzanite.  The new tanzanite returned to the lighter colors of the first discovery, rather than retaining the dark colors that have been available most recently.

Our favorite discovery was Del Sol.  Everything in their shop changes color in the sun, including the fingernail polish.  Deb loved it so much she added it to her shopping list.  The most important information was a reminder the shops  close at five, a couple of hours before our departure time. We needed to shop in the morning.  Over lunch  we informed our husband what they should expect.

We arrived in port at noon on the fourth day of the cruise.  After our shopping, we planned to head over to Atlantis Resort for a peek and it’s skyline loomed large on the horizon.  As soon as the boat docked we dragged our husbands towards Bay Street.

Shopping in Nassau

Shopping Nassau was a whole ‘nother thing and it wasn’t a better thing.  The first thing we noticed was how crowded it was.  Nassau serves a lot more ships than St. Thomas.  Many of the cruises are just three day jaunts out of Miami, devoted primarily to the art of shopping. We’d been told that this larger audience meant a larger stock of merchandise to enjoy.  Thanks, but no thanks.  I enjoyed the quieter streets of Charlotte Amalie.

There weren’t as many freebies in Nassau either.  We anxiously looked forward to getting our shopping packet when we got off the boat, but all we found was an offer from Diamonds International and another from Effy.  We’d gotten a coupon in the seminar to complement the Effy coupon in the shopping packet.  In St. Thomas we’d had to pay a minimal amount for the earrings to match our necklace, but in Nassau, because of the shopping seminar we got earrings for free.

Perhaps because of the larger crowds, the salespeople aren’t as happy to distribute their free goodies as they had been in St. Thomas.  There was the same begrudging hesitancy I’d remembered from Cozumel, one that led to my happy surprise at the alacrity of the St. Thomas jewelers.  The good news was that for each island the big stores offer a different freebie.  In St. Thomas we’d gotten garnets at Effy, but in Nassau it was amethysts.  I was particularly happy about that, because I had an amethyst ring begging for some companions.  Diamonds International offers you a charm bracelet at your first port and then other charms at your other stops.  The fun of it for frequent cruisers is that you’re not getting the same old thing all the time.  You could start a collection of sorts.

We hoped to do some additional shopping in Nassau, but were stymied.  We looked for a Milano Jewelers, because Deb was beginning to regret that she hadn’t clued into what a great deal the sterling silver necklaces were.  We found the Milano stores, but when we asked about the necklaces all we got was a look that suggested we were crazy and some mumbled assurance the cheap sliver necklaces weren’t available on this island.

We also searched out a Little Switzerland store, because I still hadn’t found a gift for my mom and the bracelets I’d seen on St. Thomas seemed like the best bet.  Lest you think I was unwilling to share all the free goodies I’d gotten so far, my mom’s ears are not pierced and her advanced arthritis prohibited her from operating the clasps on necklaces.  So I had lots of goodies to share with folks at home, they just weren’t going to work for my mom.  Unfortunately, the Little Switzerland store we found had a very limited selection in their very tiny Impulse department.  I didn’t see anything that looked like Mom.

We took a break from shopping to visit the Atlantis Resort, but I’ll tell you about that in a couple of weeks.  I also shopped at the Nassau Straw Market on the way back to the ship, but I’ll compare that to the locals market in Marigot, St. Martin next week.  Until then, happy shopping.

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Senor Frogs, St. Thomas

Senor Frogs, St Thomas VI

Bravo Senor Frog!

TRAVEL THERE:  SILLY STUFF AT SENOR FROGS

St. Thomas was my favorite port of call on our Norwegian Epic cruise. I adored Sunny Liston Tours, enjoyed my banana daquari at Mountaintop and after visiting Nassau really appreciated the quality of the shopping experience in St. Thomas. Senor Frog‘s was the perfect way to end the day.

Senor Frog, St Thomas VI

Portrait of Senor Frog

Senor Frogs

Now, if you’re some sort of food and beverage snob, I’m not writing this review for you, but if you’re the average traveler looking for a good time on St. Thomas, then don’t miss Senor Frog.

There’s no doubt about who Senor Frog caters to.  Their establishment is the first place you come to as you exit the port security gate.  We’d spied it earlier that day as we boarded Sunny Liston’s tour.  As the joyful day progressed, we made plans to hang out there on our way back to the ship.

Contest losers, Senor Frogs, St Thomas VI

Contest losers had to dance with one another on the bar. Image altered to protect the guilty.

It was the middle of the afternoon  when we arrived and things were going full blast.  As we took a seat a drinking game was beginning.  They gave their contestants a beer, a balloon and a straw.  I don’t remember whether they had to use the straw to drink the beer or not, but  I do remember that they used it to blow up the balloon – but for the balloon blowing, the straw went into their nostril, not their mouth.

That’s the kind of irreverent place we’d gone to and things just got crazier.  We asked the contest winner if he’d take our picture and he thought we wanted our picture taken WITH him, but I assured him that wasn’t the case.

Senor Frog's, St Thomas VI

Just do it!

The service was a little slow, but when contest losers aren’t dancing on the bar, they drag the waitresses up there from time to time.  I imagine that it’s hard to wait tables and dance on the bar, too.  When the waitress did show up, we ordered up a couple of very tall drinks and some nachos.  Now the nachos were OK, but nothing to write home about, especially if home happens to be Texas, but the drinks were perfect.

Senor Frog/s St Thomas VI

Shots anyone?

Signs of a Good Time

One of the entertainments at Senor Frog’s is the wacky signs they have spread around.  We were able to capture some, but my favorite, a warning sign with wheelchair speeding downhill, didn’t come out very good.  Another entertainment is to watch the shot delivery system.  One of the waitresses had on a shiny green wig and she was selling shots.  She wandered the bar with a tray full of shots and put shot drinkers through a humorous routine that involved pats on the head, being twirled around and a variety of other ministrations.  All part of the service at Senor Frogs.

Senor Frog's, St Thomas VI

Just think about it.

Making Friends

We made friends with the table of guys next to us – all young enough to be our sons.  One was the winner of the beer drinking contest and another was a twenty something kid that had just gone to work for Marriott in their marketing department.  Who knows what his job was, but he was sure he was the luckiest guy in the whole world to be employed at a company like Marriott, in a place like St. Thomas.  We enjoyed our conversation with him and helped him understand the dice game included in the bottom of the tall souvenir drink glass.

All good things must come to an end.  The men at the next table had drunk enough to forget we were old enough to be their mothers, but we hadn’t, so we made a graceful exit with our balloons affixed to our heads and our souvenir drink glasses under our arms.

Senor Frog's, St Thomas VI

Only have one and then don’t try to drive!

Do go to Senor Frog’s if you get the chance.  They have locations in many tropical locales.  But don’t drink so much that you forget how old the people you are talking to are.

Come back next week and we’ll enjoy the comedy of Second City after dinner in the Manhattan Room.

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Climbing to Mountain Top with Sunny Liston

Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

TRAVEL THERE: MOUNTAIN TOP WITH SUNNY LISTON TOURS

As the bus pulled away, Sunny turned up his music and asked us to sing along, but Deb and I were still reeling from our shopping marathon. The bus started up a hill and almost before the engine could warm up, Sunny was pulling into an overlook.

Taking Off Up the Hill

Sunny talked a little about the view and recommended drinks from the bbq stand nearby.  The bbq stand didn’t look like the kind of place I bought drinks from, so I took a few pictures and climbed back aboard the bus.  I didn’t want Deb and I to be THOSE tourists again.

Mountain Top, St Thomas VI

Here’s a frozen concoction so good it could give Margarita a run for her money!

The bus headed further up the hill and this time I joined in the singing game Sunny was leading.  The scenery was lovely, but our destination was Mountain Top and when we got there, it looked like the sort of place I would buy drinks from.  First, Sunny directed us to the balcony where there were lovely vistas to photograph, but I have to tell you, Deb and I were more interested in the banana daquaris.

I know I’ve been raving for awhile about Sunny Liston and his tour.  He took us to some great shopping and we were enjoying his musical offerings, but parking his bus in front of Mountain Top and their banana daquaris was one of the best things anyone did for us on the whole cruise.  My only regret was that I didn’t get the larger version of the drink.  Of course, if I would have, we would have been incoherent.  These frozen concoctions were strong.

Now, beyond the view and the banana daquaris there’s a lot more to Mountaintop.  If I were to return to St. Thomas, I’d find out if Sunny would just drop me off there and pick me back up on a later tour.  As it was, once we got our daquaris, we barely had any time to shop in their store.  Now, when it comes to shopping, the merchandise is your typical souvenir, made in China.  It’s not the best shopping opportunity we had on the trip, but that didn’t keep us from loving Mountain Top.

St. Thomas VI

St. Thomas is certainly beautiful.

Leaving Mountaintop, Sunny put on his favorite song, (Every Day of the Week) which you’ll find on his website, and gave us some hysterical instructions to follow as the song played.  From today’s perspective, the instructions don’t seem quite as funny, but under the influence of the banana daquaris, they were downright funny and we enjoyed ourselves immensely.

Photo Opportunity, St. Thomas VI

Photo Opportunity, St. Thomas Style

The next stop was another overlook, but I think the main reason we stopped was to give this guy with the donkey a chance to make a buck or two.  I took this shot without paying anything, so don’t tell anyone.

Sterling Beach, Sunny Liston Tours, St Thomas VI

A Sterling beach denizen between Sunny and Deb

A Choice of Beaches

Sunny loaded everyone back on the bus and offered us a choice of beaches.  He seemed to favor Sterling Beach, which didn’t require a cover charge and we agreed he was probably right.  So off we went to the beach, still singing the “Every Day of the Week” song.  The beach may have been free, but you could still spend money there.  Beach chair rentals were seven dollars and there were other shopping opportunities, but Deb and I were shopped out.

Sterling Beach, St Thomas VI

Sterling Beach

Some of Sunny’s passengers opted to stay at the beach and Sunny arranged for them to be transported back to the port, but Deb and I were thinking of Senor Frogs, and establishment we’d seen not far from the ship.  We climbed back on the bus and Sunny treated us to a little of Bob Marley’s One Love.  We were certainly feeling all right just about then.

I started out these posts on Sunny Liston’s Tours by recommending that you should go on one if you ever went to St. Thomas.  Perhaps that’s not as strong a suggestion as I intended.  Go right now to your computer and book a cruise that goes to St. Thomas.  Then immediately click over to Sunny’s site and book one of his tours.  I’m telling you I hadn’t had that much fun in a long, long time.  It’s worth the entire cost of the cruise to spend a day with  Sunny.

But I said something about Senor Frogs didn’t I?  Come back next week for a taste of that.

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Mission Cruise Coupons Continues

Sunny Liston Tours, St Thomas VI

A Mission Coupon soldier next to the Sunny Liston tour bus. I think my hat is wilted!

TRAVEL THERE: USING CRUISE COUPONS FOR JEWELRY ON ST THOMAS

As Deb and I glided out of Bobby’s Jewelers in a haze of shopping euphoria, we spotted Milano Diamond Gallery, one of the coupon  stores.

At Milano Diamond Gallery

 

We walked in waving our special offers in the air, because we’d already bought everything we could afford to buy for ourselves.  A nice man took us to the back of the store to give us our free jewelry – a beautiful rhinestone pendant.  And if we bought the silver chain he was offering at a ridiculously low price, he’d throw in the earrings.

I know a good deal when I see one. I asked if I could buy additional chains.  As we’d collected up our free jewelry at other stores, many pieces had been a pendant of some sort, but no chains had been offered along with them.  I was going to need chains anyway and these looked like the kind I’d have to pay a whole lot more money for in Dallas.  Here’s the funny thing, though.  For every silver chain I bought, this guy gave me another pendant of some sort.  I ended up with another bunch of necklaces with pendants for a price I’d been happy to pay for the chains alone.  I still came home with pendants for which I had no chain, but I couldn’t get him to quit giving me free pendants.

On to Little Switzerland, Sort of

We rolled out of the store laughing at the haul we’d made.  Checking our watches, we realized it was time to head back to Sunny Liston’s bus, but instead of back-tracking, we popped through one of the shopping passages and strolled along the waterfront.  Sunny had parked right in front of a Little Switzerland and we were interested in looking at their Impulse Collection.  We’d seen the collection in a shopping guide and it had some really cute items for very affordable prices.  So we were moving along briskly to have plenty of time to shop there.

That’s when we were waylaid by our new best friend.  All along the shopping streets were barkers hired by the stores to get shoppers into their establishments.  We’d ignored most of them, especially after the ugly chotskie incident.  However, a very nice Rastafarian fellow approached us and he was so polite and soft spoken we didn’t even realize he was of the barker fraternity, at first.

Soon, we caught the drift of what he was offering.  The store he represented had the best quality stones at the best prices on the island, just like all his barker brothers were promising.  We listened to his schpiel and though we promised to consider his shop, we were focused on getting to Little Switzerland before the bus left.  As we walked away, he shouted, “Stay focused!” and warned us of other barkers who would try to take us off course.  That tickled our funny bone and we decided to stop by his store, just to let them know they had a sterling employee out there on the sidewalk.

Our Rastafarian friend directed us up Drake’s passage to Eden Jewelers.  After the glamorous shops we’d enjoyed on Dronnings Gade, Eden’s was a little less luxurious, but don’t let that dissuade you from visiting.   The shopkeeper was very nice and he did have lovely things for good prices in his shop.  In fact, he was offering us all kinds of deals that we wished we could buy, but we’d run out of money and were swiftly running out of time.

We felt sorry for the guy, we really did, but there was no way for him to draw blood out of our turnips.  He lamented that our Rastafarian friend had done his job, but that we weren’t allowing the jeweler himself to do his own.  I was impervious, but he finally found something Deb could buy as a gift for someone on her list.  It was all of $12.99, but it made the guy happy and he gave us some free earrings to boot.  I was thrilled with the earrings.  They were freshwater pearls which would match one of the pendants I’d gotten at Milano.

The clock was really running down now and we still had to stop in Little Switzerland.  On our way out of Drake’s Passage, we saw our Rastafarian friend.  I yelled, “We stayed focused AND we bought something.”  Our new best friend was filled with glee.  He ran up the street and hugged us.  That was well worth the $12.99 Deb spent.  She’d bought me two presents that day.

We did avail ourselves of Little Switzerland’s Impulse Collection and fell out into the street and onto Sunny’s bus.  We were those annoying tourists that show up at the last minute holding up everyone else on the tour, but I’m afraid we didn’t care.

Sunny headed up the mountain to continue the tour, but I’ll tell you about that next week.  The fun has only begun.

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Our Jewelry Shopping Waterloo

TRAVEL THERE: WE FOUND WHAT WE WANTED AT BOBBY’S JEWELERS, ST THOMAS VI

Still giggling over the ugly chotskie a rude jeweler had shoved at us in Charlotte Amalie, Deb and I pulled out our shopping map and tried to locate the next place to redeem coupons. Out of the corner of her eye, Deb saw a huge poster for Belle Etoile jewelry, something she’d drooled over in one of the shopping guidebooks.  Like moths to the flame, we delivered ourselves to the slaughter.  Luckily, we’d chosen the right place to shop: Bobby’s Jewelers.  They’re not giving anything away, but we had a wonderful experience in their store.  Once Deb found the Belle Etoile counter, she was hooked, but it really wasn’t my cup of tea.  I wandered toward the next counter.

Aquamarine Earrings Set in Gold

The only thing I was even slightly interested in was aquamarine earrings and they were only on my wish list, not my shopping list.  Aquas are my birthstone and my sweet husband has given me both a ring and cross pendant of aquas set in yellow gold.  For several years we’ve been on the lookout for matching earrings when occasions like Christmas and anniversaries came around,  but for some reason, all we could find were aquas set in white gold.  Some jewelers tried to convince me to look at blue topazes set in yellow gold, but I was having none of that.  I know aquas when I see them.

Asking for aqua earrings in yellow gold is also a great way to make jewelers leave you alone and let you browse.  They figure out pretty quickly they don’t have what you came in for, so they move on to the next potential victim customer.  We’d been using the request in other shops on Mission Coupon and, except for the chotskie guy, it worked wonders.  But at Bobby’s they whipped out a selection of aquamarine earrings set in yellow gold.

The first pair they brought out made me laugh.  I’d need an invitation to the Academy Awards to justify wearing them.  “That’s not me AT ALL,” I told the sales lady.  Then she pulled out exactly what I was looking for, beautiful oval aquas on posts.  While Deb salivated over the Belle Etoile jewelry, I salivated over the aquas.

The first price was out of the ball park.  Well, my ballpark anyway, even though it was a fair price.  Since I’d been shopping aquas for a while, I had a pretty good idea of what to expect price-wise and they offered an amount that was right in line with what I’d seen for aquas set in white gold.  But it wasn’t an amount of money I’d spend without my husband’s approval.  Somewhere in the back of my mind I calculated whether there would be time after the shore excursion to come back to the shop with him, but I didn’t tell the saleslady that.

Then they knocked the price down about a hundred dollars.  My shopping arm was itching to grab my credit card, but Bill and I have an agreement.  If I’m going to spend over a certain dollar amount, I’m supposed to run it by him first.  He understands there are situations where it’s impractical to do this and with him somewhere below the ocean on another part of the island, I was beginning to speculate whether this was one of those situations.  Still he’s a pretty good guy and he’d dropped a sizable chunk of change to get me to this shopping opportunity, so I wanted to play fair.

Meanwhile, Deb’s love of Belle Etoile narrowed down to one particular ring and she was having a conversation similar to mine.  The buying urge circled my head and I was in a world of hurt.  That’s when they dropped the price to the floor.  I was in a quandary.  Had Bill been available, I would have called him.  I began to measure just how much trouble I’d be in if I bought the earrings. I was having a birthday in just a few days.  Certainly that justified the purchase.

That’s when Deb spoke up.  She’d share the purchase with me for my birthday and that would put my cost WAY below my personal shopping limit.  Still I hesitated.  The price was beyond right.  This was duty free shopping, so there were no taxes to worry about.  It was the US Virgin Islands, so there’d be no money exchange rate to confuse matters.  And the earrings were gorgeous.

The fear of commitment bug bit me.  What if we walked into the next store and found an even better deal or a pair of earrings I liked even better.  I edged towards the door, but Deb was still interested in her ring.  That’s when Bobby himself walked over and offered to take another $10 off each item if we’d go ahead and buy them.  From many years of shopping, I knew, when the manager shows up, you’ve pretty much found the sweet spot on price.  The aquas glowed on the counter and Deb’s face told me she really wanted to do this – so we did.

The joy I felt was way beyond the two digit investment I’d made.  Deb keeps reminding me that she only bought half the earrings, but without her contribution, I’d never have them at all – so I give her credit for the whole purchase.  We were both so happy our feet weren’t even touching the sidewalk.

However, Mission Coupon was still active and we had time to kill before we had to be back to Sunny’s bus.  Come back next week to shop with us some more.

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St. Thomas and Sunny Liston

The best day of the cruise!

The best day of the cruise! Thanks Sunny Liston.

TRAVEL THERE: SUNNY LISTON’S ST THOMAS TOUR

No – I didn’t misspell it, because it’s not that Liston.

After our Cruising Excursions.com tour in St. Maarten was such a flop, I was worried.  We’d booked another Cruising Excursions.com tour  for St. Thomas and I dreaded discovering another mistake.  Instead we got Sunny Liston!  If you click on over there, you’ll immediately get an idea of what to expect on his tour.  The music sets the mood.

Best Day of the Cruise

I think everybody should see St. Thomas with Sunny, but now that you’re in the know, book directly with Sunny and forget about Cruise Excursions.com.  They might stick you in another tour and that would be a crime!

Though we didn’t realize it, our fun started before we even stepped on the pier.  Someone was standing at the end of the gangway, handing out packets of brochures.  Glancing at the packet I realized it was COUPONS, so I tucked it in my tote bag and kept on moving.  Our first order of business was to deliver our guys to their scuba excursion, which we’d booked with NCL.  The official NCL shore excursions were on the pier next to the boat, so that was a no brainer, but then we had some time to kill before connecting with our tour.

We asked a couple of the guides if they knew where the Cruising Excursion.com tours met, but the NCL guides showed their disdain for anyone who dared not to book through the cruise line.  To tell the truth, after the experience of the day before we felt a little sheepish about it, too, but it was obvious we’d need to pass through security and leave the pier.

Once outside security we asked someone  who was directing the taxi traffic about the tour.  They weren’t very impressed with my sheet of paper from Cruising Excursions.com, until they saw Sunny Liston’s name on it.  Then they began to smile and pointed us to the very colorful bus you see in the picture above.  Sunny was standing close to the bus and when it became apparent we were headed his way his smile erupted.  I wish I could capture some of his smile in a bottle and drink it up when I need it.

We were among the first to board the open air bus and I tucked into the coupons.  I’d gotten other shopping coupons on other cruises, but the only one I’d tried to use was for a free bracelet that promptly turned less than shiny.  Still a coupon was a coupon and I wanted to see what I’d gotten.  Soon the bus was full and Sunny started the tour.  It took about three seconds to figure out that we’d gotten on the good-time bus.

Our first stop was Charlotte Amalie.  Sunny pointed out the good shopping, a nice place to rest if you weren’t interested in shopping and told us what time to get back.  For about the next hour we had a blast on Mission Coupon.  At the Effy store, they promptly handed us a garnet necklace and offered us matching earrings for some paltry amount like $5 or $10.  We couldn’t get our money out fast enough.  At Diamonds International we got a bracelet and a charm.

Then someone begged us to come into a store and get a gift, even though we didn’t have a coupon.  The salesman wasn’t as excited about us as his barker had been and when it was obvious we weren’t in the market for anything he had, then he rudely handed us some plastic chotskie.  We giggled as we threw the ugly foam hat into the nearest trashcan.

Mission Coupon had only begun and Sunny’s tour wasn’t over yet, but you’ll have to come back next week for the rest of the fun.

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Filed under Attractions, Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, Shopping, TRAVEL, Travel Planning