Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Caribbean Cruise - St. Thomas - Day 18 - 1/4/2013
St. Thomas was originally owned by the Danes. They founded the port of Charlotte Amalie where we are docked. Sugar cane was very profitable at that time and the island had over 170 plantations. When the Panama Canal was opened, the U. S. wanted a base from which it could protect the Canal so it bought St. Thomas from the Danes for $25 million. The island has been self governing since 1931 and it has the highest standard of living in the West Indies (Caribbean). There is no doubt that it is the cleanest island we visited during the entire cruise.
A new day, a new rainbow.
The rainbow was so intense that it looked like it could burn a hole in the ship.
The Noordam in the distance.
Our driving tour used open air buses.
Megan's Bay....one of the 10 most beautiful beaches in the world.
Looking for food in Megan's Bay. The birds put on a great show for us by repeatedly diving into the water to get fish.
Getting the toes wet. This is Sigrid's fifth different ocean, sea, gulf, etc. toe wetting. We probably should have brought our swim suits.
Sigrid's hat says that it is "5 O'clock Somewhere". This gives her license to drink Pina Coladas at 10:30 am.....hey, we have been up since 6:00 am.
We toured what has been named Black Beard's Castle. Black Beard's Castle, St. Thomas Skytsborg Tower (meaning sky tower), was built in 1679 by the Danes as a watchtower for the harbor of Charlotte Amalie. It is located at the highest point on Skytsborg Tower Government Hill. Danish Soldiers used Skytsborg as a vantage point to spot enemy ships and protect impressive Fort Christian from attacks. Fort Christian is at sea level, which was ideal for warding off attackers with canon fire, but did not offer a good enough view of the incoming ships before they entered the harbor. It is not known what year Skytsborg Tower took on the name of Blackbeard's Castle, but the infamous Edward Teach, commonly known as Blackbeard the Pirate, did sail the Caribbean waters in the early 1700s. It has become part of the lore of the island that he used the Tower as a vantage point for his own treacherous purposes. Blackbeard's Castle is one of four National Historic sites in the US Virgin Islands. It was the centerpiece of a private residence for many years, then became a beautiful small hotel, known as The Inn at Blackbeard's Castle with the tower near the pool.
This is a bronze statue of Black Beard. He was an intimidating 6' 3" in a day when men were much smaller. In his last year of pirating, he captured 36 ships. He died at age 38 (old for a pirate) when the Governor of Virginia sent a small naval force to kill or capture him in 1718. They had a fierce sea battle before Black Beard and several of his crew were killed.
The Skytsborg Tower....yes, that is Sigrid at the top.
The grounds were nicely landscaped and there were many historical buildings that were part of the complex.
The restored Haagensen House.
The Amber Museum.
This water fall is said to have $1.2 million worth of amber rocks embedded in the wall.
A few street photos to give you a feel for the town. It is one shop after another. About half of the shops are selling jewellery and diamonds.
“Creeque Alley” is an autobiographical hit single written by John Phillips and Michelle Phillips of the Mamas & Papas in 1967, narrating the story about how the group was formed. The title song is derived from the place, Creque or Crequi (pronounced “creaky”) Alley, home to a club in the Virgin Islands where the Mamas and Papas spent time. The lyrics “Duffy’s good vibrations, and our imaginations, can’t go on indefinitely” refer, in part, to Hugh Duffy, the owner of the club on Creeque Alley. We found a little restaurant in the Alley and had lunch there.
This was our ride back to the Noordam.
We enjoyed the day very much....probably the best day of the cruise. We will be at sea tomorrow as we make our way back to Fort Lauderdale.