The Captain Goes On Shore Leave

After two full days at sea I awoke Tuesday morning to this wonderful sight.

Land Ho!

Our Disney Cruise made two stops in the Virgin Islands and one stop in the Bahamas during our week at sea.  Our first port of call was Tortola on Tuesday.

Tortola is the largest island in the British Virgin Islands1.  I knew nothing about the island when I arrived, and I knew very little about it by the time I returned to the ship in the afternoon.  Of the seven hours I was off of the boat, I spent less than an hour of my time in Tortola.  The other six-plus hours were spent on this little beauty.

That my friends, is a fifty foot catamaran and the highlight of my trip.  Meg’s idea to book a six hour excursion on this wonderful boat is probably the best decision she has ever made2.

I’ll admit, I was a bit skeptical at first.  After seeing the devastating effect that hiring a Caribbean tour boat can have on relationships in the documentary film Captain Ron, I was initially leery of the boat’s operator.  It would take a lot to impress a fellow Captain such as myself.

In reality, I was consistently thrilled for the entire six hour tour.  We motored out of the dock and the sails were hoisted once we hit the open waters.  Sailing in the open crystal blue water of the Caribbean is damn near perfect in my book, and the view’s not bad either.

The only thing that stopped the catamaran excursion from actually being perfect were the fifteen or so other guests from the cruise ship tagging along with us.  Several of them felt the need to loudly tell each other boring stories and indulge in inane chit chat3 instead of enjoying the ride.  One heavy-set, older gentleman actually read a book the whole time!  I wish everyone would have been content with simply staring at the natural beauty, but it was only a minor annoyance.

For the first couple of hours we sailed around the outer islands and hit a couple of great snorkeling spots.  The second spot was near a bunch of ocean caves and made for the best snorkeling I’ve ever done.

I saw a huge fish attack a sea urchin and actually kill the spiky bastard.  So friggin’ cool!  After the snorkeling we headed to a private island for some lunch.  This being my first vacation with my new camera, I was actually able to shoot some video.  Here’s our initial approach.

This little island was home to a beach club that was closed down for the season.  On the plus side, it was gorgeous and completely empty.  It looked like a Corona commercial.

On the negative side, the bar was closed for the season.  So there I was in a Corona commercial on an island with no beer.  What a waste!  Luckily, I soon discovered that the boat’s first mate had a hidden stash of rum…

After six hours of living the Captain’s dream, I was sun burnt and exhausted but still not ready to return.  We reluctantly returned to the cruise ship and both took a long shower and an ever longer nap.  All in all, it was definitely the highlight of the trip, and it’s in the running for the highlight of my year.

After such an amazing Tuesday in Tortola, Wednesday was bound to be a bit of a letdown.  We spent the day on the island of St. Thomas in the American portion of the Virgin Islands.  Still exhausted from the previous day, we elected to wander around the port town and do some shopping.  I loaded up on lots of cheap souvenirs and duty-free alcohol to bring home as gifts. Duty-free is the way to be!

And as an added bonus, the shops were stocked full of cheap beer.  The first shop I hit actually had individual bottles of Carlsberg for $1.50.  Jackpot!

Besides the shopping, there wasn’t much to do besides wander around.  There was still plenty to see, including the filthiest ice cream truck ever!

After two days on shore, Thursday was back out to sea all day headed for the Bahamas.  This morning our ship docked on Castaway Cay.  Not familiar with this island?  That’s because it’s not an island anymore, it’s the property of Disney.  Mickey Mouse and Co bought an island previously used for drug smuggling and turned it into a sanitized, family fun port of call.

I was a little cynical before we arrived.  In person Castaway Cay ends up coming off as beautifully clichéd.  It looks like a four-year-old’s drawing of a beach, which I think is what they had in mind.

We initially decided to make the long hike down to the adults only beach4 but turned around when we saw that it was already packed full.  We settled in on the far side of the kids’ beach and spent the day doing typical beach activities.  I read a book, drank a Corona, took a nap in a hammock and just generally enjoyed the view.

While Castaway Cay would not be my first choice as a destination, it’s really hard to complain about a tropical island with free food.  So cheers to the Disney Island.

Which brings me the evening, sitting with my lovely wife in our stateroom for one more nite.

Tomorrow our cruise will come to an end when our ship returns back to Port Canaveral.  We’ve had a magnificent week and I’ve been thrilled to be on the ocean for so long.  In short, it’s been the ideal vacation for the Captain.  So thanks again to our benefactors.  This champagne’s for you!  Cheers!


The Captain

1  Our tour guide constantly referred to the islands as “Da-Bee-Vee-Aye.”  It took me about an hour to realize he was saying “The B.V.I.”

2.  Well, besides marrying this guy, of course.

3.  The teenage girl on the boat with us would NOT SHUT UP.  It was annoying, except when would bring up the Bob Marley t-shirt.  Apparently we drove by a street vendor selling Marley t-shirts on the way to the boat and this girl was determined to get one on the way back.  She kept begging her parents to buy this Bob Marley t-shirt like it was ultra-super-rare, when in reality they sell Bob Marley shirts at most Hot Topics, Hemp shops, Spencer’s Gifts, Head shops and Mall kiosks.

4.  I know “Adults Only Beach” sound like a porn title, but trust me when that there was nothing remotely sexy about it.

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