Mom and I decided to take 2 different excursions here because I wanted to do one that was a little more physical than she was ready to tackle. This was our first stop and we were so excited...especially after two, very long, boring days at sea (I am NOT a happy sea-day person!). Both excursions were booked through our cruise line (Norwegian Cruise Line), and were quite pricey for what they delivered. First off, I had a 9:30 departure so I jumped off the ship and down to the first store to buy totes for mom and I, because we were idiots and forgot to pack them. I practically ran back to the ship to be where I was suppose to be for my group. The cruise people holding excursion signs didn't have mine on it. I asked, and was told to just wait and they would let me know. Yeah, after I stood in the sun baking, they came BACK for me because everyone else was already on the crappy "bus" waiting to go, and they noticed I had my own snorkel-gear on my back. "Bus", in this case, is a very loose term. Every taxi and bus on St. Thomas is actually the front of a Ford or Chevy pick-up with open sided safari kind of contraptions built on the back. Insane traffic and construction everywhere on top of it made for a terrifying ride. There are no road rules apparently, and I literally almost fell out the open side twice. Everything seems to be communicated between drivers by different horn signals and just playing "Chicken".
Our guides were informative and showed us some interesting things, but the teaser-ads on the ship and website for that particular excursion were completely deceptive. We didn't kayak through the mangrove forest with crystal clear turquoise water. We were on the very edge of the forest, in a lagoon. And with the snorkeling, I ran into the same problem I had with the Hawaiian snorkeling...too many people in a shallow area all bumping into each other and kicking up sand until the visibility is cloudy at best. I did manage to get a few pics on the new waterproof camera, but that was short-lived (see Day 2!). This excursion cost me $89. It was suppose to come with a snack. Apparently, THAT consists of water out of big coolers, so probably tap water, and a 2" mini-Snickers bar. I hadn't really eaten anything for breakfast knowing I'd be in and out of the water. So at 4 o'clock when I got back to the ship, I was ready to chew my own arm off. Poor mom practically got dragged upstairs and then the buffet was closed, so we had to make due with the outside buffet on the back of the ship, which is what we consider the very last resort. Everything is basically cold and tasteless. Mom's hamburger doubled as a hockey put.
My taxi-driver didn't even take me to the 99 steps. He took me to the 30 steps and a right turn you have to walk to GET TO the 99 Steps. I passed them once and these two local ladies corrected me and showed me where the steps were. I was contemplating whether I had enough time to get up them, look around and get back to the boat before we were due to shove off, but my legs were wobbly from the excursion and no food. Just as I was preparing to assend, an American couple were coming down and I asked them if they thought it was worth it. They said it was closed! No rope at the bottom of the stairs warning people, just CLOSED! There was some kind of a bar up there, but they said they couldn't even get into the Rum Factory because you have to pay the Blackbeard's Castle tour price to get in. Had I actually made it up that distance for nothing, I just don't believe you can imagine how pissed off I would be! As it is, mom and I will be making complaints to NCL and posting on the shore excursion "Trip Advisor" type site, when we get home.
We have 3 excursions over the next 3 days that are not booked through the ship but through ShipExcursions.com. Then our last tour is with the ship again. It's suppose to be a "Best of St. Maartin" tour, and we're wondering if it will just be more shopping centers or if we actually will get to some points of interest! Overall, quite disappointed with St. Thomas. But tomorrow is Dominica!