Instead of Curacao, our scheduled port call for today, Carnival Vista is docked in Philipsburg, St. Maarten. Tropical storm Don required the Captain to alter the itinerary. Personally, I prefer St. Maarten to Curacao anyway.
It is a bright, sunny day today, but not quite as warm as the previous few days thanks to a strong breeze. We spend the morning at Serenity (Deck 15 Forward), once again, avoiding the crowds as most guests are getting off the ship for shore excursions.
After a quick lunch at Guy's Burger Joint (again!), we grab our gear and disembark the ship for a walk through Philipsburg. By 1:00pm when we got off the ship, there are no more lines and we breeze through disembarkation. We make the long walk down the pier to the terminal area, which now includes quite a few shops and local vendors. Even our favorite Caribbean jeweler, Ballerina Jewelers, has a shop here.
Guests who want to visit the beach or downtown Philipsburg can make the mile walk into town, or take the water taxi. We decided to try out the water taxi on this trip. We have made the walk into town a couple of times and, when it is hot, it is not that much fun. The water taxi is only $7 per person and it drops you off right near the beach and downtown. And, the $7 includes your return trip, too.
When you arrive at the cruise ship terminal area (at the end of the pier), just look for the Water Taxi signs. You can't miss them. The taxis run every 5 to 10 minutes and the ride over to beach/town takes about 10 minutes. You can enjoy a beverage during the ride at cheap prices, too.
After stepping off the taxi, we make it to town in just a few minutes. Today is the first time we have been to Philipsburg when no other ships were in port. The town is eerily quiet and void of people. It's great! All the shops are open for business.
We are on the hunt for a good deal on liquor, one of the reasons we were glad to hear the Captain say he was diverting to Philipsburg. You can get really good deals on liquor here. In fact, the prices here are nearly as good, if not better, than St. Thomas. US citizens can bring back five liters per person, but we are not looking for that much today. The little, off-the-beaten-path liquor store I usually buy from was out of my favorite, Crown Royal, so we began shopping at a few other shops on Front Street. The best deal I found was at Friendly Duty Free. Their price of two one-liter bottles for $25 was the best I found, and they offered to deliver to the ship so we did not have to haul the bottles around town.
I was able to get three 1-liter bottles for $37. Back in Dallas, I pay $40 for one 1.75 liter bottle. That's $22 per liter at home compared to $12.34/liter in Philipsburg. Carnival holds all liquor purchased ashore until the last night of the cruise, when they deliver it to your stateroom. I have never had a liquor store deliver to a ship before, so it will be interesting to see if I actually get my Crown! FYI: Friendly Duty Free has three shops in town, one at each end of Front Street, and one in the middle.
All guests have to be back on board Carnival Vista by 4:30pm, so we don't have a lot of time to spend in Philipsburg. We catch the water taxi for the return trip to the cruise ship pier and are back on board Vista by 3:30.
Tonight, we head back to Punchliner Comedy Club where I make my brief debut as a standup comedian.
After my set (basically, a photo op on stage before the doors opened), we enjoyed the comedy of Cee Jay Jones.
His 6:30 show was so funny that we lined up outside and went back for the 7:30 show! After the second show, we just had to return to Piano Bar 88 for Elizabeth's sing-a-long.
Piano Bar 88 is becoming our favorite spot on the ship. The place has the feel of a local bar filled with friends. For the most part, that is because of Elizabeth's warm personality, greeting people when they arrive, and announcing when they leave. Everyone has a great time singing along to the classics we all listened to growing up.
Tomorrow is another Fun Day at Sea on Carnival Vista.