Caribbean 2015:
Day 2 - Saba


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Caribbean 2015: [Day 1 - St. Maarten] [Day 2 - Saba] [Day 3 - Anguilla] [Day 4 - Virgin Gorda] [Day 5 - Norman Island/Soper's Hole] [Day 6 - Jost Van Dyke] [Day 7 - St. Kitts] [Day 8 - St. Barthélemy] [Day 9 - St. Martin] [Day 10 - St. Martin]

Saturday, December 12, 2015: We awoke to another brief rain shower.

Looking down at the water again, ...
... we could see that our barracuda was still hanging around the shallows in his usual spot.
There were some rain showers in the distance too, but we never got rained on during our entire trip.
We checked out and left our luggage at the front desk, ...
... then took a taxi back to ...
... the airport. We had been warned to get to the airport very early before flights due to long security lines, but in the early morning, this wasn't an issue at all.
We saw these camel statues in the duty-free store, presumably to promote Camel cigarettes.
There was a third one tucked behind some stuff, so we only got good photos of two of them.
We had a late breakfast at the airport featuring sandwiches at a cafe.
While sitting there, Debbie spotted the only occurrence of Maersk during our entire trip. We saw plenty of containers and several container ships, but not a single one had Maersk on it.
Once all of the passengers were present for our flight to Saba, we boarded a bus ...
... to take us to our tiny plane.
We all had apparently random seat assignments on our boarding passes since our seats weren't together, but it was clear that it was open seating.
With plenty of open seats, we opted to sit in separate rows so we both had good window seats.
Here's the air conditioning system. It's a little complicated so we won't attempt to explain how it works.
Our flight was scheduled to depart at 9:30 AM, but at 9:23, we were taking off.
We flew over boats in Simpson Bay ...
... then we were able to spot the ship we'd be boarding over in Great Bay.
The cockpit was open so we were able to see right into it. The zoom feature on our camera did not let us down.
It didn't matter if we had a nice time in Saba or not, because the fun that this flight provided was worth the cost already.
Ten minutes after takeoff, we were nearing the island of Saba.
Saba is a volcanic island that rises sharply out of the water on all sides.
It is known for its diving and with coastline like this, it's easy to see why.
Here is the best part of our flight: the tiny strip of airport on which we'd be landing. Saba is known for having the smallest commercial airstrip in the world.
We were able to see the approach and landing through the cockpit.
Debbie took cockpit photos while Tom got a great video from the window.
As you can see, the runway comes to an abrupt halt, but fortunately, we had no problem stopping in time.
Our very first order of business was getting a photo of Orchy, ...
... followed by a quick peek at our destination.
Next, we had to pass through immigration, which consisted of an open window and a nice man who stamped our passports ...
... with a lovely stamp containing palm trees.
We were barely through immigration when the next group of passengers were boarding the airplane for the 12 minute flight back to St. Maarten.
Here's the terminal building, pretty much in its entirety except for an outdoor waiting area on one side of the building and a tiny outdoor bar/cafe and restrooms on the other side.
Welcome to the Caribbean Queen!
We politely declined the offer of a taxi, which is pretty much required to get to anywhere else on the island. This is the view looking straight up the mountain to the top of the island. We took this road just outside the airport that leads down to the water.
The hillside is covered with greenery and the occasional cactus, like this one.
The steep walk down the hill just took a few minutes.
We passed the Seagrape Grill and noted that it was only open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, noon to 9:00 PM, and also that it would be closed for several weeks starting on December 14. Since it was Saturday, December 12, we were in luck and would return in a couple of hours for lunch.
A few minutes later, we arrived at Cove Bay. It is a man-made recreation area created by making a breakwater line with boulders and bringing in sand for a beach.
It was the perfect location to spend the morning and afternoon. A covered pavilion has three picnic tables and restrooms with showers.
Here's Debbie checking out the shoreline after her morning swim.
Pretty shells!
A trio of young women were there when we arrived, then we were joined by a local and his dog on their morning walk, and finally by an older couple. By early afternoon, we had the entire place to ourselves.
Here's a look at the cove, ...
... here's a view of the pavilion, ...
... here's a look at the Seagrape Grill overlooking the bay, ...
... and here's a look at us.
We found this guy on one of the large rocks in the cove. There were many more just like him on breakwater boulders, but we didn't get too close to them due to the force of the water.
Here are a couple of harmless jellyfish.
After our second swim of the day, we took showers and dried our swimwear in the sun.
Then we said farewell to the greatest afternoon getaway ever, ...
... and started back up the steep hill.
There's a nice playground right next to the pavilion which wasn't used during our visit. In this photo, you can see the the tiny white airport building at the top of the hill.
The Seagrape Grill consists of a couple of buildings, nice restrooms, and a bunch of great outdoor seating.
We went to the edge of the cliff for a nice view of the deserted cove.
Then we sat down for a nice outdoor lunch.
The three young women who had been at the beach earlier were here, sitting in colorful chairs, taking selfies, and soaking up the free wi-fi.
We started with a couple of the most refreshing Diet Cokes ever, ...
... then had delicious plates of ribs and chicken satay. It was all very relaxing.
We headed up the rest of the road to the airport. This was taken just below the airport. That's the Seagrape Grill on the left.
We were back in plenty of time so we got a nicer photo of Orchy.
We checked in for our flight, which mostly consisted of someone checking our name off of a list and each of us paying a $10 departure fee. Saba is a territory of the Netherlands but the official currency is US dollars.
We could have opted to have a drink in the tiny bar, but we had a seat in the waiting area instead.
Here's our view.
Way off in the distance, St. Bart's was visible. We'd be there six days later.
Our plane arrived and within minutes, we were boarding.
We departed a few minutes early again since all passengers were on board.
We taxied to the end of the runway (where we had first touched down for landing), turned around, ...
... and off we went.
Here's the end of the runway. Just beyond it, the stall warning horn was heard just as the pilot yanked back on the yoke.
The plane dropped a bit but then it was sharply up in the air.
We circled around and got a nice look at the airport and runway.
Here's Saba, the Caribbean Queen, in all her glory.
We passed a small rain shower on our return flight. There's a hint of a rainbow here, but we missed getting a photo of the double rainbow that this caused.
There's St. Maarten again.
We had a nice view through the cockpit again, ...
... this time of Simpson Bay and our hotel on the right.
We came in for landing over Maho Beach again.
You can see the shadow of our plane in this photo.
The airport welcomes you in both French and Dutch since it serves two different countries: Sint Maarten and Saint Martin.
Again, we got a taxi from the airport but we arranged for our driver to make two stops. We passed this McDonald's drive through for the second time on our trip.
First, we made the 10 minute drive to the Villas at Simpson Bay to pick up our luggage.
Second, we headed to Great Bay toward the cruise ship pier, ...
... passing through the main town of Philipsburg.
We arrived at Dr. A. C. Wathey Cruise Pier 25 minutes later at 4:45 PM. At the Star Clippers tent, we were one of the last passengers to board even though boarding time was listed at 4:00 PM.
Once we were given our keys and our ID cards, we boarded a golf cart for a quick drive ...
... through the pier area ...
... to our waiting ship, ...
... SPV Star Clipper, built in 1992.
We were welcomed onboard to the Tropical Bar ...
... where we were given cold washcloths and then fruit juice. Next, we finished our check-in at the tiny library, where we got out our credit card and had our photo taken.
Then, we headed belowdecks two levels ...
... to the Commodore Deck, ...
... where Category 3 cabin 116 awaited us.
Here it is: very tiny but comfortable.
Here's the closet and entryway.
Here's the tiny bathroom with shower curtain ...
... and sink.
Our cabin was just above the waterline when the ship was at rest and we had a porthole view, as did nearly all other cabins except for nine cabins on the top two decks.
From 5:00 to 6:00 PM daily, hors d'oevres were served in the tropical bar, consisting of a hot dish, open-faced sandwiches, veggies, fruit, cookies, and pastries. The featured hot item on this day was chicken wings.
For our first bar order, we asked the bartender what beer he had. He pointed at the Flensburger tap. We were surprised that it was the only beer option, but we took it. Over time, we saw several other types of beers so we asked what was available in a bottle. Even later, we saw other brands of beers in cans, so the lesson learned here is to continue to ask, "And what other beer do you have?" after each response.
Here's the pretty design on the white chocolate wafers that appeared in several desserts during the week.
We walked around the ship a bit to get familiar with it. It's a very tiny ship, holding a maximum of 170 passengers (we had 99 on this sailing), so it didn't take long.
This was one of two pools on deck. Both had clear panels on the sides and along the bottom to let light in to the deck below.
Since our ship wasn't departing until 10:00 PM, we went down on the dock to watch the sunset just as the Carnival Liberty was leaving port.
Our ship is much tinier in comparison but it is much prettier, wouldn't you agree?
The mandatory muster drill was at 6:45 PM. There were four muster stations for the drill portion, but all of the passengers fit into the Tropical Bar area for the safety briefing by Cruise Director Peter. Peter gave all talks in both English and German, but did ship's announcements in English, German, and French.
Dinner was served at 7:30 PM every night. Beforehand, the dinner menu and samples of all entrees were displayed.
Dinner is open seating, but there are no tables for two, so on the first night, the maitre d' figures out what nationality you are, what age you are, etc., and tries to seat you with people who are similar. We were seated with a couple from Florida who both worked in IT so he pretty much nailed it for us. We had a pleasant dinner but we really, really like eating alone, so dinner was a little stressful for us. Fortunately, we were able to eat alone the rest of the week since the number of passengers was low enough to not have to share.
Here's our cabin after turn-down service.
Occasionally, something was left for us in addition to our nightly chocolates; this time, it was a document listing each of the sails on the Star Clipper. A day or two later, our turndown gift was a hardbound book titled "The Star Clipper Saga," which described the history of the Star Clippers line and its founder, Mikael Krafft.
Near sail out time, we headed to the top deck. The masts and yards were beautifully lit.
Here's the other small pool with porthole windows on the sides.
To one side of the ship was a container port with no Maersk in sight.
We pulled away from the pier under engine power, ...
... but then the crew and some volunteer passengers started to raise the sails.

The theme music from "1492: Conquest of Paradise" by Vangelis started to play and it was all very majestic and thrilling.

Day 3 >


Caribbean 2015: [Day 1 - St. Maarten] [Day 2 - Saba] [Day 3 - Anguilla] [Day 4 - Virgin Gorda] [Day 5 - Norman Island/Soper's Hole] [Day 6 - Jost Van Dyke] [Day 7 - St. Kitts] [Day 8 - St. Barthélemy] [Day 9 - St. Martin] [Day 10 - St. Martin]

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