St Thomas

Royal Caribbean cancels two cruise ship stops in St. Thomas due to expected storm


Royal Caribbean has canceled to scheduled stops in St. Thomas due to an approaching tropical storm.

Concerns over a tropical disturbance in the eastern Atlantic Ocean, Invest 99-L, which may develop into a tropical depression or storm in the days ahead, forced Royal Caribbean to make the change, according to Virgin Islands Port Authority Executive Director Carlton Dowe.

St. Thomas Source is reporting Oasis of the Seas was scheduled to visit Crown Bay on August 23 and the Freedom of the Seas was scheduled for August 24.

According to guests onboard, Oasis of the Seas will skip both St. Thomas and St. Kitts, and instead visit San Juan on August 23 from 1:30pm to 11:30pm, then have a sea day, and then visit Labadee from 8am to 4:30pm.

Freedom of the Seas will skip both St. Thomas and St. Martin and instead be at sea on August 23, then stop at Costa Maya, Mexico on August 24, Cozumel, Mexico on August 25, and then spend the remaining days at sea before returning back to Port Canaveral on August 28.

Things to do in St. Thomas on your Royal Caribbean cruise


Many Royal Caribbean ships make stops in a little piece of paradise that just so happens to be part of the United States, St. Thomas. Known as "the gateway island" of the U.S. Virgin Islands in the Caribbean, St. Thomas is known for its beaches, snorkeling and sportfishing.

Frankly, there is a lot to see and do in St. Thomas, with the island's capital, Charlotte Amalie, being a busy cruise ship port with high-end restaurants and shopping.

The First European settlement on St. Thomas consisted of four taverns. Now known as Charlotte Amalie, today it is a haven for shoppers, but was once a pirate sanctuary. Legitimate trade gained popularity in the 1700s when it was declared a free port, making it the trading center of the West Indies. More than 1.7 million cruise ship guests visited here last year to enjoy the duty-free shops, historic attractions, pristine beaches and friendly locals.

Royal Caribbean ships dock at Crown Bay or at the West Indian Dock, approximately 1 1/2 miles from downtown Charlotte Amalie. Regardless of what you choose to do, there is a lot of great choices for things to do in St. Thomas.

Magens Bay

If you have ever heard of St. Thomas, you probably also heard someone mention Magens Bay, and for good reason.  Magens Bay is known for its turquoise waters and pristine sands that make for a picturesque beach getaway. Magen's Bay Beach is considered one of the world's most beautiful. Arguably, this is the best thing to do in St. Thomas on a cruise.

Once at Magens Bay, you have the choice to swim or snorkel in this gorgeous, balmy, palm-lined, turquoise bay situated along St. Thomas' coast simply enjoy the beach.

Getting to Magens Bay is fairly easy, with organized shore excursions and taxis readily available to bring guests to this idealic beach. Most excursions through Royal Caribbean include stops along the way at scenic overlooks and other places of historic significance. 

The beach has a small fee for admission, so the bulk of the cost to get to Magens Bay will be in transportation back and forth.

If you want a good alternative beach that is a heck of a lot closer to Charlotte Amalie, try Emerald Beach.

Shopping in Charlotte Amalie

​If exploring the island's capital is more your fancy, you will find a wealth of great shopping and dining choices in Charlotte Amalie.

There are over 400 shops along the Main Street area in Charlotte Amalie and some 50 more in Havensight Mall and Yacht Haven Grande. Often we hear the best deals are on luxury items such as fine jewelry, watches, perfume, leather, imported linens, china and crystal. Cameras, electronic goods and designer clothing are also available. Check out the selection of island rums and liquors, as well as the bargains on your favorite spirits

Charlotte Amalie’s downtown and shopping area is a short taxi ride from the dock – $4 per person each way from Crown Bay or $4 per person each way from the West Indian Dock. Want to take a beautiful walk? Take a 30 minute walk to town from Havensight Mall. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes.

Skyride to Paradise Point

If you are going to see the Caribbean island of St. Thomas, why not see it from over 700 feet above sea level? The Skyride to Paradise Point allows guests to go to the top of a mountain and enjoy a stunning view of the island.

Guests embark on a panoramic gondola ride to mountaintop Paradise Point, where they can seer excellent views of the city and dazzling waters below. Once at the top, you have the choice to shop for souvenirs, engage in live bird shows, or savor a tasty lunch in a local café.

Getting to the skyride and up the mountain is pretty simple and the only caveat worth mentioning is there are a lot of stairs involved, so if you have a stroller or wheelchair, keep in mind that there is no alternative to the stairs.

Interestingly enough, it is cheaper to purchase this excursion through Royal Caribbean than going to the tram directly and you can do the skyride at your leisure, since it is continuously operating throughout the day.

Visit St. John

St. Thomas is a beautiful island, but its neighbor St. John is equally beautifully and far more pristine.  Many Royal Caribbean veterans opt to take the ferry to the nearby island paradise for a taste of something a little different. All you have to do is hop on the ferry from Charlotte Amalie the provides an excellent opportunity to check out the spectacular coastal scenery and soothing breezes.

St. John offers a lot, such as exploring the sub-tropical forests and semi-arid scrublands of the Virgin Islands National Park, or enjoying the quaint Cruz Bay. Perhaps you would like to hop in an open-air safari vehicle for a ride around the national park's coastal swamplands and sugar plantation ruins, viewing 800 species of plants.  Trunk Bay is known for a long stretch of white sand, sparkling water and lush foliage, and features an underwater reef trail.​

Given a ferry is involved in getting to and from St. Johns, we prefer to book shore excursions with Royal Caribbean when visiting St. John for the peace of mind associated with not missing the shop upon returning to St. Thomas.

Coral World

For those that want a little nature in their visit to St. Thomas, check out Coral World Ocean Park, were you can see tons of marline life without ever getting wet.

At Coral World, you will encounter a variety of marine life including sharks, stingrays, turtles and more. Coral World boasts the opportunity to see a recreated living reef and 21 aquariums in Marine Gardens.You can even pet, snuggle and take photos with sea lions or try a Sea Trek Helmet Dive. Visit the shark pool where you can pet a shark or hand feed a stingray. Visit with the Lorikeets which will flock to your arm when offered a cup of nectar.

Many guests opt to combine Coral World with a stop in Magens Bay, since the two are close by each other and offer the opportunity to experience both in one stop.

Island Tour

Since there is so much to see in St. Thomas, a lot of times a tour of the island makes a lot of sense. Taking a tour of St. Thomas allows you to get a "taste" of the highlights and maybe set yourself up for something on a future visit.

There are a lot of tours you can take, either on your own, with a private driver or through a group tour.  Each has its own benefits and drawbacks, and one of the big factors will be cost. Group tours will be the least expensive options, but you will be at the mercy of the pace of the group.  Conversely, a private tour will allow you to do what you want, when you want, but with the caveat that you will pay more for it.

Island tours are very popular shore excursions and available through third parties or with Royal Caribbean. When choosing, it is worth noting that traffic on the island can be an issue in the later afternoon, so getting back to the ship on time should be factored into your plans.  Of course, Royal Caribbean shore excursions promise the ship will wait for you.

A lot of the island tours will visit popular spots like Mountain Top, Drake's Seat, Bluebeard's Castle and more.

Your Thoughts

Have you tried any of the places we outlined? Do you have a recommendation for something to do in St. Thomas? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below!

Excursion Focus: Emerald Beach in St. Thomas


Most Royal Caribbean guests looking for a shore excursion in St. Thomas are likely to consider something at the beach and for good reason.  St. Thomas has a reputation for having some of the best beaches, including the world famous Magens Bay.

On our recent visit to St. Thomas, we tried a different beach that was much closer to the cruise ships at Emerald Beach.


Some background is necessary for understanding why one would want to consider a lesser known beach, like Emerald Beach.

We had been to Magens Bay many times and while beautiful, it requires a long taxi ride across the interior of St. Thomas to reach there and then a modest entrance fee.

We endeavored to return to Magens Bay until our taxi driver pointed out two basic facts: almost any beach in St. Thomas is beautiful and there are beautiful beaches closer and for less money.

Enter, Emerald Beach, which is located just a few minutes drive from Charlotte Amalie.

Emerald Beach is a public beach that anyone can access, although there is a hotel that is located near the beach as well.  Despite the hotel, anyone can use the beach.

There is an outdoor bar and restaurant at the Best Western that anyone can go to to get drinks or food.


As our taxi driver promised, Emerald Beach is indeed quite beautiful and certainly a lot less crowded than what we have experienced on previous visits to Magens Bay.

If you want to be really picky about the details, Magens Bay is situated in a lush tropical valley, whereas Emerald Beach has a hotel behind it and the airport is across the street.  I would not characterize either as a problem, but it is worth noting.

Emerald Beach is a good choice for anyone looking for a quiet(er) beach experience with less crowds and/or a closer drive.  At five minutes from Charlotte Amalie, it is a really quick ride.

Address: 8070 Lindbergh Bay | West, Charlotte Amalie 00802, St. Thomas

Cost: Admission to beach is free

Excursion Focus: St Thomas Sky Ride to Paradise Point


If you are going to see the Caribbean island of St. Thomas, why not see it from over 700 feet above sea level?  The Skyride to Paradise Point allows guests to go to the top of a mountain and enjoy a stunning view of the island.


The premise of the Skyride is simple, take a cable car from the base of the mountain all the way up the hillside in just minutes.

Located within walking distance from the Havensight Pier, the Skyride is a 5-10 minute walk.  No taxis or transportation needed, it is easily accessed.

There are no set times for this excursion.  Guests may purchase tickets from the ship's Shore Excursion Desk or purchase tickets at the attraction.  If you bought tickets on your Royal Caribbean ship, you can exchange your tickets for wristbands at the ticket office.

Admission to the Skyride is good for the entire day, so you may return later on and experience it again.

Once you have your wristbands, guests will walk up a set of stairs to the loading area.  

Guests will be lined up in the order they arrived to board the next available cable car to the top.

The cable cars can hold about 6-8 people and there are windows on all sides to allow a view on the way up.  The ride itself takes roughly five minutes and is fairly tame.  There is little in the way of swaying or motion and the ride is quite smooth.

Once at the top of Paradise Point, guests disembark the cable car and can walk to a number of platforms to enjoy the view.

In addition to the view of the harbor, Paradise Point features shops, a nature trail, a restaurant and a bar.

Guests may return down to the bottom at any time.


There is no question that the skyride offers some fantastic views of the harbor, Charlotte Amalie and the surrounding area.  It is the perfect perspective to see your Royal Caribbean ship in the harbor.

Getting to the skyride and up the mountain is pretty simple and the only caveat worth mentioning is there are a lot of stairs involved, so if you have a stroller or wheelchair, keep in mind that there is no alternative to the stairs.

Once at the top, the view is impressive and it makes for great photos.  

The Paradise Point folks advertise a Carnival show everyday, although we were not present for it on our stop. 

The shops and bar at the top are your typical tourist-centric diversions and we opted not to go there.

If you have never done the skyride, it is an impressive attraction that can be completed fairly quickly.  You should have plenty of time to do other activities on St. Thomas even after experiencing the Skyride.

Royal Caribbean also advertises that the excursion is risk free, so if you purchase a ticket at the Shore Excursion Desk and then decide not to go for whatever reason, you may return the unused ticket to the Shore Excursions Desk onboard for a full refund.


The St. Thomas Skyride has a tremendous capacity and the benefit of a full refund is reason enough to purchase tickets in advance either on Royal Caribbean's web site, or at the Excursion Desk on board your ship.  

Cost: $21.75 per adult, $10.75 for kids.  

Planning a Royal Caribbean cruise: St. Thomas


As part of my next Royal Caribbean cruise, I want to take you along for the planning process as we make decisions and plan our Royal Caribbean vacation.  I hope this will give you some insight into my thought process and perhaps this will assist you for planning your next Royal Caribbean cruise too.

Today we are going to look at excursion ideas for one of the stops on our Freedom of the Seas 7-night cruise, St. Thomas.


I've been to St. Thomas about four times now and I am struggling with what to do here.

St. Thomas is quite beautiful and we have always done some sort of beach excursion.  We may work in some shopping or a tour, but inevitably we end up at the beach.  And that beach is always Magens Bay.

The reason I am conflicted is because going to the beach is easy and works well for my family.  It is low key and because I have two young kids (4 and 6 months), we cannot do something adventurous even if we wanted to.  

The other problem with finding new things to do in St. Thomas is I have come to the conclusion that a lot of the popular things to do in St. Thomas are tourist traps. 

On our last trip to St. Thomas, we did a group tour so that we could see more of the island and expand our horizons.  I felt like we just went from one tourist spot to another, so while I am always looking for new ideas, I have resigned myself to the conclusion there may simply be no escaping the touristy nature of things to do there.

The Options

After careful research, I cam up with these excursion ideas.

Magens Bay

Why mess with something that works, right? Magens Bay is beautiful and provides the kind of Caribbean beach experience most folks want when they go on a cruise.

The cost to getting to the beach and the beach itself are minimal and there aren't a lot of big waves here either, which is good for my older daughter.

The biggest negative I can say about Magens Bay is that we have been here before.  Many times. 

Pros: Known entity; Great for kids; Beautiful setting

Cons: Been here many times

Skyride to Paradise Point

Photo by Mike LaMonaca

While browsing Royal Caribbean's shore excursions, I ran across the Skyride and it sounds pretty interesting.  Take a tram up 700 feet to mountaintop Paradise Point and enjoy the view.  

This will not be an all day excursion, but it sounds like a fun little thing to do in addition to something else on the island.

On our last trip to St. Thomas, our tour brought us to a different peak (Mountain Top) and we had a great view there, so this would be similar but from a different perspective.

Interestingly enough, everything I have read indicates it is cheaper to purchase this excursion through Royal Caribbean than going to the tram directly. It also seems like when you purchase a pass, it is good for anytime that day, so it gives us flexibility.

Pros: Great view; Easy for kids

Cons: Moderately expensive ($21.75 for adults / $10.75 for kids)

Lindquist Beach

Just like Magens Bay, Lindquist Beach is another beach option and the appeal here is it is not Magens Bay!

Photo by David Marriott

Based on reviews and photos posted online, it looks quite beautiful as well.  I will not waste more time waxing poetically about the virtues of a beautiful beach.

The only negative I can think of is we might go here in spite of Magens Bay and then regret not going to Magens Bay if this beach does not feel as good as Magens Bay.

Pros: Beautiful beach

Cons: Might regret not going with the #1 beach in St Thomas

Charlotte Amalie

​Photo by Andrew Love

It's been a number of years since I went to downtown Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas' capital, and explore the city.

In other ports, we usually enjoy wandering the streets and doing some shopping along with having lunch at a local spot.  It is the kind of adventure I really enjoy.

The problem with walking around Charlotte Amalie is it will be July in the Caribbean and walking around outside sounds like a recipe for being tired and sweaty, with a pinch of whiny kids.

I could see us going here first in the morning to get some exploring in and then taking a cab to the beach to cool off.

Pros: Been a while since we explored Charlotte Amalie; Like exploring

Cons: Hot weather may make this a bad idea; Using stroller could make walking around tricky

The Decision

After considering our options, we ended up choosing.... the skyride and a beach.

We are not sure which beach we will go to yet but we are going to keep things up in the air and make a decision closer to our day.

The skyride does sound pretty neat and it is something new that we can try, so we will likely book that and check it out early in the day and then make a decision about which beach to go to.

If we were going to St. Thomas in the winter, I think there would be some other choices to consider but summer in the Eastern Caribbean means it will be simpler and more relaxing to sit at the beach.

What would you do if you were going to St. Thomas? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Quantum of the Seas visit to St Thomas will break records for the island


When Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas visits St. Thomas on Tuesday, it will be a record breaking day on the ship's maiden voyage to the island.

On Tuesday, a Quantum and Oasis-class ship will be docked at the same time.  In total, five cruise ships will be in port, including Oasis of the Seas and Quantum of the Seas.  

St. Thomas saw a record breaking day of passengers last Wednesday when 20,000 visitors came to the island and Tuesday should break that record.  

Tourism Commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty said to prepare they have opened the public restrooms next to the new Tourism office location in town by the USO building and are in communication with the V.I. Police Department and other government agencies.

The department's greeters will be out in full force, leaving the Crown Bay and Havensight areas to have a presence throughout the island.

"The greeters will be out on the streets," she said. "You'll see the bright purple shirts all over town on Tuesday."

Excursion Focus: Magens Bay


St. Thomas is well known for its beautiful beaches and Magens Bay is at the top of the list when it comes to beautiful beaches, not only on the island but in the world.  When it comes to beautiful Caribbean beaches, it's hard to go wrong with Magens Bay.


Magens Bay is a protected cove on the north side of St. Thomas. Magens Bay is known around the world for its white sand beach that is almost three quarters of a mile in length.

Beach goers and swimmers alike will enjoy the view and the beach's notoriety is well earned given how scenic the entire area is.  Calm waters are typical for the beach, thanks to the protection from larger waves further out in the bay.

Entrance to Magens Bay does have an admission fee ($4 for tourists) and it's quite far from where Royal Caribbean cruise ships dock.  There's plenty of taxi service to Magens Bay from the cruise ship area as well as Charlotte Amalie.  There are lifeguards on duty at the beach and there's a small snack shack on one end of the beach to buy meals, snacks and drinks from.  Visitors can also rent beach chairs, floats, windsurfers and small sailboats for an additional fee.

Because Magens Bay is so well known, it will get crowded and stay crowded most of the day.


Magens Bay is known for being a beautiful beach and it does not disappoint in that regard.  Truly, the biggest problem with Magens Bay isn't the beach but the fact the beach can get very crowded.  While the beach is very long, it is not very wide (distance from beginning of the beach to the water's edge) so finding a good spot will go quickly.

We have found the best times to go to Magens Bay are very early in the morning before the bulk of the cruise visitors arrive or in the afternoon when many cruise goers will start to leave to get back to their cruise ships. On our last trip to St. Thomas on Freedom of the Seas, our ship arrived later than the other ships and as a result the last two hours at Magens Bay ended up being quite empty.

The snack counter serves typical fried food that you would find at most beaches such as pizza, fries and burgers.  The food isn't anything special and it is expensive.  You're better off bringing food from Charlotte Amalie to the beach with you, or at least buying drinks.  

Those that have been to St. Thomas often will tell you the smaller crowds at other beaches outweigh the beauty of Magens Bay, but if you can deal with the crowds (or you're going on a not-so-busy day), I think the experience of Magens Bay is worth going to.  Especially if you've never been, Magens Bay is a must-see.  Like any island, on subsequent visits it may make sense to try other options but it's hard to go wrong with Magens Bay.  The sand is great and the water has the perfect color along with calm waves for everyone in the family to enjoy. 

AddressMagens Bay, Rte. 35 at end of the road on North side of St. Thomas

Cost: $4 per adult. Kids 12 and under are free.

Port Focus: St. Thomas


The US Virgin Islands is popular among Eastern Caribbean cruise stops and the island of St. Thomas is an American owned island with Caribbean flair.  Great beaches and shopping highlight what there is to see and do here.

St. Thomas Benefits

  • Beaches: St. Thomas features some very beautiful beaches, including Magens Bay, which is among the most beautiful beaches in the world.  There's also other beaches here that offer beautiful water color and very fine sand.  When you think of a Caribbean beach, St. Thomas is the sort of beach experience you will have in mind.
    • Best public beach: Magens Bay or Coki Beach
  • Shopping: St. Thomas offers a lot of shopping options around and near the cruise terminal.  Being an American island, the prices here are fairly close to what you'd expect to find back on the mainland.  The island boasts good prices on jewelry, liquor, linens, china and crystal.  By far jewelry is what is in demand here and there are lots of places to check out.  There is no sales tax in the United States Virgin Islands so you can take advantage of the $1,600 duty-free allowance per family member (remember to save your receipts).
  • Proximity to St John: It's common for St. Thomas to have many cruise ships in port but St. John is very close and there are water taxi options that take just 20 minutes to get over to the island.  For those that have visited St. Thomas before, St. John is close enough to allow for two ports in one.

St. Thomas Detractions

  • Traffic: Like many small Caribbean islands, traffic can snarl up the roads often and quickly.  This is especially true in the late afternoon, which is typically when cruise ships leave port. If you are planning to use a third-party excursion or going to explore on your own, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get back.  
  • Crowds: During the busy season, it is not uncommon to have six or more cruise ships docked in port on any given day and that leads to a lot of people in one place.  St. Thomas has cemented itself as a cruise destination and many cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean, send many of their ships here.  More than likely you will feel engulfed in a sea of other tourists.

What to do in St. Thomas

On your next Royal Caribbean cruise to St. Thomas consider these activities

  • Beach visit to one of their beautiful beaches, including Magens Bay, Coki Beach or Sapphire Beach
  • Take water taxi to St. John
  • Duty-free shopping in Charlotte Amalie
  • Go to Mountain Top (it's a bit of a tourist trap, but the view is worth it)

Royal Caribbean ships stopping in St. Thomas: Freedom of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas, Jewel of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas, Independence of the Seas, Grandeur of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas & Legend of the Seas

Freedom of the Seas Live Blog - Day Four


Today was our second port stop, St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. We had booked a tour after reading some favorable reviews across the Internet. The tour would take us around the island to see various well-known spots and then conclude with a beach stop.

Freedom was the last of seven ships to dock in St Thomas. We didn't get there until 11am ship time (noon local time). I had gotten up at 6am for some reason and couldn't sleep (7am local time) so I tried listening to music and sitting on the balcony but eventually decided to let my wife and daughter sleep while I tried something new.

I've always wanted to try spinning at the gym and Freedom of the Seas offers it almost everyday in their gym. The cost of the class is $12 per person and there was enough room for about 12 stationary bikes or so but I think our class had only 8 people in it. The class lasted about 40 minutes or so and consisted of the instructor directing us how fast we should go and what we should be doing while biking. We would do “push ups” off the bike, do standing bike runs (where you stand up like you are going up hill) and speed trials.

This was my first time doing spin at all and my mistake was trying to keep up with everyone else who clearly had done spin before. I certainly worked up a good sweat and burned a lot of calories but almost immediately after I felt nauseous and that lasted a good hour or so. I figured I had become dehydrated so I drank a lot of water at the Windjammer. Within an hour I was feeling better and ready to tackle St Thomas.

Our ship docked at around 11 but we didn't make it off the ship until about 11:30 because of delays in getting the ship cleared and the sheer amount of people that are also trying to get out of the ship. The good thing about an 11am arrival is you can sleep late but by the same token, the bad thing about an 11am arrival is EVERYONE tries to get off at the same time, whereas with early dockings things get spread out more.

We used Godfreys Tour and met Godfrey himself at the gate as we got off. There were 4 other people from our ship on the tour, which seemed like a great number but then we heard they had another van full of people from Carnival (there were actually 7 cruise ships docked in St Thomas today). We left the port area, picked up the other people from downtown and started on our tour.

The tour provided complimentary soft drinks and water although no food. The cost was $25 per person if you wanted just the tour and $30 per person if you wanted the tour and a beach stop. We opted for the beach stop as well. Off we went and stopped at various photo spots along the long and winding roads that go all over the very mountainous St Thomas. The spots were picturesque and beautiful but my issue was with such a large group, I felt like we spent too much time at each place. Personally, I'm the kind of guy that looks around for about 10 seconds, takes a photo or two and is ready to go. Minor stops lasted about 5 minutes while the longest stop at the mountain top (located at the top of St Thomas) was closer to 20. I could complain about the amount of people on the tour and the slow pace, but then again I also paid significantly less than say the ship sponsored excursion.

Eventually we had the option of beaches to go to and we selected Magen's Bay. It's well known and seemed good for us. The beach is beautiful, although very narrow (meaning not a lot of space from the start of the beach to the water's edge). We had no problem finding a spot and my daughter absolutely loved her time swimming here. There was a snack shack with rather expensive prices so we opted for just fries and onion rings (we had taken a few drinks from the tour bus).

Our driver gave us about 2 hours to swim at the beach, which was fine for our needs. When we arrived the beach was rather full but by the time we left, the beach was nearly empty since all those other cruise ships had left already. Magen's Bay is a beautiful location and you can't beat the surroundings. The water is a pretty shade of turquoise although we found it not that clear. Nitpicking, I'm sure but with the beach's reputation it was a slight disappointment.  Nonetheless, this was a great place for a swim and it certainly was quite beautiful.

Our driver returned promptly and we got on the van and picked up the other people at the other beach option and started making our way back with a few drive-by photo opportunities. There was considerable traffic getting back but he got everyone back with enough time to make their ships.

Overall I enjoyed the tour but I'm not sure if I'd recommend it or not. On the one hand, you can't beat the price for what you get. On the other hand, I'd much rather prefer a more personal tour that allows us to move at our pace. Also some of the stops along the way were definite “tourist traps”, which I don't care for. If you want an affordable tour of the island, it's a great choice but just be aware what you pay for.

After getting back to the ship, we showered and dropped my daughter at the nursery so my wife and I could eat at Chops, the specialty steakhouse on Freedom of the Seas. The last time we ate at Chops was aboard Mariner of the Seas for our honeymoon in 2008 so it's been a while but we loved it back then. The cost is $20 per person and you can order as much food as you want once there.

The restaurant was a little more than half full and one change that was first noted by friends of ours on another cruise was Chops has gone from 2 servers per table (main waiter and assistant waiter) to just one waiter and the by-product of this change has been a noticeable delay in service. It's not terrible or unbearable, you can simply tell things would go faster with more help and our server continuously apologized for delays (I think she thought we were bothered by it, but we really were not).

Food wise, Chops offers a good selection of choices. I wanted to order more but I wasn't that hungry for some reason so I limited myself. We opted for the Asian tuna and caesar salad for our starters and both were quite good. The tuna was very small, which worked for my limited appetite but most days I could have easily had a second appetizer.

I wanted to order the New York Strip steak but my waiter actually talked me out of it. She told me many guests had complained the steak was too chewy/tough and so I asked for her recommendation and she pointed me towards the porterhouse or the filet mignon. I opted for the porterhouse while my wife took the filet.

I freely admit I am not a steak expert. To me, a steak from Outback Steakhouse is the epitome of a good steak so did the steaks here taste good? Yes, I enjoyed it as did my wife. I just can't comment if it's the best steak ever. Both steaks were certainly better than the steaks we've had in the main dining room.

The real standout were the sides. We ordered mashed potatoes, cheesy potatoes with prosciutto and parmesan & fried onion rings. My wife says she loved the cheesy potatoes and all the sides were really quite good. Definitely branch out and try a lot since it's all included in the price. 

Of course, we had to order dessert so we each chose something to taste and of course, the desserts were really good.  Both cakes we ordered were moist and had a great taste to them.  Definite candidates for what to eat when the world comes to an end and we have a 30 minute warning.

I'll write up a more formal review of Chops for the site at a later date but I thought Chops was a good choice for steak lovers.

After dinner we lost more money in the casino (I sense a trend developing) and decided to call it an early night since we are going to have an early start tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow is St Maarten and our last island (insert sad face here). No firm plans, just going to explore and see what comes to us!

Thank you for the great comments and questions, be sure to post your thoughts below and I'll answer them for you!