Christmas in the Caribbean

Charlotte Amalie, U.S. Virgin Islands — We sailed into port around 7 a.m. on Christmas morning. It was shirt-sleeve weather: a comfortable 79 degrees with light winds. Shannon and I stood on our veranda, holding cups of coffee while we watched some fishing boats head out to sea. The harbor was filled with sailboats. Our son Mitchell was still fast asleep.

This year Christmas is a mix of old and new. We’re going to open some small presents under our “tree”(AKA a tropical floral display I ordered for the trip), sip Mimosas and eat breakfast on our veranda. (We’re on “Mozart” deck of our ship. It has a music theme, which includes classic music concerts on the “Lincoln Center Stage” each afternoon — an activity I’ve enjoyed).

This afternoon, we’re going to ride to the neighboring, pristine island of St. John on a catamaran for swimming, snorkeling, and a barbeque lunch. (This island is home to white-sand beaches, an underwater “trail,” and a National Park)

There’s a casual Rockefeller “resort” on one end of the island (redolent of the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel on the Big Island of Hawaii but no phones or TVs) — dating back to the ’50s.

In the ’80s, I visited St. John and went beach camping at Cinnamon Bay Resort and Campground. The campground is still closed due to damage from Hurricane Irma in 2017

As it turns out Trump’s Government Shutdown affects the Parks here too: “The Visitor Center and Trunk Bay will remain open. There will be no visitor services, including restrooms, trash collection, facilities, or road maintenance other than the Visitor Center and Trunk Bay. For more information, see”

The beach is open and the water is clear and turquoise — just as I remembered it from the previous visit. I know our son will enjoy this experience.

Here’s some background on St. John: “Rockefeller and his wife Mary were on a sailing excursion of the U.S. Virgin Islands in 1952 when they happened upon the pristine island of St. John.

“He was so taken by its natural beauty that he decided to purchase the undeveloped land and build a resort—Caneel Bay—in an effort to share St. John’s magic with future generations. (He later donated the land to the Virgin Islands National Park under the condition that he would still be able to run Caneel Bay.)” More details here.

This iPhone video shows our ship Ms Koningsdam arriving in port at Charlotte Amalie, U.S.V.I., around 7 a.m.:

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

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