Monday, 6/4, Day at Sea Today was our character breakfast in Parrot Cay. It was fun, and we got pictures with all the characters. Just imagine 16 people with 6 cameras asking for different poses. The characters and their chaperones were very accommodating. With groups like us, I can see why the characters don't always make it around the room. When we got back to the room, our tickets for the Catamaran excursion were there. Yahoo! We spent more time on the Deck 7 verandah and then had lunch at Topsiders. I kept going back to get glasses of fruit punch to bring to our group on the verandah. At 2 PM it was time for the much anticipated Surial Mud Bath. We arrived a little early and were given locker keys and robes and allowed to wait in the rainforest room. Our spa lady found us lounging on the heated ceramic couches. We were led into the room and given brief instructions. I locked the door, we dropped our robes and the fun started. The mud was very amusing and made us look like natives in some ritual ceremony. We sat in the steam room and washed off the mud, which was very difficult. I suggest not letting it dry too much. And yes, the 3 seating areas in the steam room are to accommodate 3 people. I wonder if anyone has actually done this. Sounds like something more appropriate for a Carnival cruise. I guess you could get more bang for your money since the cost is a flat $68. We salted each other and then showered. We then tried out about 6 or 7 varieties of lotions and oils. I made the mistake of using something called instant refreshing oil on my face. Boy, did that burn. Glad I didn't rub it someplace else. I think it must have contained Camphophonic (Sp?). I am ashamed to say that we finished 10 minutes early, and the attendant took great pains to point that out. What can I say? When you have three children, patience is not always possible. Bottom line is that we both enjoyed it very much, but probably wouldn't do it again. It was a great one time experience that left our skin feeling very soft. The Surial facility could use a major refurbishment. We checked out the exercise facility while we were there. The view of the bridge is tres cool. There was actually nobody visible piloting the ship. Just a hat and pair of binoculars on a chair. We went to rest on Deck 4 with some free drinks, I believe from the Captain celebrating the new itinerary. Found out my Dad had won the belly flop contest. He got a heavy gold medal with Mickey on it. We later went back to the rainforest room in our bathing suits to take full advantage of the facility (fog showers, steam rooms, dry sauna along with the heated ceramic couches). I mentioned to my DW that the rainforest room would be more interesting if it was clothing optional. We were now feeling very relaxed and ready for our Palos dinner at 6 PM. We got dressed all spiffy and headed down for free drinks (we passed on the snacks) at the Castaway Cay reception. You could actually order the drink you wanted. The kids all went to Parrot Cay for dinner while all us adults went to Palos. The setting was wonderful with the ocean views and sunset. Dinner was very quiet and reserved compared to the regular dinners. The calamari, Portobello mushroom and barbecue shrimp were favorite appetizers. The fillet was my favorite entrée, and of course the chocolate soufflé with chocolate and vanilla bean sauce our favorite dessert. A great, relaxing experience, and we were still able to make tonight's show of Who Wants to be a Mousketeer. None of us were picked, but I would have made it to the $400 level easily. In fact, I would typically have all of my lifelines left for that question. Guess I'm more of a Disney nut than I thought. After $400, the questions were ridiculously obscure and it was unlikely you would get it even with all your lifelines. The kids told us that dessert at Parrot Cay included Key Lime pie and bananas flambé. Hate to have missed that. One of our friends had a 19 year old son. He was in that in between age and was not having that great of a time. We found out that he had hooked up with some cute girls (18 and 19) from Kentucky. I think he had a pretty good time after that. After his parents said they wished they could get a picture of him with his friends, I sent the girls off on a mission to track him down and get a shot. It took them 3 hours, and they had a great time doing it, but they finally got the shot. Sounds like they even posed. Did the usual bumming around, checking the various clubs. Told my DD1 and DD2 to be in at a reasonable time since we had to meet for our excursion in St. Maarten at 7:45 AM. DD1 showed up at midnight. I woke up at 2 AM, and DD2 was not in yet. This was not what I would consider reasonable. I got up and put on some shorts and extensively toured the ship looking for her. I ran into quite a few groups of teens, and since I was half asleep and couldn't see well, I had to walk right up to them to see if my daughter was present. They had to think I was some kind of weirdo since I was now so mad that I was not smiling in any way. DW started to panic when I returned at 2:30 AM with no luck. I was now so mad that I had a full blown migraine. Both DW and I decided to go out and look. As we opened the door, there was smiling DD2. I kept my mouth shut since I have found it is never a good thing to speak when you are that angry. Turns out she watched a movie until 2 AM in Common Grounds and then hung out for half an hour. I never did check Common Grounds since I recalled the Navigator saying it closed at 1 AM, and all the teens appeared to be outside. I took my Migraine medicine and went back to bed. I felt fine in the morning, and DD2 never did stay out very late again. Even though I didn't say anything, she must have sensed I was ready to toss her overboard. Tuesday, 6/5, St. Maarten Happy birthday DW! We were docked when I got up at 6:30 AM. Monarch of the Seas was just pulling in. I got coffee, pastries and OJ from the 24 hour station (OJ only available AM) for our breakfast. We all got sunscreened up, took Bonine just in case, and headed to the Promenade Lounge for the Golden Eagle Catamaran. Got to sit there for 30 minutes waiting for the tour to get going. Mooed our way down the stairs and then waited for another group to get off the ship before us. Mooed our way to the ferry dock and then waited for another group to take the ferry before us. Finally got on the ferry and took the short ride to the catamaran. I only ***** about the way you are herded in tour groups. The actual excursion, once it got going, was a highlight of our trip. Had to leave our shoes at the dock. My 3 girls and I took seats around the net. DW sat in the partially enclosed part of the boat to the rear. There were 85 in our group (this catamaran is huge), but it didn't seem like that many people. An identical catamaran had a group from the Monarch ship with only 62 people. We were to sail together, kind of like a race. We motored out of the harbor. Men and boys were asked to help hoist the mainsail. From what I can see, that is for show since the crewman actually did the pulling while the helpers pulled the slack out of the rope. We rounded the point and were sailing into 4 foot swells. Warm water was splashing over us and popping us up from below the net. I convinced my girls to move to the front of the net. They had a blast. The splashing wasn't really that frequent, so I think 6 foot swells may have been better. The boat was bouncing up and down quite a bit. Poor DW was getting queasy, but the rest of us were fine. I think you're less likely to get sick if you're up front in the action. The other catamaran hoisted their jib and took the lead. We complained, and shortly our jib was hoisted. Surprisingly, the ride seemed to get smoother with the jib out. We tacked back and forth, heading for a low flat, deserted island on the horizon. Non-alcoholic drinks were served. We eventually passed the other Cat. After about 1 hour and 15 minutes, we stopped just off the beach. We were on the wind protected side of the island, so it was very calm. We all got snorkel equipment and walked down steps into the water. We set up on the white sand beach and went snorkeling. Most of the coral was dead, but there were fish around. Crewmen fed them to get them to "school". Water was clear and warm. We were in heaven. We explored the island a bit, but you couldn't go far without shoes. When we got back to our towels, a cute crewgirl set her cooler in front of us and offered champagne with real glass glasses. Even when I was finishing up my glass in chest deep water, she came out to give me a refill. Now I'm really feeling good. Relaxing in warm, clear water on a deserted island in perfect weather, sipping some bubbly. After 1.5 hours, it was time to reboard. We motored slowly away from the island. As we passed a sail boat anchored behind us, a very gross old, nude man stood up and went out of his way to show his wares. The 2 women with him thankfully remained seated as their you know whats were down to their knees. As an aside, others in our party went to Orient beach and said only gross old men paraded nude up and down the family beach. They also said they didn't like Orient Beach. The ride back was smoother, and chips, pastries and mixed drinks were now offered. I had a rum punch followed by 3 more, and I seldom drink. I was toasted by the time we got back to the docks and feeling no pain. This was a fantastic excursion. I was expecting the island to be the highlight, but it was just a bonus as the catamaran ride was the real star of this excursion. Having perfect weather didn't hurt any. We took the ferry back to the ship and the girls showered. I just hit the adult pool. Got my parents and headed back to town. Had to buy ferry tickets for $5 each, good for all day. Shopped and shopped, spending too much. Bought many wraps (3 for $10), the loudest Hawaiian shirt I could find for tropical night, and 2 bottles of guavaberry rum liquor. The straight stuff is strong like brandy, but the guavaberry colada sample was very refreshing. Got back to the ship with plenty of time to get ready for our tropical dinner. We got really colorful and headed for dinner. Very fun and festive time. Of course we had my wife embarrassed by having the waiters sing happy birthday. The show tonight was Pearl Harbor. I'm not about to waste my time watching a movie I can see at home. Instead, we just bummed around waiting for the 10 PM tropafragilistic deck party. This party was hot, hot, hot! Loud music, lights, professional dancers and character dances. At 11 PM we sailed away. I went to check out the 11 PM buffet on Deck 9 aft. Unlike the dessert buffet, nobody was lined up. I did see our server, Wisanu serving hard ice cream. He was dancing away, waving a towel above his head, having a great time. The kids got a kick out of seeing him. Finally called it a night since St. Thomas was coming up next. Wish there was a day at sea between island days since the island activities really wear me out. For my wife's birthday, our friends arranged to have all 6 girls sleep in a cabin so that DW and I had the room to ourselves. Guess what we did? No, we slept.