It’s December 1, and Christmas has arrived early in the Caribbean.
A team of riggers spent last night and today unpacking giant cardboard boxes and festooning Ventura’s bars, restaurants and public areas with maritime-themed garlands.
You don’t often see clam shells, even sparkly plastic ones, among the festive decorations ashore. And you wonder whether things aren’t going a little far when even the rails around the Jacuzzis sport Christmas greenery.
Ashore in Philipsburg, St Maarten, the jaunty pirates in the souvenir shops now wear white beards and red velvet hats. And the steel bands are playing the first of the Christmas carols.
We were berthed at the modern cruise terminal with Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas, and HAL’s Maasdam, and our arrival was less dramatic than that of Sandra Bullock in the film Speed 2: Cruise Control.
Her ship (the Seabourn Legend in real life) smashed dramatically into the Captain Hodge Pier in the centre of the bustling seafront, coming to rest in the main shopping street.
As spectacular as it was on the screen, the pier remains undamaged, and we caught a $4 water taxi from there back to the Ventura after a salad lunch at the delightful Pasanggrahan Royal Inn.
Tonight the Arena Theatre presentation is a spectacular show called Chronicles, combining aerial ballet, martial arts, music and dance on a safari in search of ancient secrets (according to the guide to today’s activities). In the Havana Club, Stars in Their Eyes winner Gary Ryan sings Neil Diamond.
I hope he didn’t get his inspiration from the dozens of diamond shops ashore . . .