STT757 From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 16261 posts, RR: 52 Posted (8 years 9 months 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 6283 times:
Making plans a couple months back for my Fiance and I to go on vacation, I have been to the Virgin Islands on three occasions ('93, '94, '98). After hearing me brag about the beauty of the Islands my fiance said "sounds nice lets go", so off I went to plan my fourth and my fiance's first visit to America's Paradise.
Booked accommodations for 4 nights on St.Thomas at the Frenchman's Reef Marriott and 3 nights at the Westin on St. John, I've stayed at both places on previous trips. Booked us on CO from EWR-STT, went to the local CO ticket office in Freehold Twp. to confirm our seats the day before our trip.
Wednesday August 18, 2004
Continental Airlines flight 1903
Scheduled Departure time 9:30 AM
Boarding 9:00 AM
Woke up at 5 something in the morning, started getting ready for the ride to the airport. Got a call at about 6:15 that my fiance who lives on the otherside of town was having car problems, her Mom was going to drop her off at my house. My fiance and her Mom pulled into my driveway at about 6:45, her Mom (in pajamas, was sleeping) and my Mom starting talking while we finished getting ready. My Mom was going to drop us off at EWR on her way into work in Manhattan, we left and hit no traffic and got to EWR's Terminal C around 7:30 AM.
CO has two separate Departure levels at Terminal C, the Upper Departures level is for International flights and the mid level is for Domestic Departures, not sure which level to use for a US Territory we went to the International Level where the line of cars waiting was less than the very long line up of cars for the Domestic levels ramp. Pulled up and grabbed our suitcases, kissed Mom goodbye and proceeded inside.
We walked up to a line which was designated for Caribbean flights, upon speaking to a customer service rep at the entrance to the line he indicated that ST.Thomas flights check in on the Domestic Level. Headed down to the Domestic level and was greeted by a very large crowd, it was busy this morning! Thankfully the Check in line went pretty quick, about 10 minutes or so.
The aggravating thing was that after we checked in we had to take our bags to the TSA screening line which was not as long but moved slower than the Check in line, why sometimes I fly and they take my bags right at check in counters and other times I have to take it to the TSA stations I don't know but I will leave that questions for another thread.
Once the very polite TSA agent took care of our bags and wished us a good trip we headed for the screening lanes, Terminal C has three large screening areas to enter the secure concourses. We decided to head up to the closest screening station to where we checked in, the middle station in front of the C-2 Concourse. The line for screening at the C-2 entrance was very long, people were all over the place. My commuter instincts took over and I dragged my Fiance back down to the Domestic Check in level then across the Terminal to the C-1 screening areas which were much less crowded, my commuter instincts worked well here's why..
I often take NJ Transit Commuter Trains to work in Manhattan, the commuter trains are between 8 and 11 cars long. At most suburban stations there is one main entrance to the boarding platforms, in the middle of the Platform. Once commuters are on the platforms they don't walk that far from where the walked onto the platform from the street, the effect is that everyone is bunched up in the middle and few people actually walk towards to far ends of the platforms. When the train arrives people board in the middle of the train and the seat in the middle quickly fill up, while the cars at the very fron and the very rear of the trains oftern have plenty of seating.
Same with Airport terminals, people go to the closest entrance and usually bunch up there instead of walking to one side or another where there's less crowding. Back to the trip report..
Our flight today was boarding at gate 90 in the C-1 concourse, directly across from the C-1 food court. Arrived at the gate at about 8:40 Am and noticed a sparse crowd, the flight today was not going to be that crowded. The gate agent handed us a complimentary copy of a Caribbean magazine specifically for Continental's flights to the Caribbean, this one was Virgin Islands specific. My girlfriend and I were hungry so we went to the Dunkin Donuts in the Food court, I must say the Dunkin Donuts is just one of the reasons why CO's Terminal C at EWR wins so many concession awards. It's a nice new Dunkin Donuts which had excellent coffee and breakfast sandwiches,
Taking note of the time (9AM) we quickly headed back to the gate to prepare for boarding. We waited until everyone else boarded so we could finish our coffee, did not take long to board today.
Seats 16 A B
Once we grabbed our seats and a few minutes went by I noted we were not going to make our 9:30 depature time, shortly the Pilots came on to welcome us aboard and also to inform us that on their morning walk around they noticed that the two left rear tires had some damage and that they requested that they be replaced. At that time I took note to look out my window at the two CO Maintenance trucks parked right outside next to the back of the wing, there were two or three Mechanics working on the tires while a Maintenance Supervisor and one of the two pilots for our flight (the Captain and F/O alternated) monitored their work.
The Captain made note of Newark's Professional Maintenance crew and said we would be ready to go in 30 minutes, exactly 30 minutes later the Ground crew cleared up their equipment and we began our push back. Once we got to the taxi way near where the old Newark Tower once stood the Captain came on again to say "folks were going to be getting to know one another really good, unfortunately due to our delay because of the tire change we are departing during rush hour. We are # 15 for take off, we might be in line for about 40 minutes before we take off".
He gave us the news in a professional manner while also in a calming way, since the flight was only about 45-50% full the FA's told us we could get up and take what ever seats (in economy) we wanted.
The FA's brought around drinks and started the CO visions programming, the wait went quick and we were airborne to the North off of runway 4L by 11:00AM.
The Captain noted there might be some rough air along the route, but it was pretty smooth all the way to STT. The movie was Johnson Family Vacation, it's a huge knock off of National Lapoons Vacation but it was still funny.
Lunch was served on this flight, the Lunch was a Chicken Sandwich, Lays chips and some chocolates and fruit. All were very good, washed it down with a Salvador's Premixed Margarita which was really good but tired me out a bit.
The flight was about 3 hours 20 minutes and the Islands appeared in the distance out my window, we touched down on STT and began our vacation. The first 3 days on St.Thomas were VERY HOT, oppressively hot. However the next four days were comfortable, especially on St.John.
The Marriott on St.Thomas is very nice, however the Westin on St.John is exceptional. Spent lots of time at beaches, bars, restaurants and Shopping. My fiance is a shop aholic and was in her natural surroundings amongst the Duty free shopping of Charlotte Amalie St.Thomas.
Here's a cabin view of our flight down to St.Thomas..
I have lots of better quality photos from our stay and of our return flight, I just wanted to make sure I can display the photos. The return and the photos are forthcoming..
Cory6188 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 2686 posts, RR: 6 Reply 2, posted (8 years 9 months 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 6132 times:
Nice report! I'm doing that trip next April. How were the F/A's and CO ground staff at EWR? Also, how much did you pay per person? Our tickets were $749.50 each! I guess CO really can charge a high premium for their Caribbean routes.
STT757 From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 16261 posts, RR: 52 Reply 3, posted (8 years 9 months 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 6051 times:
Here's the Dunkin Donuts and cabin photo of the trip from EWR-STT..
The first four nights we Stayed on St.Thomas at the Frenchman's Reef, the Marriott is a great hotel with a beautiful setting stradling a point between Morningstar Beach and the Caribbean on one side and the Charlotte Amalie Harbor on the other. We had an ocean front room on the top floor with awesome views of both the Harbor and the beach, cruise ships passed literally right outside our windows, awesome sunsets.
As I stated earlier the first few days on St.Thomas were very hot, we divided our time between shopping and the beaches while making time to be back at the Hotel pool bar by 5 PM for the Happy Hour.
Here are some photos of our stay on St.Thomas, Frenchman's Reef Marriott.
Hotel Lobby entrance;
View of Hotel from the Road
View of Hotel from the pool on the cliff, our room is on the top floor second from right.
Some photos from our balcony..
Holland America Cruise Ship Departing the Island
Other St.Thomas photos..
Charlotte Amalie Harbor with Seaplane taking off..
Main Street Shopping District
Tonight I will post some photos from our stay on St.John as well as my return report with mucho airport/airplane photos, stay tuned..
STT757 From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 16261 posts, RR: 52 Reply 4, posted (8 years 9 months 9 hours ago) and read 5927 times:
The second leg..
After spending four nights on St.Thomas it was time to make the trek to St.John, we returned our rental car at the St.Thomas Airport and went to the Westin Hotel greet area in the Airport. The Westin Staff checked us into our room and took our luggage, we then waited in an Airconditioned lounge for our tax to take us and the rest of the guests waiting there to the Crown Bay Yacht club near the airport where we would wait for the Westin Ferry to St.John.
The taxi dropped all of us off at the Yacht club but we had two hours untill the next Westin ferry was to depart, we spent our time enjoying the air conditioning in a very upscale super market which catered to all the yachts. We also sat down for some drinks at the restaraunt, the time went by kind of slow in the heat but eventualy it was time to board the ferry.
Here's a picture of the Crown Bay Yacht Club's Supermarket, note the HUGE yacht with two smaller boats on the deck. The Yacht had it's home as Sandy Hook New Jersey on the stern, must have benn either Jon Bon Jovi's or the Boss's Yacht both live near Sandy Hook in Rumson NJ.
Westin Breeze Ferry
The ferry ride from Crown Bay St.Thomas was direct, it went right to the Westin Resorts Dock literaly right on the Beach and a mere few steps from the rooms.
We were greeted on the dock with cold wet towels and rum drinks, we assigned a driver with Golf cart who drove us to our room. The Westin is by far one of the nicest resorts I've ever stayed at, the Heavenly beds which you can buy are awesome. It's hard to re adjust to my own bed back home
Here's the Westin's lobby building
This is the building my fiance and I stayed at
Here's the pool
We rented a Jeep one day to explore the Virgin Islands National Park, here are some nice beaches we visited.
Hawk's Nest Beach
Here's a picture of St.Johns other big resort Caneel Bay, my Aunt has stayed there and absolutely loved it. They have seven beaches!
STT757 From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 16261 posts, RR: 52 Reply 6, posted (8 years 9 months ago) and read 5855 times:
Our vacation had to come to an end after seven days, we left our bags out on the patio where the Hotel staff picked them up at 8:30 Am. We had to catch the 10Am ferry so we had some time for one more trip into town to drop off our Jeep, we grabbed the ferry back to the Crown Bay Yacht Club and said goodbye (for now) to St.John.
The bus dropped us off at curbside at about 11:30AM, we had plenty of time before our 2:30 (scheduled) departure. We got in line for the CO check in and we were one of the first checked in, we however had to take our bags through Customs/Immigration and check them in there. One final stop at the airport Duty Free store and we proceeded through Customs, not the friendliest folks but I guess they are just doing their job.
Here's the ticket counters for UAL, CO, DL, AA,
The St.Thomas airport needs better concessions, the restaraunt is horrible. The food selection was weak (hot dogs, croisants with cheese) and over priced. While waiting there were two AA 757s parked at their stands, one was boarding for the 1:40 PM departure to JFK. The other I believe was going to Miami later in the afternoon, also a Eagle ATR-72 from SJU came in and departed back rather quickly. The AA flight to JFK was crowded, and the AA folks were making wierd announcements like "everybody sit down, your all going to get a seat". Not rude but not the most professional manner to address people over the PA, the matter of fact Island way.
AA 757 to JFK
Here's the AA 757 waiting for the later departure to Miami
A little over an hour late the AA flight to JFK pushed back, almost the exact time our CO 737-700 flight arrived from EWR.
While we were waiting for our flight to deplane all the arriving EWR passengers and to be cleaned a US Airways 757 arrived, it was either from PHL or Charlotte not sure.
Our flight was quickly cleaned and boarding began promptly, through both the front and rear doors. We boarded through the rear doors.
Our aircraft today was N25705, delivered to CO May 12th, 1998
Wednesday August 25, 2004
Continental Airlines flight 1902
Scheduled Departure time 2:30 PM
Actual time closer to 3PM
Seats 15 A B
This flight was about 80% full, we almost had the same exact seats as our flight down. I had the window, my fiance the Middle Seat and a young lady who spent her Summer working on St.John and was heading back to school in Boston sat in the aisle. The pilot came aboard to PA and apologized for the delay arriving in St.Thomas but made note of runway construction at EWR which delayed their departure and could possibly delay our arrival into EWR, he said he would find out more once we get closer to EWR. Again as with our flight down the Captain warned us about possible rough air, but again it was a smooth flight.
STT757 From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 16261 posts, RR: 52 Reply 7, posted (8 years 9 months ago) and read 5849 times:
Doors were closed and we were ready to be pushed back, taxi to the runway was fairly quick and the Pilots throttled up the engines and released the breaks and we were rolling. Now the 737NG is no 757, however it performs very well and has the feel of a small sports car. We were up and got a close up view of some of St.Thomas's large hills, within a couple of minutes we were direclty over St.Croix. St.Croix is huge compared to the other Virgin Islands and a little less Mountainess. On my first two trips to the Virgin Islands ('93, '94) we flew CO and our flight made a stop in St.Croix, the routes were EWR-STT, STX-EWR with 727s. Now the flights are nonstop, St.Croix gets alot less service than they used to. AA, CO had STX tagged to their STT flights from EWR/JFK and DL and US Airways also had their STT flights make stops in St.Croix. Now I think St.Croix gets a daily AA 737-800 to MIA and Eagle ATRs to SJU.
St.Croix is the most populated Virgin Island but it also has the least amount of tourism , however Hess Oil Company based in Woodbridge NJ operates a huge refinery on St.Croix so perhaps CO and Hess could work something out to gurantee some business if CO were to return to St.Croix. Next up was Puerto Rico, from above Puerto Rico is huge. Looks like Florida except for the mountains. The rest of the flight I had the window shades drawn because the sun was really strong, so much so that even with the shades drawn they were giving off heat.
The movie on this flight was Starsky and Hutch, while being apprehensive my fiance and I actually though the movie was pretty funny. Lunch was seved which again was a Chicken sandwich, along with a bag of Ruffles, a box of raisans and chocolate. No Margarita's this time for me..I opened the window shade after I started feeling us decending, we crossed back over land over Long Beach Island NJ. We then passed directly over Lakehurst Naval Air Enginering Station's runways before turning North, today we were going to be approaching EWR from the North so we swung around to the West before turning South near the interchange of Route 80 and the NJ Tunrpike near the George Washington Bridge.
Today the view was clear and we had a great view of the Manhattan skyline while on approach to Newark Liberty's runway .
We landed smoothly about 8-10 minutes late, we then taxied to Terminal C's C-1 concourse passing the Terminal B IAB.
Right behind us as we landed was Singapore Air's A340-500 flight from Singapore, the World's Longest Nonstop flight! We deplaned and heading to the # 2 carousel where our bags were going to arrive.
EWR Terminal C Airside Corridor
My Dad and Brother were there to pick us up, and bring us back home.