Saint Thomas

Symphony of the Seas in St. Thomas

Saint Thomas

The main US Virgin Islands consist of Saint Thomas, Saint John, and Saint Croix. The group also includes Water Island and about 50 other small islands and cays. Cruise ships stop at Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas and Frederiksted on St. Croix. St. John is accessible by boat from St. Thomas. The US Virgin Islands are a territory of the USA, as is Puerto Rico. These Caribbean islands, previously called the Danish West Indies, lie in the leeward islands of the Lesser Antilles east of Puerto Rico and west of the British Virgin Islands.

Like many Caribbean islands the earliest inhabitants – in this case thought to be Arawaks and Ciboney – were displaced by the Caribs before European exploration of the area. As with other Caribbean islands, much of the indigenous population died of European diseases they had no resistance to, or died from the harsh conditions of forced labor, being replaced by hardier slaves imported from Africa. Slave rebellions on St. John and St. Croix led to the abolishment of slavery and the downfall of the Danish sugar plantations. The US Virgin Islands became an economic burden to Denmark until finally being sold to the USA during World War 1 when the US feared the islands might be seized by Germany.

view of the port from the ship

Tourism now makes up a major portion of the islands’ economy. Periodic destruction from hurricanes has been a problem in the area throughout its history. These are hilly islands of volcanic origin. Tourists flock to the islands for white sand beaches and coral reefs. Like the rest of the region, these reefs are negatively impacted by pollution, warming oceans, overfishing, development, and tourists as well as natural disasters like hurricanes. Coral is one of the world’s major food chain bases so its destruction affects a lot more than just the tourism of a given area.

there's lots of cheap Caribbean cruises available

cruise ships at the Havensight dock

Saint Thomas Cruise Port

Charlotte Amalie where the cruise ships dock has two ports with dock space for multiple cruise ships. Paradise Point skyride is within walking distance of Havensight, the main cruise port. Lots of shops are within walking distance and there are also shops right at the port. This dock holds 3 ships in a line. There may be local tours available at the port or in town. Taxis are available at the port to take people into town.

view of dry docks by the island from Symphony of the Seas

There’s another cruise ship dock west of town called Crown Bay. This is where Symphony of the Seas docked on our visit. It could hold two ships, but ours was the only one there that day. We did not go exploring beyond the port on foot, but rumor has it there’s a beach about a 20-minute walk away and google maps says it’s about a 40-minute walk to a place called 99 Steps, at which Blackbeard’s castle sits at the top. Crown Bay appears to belong to Royal Caribbean due to its logo being present in signage at the port, but the internet says other ships dock there too.

dock in St Thomas

The shops at Crown Bay looked considerably newer and nicer than the ones at the Havensight dock did the last time I was there. Taxis are available to take passengers into town or other destinations. I had not been to this dock before on previous visits to Saint Thomas so nothing looked familiar when we came into port.

windmill at the port

Besides shops and things this port also had a windmill.

the crew had some practice driving lifeboats around while we were docked in St Thomas

Things To Do or See in St. Thomas

The island has many beaches. Snorkeling is one of the most popular excursions. Sailing (which may be combined with snorkeling) or a visit to St. John or Magens Bay are also things people like to do there.

raindrops on the window

St Thomas Skyride

Other options include a pirate museum, botanical garden, island tour, kayaking, parasailing, Coral World, an eco tour, zipline, watersports, and of course the ever-popular skyride – which was a disappointment the last time we went there as a road had been paved to the top taking out all the things there used to be to do up there other than shops and a restaurant. The view from the top and from the skyride is great though.

map of the Virgin Islands

Saint John

The island of Saint John is a close neighbor to Saint Thomas. It is a smaller and less populated island. Much of it is a national park. There is ferry service between the two islands. One of the routes runs from Charlote Amalie to Cruz Bay, the main town on St. John, which has shops, restaurants, and places to stay. Hiking, beaches, and snorkeling are popular activities there. We had originally booked a snorkel excursion that went to St. John, but it got cancelled so we did not get to go there.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2022

About LBcruiseshipblogger

MyCruiseStories blog tells stories about adventures in cruising on ships big and small. Things to do onboard and in port. Anything connected to cruising. Also food, travel, recipes, towel animals, and the occasional random blog.
This entry was posted in Caribbean, Ports of Call, Royal Caribbean, Symphony of the Seas and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Saint Thomas

  1. I have never been there, but have heard very good things. Yes, I do worry for these folks when the hurricanes start ramping up and I certainly would visit outside of hurricane season. I liked the bit of history you provided on the Islands – helped fill in some blanks for me on how they came about to be ours.

    • Like wildfire season in the USA, hurricane season keeps getting longer and longer in the Caribbean and everywhere else they go. I’ve rarely been to the Caribbean outside of hurricane season, but I’ve never been there during a hurricane. Unless one suddenly and unpredictably changed course and caught people totally by surprise the cruise ships will avoid them even if it means changing the itinerary or canceling the cruise. The closest I’ve come was tailing a hurricane one cruise where the ship was far enough behind the hurricane to stay out of it, but close enough to find damage, destruction, and sometimes bad weather at the ports.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s