There’s lots to see and do right in the St Thomas cruise port!
If you’ve ever taken a cruise to the eastern or southern Caribbean, there’s a good chance that your ship will stop in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. It’s an American port that US citizens don’t even need a passport to visit. Having taken over 10 cruises (and all of them in the Caribbean), I’ve gone to St. Thomas more times than I can recall.
In the past, I’ve embarked on quite a few adventures around this spectacular island. I’ve gone kayaking and snorkeling at Cas Cay, snorkeled at Trunk Bay in St. John, lounged on the beach at Water Island, had a drink at Charlotte Amalie’s ice bar, and dined at a vegetarian restaurant just off the beaten path.
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If you’ve never been to St. Thomas, I highly recommend that you book a tour or excursion to get out of the port. Be dazzled by gorgeous Magen’s Bay or Sapphire Beach. Go snorkeling or hiking to see the natural wonders of St. Thomas.
However, on this vegan cruise of the Caribbean aboard MSC’s Divina, St. Thomas was our first port. Justin and I had snorkeling day trips, catamaran sailings, and beach days planned for our other stops in the Caribbean. While we originally thought a beach day would be fun in St. Thomas, we ultimately decided that we’d simply wander around and explore the St Thomas cruise port and downtown Charlotte Amalie.
WALKING FROM HAVENSIGHT
The MSC Divina was docked at the Havensight port. In St. Thomas, there are two main cruise ports: Havensight and Crown Bay. There’s also the third option that the cruise ship might put its anchor down in the sea and passengers take tenders to and from the island. In that case, you’ll arrive right at downtown Charlotte Amalie.
It was the first time that I’ve visited St. Thomas where no other cruise ships were docked besides ours. Normally, I recall St. Thomas being quite busy with passengers from multiple cruise ships roaming around. Perhaps less cruise ships are visiting St. Thomas after the hurricane of 2017. I have no idea – this is only a speculation on my part.
RECOVERING FROM THE HURRICANES
Tourism has returned to St. Thomas after Hurricanes Irma and Maria ravaged the island nation. The storm destroyed over 18,000 homes and businesses, and many have not yet recovered from this devastating disaster. Many residents are still waiting to receive insurance money, and several businesses have not reopened yet.
Of course, we found that downtown Charlotte Amalie was mostly open and back in business. We highly recommend that you book a holiday here or sail here as St. Thomas is absolutely beautiful.
SKYRIDE TO PARADISE POINT
Sadly, when we visited, the Skyride to Paradise Point was still closed due to hurricane damage. However, it opened the following week and it’s open again now. I’d love to do this. Ride a cable car up to Paradise Point for a spectacular view of the island.
The St. Thomas Skyride is a short walk from the Havensight dock and you can also walk from downtown Charlotte Amalie.
Justin and I walked from Havensight towards downtown Charlotte Amalie. During our walk, the winds started to pick up and we felt a little bit of rain fall from the sky. All of a sudden, whooooosh! Massive downpour!
We started to run and took cover beneath the awning of a random building, where we stood huddled with a few others. As with most bouts of bad weather in the Caribbean, the storm passed in about five minutes and the sun started shining brightly once again.
The rain stayed away for the rest of the day, thankfully.
Once we reached downtown Charlotte Amalie, we simply wandered around at our own pace. Justin and I walked down every narrow alleyway and peeked around every corner. We sauntered down the cobblestone roads and main streets.
We also walked right by the edge of the waterfront, admiring views of our own cruise ship and beyond.
The two of us adored the brightly painted buildings all around. While much of Charlotte Amalie seems like a tourist trap with the typical shops you see in cruise ports over and over again, there’s a lot to discover beyond the stores. Of course, if you want to indulge in some retail therapy, the St Thomas cruise port provides a great opportunity for that.
Here’s a little photo gallery offering some glimpses of the St Thomas cruise port and Charlotte Amalie, US Virgin Islands.
LEGISLATURE OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS
We stumbled across this majestic building on our jaunt around Charlotte Amalie. It’s the Legislature of the Virgin Islands, a historic building constructed in 1828. Originally, it was home to the Danish police barracks (back when the Virgin Islands were owned by Denmark) and it underwent renovations in 1884. Today, it is part of the Charlotte Amalie Historic District, along with over 500 other buildings.
HAVENSIGHT & YACHT HAVEN GRANDE
You don’t have to travel far to check out shops, cafes, and bars. The Havensight shopping complex and the Shops at Yacht Haven Grande are a great place for souvenirs, alcohol, jewelry, and more.
Havensight is home to over 100 duty free souvenir and beachwear shops. Yacht Haven Grande provides a more upscale shopping experience with high end boutique brands. Between Havensight, Yacht Haven Grande, and Charlotte Amalie, you’ll find everything you need.
BACK ON THE SHIP
As the MSC Divina sailed away from the St Thomas cruise port around 5:30pm, the sun was starting to set. Sailing away from St. Thomas is not to be missed. There are such stunning views from the upper decks of the ship. Admire the scenery with a drink in your hand (or if you’re like me, a camera in your hand!).
While booking an excursion or tour is typically our cruising style, we really enjoyed our day of wandering in St. Thomas, USVI. It was nice to not have any plans in general and to wander aimlessly. Sometimes the magic of travelling isn’t in the planning, preparations, or organized trips. It’s in the little discoveries you make on the journey.
Leaving everything to surprise and chance in St. Thomas was an excellent choice. Having a relaxing day was a great start to our cruise where we’d be visiting five different islands in a row.
Check out more photos from St. Thomas, USVI in our travel photo album.
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