Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas Cruise Port Guide

A cruise to St. Thomas will take you to the largest of the beautiful U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), a laid-back archipelago fringed by white sand beaches and sparkling sapphire seas. Unwind under a sun umbrella, snorkel over rainbow-colored reefs, take a sailing trip, or explore some of the island’s nature trails and viewpoints. You can also head to sleepy St. John, a pristine spot for snorkeling and admiring marine life.

There’s history to discover in the enchanting capital of Charlotte Amalie, which dates back to the 17th century when the island was colonized by Denmark and pirates roamed the Caribbean. Explore ancient forts and cobbled lanes, flower-filled stone stairways, and elegant old houses. Discover more about the island’s cuisine, or sample some of the magnificent rum cocktails for which the island is famous. Leave time for shopping, too, as St. Thomas offers some of the best duty-free shopping you’ll find on a Caribbean cruise.





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Enjoy luxurious staterooms, cuisine, and service as you discover St. Thomas, San Juan, St. Maarten and Fort Lauderdale. Climb, snorkel, swim, bike or chill in some of the world’s most beautiful places.

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Top Sights & Attractions on Cruises to St. Thomas

Magens Bay

Regularly voted one of the best beaches in the world, Magens Bay is a sweep of soft white sand, iridescent aquamarine water, and a lush backdrop of sea grapes, mahogany trees, and coconut palms. The shallow water and calm conditions make this the perfect spot for kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding, looking out for stingrays and sea turtles. Back on the beach, there’s a bar and café, as well as a 1.5-mile nature trail through the coconut grove.

Charlotte Amalie

Explore the pretty capital of the U.S. Virgin Islands filled with cobbled lanes and steep flights of steps. The 99 Steps is one of the most colorful, with flowers banked on either side. Visit Blackbeard’s Castle, a 17th-century watchtower, and tour some of the city’s historic homes. Check out the pale gold Lutheran Church and the historic St. Thomas Synagogue before strolling along Main Street, where most of the 18th century buildings now house duty-free shops.

Mountain Top

The summit of St. Peter Mountain is St. Thomas’ highest point, 1,500 feet above Magens Bay. Come up here for stupendous views from the observation deck; on a clear day, you’ll be able to see 15 islands, including the British Virgin Islands, scattered across the sea like jewels. There’s a big duty-free shop here, but perhaps equally alluring is the banana daiquiri that was invented here, a tasty frozen concoction featuring Cruzan rum, a banana liqueur, ripe bananas, and lime.

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Things to Do in St. Thomas

Take a Catamaran to St. John

Sail on a gleaming catamaran across the sparkling water to sleepy St. John, where you’ll stop in the turquoise waters off Honeymoon Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. You can jump straight off the boat into the warm water, or head for the beach for a few hours of beachcombing, snoozing under a coconut palm, or snorkeling over colorful reefs teeming with fish.

Join a Foodie Tour of Charlotte Amalie

Wander through the lanes and alleys of historic Charlotte Amalie with a local expert to discover more about the island’s cuisine and local history. You’ll learn how to make the perfect rum cocktail and try dishes like curried chicken, rice with peas (which are actually beans), fungi (fried cornmeal cakes), sweet plantains, and a delicious dessert of banana rum flambé. The tour also weaves in the city’s top sights, from the 99 steps to Fort Christian and Blackbeard’s Castle.

Learn About Plants at Villa Botanica

Occupying the site of an 18th-century sugar plantation, this lush tropical garden is bursting with dazzling blooms, orchids, herbs, and other medicinal plants, the air fragrant with frangipani. Peacocks, tortoises, and soldier crabs populate the crumbling remains of the estate, which has sweeping views down over Charlotte Amalie. You’ll learn about bush medicine and sample local teas, with the option of trying island rum, too.

Top Food & Drink in St. Thomas

St. Thomas has an eclectic culinary scene, from classy restaurants to beach bars and fun street food trucks. The seafood here is superb; look out for spiced mahi mahi fish and the sweet, clawless Caribbean lobster, as well as yellowfin tuna and creamy conch chowder. Fish and fungi, the national dish, is a polenta-like dumpling served with fried fish. You’ll see Johnny cakes everywhere, which are deep-fried flour or cornmeal patties served with cheese or salt fish.

Check out the food trucks for roti, salt fish, or meat pate (like an empanada), and cold beer. If you’re feeling peckish, meanwhile, a Bushwacker cocktail will keep you full till the next mealtime. This is a heady mix of blended ice, dark rum, coffee liqueur, creme de cacao liqueur, cream of coconut, and milk.

Culture & History of St. Thomas

St. Thomas is an unincorporated territory of the United States of America. It is part of the U.S. Virgin Islands archipelago, along with the islands of St. John and St. Croix. The island was first settled around 1500 BC by the Ciboney people and later, Arawaks and Caribs. St. Thomas was colonized by Denmark in the 17th century, which is why you’ll find remnants of the Danish language in the street names of the island’s capital. Charlotte Amalie was named in honor of the wife of the Danish king, Christian V. Fort Christian is part of the Danish legacy, built between 1666 and 1680, and the oldest structure on the island today.

The principal activities of the Danes were sugar cane production and plantation farming, using enslaved Africans as labor. But hurricanes, fires, and the emancipation of slaves meant that these activities became less profitable, and in 1917, the U.S. bought the USVI from Denmark to help it improve its military foothold in the Caribbean. In the mid-1900s, the islands became a tourism hub. Today, much of the economy is still bolstered by tourism. The islanders’ culture blends African, European, and American influences. English is the official language, but locals speak their own dialect of Creole.

St. Thomas Cruise Port Facilities & Location

Cruises to St. Thomas, Virgin Islands stop at one of two docks: Havensight and Crown Bay. You’ll find them on either side of Charlotte Amalie on the south side of the island, though neither is close enough to provide an easy walk between the ship and downtown. It’s easy to find taxi service between Charlotte Amalie and either pier, or you can opt for a shore excursion to take you around the island and to Charlotte Amalie. Both piers are well equipped with duty-free shopping, car rental, ATMs, restaurants, tour desks, and places to eat.

Transportation in Charlotte Amalie

One of the easiest ways to get around in port while on a cruise to St. Thomas, if you don’t want to rent your own car, is by taxi, although local taxis are not what you might expect. They’re small, open-air shuttle vehicles called safari trucks equipped with a few rows of seats. Flag one down heading in the direction you want to go and tell the driver where you want to be dropped off. You may make extra stops before yours, depending on the other passengers’ desired routes. You’ll pay a set price per person that is usually quite reasonable. To explore the island under your own steam, rent a car from the outlets at the cruise pier—but remember that driving is on the left.

Shopping in St. Thomas

St. Thomas is known for its extensive duty-free shopping, and downtown Charlotte Amalie is where you’ll find bargains galore, from perfume to jewelry and electronics. Shops stocking everything imaginable line Main Street, while there’s a small market nearby with vendor stands selling jewelry, clothing, crafts, and other Caribbean-inspired artifacts. The Havensight Mall is right by the Havensight cruise terminal, while the Crown Bay Center serves the Crown Bay pier. For the most upscale shopping, head for Yacht Haven Grande, where you’ll find brands like Gucci, Bulgari, and Coach.

Local Currency & Tipping Customs

The U.S. dollar is the official currency in St. Thomas and the rest of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Tipping is customary when dining out or ordering drinks at a bar. Tipping customs in St. Thomas and the other USVI are similar to those in the U.S., with 15% to 20% of the total bill being the normal amount to tip.

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