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Charlotte Amalie Cruises Port Guide

A cruise to St. Thomas will take you to the largest island of the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) and one of the most popular in the Caribbean. On this island paradise, you’ll be met by excellent duty-free shopping and exquisite beaches often considered to be some of the most beautiful in the world. While in port on an Eastern Caribbean cruise, you can explore the capital city of Charlotte Amalie, located close to the port, or escape the hustle and bustle of St. Thomas and finding some tranquil activities on the smallest USVI, St. John.

Cruises to Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

 

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Top Sights & Attractions for Cruises to Charlotte Amalie

Magens Bay

The beach at Magens Bay often tops lists of best beaches in the world and is a must-see on a cruise to St. Thomas. It is characterized by a long, curving bay shaped like a half-moon. Admire the lush green foliage lining the beach while you walk along the soft sand and the turquoise Caribbean Sea. You’ll find a bar, eatery, and shops along the beach, too.

99 Steps

Originally built in the middle of the 18th century by Danish settlers, these steps were constructed to make it easier to travel up and down the steep hills of Charlotte Amalie. The staircase was created with brick sourced from the ballast in ships’ hulls traveling to St. Thomas from Denmark. If you take the time to count the steps, you’ll find there are actually 103 instead of 99.

Sapphire Beach

Lounge on an island beach with views of other islands on this picturesque piece of sand that looks out over the sea and beyond to St. John and the British Virgin Islands. In addition to great views, Sapphire Beach has a wide assortment of watersports equipment you can rent, including kayaks and jet skis.

St. Thomas Synagogue

The St. Thomas Synagogue is the second oldest synagogue in the western hemisphere. It was built in 1833 and is open to visitors to walk around on weekdays.

Mountain Top

This aptly named site on the summit of St. Peter Mountain is St. Thomas’ highest point that extends 1,500 feet in the air. When visiting Mountain Top, you’ll find a tourist shop, cafeteria, and bar. The main draw, though, is the panoramic view of St. Thomas and the glistening sea below. While here, be sure to try the bar’s famous banana daiquiri.

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Top Things to Do in Charlotte Amalie

Ferry to St. John

A short ferry ride away from St. Thomas is the smaller U.S. Virgin Island of St. John, home to a sleepy beach town and the wildly beautiful Virgin Islands National Park that takes up about half of the island. Popular beaches to visit while on cruises to St. Thomas, Virgin Islands include Honeymoon Beach and Trunk Bay, the latter of which is home to an interesting snorkeling trail. It takes 20 minutes to get to from Red Hook and a bit longer from the ferry portal in downtown Charlotte Amalie.

Skyride to Paradise Point

For excellent views and a thrilling ride up 700 feet in a gondola-style cable car, take the St. Thomas Skyride from Havensight to Paradise Point. Once at Paradise Point, you’ll be able to get off and do some shopping.

Coral World Ocean Park

This attraction is great for families or anyone who loves sea life. You’ll get a lesson about life on a coral reef as you observe beautiful creatures in the Undersea Observatory. The entire park covers five acres and, in addition to the aquarium, you can swim with dolphins, take an underwater sea trek or Snuba adventure, and have entertaining encounters with sea lions. Coral World is also located right by the popular Coki Beach, which has calm, shallow water.

Top Food and Drink Spots Near the Charlotte Amalie Cruise Port

When in doubt about what to eat while in St. Thomas, go the seafood route – as long as it’s fresh. Popular seafood caught off the shores of St. Thomas include mahi-mahi, yellowfin tuna, and Caribbean lobster. Conch chowder or conch fritters make for a delicious savory treat. If you’re looking for something sweeter, try some freshly made key lime pie.

When it comes to restaurant ambiance, you’ll find everything from beach bars to 5-star restaurants while in port on your cruise to St. Thomas. Dine by marinas, in historic buildings, or at luxury resorts. Wherever you choose to enjoy your meal, you’ll be soaking up part of the St. Thomas vibe and culture.

Culture & History of the Charlotte Amalie Cruise Port

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 smaller islands of St. John, St. Croix, and Water Island. St. Thomas was originally a Danish colony settled by the Danes in the 17th century. In 1917, the U.S. bought the USVI from Denmark to help them improve their military foothold in the Caribbean during World War I. In the mid-1900s, the islands became a tourism hub. Today, much of the economy is still bolstered by tourism.

Charlotte Amalie Port Facilities & Location

Cruises to St. Thomas, Virgin Islands stop in one of two ports: 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 the ports, or you can opt for a shore excursion to take you around the island and to Charlotte Amalie. You’ll find shops, eateries, bars, and ATMs within easy walking distance of both piers.

Transportation in Charlotte Amalie

One of the easiest ways to get around in port while on a cruise to St. Thomas is by taxi, but these taxis aren’t what you’re used to. Instead of hailing a cab just for yourself, you’ll get onto a small, open-air shuttle called a safari truck 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. Tipping is appreciated, but not required.

Shopping Near the Charlotte Amalie Cruise Port

St. Thomas is known for its extensive duty-free shopping, and downtown Charlotte Amalie is where you want to head to shop ‘til you drop. The main streets are home to a number of boutiques, high-end jewelers, and souvenir shops. Near the main street, you'll find a small market with vendor stands selling jewelry, clothing, crafts, and other Caribbean-inspired artifacts. By the pier, shops offer popular souvenirs like t-shirts, magnets, local artwork, and jewelry.

Local Currency & Tipping Customs

The official currency in St. Thomas and the rest of the U.S. Virgin Islands is the U.S. dollar. Tipping is expected 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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Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas: Charlotte Amalie is the enchanting capital of St. Thomas that has attracted pirates and sailors the world over for centuries. The island enjoys a fascinating fusion of Danish, French, Spaniard, West African and Carib influences. There’s so much to discover on a cruise to St. Thomas. For a nice overview of the island’s history head to Fort Christian Museum. Built as a military fort by the Dutch in 1680, this historic landmark features exhibits chronicling the history of the Virgin Islands from the Stone Age to the present, as well as natural history collections, and an art gallery. Experience the beauty of St. Thomas beaches with a wonderful picnic on Magens Bay beach or snorkel in the turquoise Caribbean Sea where you’ll come up close to corals, sponges, and schools of colorful tropical fish. Authentic island dishes like savory curries with roti, the freshest seafood, and delicious drinks made with the finest local rums are readily available on restaurant menus. And, while the beaches and ocean are beautiful, there is one thing that really sets St. Thomas apart - shopping. This island is the most commercial of all the U.S. Virgin Islands. Browse through the shop-lined streets of the capital city and shop for duty-free trinkets and bargains on everything from liquor to imported china and crystal.