Monday, October 28, 2013

Visiting St. Thomas on an Eastern Caribbean Cruise

In 1493 Christopher Columbus visited the present day Virgin Islands while searching for a route to India.  He named the beautiful islands “The Virgins” in reference to the legendary beauty of St. Ursula and her 11,000 virgins.  The Danish West India Company thought the same, and settled St. Thomas in 1665. In 1917 the United States purchased the islands from the Dutch for $25 million in gold in an effort to improve military positioning during the critical times of World War I.  Today St. Thomas, (along with St. Croix, and St. John), make up the US Virgin Islands; a much loved  port of call on an Eastern Caribbean cruise!

Favorite Beaches:

Magens Bay is St. Thomas's most popular beach and one of the prettiest in the Caribbean! The water is usually very calm in this heart-shaped protected bay. Beach chairs and floats are available for rent and burgers, pizzas and other snacks can be found at the snack bar. Lifeguards are on duty every day. Taxi from Havensight Pier is approx. $10.00 pp each way, plus $3.00 to get on the beach. Plenty of taxis will be waiting at Magens to return you to the ship.

Sapphire Beach is a great beach for relaxing and for enjoying water sports. There is a water sports booth that offers wind surfing, kayaks and snorkel gear rental (the snorkeling is great!), as well as chair rentals. At the nearby marina you can rent jet skis or go parasailing. Food and drinks are available from a small open-air grill. Taxi from Havensight Pier is approx. $9.00 pp each way.

Lindberg Bay, also known as Emerald Beach is the closest beach to the new Crown Bay Pier. Several restaurants are available for having a nice lunch or grabbing a quick snack. A water sports booth offers kayaks, snorkeling, diving, peddle boats & windsurfers among other fun activities. Taxi from Crown Bay Pier is approx. $4.00 pp each way.

Favorite Attractions:

Coral World Ocean Park:  Experience the beauty and magic of life under and above the Caribbean Sea! Swim with sea lions, Sea Trek along the ocean floor, snuba, encounter turtles, sharks, and stingrays.  Gaze into the ocean from 15 feet under in the underwater observatory. Twenty-one tanks provide stunning views of hundreds of marine species in their unique habitats.  Coki Beach is right next-door and is great for both snorkeling and diving (there is a dive shop on sight). There is a beach side eatery, and rentals of jet skis, snorkel gear, beach chairs, and floats.

Mountain Top:  1,542 feet above sea level, the summit of St. Peter Mountain is the highest point on St. Thomas. The scenic overlook houses shops, a dining area and bar and of course a balcony for taking in the breathtaking view of Drake's passage, the British Virgin Islands and beautiful Magens Bay. Mountain Top holds the title for having the original and best banana daiquiris on the island.

Skyride to Paradise Point:  A seven minute aerial cable car takes you 700 feet above sea level. Stay at the top for as long as you want and enjoy unique shops, a neat Bird Show (10:30am & 1:30pm), and a fun bar and grill for a nice lunch and fabulous panoramic views of cruise ships, the Charlotte Amalie harbor and neighboring Caribbean islands.

Best Shopping:

The shopping is amazing on an Eastern Caribbean cruise! Hundreds of duty free shops line the streets and alleys of the capital, Charlotte Amalie. The best buys on St. Thomas include jewelry, alcohol, china, crystal, perfumes, watches and cameras. There is an area called Vendors Plaza where vendors set up small booths, tables and tents from which they sell an assortment of souvenirs. There you will find silver jewelry, t-shirts, tropical print wrap skirts, shirts and dresses, imitation bags and watches, trinkets and more. There is also hair braiding.

 It’s shopping galore right at the dock at Havensight! There are more than 50 shops, many of which are outposts of Charlotte Amalie's better-known boutiques, such as A.H. Riese, H. Stern and Royal Caribbean (the electronics store, not the cruise line).

Yacht Haven Grande Marina is a wonderful upscale shopping area.  From clothing, boutiques and unique gift shops, to electronics, art galleries and fine jewelry.  It’s walking distance from Havensight Pier; just follow the dock around the harbor."

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