Port Focus: St. Thomas


The US Virgin Islands is popular among Eastern Caribbean cruise stops and the island of St. Thomas is an American owned island with Caribbean flair.  Great beaches and shopping highlight what there is to see and do here.

St. Thomas Benefits

  • Beaches: St. Thomas features some very beautiful beaches, including Magens Bay, which is among the most beautiful beaches in the world.  There's also other beaches here that offer beautiful water color and very fine sand.  When you think of a Caribbean beach, St. Thomas is the sort of beach experience you will have in mind.
    • Best public beach: Magens Bay or Coki Beach
  • Shopping: St. Thomas offers a lot of shopping options around and near the cruise terminal.  Being an American island, the prices here are fairly close to what you'd expect to find back on the mainland.  The island boasts good prices on jewelry, liquor, linens, china and crystal.  By far jewelry is what is in demand here and there are lots of places to check out.  There is no sales tax in the United States Virgin Islands so you can take advantage of the $1,600 duty-free allowance per family member (remember to save your receipts).
  • Proximity to St John: It's common for St. Thomas to have many cruise ships in port but St. John is very close and there are water taxi options that take just 20 minutes to get over to the island.  For those that have visited St. Thomas before, St. John is close enough to allow for two ports in one.

St. Thomas Detractions

  • Traffic: Like many small Caribbean islands, traffic can snarl up the roads often and quickly.  This is especially true in the late afternoon, which is typically when cruise ships leave port. If you are planning to use a third-party excursion or going to explore on your own, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get back.  
  • Crowds: During the busy season, it is not uncommon to have six or more cruise ships docked in port on any given day and that leads to a lot of people in one place.  St. Thomas has cemented itself as a cruise destination and many cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean, send many of their ships here.  More than likely you will feel engulfed in a sea of other tourists.

What to do in St. Thomas

On your next Royal Caribbean cruise to St. Thomas consider these activities

  • Beach visit to one of their beautiful beaches, including Magens Bay, Coki Beach or Sapphire Beach
  • Take water taxi to St. John
  • Duty-free shopping in Charlotte Amalie
  • Go to Mountain Top (it's a bit of a tourist trap, but the view is worth it)

Royal Caribbean ships stopping in St. Thomas: Freedom of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas, Jewel of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas, Independence of the Seas, Grandeur of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas & Legend of the Seas

Bayonne, New Jersey cruise port open again after Hurricane Sandy


Following the devastation by Hurricane Sandy, Cape Liberty cruise port in Bayonne, New Jersey is open again for departures and arrivals.

Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas is in port today for an eight night cruise to the Caribbean.

Royal Caribbean spokesperson Cynthia Martinez said the Cape Liberty sustained some water damage as a result of Hurricane Sandy.  Once the storm passed, the Cape Liberty staff began working to prepare the terminal for the arrival of passengers today. All of the port's power is being produced by backup generation because the electricity has not been restored to the terminal building.

Royal Caribbean is dealing with refunds and rescheduling tickets for those who can't get to the port because of Hurricane Sandy on a case-by-case basis.

People who can't make their scheduled departure are encouraged to call (866) 562-7625. 

Royal Caribbean interested in port of Kotor


There's a report out that claims Royal Caribbean is interested in sending its ships to the port city of Kotor in in southwestern Montenegro.  This Mediterranean port city is an option for Royal Caribbean to send its ships there.

According to the report, Royal Caribbean is considering significantly improving service to Kotor harbor.  

Royal Caribbean enters into joint venture with Barbados


Royal Caribbean is partnering with Barbados Port and SMI Infrastructure Solutions to build a brand new state-of-the-art cruise terminal in Barbados that will cost over $300 million.  The new facility will allow some of the world's biggest cruise ships to dock at the island.

George Hutson, Barbados Minister of International Transport and International Business, announced the two year project at the recent Barbados Port Inc.’s 50th anniversary staff awards ceremony.

“If we are going to remain relevant, if we are going to capitalize on the opportunities available from cruise tourism, we must renew our plant from the basic infrastructure currently existing to one which will accommodate and service the increasingly large cruise ships."

According to Hutson, Barbados is hoping the new cruise terminal will attract more cruise ships to the island, which in turn will lead to increasing revenue generated by cruise passengers on the island.

The new terminal will be completed in two phases, the first phase will cost $300 million and will include two cruise piers, arrival and departure facilities, along with parking lots. The development will take involve reclaiming 15 acres of land from the sea, 100,000 square feet of which will be provided for commercial activity. Dredging is slated to begin in November.

Cruise tourism in Barbados has grown from 127,000 in 1985 to 726,543 last year.  The best year ever for cruise passenger traffic to the island was 2004 when 812,863 people visited the island.

Royal Caribbean shows interest in developing Ukraine cruise business


The Ukrainian government will begin promoting the development of a cruise industry in its country, specifically eyeing the ports of Odessa, Sevastopol and Yalta as prime candidates.

Royal Caribbean vice president Craig Maylen met with Ukranian Minister of Infrastructure Borys Kolesnikov during a visit to the United States.  Maylen talked about the future of the ports, "Odessa port has great prospects for receiving cruise ships, as it is in the heart of the city, and it is very convenient for tourists"

The meeting took place in Royal Caribbean's headquarters in Miami, Florida where the two sides discussed a number of issues regarding the  potential of Ukrainian ports in the cruise industry. 

According to Maylen the port has quite a good infrastructure. With certain infrastructure improvements in Yalta and Sevastopol, the ports could be upgraded to handle considerably larger cruise ships than they serve now.

Video: Endless destinations aboard Royal Caribbean


Phuket port wants to expand port to accommodate Royal Caribbean ships


The head of the Phuket, Thailand Marine Department Office is trying to kick-start stalled negotiations to expand the port to allow larger cruise ships to dock there.  Represenatives from Royal Caribbean and Princess Cruises met with Thai officials on July 12 to discuss the problems encountered by large ships using their port.

Located at Cape Panwa, the deep sea port has long been criticized as too small to accommodate large vessels, both cargo and passenger, for docking.

According to Marine Department Region 5 chief Phuripat Theerakulpisuk, Royal Caribbean wants to see the government become more involved in lengthening the wharf and dredge the seabed.

Chief Phuripat cited one example of a Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas, measuring 312 meters long and 38m wide, that is forced to moor about four kilometers from the wharf and ferry its passengers ashore on smaller vessels.

Chief Phuripat commented on the need, "“It’s uncomfortable for passengers. Royal Caribbean Cruises has come to Phuket three times – once in May and twice in June, bringing 6,000 passengers each time. I truly believe if the port were improved, there would be a lot more ships from across the world arriving on Phuket.”

Royal Caribbean to complete designs for new Batumi port in September


The port of Batumi in the Republic of Georgia will see 14 cruise ships visit it this year, with 8 confirmed and the other 6 in the negotiations.  All the cruises will visit the brand new cruise terminal that Royal Caribbean has been designing.

The Deputy  Head of the Department of Tourism and Resorts of Adjara A.R, Sophio Lazishvili, commented on the work, "“In September 2012 the cruise company Royal Caribbean will complete the design works for the new port. Actual construction will begin in October 2012."

The new cruise terminal has hopes it will draw more cruise ships to the port.  Representatives of travel agencies say they do not offer cruises to Georgians because of the sheer lack of demand.

Royal Caribbean struck a deal with the port of Batumi back in June of 2011 to help develop the port for cruise ship traffic.

Royal Caribbean shows possible interest in Almuñécar, Spain


Royal Caribbean representatives along with representatives from Norwegian Cruise Line met with port officials from Almuñécar, Spain as a possibility for shore excursions on future cruises.

The port cities of Motril and Malaga, Spain were also on hand as these cities were looking for ways to bring back Royal Caribbean after they announced the company would cease port calls to Malaga next year.  

This visit is part of the campaign to promote the Port of Motril as a destination for cruise ships where other cruise lines are already operating with some regularity.

The visit began with a welcome by the Municipal Tourism Coordinator, Rafael Caballero, at the headquarters of the Tourist Board of Almuñecar. In addition to delivering information about the town municipality, Caballero informed the group of the availability of a guided service to show some of the most prominent monuments and archaeological sites.

For municipal representative, Rafael Caballero, the visit of two large cruise line representatives "is very important to Almuñécar so can be assumed in the projection of our community be included in brochures and possible destination of tourists arriving to the port as we have had the opportunity to meet, "he said.

Royal Caribbean to stop in Guadeloupe


Royal Caribbean passengers can for at least this winter, enjoy a cruise to Guadeloupe aboard the Brilliance of the Seas. The ship will offer departures from November 14, 2012 to April 3, 2013.

The ship will carry passengers every Wednesday to Pointe-à-Pitre for cruises of one week with two alternate routes: Guadeloupe, Saint Lucia, sea day, San Juan, Tortola, St. Martin, St. Kitts and return to Guadeloupe; Guadeloupe, Barbados, sea day, San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. John's and back to Guadeloupe.