St. Kitts

Excursion Focus: Caribbean Scenic Railway Tour in St. Kitts

In:
23May2016

When you cruise to enough Caribbean islands, a lot of the shore excursions start to sound the same: swim here, hike there, see that.  They are certainly fun, but many of those excursions start to feel all the same.

For those looking to try something different or if you want to see a whole different side of St. Kitts, the Caribbean Scenic Railway Tour is for you.

Description

The Caribbean Scenic Railway Tour is a tour of the backcountry of St. Kitts via a relic from the days when sugar cane was the the industry in St. Kitts (tourism replaced it).

Guests can board an old railway train for a sightseeing tour of a good portion of St. Kitts and its beautiful landscape.

The train is comprised of about a half-dozen two-deck railcars, that provide views of fields, mountains, oceans, neighboring islands and anything else along the way.

The train is a one way tour, so a bus will bring you to one stop or the other (depending on where the train ended up last) and guests board the train for the tour. The same bus will meet you at the conclusion of the train tour to bring you back to the ship.

The train cars are double-deckers, with the top deck being open air and offering the best views.  The bottom deck is air conditioned and also has a restroom.  While the bottom deck of the train car features large windows, more often than not, your view is blocked by vegetation.

The train crawls down the 30-miles of track to provide plenty of time to see a lot of St. Kitts.  

Since this train was built to transport sugar cane from the fields to the processing facility, you will not be seeing much of St. Kitts that tourists get to see.  That means you will get to see St. Kitts in her natural environment.

Along the way, guests are served unlimited soft drinks and cocktails.  There is a waitress on each car that takes drink orders, makes them and then repeats until literally no one else wants anything.  

Throughout the ride, a tour guide will narrate the journey and share information on St. Kitts' history, local lore and anecdotes.

The train will take you across varied landscapes and you see quite a bit of the island's natural beauty.

Comments

What struck me about the Caribbean Scenic Railway Tour and why we booked it is because it was a fairly unique shore excursion. Royal Caribbean claims this is the West Indies' last railway.

There is no question that the tour lives up to its promise of showcasing a large swath of St. Kitts and seeing the mountains, valleys, bridges and beaches are quite lovely.

We also picked this excursion because we were traveling with 1- and 5-year old children, and they certainly were able to enjoy the experience.

The 30-mile track and slow pace means the ride will take about two hours.  I enjoyed the ride, but when it was over I was ready to get off and do something else.

You will see a lot of natural beauty but not much in the way of towns or villages.  This train was originally built to move sugar easily, not with tourists in mind.  I was expecting to see more of the island that might appeal to see later, but other than a glimpse of Brimstone Fortress, there was not much in that way.

Still, if you want a relaxing and easy way to see St. Kitts, it is difficult to not to go with this tour.  It is quaint, beautiful and just the right pace for almost anyone.

Cost: $109 per adult or $59 for children. Infants are free.

Royal Caribbean to expand stops in St. Kitts in 2016

In:
Category: 
10Apr2015

Royal Caribbean will increase its calls to the Caribbean island of St. Kitts in the summer of 2016.

Two of Royal Caribbean's biggest cruise ships, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, will make scheduled stops in St. Kitts in the 2016 summer season as part of an expanded summer offering to the island.

Oasis of the Seas will make four stops and five from Allure of the Seas will make five stops next summer.

Freedom of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas and Independence of the Seas will also make off-season calls in St. Kitts next summer.

In total, five Royal Caribbean ships will make 51 calls to St. Kitts between May and September 2016, which is up from the 25 calls the cruise line made during the same period in 2015.

St Kitts Tourism Minister Lindsay Grant commented on the news, “With two Oasis-class ships contributing to an increase in total summer port calls from Royal Caribbean on the whole, the line will be bringing significantly more cruise passengers to our shores next year during what is typically the off-season for cruising in the Caribbean. We anticipate that this will lead to an increase in the amount of money spent in our shops, restaurants, activity providers and other businesses and thereby boost St. Kitts’ local economy. I’m very grateful Royal Caribbean for their expanded partnership, which has been developing over the years.”

Guest Review: The Essentials of St. Kitts Tour

In:
19Nov2014

Please welcome guest blogger Don & Heidi! DB and the Princess are a husband and wife duo with 10+ years of cruising history. Their blog, EatSleepCruise.com, provides valuable cruise planning tips and strategies. With reviews on cruise ships and shore excursions, along with a complete photo gallery, they help you “sea the world one port at a time.

During our visit to St. Kitts on our 8 night Independence of the Seas cruise, we wanted to make the most of our time on the island as this would be our first visit to this port. Comparing the tours offered through various companies, The Essentials of St. Kitts Tour, which we booked through Royal Caribbean pre-cruise, seemed like the perfect way to see all of the major highlights of the island.

Overall Impressions

If you have never been to St. Kitts and you are looking to take in the island’s most recognized attractions, including Romney Manor and Brimstone Hill National Park, then this tour is perfect for you. You are allotted plenty of time at both landmarks to tour the grounds, learn the history, and of course grab plenty of memorable photographs. Our bus driver and tour guide was excellent- very informative and answered everyone’s questions about the history of the island and modern life. After seeing all St. Kitts has to offer, we can’t wait to go back to experience more of this untapped Caribbean gem.

Heading Through Downtown Basseterre

Like most organized tours booked through the cruise line, we met our tour operator at the pier immediately after disembarking the ship. The small pier made it easy to find our guide; we were quickly grouped together and put on a small bus to begin the journey around the island. Not even a minute into the tour, a great narration began as the main downtown section of Basseterre is within walking distance of the port.

This city center includes the famous Independence Square, which was once home to the slave trade in St. Kitts. Other governmental buildings and historic landmarks can also be seen early in this tour, including the Berkley Memorial clock, still a hub activity for locals who congregate there to talk business and socialize during the day. 

A few more twist and turns through other noteworthy areas of the town and we were on our way to one of our first two stops, Romney Manor.

Romney Manor and Caribelle Batik 

The tour allows you thirty minutes to discover Romney Manor and learn more about the unique process of making fabrics at Caribelle Batiks. This 10 acre resort offers plenty of great picture ops, including the gigantic Saman Tree. This 350 year old beauty will make you feel very small when you are posing in front of it. 

Inside the Caribelle Batik, you can learn how artisans craft these beautiful pieces of clothing through an intricate process involving dye and wax.

The stop seemed just long enough as we felt like we had seen everything within the thirty minute time frame. Waiting a few extra minutes to get everyone back on the bus, we set off a bit further west on the island to our second stop.

Explorations of Brimstone Hill National Park

While the roads to the Fortress seem manageable, once you get to the base of the Brimstone Hill, the ascent up the windy, and very skinny, road begins. It was quite a driving feat to make it up this curvy road in one piece. Along the way, we were able to capture a few photos of the island’s famous inhabitants, the vervet monkeys.

Once at the top of the fortress, we had about 45 minutes to see the remains of this over 200 year old UNESCO World Heritage site.  This gave us enough time to view the remains of Fort Charlotte and the Prince of Wales Bastion in addition to the main attraction, Fort George Citadel. The seemingly endless staircase to the top of Fort George was well worth it. Once atop of the fort, there are many great photo opportunities to be had, including a must-have pose of me pretending to fire some cannons into the Caribbean Sea. 

This fort also contains some museum exhibits that depict what life was like during the late 17th and early 18th century during the heyday of the fort. A quick stop into these exhibits was plenty for us. After a few more scenic pictures, we started our descent back to the bus, and before we knew it, we were heading back to the port.

During the return ride to Port Zante, the bus driver took us through some other areas of the island, to see some additional sites, including the Carib Brewery. The island surroundings really were picture perfect--too bad we were on a bus. Once we were back to the port, we had plenty of time to sightsee on foot, do a little souvenir shopping, and get back on the ship to enjoy the sun and relax before sail away. 

The Essentials of St. Kitts tour was a great introduction to a beautiful island which we will be sure to visit again soon!

More Information

You can book the Essentials of St. Kitts tour though Royal Caribbean’s website: The three hour tour currently costs $49.75 per person.

Royal Caribbean to send several ships to Port Zante in St. Kitts

In:
Category: 
03Aug2012

Over the course of 2012 to 2014, several Royal Caribbean ships will visit St. Kitts' Port Zante on their cruises.  These include Adventure of the Seas, Legend of the Seas, Independence of the Seas, Vision of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas, Serenade of the Seas, Brilliance of the Seas and Grandeur of the Seas.

St. Kitts and Nevis’ Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Sen. Richard Skerritt in a statement in the National Assembly said the redeploy the Jewel of the Seas to the Caribbean from May to October 2013 to offer 25 sailings out of San Juan, Puerto Rico will result in 16 additional calls to Port Zante during the summer of 2013, bringing over 33,800 guests.

“Jewel of the Seas will operate with three Southern Caribbean itineraries in the summer and autumn, and two itineraries in the winter and spring 2013-14 seasons. Departing every Saturday, the seven-night, round-trip itineraries include calls at a range of exciting ports throughout our sub-region, including St. Lucia, St. Kitts, Antigua, and the U.S.V.I., as well as St. Maarten, Barbados, Aruba and Curacao,” he said.

Skerritt also mentioned that Adventure of the Seas will return for the winter 2013-14 season to offer even more sailings by Royal Caribbean out of San Juan, alternating two seven-night Southern Caribbean itineraries.
 

Royal Caribbean supports for St. Kitts and Nevis joining Global Sustainable Tourism Council

In:
28Jul2012

Royal Caribbean is supporting the recent decision by St. Kitts and Nevis to be a part of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council's network, a leader in environmental sustainability among the cruise industry.

Royal Caribbean, a GTSC patron, is helping sponsor implementation of the new Criteria for Destinations in St. Kitts and Nevis.

Royal Caribbean Vice President for Environmental Stewardship and Global Chief Environmental Officer, Jamie Sweeting,  commented on why the cruise giant is helping sponsor the island, "We feel a responsibility in working with destinations to try to increase the positive and minimize the negative impacts of our visitations."

A cruise company can hold its ships to a high standard of environmental sustainability (Royal Caribbean’s vessels have advanced wastewater purification systems, for instance, and the company is installing exhaust gas scrubbers on some of its smokestacks).

When the final GSTC Criteria for Destinations are in place, they will provide another standard by which Royal Caribbean can judge ports of call.

St. Kitts and Nevis is a good place to start. Many of Royal Caribbean’s voyages to the Southern Caribbean stop at Basseterre, the country’s capital, where guests are able to ride the “sugar train,” visit an original plantation house, trek through lush jungle, or ride a catamaran over to Nevis for a beach barbecue. 

Allure of the Seas visits St Kitts for first time

In:
03Jan2012

Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas made its first stop at St Kitts-Nevis on December 30, which St. Kitt's Tourism Minister described as "an historic event".

Rich Skerritt, the Tourism Minister for the island, spoke to The St. Kitts Nevis Observer about the occasion, "Almost the entire population of Nevis can be housed aboard this one vessel. This is a strong indicator of the growth of our relationship with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and the cruise industry in general.  This is also a reminder of our responsibility and the expectations which have been raised of our port to deliver a quality destination experience for cruise passengers and all visitors."

Cruise passenger numbers have increased over the last four years at St. Kitts along with passenger satisfaction levels.  

Allure of the Seas' arrival also drew St. Kitts' Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas, Minister Skerritt and other government officials, who attended a cocktail reception and plaque & key exchange ceremony aboard Allureof the Seas.

Royal Caribbean planning to send Allure of the Seas to St. Kitts

In:
22Dec2011

Royal Caribbean's mega ship the Allure of the Seas is going to visit the island of St. Kitts.

Sunday will offer passengers an unique 9-night itinerary that will deviate from the usual pattern Allure of the Seas visits and will include docking in Basseterre, St. Kitts on December 30.

Royal Caribbean CEO Adam Goldstein described the visit to St. Kitts in a recent blog post as a variation on the typical itineraries that Royal Caribbean will offer from time to time.  Royal Caribbean spokesman Harrison Liu calls the visit "uniquely special", as there are no other calls to St. Kitts planned for Allure of its sister ship Oasis of the Seas.

In celebration, the island is planning a festive welcome for Allure of the Seas.  The celebration will include St. Kitts and Nevis' prime minister, tourism minister and other top officials will be greeting the ship.

Jewel of the Seas makes inaugural stop in St. Kitts

In:
04Nov2011

Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas made her inaugural visit to the island of St. Kitts in the Virgin Islands yesterday.

The ship, with a passenger total of 2,070, arrived after stopping in Barbados and docked at the island to allow its passengers a day of site-seeing.  Most of these passengers enjoyed sun bathing, snorkeling, taxi tours and shopping.

Jewel of the Seas is yet another big cruise ship to visit the island and will be part of the estimated 625,000 passengers expected between October 2011 and September 2012.

Serenade of the Seas kicks off cruise season in St. Kitts

In:
03Oct2011

The 2011-2012 cruise season will kick off in St. Kitts with Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas arriving on October 8th.  

Serenade of the Seas, a cruise ship with a capacity of 2,450 guests, will dock at Port Zante and make two calls in October with a total of 16 stops for the season.  Serenade of the Seas will bring a total of 40,640 passengers during the 2011-2012 season.

In addition, Port Zante will welcome Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas six times as well as Navigator of the Seas and her 8 calls.

St. Kitts added to Navigator of the Seas' itinerary

In:
20Apr2011

After Royal Caribbean decided to move Navigator of the Seas from Europe to the Caribbean, St Kitts has been added to her itinerary for the 2011-2012 cruise season.

Navigator of the Seas' new winter schedule will have her sailing out of Fort Lauderale, Florida on a series of five and nine-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries starting on November 20.

Harry Liu, Royal Caribbean Spokesman, says the last minute deployment is about demand, “We are responding to vacationers’ demand for more Caribbean options this coming winter (and) spring".

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