Visit our travel agent friends at MEI Travel

My favorite stop on my first cruise was St. Thomas. Here are 7 reasons why I'm already planning a trip back

27 Oct 2023

Preparing to make the switch from land travel to cruising?


If you’re like me, you may prefer or be used to longer travel on land, where you can fully immerse yourself in a destination and explore it to the fullest.

However, cruise itineraries don’t usually allow for this slow-paced cultural immersion. 

On my first cruise on Wonder of the Seas, we got to visit several ports of call at places I had never been to before: Perfect Day at CocoCay, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten.

We also purchased Royal Caribbean shore excursions on St. Thomas and St. Maarten, allowing us to go on guided tours of the islands. 

While I enjoyed seeing multiple places on one cruise, it’s true that the short stop did not allow us enough time to get out of the tourist traps and see more authentic parts of the islands. 

Cruising port visits and excursions may not provide the authentic cultural experiences some travelers prefer.

However, the short port stop may provide a great opportunity to get a taste of the island and brainstorm ideas for another trip back.

My favorite stop on my cruise was St. Thomas, a territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands, and I’m already planning a trip back. Here are the 7 reasons why. 

Read more: I went to a stunning Caribbean island on my cruise that you've probably never heard of

1. The food tasted incredible


I only had enough time to try one meal while we were at St. Thomas, but it was one of the best meals I tasted all week.

I stopped at a grab-and-go restaurant on the beach and ordered this chicken curry with rice and plantains. It was warm, spicy, and sweet—just looking at this photo makes my mouth water again.

We also tasted some famous turtle ice cream: vanilla flavor with caramel, chocolate, pecans, and hot fudge swirls. 

While I can already recommend the food on this island, I’ll need a longer trip to do further research and uncover the best food available on St. Thomas.  

2. It was easily accessible to Americans


St. Thomas is known as one of the easiest Caribbean destinations for American tourists to visit.

Since the Virgin Islands are a territory of the United States, St. Thomas uses US dollars, and English is widely spoken. 

U.S. citizens do not need a passport to travel into the Virgin Islands, just a valid ID.

I found that the island was extremely accessible for us as Americans—I could use my cash or card to make payments, and speak with everyone around me in English. 

Given the ease of travel, communication, and transactions, St. Thomas would make a great vacation destination in the future. 

3. The history fascinates me 


Our shore excursion involved a tour of the island by open-air taxi, while the driver gave us information and history about St. Thomas.

The history itself was fascinating, enhanced by our gorgeous view of the island.

I learned a lot of facts about the U.S. Virgin Islands and St. Thomas in particular. However, we weren’t able to get out and see many of the major buildings on this tour.

On a visit back, I would like to see some of the historical sites for myself.

For example, we passed but didn’t go into Fort Christian, the oldest structure on the island and now a museum.

We also heard about Blackbeard’s Castle, which was allegedly built by the pirate himself for a lover.

And I would have loved to see the 99 Steps, local steps built from the ballast bricks of old Danish ships. 

4. Transportation is simple


Ranging just 3 miles at its widest point, St. Thomas is easy to travel around. 

It takes less than half an hour to get to the capital city, Charlotte Amalie, even from the furthest point of the island.

St. Thomas most commonly offers public transportation like taxi and bus services or the option to rent a vehicle such as a car or motorbike.

Not only that, but a U.S. driver’s license is still valid if you choose to rent a vehicle and drive it yourself. 

5. We didn’t see the best beaches


When we arrived at the beach portion of our shore excursion, I was blown away by its beauty.

Our shore excursion took us to Magen’s Bay, St. Thomas’ most famous beach.

This bay is a gorgeous beach, sheltered between a jungle of tropical trees and a ring of green, forested hills. The water was an impossibly clear, light blue, and the sand was wide and white.

Despite my amazement at the beach’s beauty, a lifeguard who made conversation with us on the beach told us that Magen’s Bay was far from the best beach on the island.

He said that although the beach is beautiful, it’s only the most popular tourist spot. There are even better ones on the island. 

As the day went on, I did notice that he was right about the tourism: the beach began to overfill with visitors and got too crowded to even find seating. 

Our lifeguard friend recommends Coki Point Beach and Point Pleasant for a better beach and a cheaper stay. I made a note, planning my return trip.

6. Go beyond the beach


While we were relaxing on Magen’s Bay, I noticed a figure in the distance. 

We watched someone jet skiing across the bay, riding back and forth across the water.

Since laying on a beach can get old—especially for trips that last more than one day—water activities and sports are a great way to have a new adventure.

If I had had more time to spare on the island, I would have loved to try some water activities like that lucky person.

St. Thomas offers sailing, scuba diving, kayaking, snorkeling, paddleboarding, jet skiing, fishing, and more. They’re the perfect opportunity to try something new while enjoying the beautiful island and sea around you. 

7. I have to experience Carnival


Carnival is a unique, month-long event that I long to dedicate a whole trip to. While many countries celebrate Carnival, it usually runs between April and May in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Carnival is traditionally a period of celebration before the religious season of Lent, and it involves pageants, singing, dancing, and day-long parties. 

While we were on St. Thomas, our guides told us about Carnival and the many visitors it attracts. In the future, I plan to return and see the party for myself!

I went to a stunning Caribbean island on my cruise that you've probably never heard of

12 Jan 2023

I had never heard of Water Island in the U.S. Virgin Islands, but as soon as I read about this gorgeous island, I knew I wanted to check it out.

Elizabeth on Water Island

I’ve been to St. Thomas more times than I can count, so when I saw that it was a scheduled port of call on my current Symphony of the Seas sailing, I was planning on staying onboard and grinding out some of my work.

That is, however, until I heard about Water Island, a quiet and secluded island off the coast of St. Thomas that's also the smallest of the four U.S. Virgin Islands and only has about 180 full-time residents!

The water ferry

Dock D St Thomas

I disembarked around 8:50am and began the ten minute walk to the Crown Bay Marina, which is right outside of the cruise terminal. The ferry sails from Dock D and is located directly next to Tickles Dockside Pub.

I had just missed the 9am departure, so I planned on making myself comfortable for the next hour. I was pleasantly surprised when they did an extra run around 9:40am!


You don’t need to worry about going to a ticket office prior; the $15 roundtrip fare is payable via cash only upon embarkation. I received a hard piece of plastic that was my return ticket, and I really appreciated how it listed all of the departure times!

View from water ferry

We departed for Water Island at 9:42am and arrived only ten minutes later. The views of St. Thomas on the way there were breathtaking, and I got to see a (nearly) 360° view of the ship.

Honeymoon beach

Honeymoon beach

When we arrived, we were greeted by a bus driver who was providing free transfers to Honeymoon Beach.

Honeymoon Beach Water Island

It was a quiet day despite five ships docked in St. Thomas (that means over 17,000 passengers), and there were plenty of beach chairs and umbrellas available for rent, as well as complimentary palapa umbrellas.

There wasn’t even any music playing on the beach; it came from excursion boats or the restaurant.

If relaxing on the beach isn’t your vibe, don’t worry! They also offered a variety of different water sport equipment, including paddle boards, kayaks, and snorkel gear, and for the first time in my life, I saw a floating cycling class.

Prices for golf carts

Apparently, you can also pay for a floating picnic table ride for a minimum of $100. Unfortunately, I did not see anyone picnicking in the bay, even when I returned in the afternoon.

You can also rent golf carts to help you navigate the island. They start at $45 per hour, but you can rent one all day for $125. 

Golf Carts Honeymoon Beach

Other amenities include a restroom and souvenir store.

The Crossing

The Crossings in Water Island

After checking out Honeymoon Beach, my plan was to walk (fourteen minutes, according to Google Maps) to Limestone Beach, but I quickly realized that this might not be possible; everyone I saw was riding in a golf cart. The incline of the roads were steep, and there were no trees or buildings to provide any shade.

I did, however, stumble upon the cutest shed called The Crossing, which was probably the highlight of my morning. Outside, you can purchase virgin shaved ice for $5 (they offer twenty different flavors!), beer, wine, hard seltzer, soda, or water.

Elizabeth on Water Island

On a more pleasant day, there’s some outside seating available, which is probably ideal before hopping back onto a golf cart. I can see some major and unfortunate spills happening this way!

To escape the heat, I went inside and checked out the local art that’s available for purchase. I’m regretting not buying one of the stickers that I saw!

After cooling down with a cherry flavored shaved ice, I decided to keep trekking towards Limestone Beach. One local in a golf cart stopped me to tell me that I was heading in the wrong direction and that it wasn’t the best beach to visit because of how rocky it is.

I was also told that Sprat Bay Beach is only accessible to those staying within Sprat Bay Estates. There went my entire plan!

I was still curious as to what the Limestone Beach was like, even if I had to navigate some rocks. After I was pointed in the right direction and kept going for a few minutes, a vacationing couple stopped and asked, “Are you trying to walk this entire island in the heat for fun?”

Fort Segarra

Fort Segarra

They shared the same sentiments about Limestone Beach and told me I was better off hitching a ride with them and visiting Fort Segarra, an underground fort built during World War II. However, the war ended before it was completed, so the structure was abandoned.

The ride in the golf cart took about five minutes, but it went up a lot of hills and poorly paved roads.

When we walked inside of the fort, we all agreed felt like a horror movie. There were no lights, and giant holes in the floor were covered with wooden planks.

Plus, I could tell that this was a place that people go to party, as there were broken beer bottles everywhere. If you walk all the way through, you’ll find to two gun embankments.

View from Fort Segarra

The sweeping views of St. Thomas and the ocean made the journey worth it. There was a picnic table on top of the fort, and I’d highly recommend adding lunch here to any Water Island itinerary.

Lunch at Dinghy's Beach Bar & Grill

Menu at Honeymoon Beach

After taking in all of the views, the couple planned on giving me a ride back to Honeymoon Beach, where I was planning on grabbing lunch at Dinghy’s Beach Bar and Grill.

Well, like the rest of my morning, this did not go as planned. We were stopped a little over halfway there by the owner of the golf cart rental company who said that the golf cart was only able to seat two people. Thankfully, she gave me a ride the rest of the way.

The menu felt standard for a beachside joint, with offerings like burgers, sandwiches, tacos, and salads.

Even though I ate a shrimp based appetizer and entree last night for dinner, I opted to order the bang bang shrimp ($16.00), and, of course, their signature frozen cocktail: the creamy dinghy ($11.00). After all, I was at the beach!

It took almost twenty minutes to receive my food after placing the order. Since I technically ordered an appetizer, I wasn’t expecting the portion to be large.

I was served five fried shrimp coated in sauce and garnished with green onions, enough to satisfy me until I returned to the ship!


The shrimp was golden and crispy, though a few pieces were so large that cutting the tails off was difficult; you could barely see them through the fried batter!

I saw a lot of people eating the sandwiches, including some of the HiRO cast members, and I wish I had tried one of them instead.

On the other hand, the creamy dinghy was fantastic! This was my first frozen drink of the cruise, and I was not disappointed. It tasted like a piña colada with a more muted pineapple flavor.

The service at Dinghy’s Beach Bar and Grill was slow. It took over twenty minutes to receive my bill. This was upsetting because I was hoping to get some time to hangout on the beach before catching the water ferry back to St. Thomas.

Overall thoughts

Palapa umbrellas honeymoon beach

While I had an adventurous morning on Water Island that allowed me to explore a new place, I think that I would want to rent a golf cart to maximize my time on the beach and see more of the island.

Since I really enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere of Honeymoon Beach, I definitely plan on returning in the future!

Video: How One of the World’s Largest Cruise Ships Sails into St. Thomas

14 Aug 2018

For Oasis of the Seas, one of the world’s largest cruise ships, arriving to St. Thomas in the Caribbean can be daunting. With narrow water ways, sailboats anchored in the harbor, a tight turn and just six feet of clearance below the keel, the water around this popular port is one of the most difficult to maneuver. But thanks to an expert marine team using the industry’s leading technology, arriving is just another day at the office for the Oasis of the Seas crew. With a local pilot offering his expertise on the currents and local marine environment, and powerful bow thrusters which gives the captain the control he needs to pull the 1,187-foot ship, this is nothing but smooth sailing.

Royal Caribbean helps restore Magens Bay in St. Thomas

08 Dec 2017

Royal Caribbean and members of St. Thomas' government met yesterday to officially re-open Magens Bay in St. Thomas, which had suffered from significant hurricane damage.

Photo by TheTwangster

Royal Caribbean International partnered with the Department of Tourism, the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, the Magens Bay Authority and other government agencies and businesses to restore the world-renowned beach.

The Category 5 hurricanes caused major damage to the beach facilities, including the restrooms and food and beverage concession and gift shop. Winds and storm surge also caused significant beach erosion and impacted trees and plants along the shoreline. Cleanup crews have been working daily since the hurricanes to remove fallen trees and debris, repair buildings, and replant hundreds of native plants and trees. About 530 new trees have been planted, and 470 trees have been pruned.

Photo by TheTwangster

The ceremony included the reopening and dedication of Magens Bay, with St. Thomas, Governor Kenneth Mapp and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Chairman and CEO Richard Fain and Royal Caribbean International CEO Michael Bayley present.

Photo by James Van Fleet

Mr. Fain shared that Royal Caribbean was keen to make a contribution to help the Virgin Islands and its people. He reported that tens of thousands of cruise passengers have visited St. Thomas since the storms and Royal Caribbean’s visitor satisfaction ratings were now higher than before Hurricanes Irma and Maria came ashore.

Thursday’s ceremony was particularly significant, Mr. Fain noted, because it was 47 years and one month to the day that Royal Caribbean’s first ship made its first voyage, calling on St. Thomas. "This has been a long and important relationship," Mr. Fain said, adding, "It’s very much a partnership."

Mr. Fain thanked the team at Royal Caribbean who took pride in the revitalization of Magens Bay. “I think they would all join me in expressing our admiration for the people here in St. Thomas for undertaking all of the work that’s going on and for handling it with such aplomb and with such a commitment to make it better,” he said.

Royal Caribbean plans cruise ship return to St. Thomas following hurricane devastation

16 Oct 2017

Royal Caribbean announced today it will resume calls to St. Thomas on November 10, following weeks of skipping the island due to hurricane damage.

Adventure of the Seas will mark Royal Caribbean's return to the island.  She will be the first Royal Caribbean ship since early September to visit St. Thomas, which was impacted by hurricanes last month.

In partnership with the government of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Royal Caribbean also has committed to undertaking the complete restoration of Magens Bay, one of St. Thomas’ most popular tourist attractions – with plans for a grand re-opening of the pristine destination during Adventure of the Seas’ visit on Nov. 10.

With power and water to the island fully restored and most downtown shops, restaurants and bars and tour operators fully operational, guests will be able to experience a diverse and extensive array of dining, shopping and activities.

“We are very excited to get back home to our friends in St. Thomas. The Caribbean is our family, having cruised there for nearly 50 years, and the long-standing relationships created in all this time are unwavering,” said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “We are committed to doing everything we can to help and proud to support the restoration of the iconic Magens Bay."

In addition, Royal Caribbean is planning a return to San Juan, Puerto Rico and St. Maarten by the end of November and is working closely with local governments to announce the exact dates.

By December 1, all scheduled calls to the three islands will operate as planned.

Guide to visiting St. John on a Royal Caribbean cruise

17 Jul 2017

Many Royal Caribbean cruises make a stop in St. Thomas while on an Eastern Caribbean itinerary, but the nearby island of St. John is an enticing and exotic destination cruisers should consider in their shore excursion plans.

St. John is just a few miles away by ferry from St. Thomas, making it an easy commute between the two islands.  Regular ferry service means getting back and forth is a mere formality and that means the pristine beaches of St. John are easily accessible.

On a recent Royal Caribbean cruise, we decided to try a visit to St. John and the good news is it is a great option to consider, especially for those that may feel St. Thomas is a "been there, done that" situation.

St. John Overview

St. John is the smallest and least populated island in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  It tends to be a refuge for cruise visitors and local residents alike, who seek a place to "get away from it all."

The Virgin Islands National Park takes up roughly two thirds of the island, which means visiting St. John is really about taking time to enjoy a beach, nature hike or combination of the two.  The beaches of St. John offer plenty of sun and surf, along with the typical beach activities like snorkeling, kayaking and paddle boarding.

There is a small town where visitors arrive via ferry, Cruz Bay.  This town has some basic offerings, such as restaurants, bars and some shopping.  However, unlike St. Thomas or St. Croix, the offerings in Cruz Bay are limited.  Essentially, people come to St. John for the natural beauty.

Getting to St. John

There are two primary means of getting from your Royal Caribbean cruise ship to St. John.  Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and which option you pick depends on your personal preference.

Royal Caribbean excursion

Royal Caribbean offers a few excursions to St. John that will depart from near the cruise ship and take you directly to St. John.  There are tours that will provide round-trip ferry transportation, as well as some sort of an organized tour while in St. John.  In addition, there is also a "on your own" St. John excursion that brings you just to the island and lets you go on your own.

The primary consideration with the Royal Caribbean excursions to St. John is the fact you will take a longer ferry ride.  The ferry from Crown Bay is roughly 40 minutes in length, which is about double that of the other ferry.  

Of course, booking with Royal Caribbean has an added bonus of the guarantee of return, where you know you will absolutely get back to the ship, no matter what.  For many, that peace of mind is important.

On your own

Many residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands regularly go back and forth between St. John and St. Thomas, which means there is regular ferry service offered for a small fee.

There are two primary points of taking a ferry to St. John: Crown Bay and Red Hook.

The Crown Bay ferry is the same ferry Royal Caribbean excursions take.  The benefit is this ferry departs and returns very close to the cruise ship, which means taking a taxi is either unnecessary or significantly cheaper.  Of course, the ferry ride is about double the length and there are less ferries offered throughout the day.

Red Hook is an area on the east end of St. Thomas, with a short 15-20 minute ferry ride to St. John.  While it requires a taxi ride to reach Red Hook, we felt the shorter and more frequently offered ferry rides were worth it.  Ferry service from Red Hook runs every hour, on the hour.  You can consult the ferry website for exact fare and schedules. 

The taxi ride to Red Hook is fairly short as well, although often you will get lumped into vans other other guests, where the driver makes a few stops along the way.  Your experience will vary, but the one way trip should take about 30 minutes (if not less).

Once at the ferry terminal, you can purchase round trip fare.  Be sure to bring plenty of cash, because taxis and the ferry regularly take cash only.

If you are wondering how long it takes to get from Crown Bay to Red Hook and then take the ferry to St. John, it depends largely on timing.  How long it takes you to get into a taxi, for the taxi to drop you off and what time you arrive before a ferry departs are all factors you may not have a lot of control over.  If you time things out perfectly, it should take just around an hour.  If you just miss the ferry, figure another an extra 30-60 minutes on top of that estimate.

Arriving in St. John

The ferry will drop you off in Cruz Bay, which is on the west end of the island. There are a few shops and restaurants, but the real attraction of going to St. John is to see the beaches.  You ought to be able to take a taxi to any of the beaches nearby.

There is a primary road, North Shore Road, that runs along the Northwest coast of St. John and has easy access to the beaches. Most day visitors opt for taxis, but you could also rent a car.  Keep in mind that vehicles drive on the left side of the road in St. John.

St. John is largely set up as a National Park, and that means lots of beaches to consider.  By far the most popular is Trunk Bay, which is about a 10 minute taxi ride away.  There are lots of other beaches, including Cinnamon Bay Beach. We chose Cinnamon Bay Beach for the lack of crowds.  

For the purposes of this blog post, we will be discussing Cinnamon Bay Beach, but the experience of visiting any of the beaches in St. John is likely very similar: a beautiful and scenic coastline with white sand and clear, turquoise waters.

At Cinnamon Bay Beach, there is no beach fee, so feel free to grab any spot you choose.  We were able to rent beach chairs from a company that offers surf rentals as well.  There is not a lot of natural shade, but if you retreat to the back edge of the back, there was some shade provided by trees and shrubs.

Most of the taxis in St. John make regular stops at each of the beaches, so getting a taxi back is fairly simple and just a matter of timing.

If you are a United States resident, your cell phone will likely work normally in St. John because the island is part of the United States.  We found cell phone coverage to be a "light" the further away from Cruz Bay and the main road you get, but placing phone calls (like to a taxi driver) usually works.

Your Thoughts

Have you visited St. John? What did you think of the experience? If you have visited other Caribbean islands, how do you think St. John compared to those? Any tips of your own to add about visiting St. John? Any questions? Hearing from readers is part of the fun (and is helpful to others), so please share your thoughts in the comments below!

Royal Caribbean cancels two cruise ship stops in St. Thomas due to expected storm

22 Aug 2016

Royal Caribbean has canceled to scheduled stops in St. Thomas due to an approaching tropical storm.

Concerns over a tropical disturbance in the eastern Atlantic Ocean, Invest 99-L, which may develop into a tropical depression or storm in the days ahead, forced Royal Caribbean to make the change, according to Virgin Islands Port Authority Executive Director Carlton Dowe.

St. Thomas Source is reporting Oasis of the Seas was scheduled to visit Crown Bay on August 23 and the Freedom of the Seas was scheduled for August 24.

According to guests onboard, Oasis of the Seas will skip both St. Thomas and St. Kitts, and instead visit San Juan on August 23 from 1:30pm to 11:30pm, then have a sea day, and then visit Labadee from 8am to 4:30pm.

Freedom of the Seas will skip both St. Thomas and St. Martin and instead be at sea on August 23, then stop at Costa Maya, Mexico on August 24, Cozumel, Mexico on August 25, and then spend the remaining days at sea before returning back to Port Canaveral on August 28.

Things to do in St. Thomas on your Royal Caribbean cruise

20 Jun 2016

Many Royal Caribbean ships make stops in a little piece of paradise that just so happens to be part of the United States, St. Thomas. Known as "the gateway island" of the U.S. Virgin Islands in the Caribbean, St. Thomas is known for its beaches, snorkeling and sportfishing.

Frankly, there is a lot to see and do in St. Thomas, with the island's capital, Charlotte Amalie, being a busy cruise ship port with high-end restaurants and shopping.

The First European settlement on St. Thomas consisted of four taverns. Now known as Charlotte Amalie, today it is a haven for shoppers, but was once a pirate sanctuary. Legitimate trade gained popularity in the 1700s when it was declared a free port, making it the trading center of the West Indies. More than 1.7 million cruise ship guests visited here last year to enjoy the duty-free shops, historic attractions, pristine beaches and friendly locals.

Royal Caribbean ships dock at Crown Bay or at the West Indian Dock, approximately 1 1/2 miles from downtown Charlotte Amalie. Regardless of what you choose to do, there is a lot of great choices for things to do in St. Thomas.

Magens Bay

If you have ever heard of St. Thomas, you probably also heard someone mention Magens Bay, and for good reason.  Magens Bay is known for its turquoise waters and pristine sands that make for a picturesque beach getaway. Magen's Bay Beach is considered one of the world's most beautiful. Arguably, this is the best thing to do in St. Thomas on a cruise.

Once at Magens Bay, you have the choice to swim or snorkel in this gorgeous, balmy, palm-lined, turquoise bay situated along St. Thomas' coast simply enjoy the beach.

Getting to Magens Bay is fairly easy, with organized shore excursions and taxis readily available to bring guests to this idealic beach. Most excursions through Royal Caribbean include stops along the way at scenic overlooks and other places of historic significance. 

The beach has a small fee for admission, so the bulk of the cost to get to Magens Bay will be in transportation back and forth.

If you want a good alternative beach that is a heck of a lot closer to Charlotte Amalie, try Emerald Beach.

Shopping in Charlotte Amalie

​If exploring the island's capital is more your fancy, you will find a wealth of great shopping and dining choices in Charlotte Amalie.

There are over 400 shops along the Main Street area in Charlotte Amalie and some 50 more in Havensight Mall and Yacht Haven Grande. Often we hear the best deals are on luxury items such as fine jewelry, watches, perfume, leather, imported linens, china and crystal. Cameras, electronic goods and designer clothing are also available. Check out the selection of island rums and liquors, as well as the bargains on your favorite spirits

Charlotte Amalie’s downtown and shopping area is a short taxi ride from the dock – $4 per person each way from Crown Bay or $4 per person each way from the West Indian Dock. Want to take a beautiful walk? Take a 30 minute walk to town from Havensight Mall. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes.

Skyride to Paradise Point

If you are going to see the Caribbean island of St. Thomas, why not see it from over 700 feet above sea level? The Skyride to Paradise Point allows guests to go to the top of a mountain and enjoy a stunning view of the island.

Guests embark on a panoramic gondola ride to mountaintop Paradise Point, where they can seer excellent views of the city and dazzling waters below. Once at the top, you have the choice to shop for souvenirs, engage in live bird shows, or savor a tasty lunch in a local café.

Getting to the skyride and up the mountain is pretty simple and the only caveat worth mentioning is there are a lot of stairs involved, so if you have a stroller or wheelchair, keep in mind that there is no alternative to the stairs.

Interestingly enough, it is cheaper to purchase this excursion through Royal Caribbean than going to the tram directly and you can do the skyride at your leisure, since it is continuously operating throughout the day.

Visit St. John

St. Thomas is a beautiful island, but its neighbor St. John is equally beautifully and far more pristine.  Many Royal Caribbean veterans opt to take the ferry to the nearby island paradise for a taste of something a little different. All you have to do is hop on the ferry from Charlotte Amalie the provides an excellent opportunity to check out the spectacular coastal scenery and soothing breezes.

St. John offers a lot, such as exploring the sub-tropical forests and semi-arid scrublands of the Virgin Islands National Park, or enjoying the quaint Cruz Bay. Perhaps you would like to hop in an open-air safari vehicle for a ride around the national park's coastal swamplands and sugar plantation ruins, viewing 800 species of plants.  Trunk Bay is known for a long stretch of white sand, sparkling water and lush foliage, and features an underwater reef trail.​

Given a ferry is involved in getting to and from St. Johns, we prefer to book shore excursions with Royal Caribbean when visiting St. John for the peace of mind associated with not missing the shop upon returning to St. Thomas.

Coral World

For those that want a little nature in their visit to St. Thomas, check out Coral World Ocean Park, were you can see tons of marline life without ever getting wet.

At Coral World, you will encounter a variety of marine life including sharks, stingrays, turtles and more. Coral World boasts the opportunity to see a recreated living reef and 21 aquariums in Marine Gardens.You can even pet, snuggle and take photos with sea lions or try a Sea Trek Helmet Dive. Visit the shark pool where you can pet a shark or hand feed a stingray. Visit with the Lorikeets which will flock to your arm when offered a cup of nectar.

Many guests opt to combine Coral World with a stop in Magens Bay, since the two are close by each other and offer the opportunity to experience both in one stop.

Island Tour

Since there is so much to see in St. Thomas, a lot of times a tour of the island makes a lot of sense. Taking a tour of St. Thomas allows you to get a "taste" of the highlights and maybe set yourself up for something on a future visit.

There are a lot of tours you can take, either on your own, with a private driver or through a group tour.  Each has its own benefits and drawbacks, and one of the big factors will be cost. Group tours will be the least expensive options, but you will be at the mercy of the pace of the group.  Conversely, a private tour will allow you to do what you want, when you want, but with the caveat that you will pay more for it.

Island tours are very popular shore excursions and available through third parties or with Royal Caribbean. When choosing, it is worth noting that traffic on the island can be an issue in the later afternoon, so getting back to the ship on time should be factored into your plans.  Of course, Royal Caribbean shore excursions promise the ship will wait for you.

A lot of the island tours will visit popular spots like Mountain Top, Drake's Seat, Bluebeard's Castle and more.

Your Thoughts

Have you tried any of the places we outlined? Do you have a recommendation for something to do in St. Thomas? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below!

Excursion Focus: Emerald Beach in St. Thomas

09 Jan 2016

Most Royal Caribbean guests looking for a shore excursion in St. Thomas are likely to consider something at the beach and for good reason.  St. Thomas has a reputation for having some of the best beaches, including the world famous Magens Bay.

On our recent visit to St. Thomas, we tried a different beach that was much closer to the cruise ships at Emerald Beach.


Some background is necessary for understanding why one would want to consider a lesser known beach, like Emerald Beach.

We had been to Magens Bay many times and while beautiful, it requires a long taxi ride across the interior of St. Thomas to reach there and then a modest entrance fee.

We endeavored to return to Magens Bay until our taxi driver pointed out two basic facts: almost any beach in St. Thomas is beautiful and there are beautiful beaches closer and for less money.

Enter, Emerald Beach, which is located just a few minutes drive from Charlotte Amalie.

Emerald Beach is a public beach that anyone can access, although there is a hotel that is located near the beach as well.  Despite the hotel, anyone can use the beach.

There is an outdoor bar and restaurant at the Best Western that anyone can go to to get drinks or food.


As our taxi driver promised, Emerald Beach is indeed quite beautiful and certainly a lot less crowded than what we have experienced on previous visits to Magens Bay.

If you want to be really picky about the details, Magens Bay is situated in a lush tropical valley, whereas Emerald Beach has a hotel behind it and the airport is across the street.  I would not characterize either as a problem, but it is worth noting.

Emerald Beach is a good choice for anyone looking for a quiet(er) beach experience with less crowds and/or a closer drive.  At five minutes from Charlotte Amalie, it is a really quick ride.

Address: 8070 Lindbergh Bay | West, Charlotte Amalie 00802, St. Thomas

Cost: Admission to beach is free

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast Episode - St. Thomas

07 Oct 2015

Listen to the Show

Where our Royal Caribbean cruises take us is a pretty important aspect of any cruise and this week, we are looking at what to do in St. Thomas. This island in the US Virgin Islands has become a very popular port stop and this week, we look at what there is to do, see and experience at St Thomas and which shore excursions might be something you want to try on your next visit.

Share with me your thoughts, questions and comments via...

On this episode:
Running time:
Subscribe to St Thomas